Michael Trapido
Michael Trapido

Mearsheimer and Walt: The Israel lobby and US foreign policy

John Mearsheimer, professor of political science at the University of Chicago, and Stephen Walt, professor of international relations at Harvard, published what they have styled a working paper (updated from 2002 through 2007) on the Israel lobby and its effect on US foreign policy.

The March 2006 version may be seen here.

The latest version is that of September 2007, published by Farrah, Strauss and Giroux. It is based upon the following premise: US foreign policy shapes every corner off the globe and in accordance therewith, it is their duty to explain to us (all countries) the forces at work that drive this foreign policy — particularly with regard to the Middle East.

Personal hubris residing within a greater national arrogance.

Having just read Imran Kahn’s article (Guardian, UK) in which he implores the US to stand back if the problems in Pakistan are to be resolved, we might wonder if a US isolationist approach might prove to be of better service in many cases than a warped explanation of what is driving US foreign policy.

Indeed, the same might be said for Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and a host of other countries in the region and beyond who would like to be shaped a little less by US foreign policy, however driven.

Notwithstanding, the conclusion that these two professors have reached is that the problems stem from the unwavering US support for Israel (since the Six-Day War at least) and the “related effort” to spread democracy throughout the region. This has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardised US security.

In plain English: unconditional support for Israel, even putting her interests first and flowing therefrom, the US’s decision to democratise the countries in the region is what’s causing all the problems.

Accordingly, in terms of this theory, if Muslim countries in the region become democracies, Israel is somehow thereby enriched. The fact that the contrary is the case is irrelevant.

Further, they assert, in an effort to attain this goal, set by its Israel-first policy (driven by the American Jewish lobby), the US has jeopardised its own security.

Let’s use Iraq as an example. When Alan Greenspan admitted that Iraq was all about the oil, which everyone save two professors in the US knew to be the case, what it really was all about was the safeguarding of Israeli interests.

Forget the garbage about Saddam, the weapons of mass destruction and the rest; forget the real reason — oil and geo-political factors considered vital to American strategic interests; the real, real, real reason, this week only, for the invasion was that the US was bullied by its Jewish lobby and a policy to protect and further Israeli interests even at the cost of its own security.

And these are professors (by their mothers and anti-Semites, they’re professors).

They make no bones about it either — they claim that nowhere in history has the US been prepared to set aside its own security to advance the interests of another state. And this where there is neither shared moral imperatives nor strategic goals. US Middle Eastern foreign policy arises strictly from domestic politics and the Israel lobby.

As a fop they state that while we may disagree with their conclusions, we cannot disagree with their evidence, which is incontrovertible.


Might we not ask about the spin placed on much of the evidence and the glaring omissions, which make this somewhat less than a working paper until printed out and applied elsewhere? I personally found it thoroughly absorbent, although I do prefer twin-ply.

Having said that the proposition is that American foreign policy in the Middle East, which is driven by the evil forces of the American Jewish lobby, places the interests of Israel before the US and related thereto, the US has set about democratising the region, which is what is pissing everyone off.

And if that is the proposition, what follows is the evidence to prove it. (It’s a riveting read; if anyone has pages 23 to 40, could you forward them to me — I had a bad case of the runs … but I digress.)

Exhibit 1: The great benefactor
The two professors state that Israel, despite being a wealthy industrial nation receives far more in foreign aid than any other country (with little or no real basis therefore).

In addition, it gets special deals, doesn’t have to account for the money and, unlike the rest, gets it all up front.

And that’s not all; if you’re the US’s favourite, this week only, you get diplomatic support as well as the US coming to your rescue in times of war. All this and plenty of latitude in your dealings with your neighbours.

Despite, these geniuses claim, the fact that Israel is not a strategic ally.

All of this presupposes that the US is doing this out of a combination of largesse and pressure from the American Israel lobby.

Let’s examine this: Are they of the belief that the US invaded Iraq because the US, pressurised by the Israel lobby, wanted to democratise the country? That this act, sold to the world on the premise of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction and his propensity for using them, was in fact a ruse? What they really wanted was to send hundreds of thousands of men and women at a cost of billions and billions of dollars to fight for a safer Israel.

Forget the geopolitical factors and vital oil reserves in Iraq; was it all about making Tel Aviv safer for wholesalers?

So that would mean that the first Gulf War, while being sold as retaliation against Saddam for invading Kuwait, was actually an invasion borne out of a deep desire to secure Jerusalem’s continued right to watch reruns of Seinfeld dubbed into Hebrew.

Perhaps if these professors took a closer look at history they might find that American and other Western powers’ propensity for drawing maps that place square pegs in round holes causes more shite than anything the Israel lobby could ever dream up.

Iraq lays claim to Kuwait as a province; this being merely one of the many unhappy situations that lives within the Middle East.

