Harvard, the Israeli Lobby, Prince Charles.
Harvard's new "working paper" on the "Israel lobby" and American foreign policy.
By The Scrapbook
04/03/2006, Volume 011, Issue 27
But Is It Good for Harvard?
The time has long passed when association with Harvard University conferred an imprimatur of presumed seriousness or even common sense on the output of its scholars. Still, it comes as a shock to read a polemic as vulgar as the "working paper" penned earlier this month by the academic dean of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, Stephen M. Walt, and John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, carrying the title "The Israel Lobby and American Foreign Policy." A shorter version of this travesty of scholarship appeared in the London Review of Books. It purports to explain President Bush's foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, as being almost entirely determined by a nefarious "Israel Lobby," which supposedly dragged this country into the Iraq war at the behest of Tel Aviv. The effort has been correctly identified as gross propaganda by the excellent reporters at the New York Sun and the Forward. The latter noted in an editorial:
"The core of the Lobby," [Mear-sheimer and Walt] write, "is comprised of American Jews who make a significant effort in their daily lives to bend U.S. foreign policy so that it advances Israel's interests." To be sure, they hasten to add, "not all Jewish-Americans are part of the Lobby." One 2004 survey found that "roughly 36 percent of Jewish-Americans said they were either 'not very' or 'not at all' emotionally attached to Israel." Good news: No more than 64% of American Jews are out to undermine America.
According to Mearsheimer and Walt, the Lobby (they always use a capital L) is so vast it unites not just Jews but "prominent Christian evangelicals like Gary Bauer, Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed, and Pat Robertson, as well as Dick Armey and Tom DeLay," not to mention a group they charmingly dub "neoconservative gentiles," such as "John Bolton, the late Wall Street Journal editor Robert Bartley, former Secretary of Education William Bennett, former U.N. Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick, and columnist George Will." The Lobby also infected the policies of the Clinton administration and dictates policy not just at magazines like this one, but also at the New York Times and most think tanks in Washington. In short, anyone of significance who has ever disagreed with Mearsheimer and Walt's neorealist foreign policy prescriptions is suspect, especially the Jews.
In real life, of course, the individuals and groups they identify have divergent and in some cases mutually hostile views about the conduct of U.S. foreign policy. Hawks when it comes to the Middle East tend to be hawkish about the rest of the world, too. Many of the Iraq interventionists also backed intervention on behalf of Bosnian Muslims, not to mention U.S. aid and comfort to Tibetan Buddhists, Confucians in Taiwan, and animists in Rwanda. Israeli views, for that matter, are all over the map about what the Bush administration is and should be up to in the Middle East and Iraq. Honest scholars of U.S. policy in the Middle East will be amused to learn that the word OPEC appears only once in the 83-page paper and that "AIPAC and its allies . . . have no serious opponents in the lobbying world." Men perspire and ladies glow, goes the adage. So Arabs, we suppose, don't lobby, they just bestow gifts, like the $20 million Saudi prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abd al-Aziz Al-Saud recently gave to the Kennedy School.
Illinois GOP Update
Last week brought two pieces of much-needed good news for the beleaguered Illinois state Republican party--reduced as it's been to minority status in both houses of the legislature and a single statewide office, and humiliated over the past five months by the federal racketeering and mail fraud trial of former governor George Ryan.
Item number one: For the second straight Thursday, an apparently deadlocked jury was sent home for a long weekend without having found Ryan guilty. Could've been worse, right?
Item number two: Preliminary results from last Tuesday's 3rd Congressional District primary (southwest Chicago and adjacent suburbs) indicate that its GOP nominee will be retired entertainer Raymond Wardingley, better known in the area as Spanky the Clown. Which is just what it sounds like: bright red fright wig, floppy shoes, and all.
Defying what's become conventional wisdom among GOP strategists this election cycle, Wardingley's defeated opponent, 58-year-old Chicago insurance broker Art Jones, had openly embraced Iraq as a central campaign issue--urging that our troops be withdrawn and the president impeached for conspiring with his "corrupt, neoconservative, kosher-approved cohorts" to take us to war on behalf of "a foreign nation [Israel]." The appeal of this otherwise arresting message may have been limited, local insiders report, by the fact of the candidate's past membership in the National Socialist White People's party. In the end, only about 30 percent of 3rd District Republican primary voters--some 4,500 of them--proved willing to cast their lot with a neo-Nazi. Believe it or not, that's the good news.
Like many, The Scrapbook had hoped that Prince Charles would spend his post-Diana years galloping his horsy second wife off into the sunset. Not so much out of consideration for his personal happiness, but so that we wouldn't have to hear from him again. No such luck.
Freed from the constraints of starring in his long-running tabloid soap opera, Charles has found new life as a scold and Islamophile. Rarely passing up a chance to decry Western materialism, he prefers to pay lip service to the less consumer-driven, living-in-darkness lifestyle of the Middle East. He's even gone so far as to greet houseguests, such as actor Al Pacino, in flowing Muslim robes--the better to stay loose when hanging out at his 5 million pound Highgrove estate, studying the Koran.
Last week, Charles started a new leg of his World Aggravation Tour, this time in Cairo, where he delivered his "Unity in Faith" speech at Al-Azhar University, while picking up an honorary doctorate. Now, it seems, the man who complained to 60 Minutes about the difficulty of staying relevant, the man who has brought joy to tens as patron of everything from the Border Stick Dressers Association to the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition to the National Hedgelaying Society, has met his highest calling: that of diversity trainer.
While Charles's speech lightly swatted his audience on the knuckles for religious extremism, he mainly stayed safe, couching everything in the Nerf-bat phraseology that middle managers in office parks the world over inflict on their charges in order to satisfy Human Resources requirements. He talked of the need for "unity through diversity," of what we can "learn from Islam that will help us reintegrate with nature," and "the danger that comes of our failure to listen and to respect what is precious and sacred to others." A little more sensitivity on the part of the West, and there apparently wouldn't have been those deaths in the cartoon riots, not to mention all that burnt Danish cheese.
Some of our Muslim brothers, however, saw Prince Charles for what he is: an inveterate putterer. When news broke that he was collecting an honorary doctorate, Abdel Azim el-Mataani, a lecturer in Arabic literature at the university, couldn't understand why: "All that Prince Charles did is to say that Islam is the most widespread religion in the world, and that is a reality, not a discovery by the prince. That is not enough to receive such a prestigious award." Welcome to our hell, Abdel. If you don't like Prince Charles feigning expertise in your subject, get in line behind the Hedge-layers and Border Stick Dressers.
Meanwhile, the prince has won a lawsuit to keep his journal out of the papers. Too bad, as the private prince shows a real spark. In the journal, he reportedly called China's leaders "appalling old waxworks." We're placing an advance order for the posthumous diaries.
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