Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Israel Lobby. There's no such thing.

There is much talk recently about the "Israel Lobby" and its detrimental influence on our foreign policy. A new working paper by John Mearsheimer and Stephan Walt has brought this subject to the fore again and Max Boot has heroically come to the rescue of Aipac in an Op-Ed in the L.A Times. Boot sets out to discredit this new attack on "the friends of Israel" by arguing that it's just as "nutty" as the anti-communist ravings of Robert Welsh of the John Birch Society. Welsh used copious footnotes to prove his fevered paranoia of an imminent communist take over, and so too, Mearshhiemer and Walt's 83 pages of text and 211 footnotes produce "evidence to prove the unbelievable." (We don't need no stinkin' footnotes!)

Before you even bother to look into what the paper says or check out the references it uses to back up its conclusions, just know that it’s all anti-Semitic paranoia. That's usually the argument that ends all discussion when it comes to Israel. Any other issue under the sun is up for debate in a democracy like the United States, except Israel. But anti-Semitism isn't the only arrow Boot has in his quiver, besides the fallacious footnotes there's the "faulty reasoning," like, for instance, the "terminal lack of seriousness" in Mearshiemer and Walt's proposition that: "The mere existence of the Lobby suggests that unconditional support for Israel is not in the American national interest. If it was, one would not need an organized special interest group to bring it about." (How crazy is that?) If that were true Boot counters, "Social Security, the Second Amendment and Roe v. Wade must not be 'in the American interest' either, because they are all defended by even more powerful lobbies."

Of course, the problem with Boot's line of reasoning is that, these are all domestic policy issues and all of those supposedly "even more powerful lobbies" are not receiving funding from a foreign power. That's the crux of the issue with the Israel Lobby. Americans lobbying their leaders in the government is one thing, but a foreign power using its money and influence to manipulate the Congress, the media and even American elections to get its way is quite another. (Better get back the anti-Semitism thing.) Especially, a supposedly friendly foreign power that has been spying on our political and economic secrets for decades: The most extreme example being the case of Jonathan Pollard ---considered to be an Israeli national hero --- who passed tens of thousands of pages of U.S. military and intelligence data to Israel and who is now serving life in prison for causing damage "beyond calculation" to our national security, according to prosecutor Joseph Di Genova.

Friends may spy on friends, but they don't turn around and give what they've pilfered to our enemies. The data Pollard gave Israel somehow wound up in the Soviet Union which led to the executions of Russians in America's employ and put thousands of American soldiers at risk. And even more dangerously for our national security, the information that Pollard took from his job in Naval intelligence has helped Israel make its submarines, with their nuclear tipped cruise missiles --- also provided by us ---virtually undetectable to our intelligence services. No matter how benign the intentions of Israel may be, we surely cannot tolerate any other country to roam the oceans of the world with impunity with silent nuclear-armed submarines.

The cost of our friendship with Israel and World War IV:

Some might say that our slavish support for Israel and the zillions of dollars we've spent on it has been all in one direction. Boot concedes that, "the United States has paid a price for supporting Israel," but he claims it's not as great as the price we've paid "for supporting other embattled allies." Really? The price for supporting Israel has been pretty steep if you consider not only the "subsidies" we've sent to Israel to the tune of about $1.6 trillion the past thirty years, but also the extra cost of security we pay at the pump to keep our oil supplies safe from Israel's Arab enemies, who now hate us too. Most Americans could probably understand putting our troops in harms way to fight Hitler in WWII and maybe even to fight the Chinese in Korea or the Vietminh in Vietnam, but fighting World War IV for Israel? Is the support for Israel among the American people really that overwhelming as the "friends of Israel" claim for such an enterprise?

I know there are all those crazy people out there like Mearsheimer and Walt who are "exercised about the power of the Hebrews" and their buddies David Duke and Pat Buchanan, who believe "the invasion of Iraq was a Zionist plot," but what about Phillip Zelikow? A senior adviser to president Bush and executive director of the 9/11 commission, a person in-the-know and not particularly noted for being a hater of the Joos, has also said the invasion of Iraq was solely for the benefit of Israel. "Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? he asked. "I'll tell you what I think the real threat (is) and actually has been since 1990 -- it's the threat against Israel."

And perhaps a reasonable argument could be made that Looney ideas of Israeli intellectuals like Norman Podhoretz, who thought the creation of a moderate Arab democracy in the Middle East would cause regimes bent on Israel's destruction to collapse, has now become our own. Podhoretz wrote in 2002 that such a democratic purge should not be confined to Bush's 'axis of evil' countries, but should also extend to the replacement of all the regimes on Israel's hit list. "At a minimum the axis should extend to Syria and Lebanon and Libya, as well as to 'friends' of America like the Saudi royal family and Egypt's Husni Mubarak," he wrote.

And what about the horrible mess this misguided strategy has landed us in? As if looking into a crystal ball Podhoretz wrote, "There is no denying that the alternative to these regimes could easily turn out to be worse, even (or especially) if it comes into power through democratic elections," because, "very large numbers of people in the Muslim world sympathize with Osama Bin Laden and would vote for radical Islamic candidates of his stripe if they were given a chance. Nevertheless, there is a policy that can head it off, provided the U.S. has the will to fight World War IV--- the war against militant Islam---to a successful conclusion, and provided that we then have the stomach to impose a new political culture on the defeated parties."

The question is do the American people have the "stomach" to fight a generational world war on Islam? That's where the Lobby comes in; to make sure none of our leaders or the media dares to question whether this is really in our best interests. This is why the Lobby is so dangerous to our national security. Name me one other country in the world that would let itself be led around by the nose like this?

Next stop, Iran.


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