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Realism vs. Reality

Reader comment on item: CAIR and the Council on Foreign Relations Endorse Mearsheimer/Walt

Submitted by Alex (United States), Sep 21, 2006 at 17:53

We just got done studying the realist theories of Mearshimer and Walt in a seminar course that I am taking at my college, and I have reached two main conclusions about this continuing debacle over the "Israel Lobby":

First, realism tends to focus on foreign policy moreso than on domestic factors, and assumes that the international system consists of unitary, cohesive nation-states all vying for power in a zero-sum game. This theoretical bias seems to have led Mearshimer and Walt to identify actors primarily according to the function that they (supposedly) perform in the anarchic international system, and only thereafter to attribute agency and intentions to these actors. Thus, anyone who advocates the US-Israeli alliance can be grouped under "The Lobby."

Second: Mearshimer and Walt's thinking seems to be a "soft power" version of the ideas advocated by both Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and fascists. The two theorists agree with Ahmadinejad in the existence of what Hannah Arendt called "objective enemies," that is, enemies whose identification shifts according to the expediency of the ideas propagated by those who identify them. So, Ahmadinejad often refers to "the masters of the universe," often not taking the time to define exactly who such actors are, and Mearshimer and Walt--as Dr. Pipes notes--treat "The Israel Lobby" as if it were a metaphysical entity.

Fascists call for the marginalization of certain groups from domestic politics so as to protect what they see as the national interest, as do Mearshimer and Walt. In both cases, however, while Mearshimer and Walt simply want the so-called "Israel Lobby" to be balanced by other actors in US domestic politics and do not call for an end to US sponsorship of the existence of Israel, fascists would prefer more direct means of excluding Jews from domestic debate, and Ahmadinejad openly calls for what the two authors probably keep to themselves. In short, all of these guys are anti-Semites, but Mearshimer and Walt, like many academics, lack "the courage of their convictions."

We can only hope that their ideas--worthless and indefensible (and largely undefended, ironically, considering the two authors' complaints about limited debate concerning the Mideast in America)--do not function for Ahmadinejad the way that the ideas of European intellectuals prior to the Second World War served as pretexts for Hitler's totalitrianism.

Lastly, if these two guys are so worried about the perfidy of domestic lobbies in the US, why are they accepting sponsorship from CAIR, a group known to have Saudi-Wahhabi funding?

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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