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1,310 of 1,502 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, August 27, 2007
This review is from: The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (Hardcover)
This book is stunning. The two authors are prominent political scientists with impeccable credentials, hailing from Harvard and the University of Chicago. They have boldly gone where many of their academic colleagues would fear to tread. Although their conclusions about Israel and its negative influence on American foreign policy will awaken much anxiety, resentment and fury in certain quarters, Walt and Mearsheimer don't seem to care. Why not? They are scientists. They appeal to logic, facts and common sense; and let the conclusions fall where they may. The writing is calm, dispassionate, thorough. The basic argument is that the extraordinarily high degree of economic, military and diplomatic support given to Israel by the United States cannot be explained or justified by the notion that Israel functions as a strategic asset to the U.S., or that Israel as the "only democracy" amidst a sea of authoritarian neighbors is deserving of special favor for its "shared interests and values". In fact, the authors claim, Israel is more a liability than an asset. During the Cold War, the strategic-value argument had perhaps some plausibility -- but no longer. What has replaced the Soviet menace, as the enemy which the U.S. supposedly needs Israel's help to combat, is Islamic terrorism. But the U.S. favor shown to Israel at the expense of the Palestinians only makes us more not less vulnerable to terrorism. Furthermore Israel's cruelty towards the Palestinians and its essential nature as a Jewish but not a truly democratic state in which all citizens of whatever ethnicity or religion would be given equal rights and respect, belie the "shared values" argument.

So if neither "shared values" nor "strategic asset" can explain the overwhelming U.S. support of Israel, what else is there? The power of the Israel lobby, which has brought about a situation in which it is impossible for elected officials to question support for Israel, much less redirect foreign policy in any way contrary to the perceived self-interest of Israel. This has led the U.S. to make critical mistakes, such as invading and occupying Iraq. The war on Iraq has proven disastrous; the authors argue that the U.S. would not have attacked Iraq, were it not for the influence of the Israel lobby.

In the end, perhaps what is most significant and remarkable about this book is that it has seen the light of day. It got published. Could it be that there is still hope for reasonable, open debate about the right courses of action in the Middle East? The authors have been and will continue to be vilified as anti-Semitic or worse. They are owed a debt of gratitude for having the courage to stand up and to refuse to be silenced.
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Showing 1-10 of 185 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 28, 2007 4:58:06 AM PDT
Israel is the only democratic nation in the Middle East, and its long - term popularity in the United States is a reflection of a common Biblical heritage, shared values in regard to individual rights and freedom. Islamic terrorism was not brought into the world by Israel. Rather it is a function of the backward and closed nature of the societies involved and their failure to confront modernity. The fact is that the Shiite- Sunnite split which divides the Islamic world is something no one, not even the Muslims themselves know how to deal with. The Radical Islamic ideologies of Al-Quaida Wahahibi Saudi Arabia Iran's Islamic Revolutionary regime are the major factor working to destroy the United States as world- leader. Their goal is a Caliphate which I suspect even Messrs.Walt and Mersheimer would not enjoy living in.
You have read the book wrong because you have missed the whole picture in regard to the world we are living in.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 28, 2007 10:40:15 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 14, 2007 10:51:47 AM PDT
Linear Chaos says:
Caliphate? are you serious? People still buy into that nonsense? Is it four years ago?

These are the same Sunnis and Shiites waging a proxy war in Iraq, correct? The real war going on in the ME right now is between Saudi Arabia and Iran, but we only hear about the Iran part because the "moderate" Saudi dictators are our friends, even though most of their own people hate them. The same thing goes for the rest of our "democracy spreading" Police State allies all over the world.

And you expect people to believe that these factions will all of a sudden come together and get along after the US leaves? Who will be in charge? the Saudi royal family? That is a completely laughable idea. You are obviously naive if you think that a caliphate has any chance of actually occurring.

Get this, I heard that Branch Davidians, Mormons, Catholics, and Southern Baptists are getting together and plotting to take over the world, to create one Christian state. It is about as believable as the different Islamic sects getting along and, I don't know, not going overboard internally and killing each other instead.

And Israel is a racist state that supports genocidal zionist policis. "This road is not for you, die at the checkpoint, pig", should be the motto. We are pushed to be supportive of other cultures while our democratic friends in Isreal carve up what is left of Palestine. It is pretty obvious that to Israel water is more important than peace or democracy.

In that regard the US does share values and goals with Israel. We are experts in wiping out and displacing populations. I hope that the Palestinians like dealing Texas Hold' Em and Blackjack, because the Palestinians might as well build their casinos now since they are basically "Native Americans 2.0"

And criticizing genocidal and warmongering Israeli policy is not antisemitic, thanks. I don't fall into the trap of blaming the people for the policies of a State that doesn't listen to them. Another thing that we share with our Israeli friends.

Besides, Democracy is a terrible form of Government. Two wolves and a lamb deciding on what to have for lunch, amiright? But thanks to our wonderful public school system, we are conditioned to believe that mob-rule, poll-centric "Democracy" is what the founders intended, and the mantra is repeated by the elites. None of our elite masters mention the Republic anymore, and why should they? Under Democracy they aren't accountable, the fact that it is "mob rule" (manipulated by our friends in the media and elsewhere) which can be offloaded onto "The People" is enough. "Democracy" is just a New World Order buzzword for "Slavery".