Of course they also forget to mention that the US is not interested in what the local populations think. It intervenes without regard to the fact that any government blessed by the US is considered to be an American puppet.

Perhaps based on their logic they might also want to explain the American approach to Afghanistan and, a bit further afield, Pakistan.

Does the US listen to the people of these countries?

I think not.

Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan are three clear demonstrations that the US does what is in the best interests of America first. If it is giving huge aid to Israel, you had better believe that this is based on factors far more compelling than the Israel lobby.

Exhibit 2: Strategic liability
While Israel may have been a strategic ally during the Cold War, this is no longer the case. At that time, say the professors, it assisted in protecting the US’s other allies like Jordan against Soviet expansion.

After the first Gulf War, where Israel could not intervene effectively, this they claim is proof that Israel is no longer strategic.

In fact, in the War on Terror, Israel is the main reason why the US is being attacked.

If Israel wasn’t the US’s problem it would have no problem with Iran, Syria or Iraq. Why, they could even become nuclear and this, while undesirable, is no major cause for concern.

This based on the mutually assured destruction theory of the Cold War; that is, bomb us to hell, you join us for the ride (to call this uninformed opinion, based upon a superficial reading, is to give it some credibility).

Indeed, say the professors, but for Israel the chances are the US would live in harmony with the Islamic community.

Perhaps they might stop arming half the region, for starters.

If I may make a suggestion: if you genuinely believe the above, then I would expect both of you to immediately call for the removal of American and allied forces from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan; to stop interfering in the politics of these people and take time out to listen to what the Muslim community wants.

Or are the US forces there at a cost running into trillions in order to democratise the people in the name of the Israel-first policy?

Well this Jew says that if that is the case, leave now!

Leave the oil and abandon the geopolitical strongholds that you have taken in the name of democracy, when economics is the only game in town.

And by all things holy, please don’t bullshit the planet that you are doing it to save all decent men and then, when it blows up in your faces, try to use the Israel lobby as your rationale.

If that’s all that’s keeping you there, go now!

The only area that needs addressing is Israel’s relations with her Muslim neighbours. In that regard Jews have to abandon the can’t-be-done approach and begin to believe that, like Northern Ireland and South Africa, there is a solution if we want it badly enough.

Hopefully that day will come soon and we won’t require aid from people like these two anti-Semites.

Jews tend to forget that it was the Muslim community that gave them shelter from the abuses of the Christian world not that long ago.

In an ideal world we would be at peace with all men.

Exhibit 3: The dwindling moral case
The two geniuses then “analyse” the moral case for Israel receiving support:

1. Backing the underdog: Israel, even before the US poured in billions, was beating the rest. Syria has lost Soviet backing, Iran is hundreds of miles away, and so forth.

This from a professor of political science. There are history classes in South Africa who could better analyse this.

Besides the fact that modern technology makes a mockery of their assessment, they appear to be living in the Cold War. While they refer to Osama bin Laden and Iran, are they even aware of the Shi’ite and Sunni divide?

2. Backing a democracy: While the US is a liberal democracy, Israel makes second-class citizens out of its Arab population.

It would be wrong of me to be dismissive on this point. Israel needs to resolve this point as well as arriving at an overall solution with its neighbours. It has to address Muslim issues because as Jews we have to do the right thing even where we believe we are wronged or the situation is unfair. That is what being a Jew means.

Having said that, don’t use Mearsheimer and Walt, two raging anti-Semites, as your guidelines. They wouldn’t know the meaning of a balanced assessment if it was balancing on their heads.

3. Compensation for past crimes: Israel arose out of persecution by the Christian West and therefore is entitled to compensation. Moreover, Israel arose out of the need to address persecution so it booted the Palestinians off the land. Whatever, the US doesn’t owe Israel anything regardless.

While Israel did arise out of inter alia a need to avoid persecution, there are far more compelling biblical reasons why Jews consider Israel their home.

That said, there is a need for Israel to find a peace with the sons of Ishmael, brother of Isaac, which would allow for prosperity rather than assistance. There is no doubt that she can add huge value to the region and the region can add huge value to her.

4. Virtuous Israel versus the Evil Arabs: Neither side owns the moral high ground.

They thereupon set out to spin every act of Israel in defence of their country as evil while the Palestinians, forced into their actions (mention of which there is none), had no choice.

If you wish to propose moral relativism, at least have the decency to balance the books in setting out why this exists.

Perhaps I’m being unfair on the professors — anyone who can appoint these two as professors or publish this garbage as an assessment of US foreign policy in the Middle East is far more culpable.

Accordingly: They believe that strategically and morally there is no basis for the US support for Israel.

Accordingly: I believe they should be spayed and if after a couple of weeks they’re still waffling on, put down. My vet has agreed to a very decent rate.

