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The Israel lobby revisited « Previous | |Next »
June 18, 2006

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's Israeli Lobby argued that "the loose coalition of individuals and organizations who actively work to shape U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction". In a commentary on this text Kathy and Bill Christison describe the criticisms of the Israeli lobby thesis by those on the Left:

These critics on the left argue from an assumption that U.S. foreign policy has been monolithic since World War II, a coherent progression of decision-making directed unerringly at the advancement of U.S. imperial interests. All U.S. actions, these critics contend, are part of a clearly laid-out strategy that has rarely deviated no matter what the party in power. They believe that Israel has served throughout as a loyal agent of the U.S., carrying out the U.S. design faithfully and serving as a base from which the U.S. projects its power around the Middle East....These critics do not dispute the existence of a lobby, but they minimize its importance, claiming that rather than leading the U.S. into policies and foreign adventures that stand against true U.S. national interests, as Mearsheimer and Walt assert, the U.S. is actually the controlling power in the relationship with Israel and carries out a consistent policy, using Israel as its agent where possible.

Well, that is how I've come to understand the situation in terms of the advancement of the US imperial interest. The American left see Israel as a base from which U.S. power is projected throughout the Middle East.

However, I don't accept that Israel does the U.S.'s bidding in the Middle East in pursuit of its imperial objectives, which Washington would pursue even without Israel.It isar more complex than this --as the Christisons argue.

The Christison's question the presumption of US policy coherence in the Middle East, highlight the ad hoc nature of virtually every administration's policy planning process, and give instances where Israel was the senior partner in this particular policy initiative.They say:

The fact of a strong government-corporate alliance does not in any way preclude situations ­ even in the Middle East, where oil is obviously a vital corporate resource ­ in which the U.S. acts primarily to benefit Israel rather than serve any corporate or economic purpose. Because it has a deep emotional aspect and involves political, economic, and military ties unlike those with any other nation, the U.S. relationship with Israel is unique, and there is nothing in the history of U.S. foreign policy, nothing in the government's entanglement with the military-industrial complex, to prevent the lobby from exerting heavy influence on policy.

It cannot be said that the U.S. is Israel's master, or that Israel always does the U.S. bidding, or that the lobby has no significant power. It's in the nature of a symbiosis that both sides benefit, and the lobby has clearly played a huge role in maintaining the interdependence.

The Christisons say that it is the power of the lobby to continue shaping the public mindset, to mold thinking and, perhaps most important, to instill fear of deviation that brings this intellectual political class together in an unswerving determination to work for Israel. The ask: does not the massive effort by AIPAC, the Washington Institute, and myriad other similar organizations to spoon-feed policymakers and congressmen selective information and analysis written only from Israel's perspective have a huge impact on policy?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:38 PM | | Comments (0)