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 28, 2007 1:20:05 PM PDT
eab says:
"Israel is the only democratic nation in the Middle East."

Not quite true. When Israel annexed East Jerusalem after the 1967 war, it didn't (and still hasn't) given any voting rights to the 200,000 Palestinians who live there.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 28, 2007 1:27:36 PM PDT
eab says:
"Their goal is a Caliphate"

Whose goal? Bin Laden has clearly stated his three reasons for 9/11 (US presence in Saudi Arabia, Israeli oppression of Palestinians, certain Arab regimes he believes are corrupt). None of those goals sounds like a "Caliphate." Do you think he was hiding his real reasons from us?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 28, 2007 1:39:37 PM PDT
eab says:
"Israel's...popularity in the United States is a reflection of ... shared values in regard to individual rights and freedom."

Yikes! Different laws apply to Jews and Arabs (most notably, of course, the "right of return," which, if it applied to Arabs as well as Jews, would eliminate much of the need for Palestinians to fight to recover their lost land). Arabs in Israel pay taxes used to subsidize returning Jews, not to mention Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank Colony. And that's just Israel proper. When we get into the West Bank Colony, with its separate roads, checkpoints, voting rights for Jews only, Israel's conduct is, shall we say, a quart or two low on the democracy meter.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 28, 2007 6:12:42 PM PDT

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 28, 2007 8:31:06 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 28, 2007 8:35:31 PM PDT
For someone who devotes a great deal of his free time to studying the ongoing conflict between the Arabs and Israelis book releases such as this are quite exciting. Books such as "The Israeli Lobby and US Foreign Policy" cause the public to look beyond the 30 second news headlines and get a deeper understanding of a very important topic in a very volatile and strategic part of the world. I only hope that this book will not quench but deepen the publics thirst for knowledge of this 125 year conflict.
That being said, I have yet to read the book. It has yet to arrive in my mailbox. I have, however, read many reviews of the book and can already tell that I will have both dissenting and complimentary views towards the authors thesis and supporting arguments. Again, my main hope is that this book will cause many to further their knowledge of the Israeli-Palestinian/Arab conflict and the United States role within it.
A major concern that I do have is the mud-slinging rhetoric that takes place between the two sides of this conflict. There is the pro-Israeli camp which touts Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East which is being threatened by terrorist groups from backward Arab nations. Meanwhile, on the pro-Arab/Palestinian side you hear accusations that Israel is nothing more than an imperialist agent that has been the main cause of the Arab worlds failure to advance in the world.
After spending a good amount of my time studying this subject matter I have come to the conclusion that these generalizations are far to simplistic. I have found that both sides at different times have had good reason for feeling the way they do about their counterpart and for the situation they are in. I have also found that both sides have,again at different times, deserved the blame for the current state of things. Sometimes one group deserves more blame than the other.
This post is not my opinion of who is wrong or who is right in regards to the conflict. I don't think it can be answered in such a fashion. I just hope that this book will cause many to explore the vast material that is out there on this subject, which will enable them to come up with their own opinions and conclusions to the subject.

Posted on Aug 28, 2007 8:32:32 PM PDT
eab says:
Incidentally, anyone interested in this book will undoubtedly find interesting the article in the current issue of London Review of Books (where appeared the Walt/Mearsheimer article that gave rise to the book under discussion), written by Henry Siegman of the Council on Foreign Relations:

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 28, 2007 8:51:14 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 28, 2007 9:15:39 PM PDT
eab says:
You wrote:

"Meanwhile, on the pro-Arab/Palestinian side you hear accusations that Israel is nothing more than an imperialist agent that has been the main cause of the Arab worlds failure to advance and/or progress."

I appreciate and encourage your promise to discuss the issue in an even-handed manner, and agree that's rarely done. That said, consider carefully before you start whether the issue here is really whether the Palestinians' failure to flourish is their fault or Israel's fault. Many believe the issue is far simpler and more fundamental than that: Have the Palestinians been dispossessed unfairly from the West Bank, and should it be given back to them? If the Palestinians recover their land and establish a state but we conclude, years from now, that they are just a bunch of bumblers who were doing better under Israeli rule, will that mean that their land ought not to have been returned, that their state ought not to have been established? The point, many believe, is that the Palestinians have the right to rule themselves, just like other people. The world, except for Israel and the US, has repeatedly confirmed that right, and the UN long ago set aside a big chunk of land for them. If they screw up, so be it, but let them run their own country, just like the rest of us.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 29, 2007 11:58:47 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 29, 2007 12:16:05 PM PDT
It is not as simple as you make it. There never has been a Palestinian Arab state. When the Arabs took the actions leading to the 67' Six Day War Israel begged Jordan which held the West Bank at that time not to enter the war. They instead attacked Israel and in the course of the counter- attack lost the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
It is important to understand also that the West Bank contains the Biblical heartland of the land of Israel. And also to realize that this area was after the rule of the Jews never made into an independent state.
There is as you point out a large even majority Arab population in the West Bank but there is also a large minority Jewish population. What is to happen to them if the Arabs take over? This is not a small question.
Moreover the Palestinian Arabs whenever given a chance have to this point not known what fair, democratic government is. Israel withdrew from Gaza, and a democratic state did not ensue. Instead came Hamastan.Is that you would like for the West Bank a Palestinian radical entity allied with Iran and Syria, hating the U.S.?
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