Exhibit 4: The Jewish lobby
1. What is it: A loose coalition of individuals and organisations working to shape US foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction. While the core of the lobby is American Jews, not all Jews are part of the lobby. While there are differences in approach to policy, both moderates and hard-liners promote US support for Israel. They also include certain Christian groups within the lobby.

And this differs from other lobbies promoting the countries of their ancestors in what way? If the Jewish lobby is considered influential, fantastic. That it shapes American foreign policy in the Middle East against what American analysts believe to be proper and right is the issue.

Would the analysts advising President Bush to invade Iraq and Afghanistan have voted against it?

Are they suggesting that the military advisers to the president believed that the invasion was folly but were overruled by the Jewish lobby?

Are they suggesting that the US’s concern over a nuclear Iran stems from the fact that its president has threatened to wipe out Israel, or is it rather a concern to many of the Sunnis, Europeans, Americans as well as Israel?

Are they suggesting that if Israel were removed from the equation, that Muslim and Arab countries would consider being invaded or threatened by the US as beneficial?

Perhaps they might want to read up on the Middle East before Israel came on the scene. They might also wish to consider the looming power struggle on energy, which will only intensify in the coming decades. How strategically vital to their interests the region will become — perhaps that, rather than the Jewish lobby, may be playing a miniscule part in shaping US policy in the region.

2. Power sources et al: They then go about setting out how the lobby influences Congress, the executive, think tanks, the media and everything else to think Israel-first.

Of course they fail to highlight that the above is done in the ordinary course and neglect to explain the US foreign-policy approach to the issues I’ve outlined above.

If we use Pakistan as our example, the people who live there are highly resentful at the way in which the US has interfered in their domestic affairs.

The US considers Pakistan strategic in its war on terror and because of its possession of nuclear weapons. This for reasons that cannot relate to Israel.

Perhaps, using their arguments they can explain why the US continues to destabilise Pakistan? Why is it not allowing the forces of democracy (the related effort — remember) to simply play out?

Pakistan is not threatening to nuke Israel, so who cares if that government is not pro-American? You’ve got them beat by the mutually assured destruction theory if they threaten the US.

Shaping foreign policy, gentlemen, is dictated by economics and geopolitical considerations that your analysts believe to be in the interests of the US.

If it were otherwise, it would result in a different American approach outside of the region. This is not the case.

If you misguidedly believe that Israel’s disappearance will signal harmony with the Muslim community, you are wrong — taking the time to listen to Muslims, hearing their real concerns and negotiating solutions, even where they are unpalatable to you, will be the only way to achieve that.

In light of the ever-intensifying demand for energy, this could entail a huge sacrifice on the part of the US.

3. The charge of anti-Semitism: This, they say, is the great silencer. Anyone who dares criticise Israel is branded an anti-Semite.

I have some sympathy on the point. I have also had a go at Jews who jump down the throat of anyone who criticises Israel. That is not helping anyone.

Only where there is criticism by anti-Semites who are clearly Jew-bashers posing as intellectuals should we intervene. That is why I often give people the benefit of the doubt.

I only respond to genuine anti-Semites like professors Mearsheimer and Walt; people who say things like “America shapes the world! American Jews shape the way America shapes the Middle East because they are pro-Israel and have taken over to the extent that America puts Israel’s interests before her own.”

Exhibit 5: The tail wagging the dog
What is of great concern to the two professors is that President Bush was scaling down the US’s interest in the Middle East but was forced by the lobby not only to give aid but also to condone the repression of the Palestinians and thereafter target Iran, Iraq and Syria as Israel’s main enemies.

Note that in their reading of the situation up to “the Invasion of Iraq”, the events of 9/11 and the American public response thereto are ignored completely.

Anyone reading these two anti-Semites a hundred years from now would believe that a docile the US was coerced by its Jews to attack the Middle East against its better judgement.

Right throughout this toilet paper, the two professors omit the bulk of the salient facts surrounding the issues.

1. Invasion of Iraq: This was for Israel, not oil, say the professors. In fact, before 9/11 the US was totally disinterested despite the urgings from the lobby and Israel. Then it got a boost from 9/11, which converted Bush and Cheney on the invasion.

In other words, 9/11 and the oil were side issues to the main reason the US attacked Iraq. The real reason was the Israel lobby.

(Have them spayed now — this pair must not be allowed to breed or 100 000 years from now we’ll be infested with goblin-like creatures.)

As I said above, get out of Iraq now, if that is the case. There are no geopolitical considerations keeping you there. Bring the troops home.

If anything else, the sidelining of the issue of 9/11 and the opportunity it opened up to seize control of Iraq and its oil are unequivocal confirmation of the systematic selection of anything anti-Israel and omission of salient data, used by these geniuses to prove their point.

They did not draw conclusions from evidence, but rather started with a conclusion and went shopping for the evidence to fit that conclusion. Anything contrary was left on the shelf.

2. Regional transformation: Iraq was merely the stepping stone in transforming the entire region to make it safer for Israel. Before the first Gulf War, the US stood back. Afterwards it felt that rather than using Iran and Iraq to cancel each other out, a presence was needed. This stemmed from the Israel lobby that fought to retain it, and after the invasion to remodel the region to suit its liking.

It is understandable that they would believe that the US’s involvement on the ground after the first Gulf War was down to the Jews in the US. The invasion of Kuwait, the oil and 9/11 are mere props in the main game, according to the professors.

I’d love to hear them give a talk on evolution: “First dere was der dinosaurs, den de asteroid, den de Jews.”

3. Syria: President Bush was a great fan of Syria and was thinking of making it an American state, but Bugsy Segal started Las Vegas (hell … they started this!).

If our geniuses are to be believed, Syria and the US have always gotten along until the lobby got hold of it. Its strategic importance to the Shi’ites, which results in its aligning itself with Iran, is, of course, neither here nor there.

4. Iran: While it does concern the US, that is only because of its danger to Israel. That is the sole reason why the US has been targeting Iran. The US has lived with a nuclear Russia, China and so forth, so why would this concern it unduly?

Answers on a postcard to Dear Professor John or Dear Stephen … Note: Please include lots of drawings and colour them in.

5. Summary: Israel gets the US to bash all its enemies and if everyone lands up hating them, so what, they’ve got the world’s only superpower on their side.

You put de lime in de coconut, you drink it all up.

And that is the case for the persecution, M’Lad.

They then set about giving their …


1. Can the lobby be curtailed? Difficult, but yes. If the US can bring peace to Israel and the Palestinians, it could deal with the extremists.

Of course one man’s extremist is another man’s devout worshipper. But who are we to point this out? You don’t think they might want to ask the Muslim community what is regarded as extreme? Maybe test their aspirations to see whether what they are combating is a mainstream religion and thereby start negotiations from that platform instead of trying to remove its exponents?

2. It can’t happen soon because the lobby is too strong — which causes terrorism and stops the Palestinian/Israeli peace process.

Perhaps they should just keep removing “extremists” while they think about this one. After all, any Muslim who dreams of, for example, a caliphate or broader Arab state, which might hog all the oil, is going to be considered fucking extreme, not so?

Relax, professors, you can always nuke those and confirm that it was as a direct result of the lobby putting pressure on the US.

3. Thanks to the lobby (Vos dos? A lobby is an American Jew), the US enables Israel to commit crimes against Palestinians (goodbye, relativity — hello, partisanship), makes it difficult to enlist assistance in the fight against al-Qaeda and makes it difficult to call for proliferation of nukes when Israel has them and lots of stuff.

The US, as we type this, is preparing to abandon its arsenal of nuclear weapons; stop attacking Iran, Iraq and Syria until it first finds out what it is that Muslims want, without threatening them if they like the ideas of the “extremists”; and allow others in Pakistan, Cuba, South America and wherever to decide for themselves what it is that they really want.

Only kidding, guys; we all know it’s the lobby that is really pissing everyone off.

My conclusion
Why not buy a nice, shiny toy and send it to an American professor today? Little bastards seem to love those things.

  • Khadija Sharife

    Some people might say the foundation of your work which rests upon your perspective alone and the words of Alan Greenspan, himself a Zionist, is biased..They might go on to conclude that Greenspan said what he did in order to provide a contrived sort of distraction – the kind that only economists can give, whilst still allowing for some measure of justifiable excuse to enter the equation..

    The U.S did not attack Iraq for oil, because it would have been far cheaper overall for the statecraft of the U.S to maintain relations with a monster that they created – few Iraqi’s like Saddam and the rate of extracting crude oil from the ground in an area mired in political instability coupled with costs of a war that the U.S has had to fight on a deficit economy refutes the necessity of such a claim, from Greenspan especially who is notorious for saying thing and doing another.. Rather, it was the Euro for Oil programme which threatened the economic hegemony of the U.S who has a currency pretty much secured on their geo-strategic access to oil, lending not to their military presence but to their close alliances with the GCC countries who have already secured a favorable status in the Middle East for Israel. Whilst it would not correct to blow the influence of Israel as an entity out of proportion, it would be correct and true to fact to emphasis the necessity of securing a foot in the Middle East such as Israel, to destabilize a continent who on emerging from colonialism, were subject to further military occupations, this in a more permanent way.
    There is no doubt that the Israeli are capable of maintaining a presence in the Middle East through American financing only, this because it divides the Middle East and overly exaggerates the presence of U.S alliances, such as the Arabs, who are ethnically comprised only of the Saudi and the Yemeni.The Levant (Syria, Lebanon etc) The Caspian and Persian elements, the Iraqis too are a different ethnicity….