. Surprisingly, he doesn't like the book. Those who insist, like Cohen, that the creation of Israel was a mistake, should love this book. But Cohen tells us:
In the end, Mearsheimer and Walt disappoint. They had an observation worth making and a position worth debating. But their argument is so dry, so one-sided -- an Israel lobby that leads America around by the nose -- they suggest that not only do they not know Israel, they don't know America, either.
So what? If Cohen could write, at the height of the Lebanon war, that Israel was a mistake, then what can he expect of Mearsheimer and Walt? After all, you can't get much more one-sided than supporting the Hezbollah!
Cohen buys most of Mearsheimer and Walt's argument. He thinks the people who make U.S. policy are incompetent, and do not do what is in the best interests of the United States for strange reasons.
...in their fashion they are right, too, about Israel; it is a strategic liability.
If Israel was conceived as a strategic liability, it would not get US support. If Israel really IS a strategic liability, then why does the US support it, if not because of the machinations of the international Zionist conspiracy? US support for Israel, which really began only after 1967 is founded on purely Machiavellian conceptions -- Israeli-held territories provide the leverage by which the US wins support in the Middle East. (see here about US Policy and Israel)
Cohen also buys the lie about "realism":
Mearsheimer and Walt are prominent foreign policy realists. Realists bring out the scales for every problem, weighing every element. They are forbiddingly rational -- all mind, no heart.
"Realism" dictates American support of Saudi Wahhabis and dictated American support for Saddam Hussein in 1968, as well as support for the Islamists in Afghanistan in 1979. The wreckage of the Twin Towers should have been left as it was, and someone should have put up a big sign there, reading, "This is the result of realism." "Realism" helped to create the monster of Jihadism, and realism tolerates Saudi funding of Madrassahs that are undermining rational rule in the Middle East. It is not a rational policy, unless suicide is rational.
Cohen has some strange ideas:
The argument can be made also that America's policy of supporting almost anything the Israeli government does -- from permitting West Bank settlements to launching disastrous wars such as last summer's in Lebanon -- is no good for Israel, either. Certainly, the so-called Israel lobby, mostly funded and controlled by conservative elements in the American Jewish community, has done Israel no favor by not criticizing West Bank settlements or the harsh treatment of Palestinians. Friends don't allow friends to build settlements .
Whoever heard of a lobby organization criticizing the organization for which it lobbies? Do the tobacco lobbies ever mention that cigarettes might be hazardous to your health? Does the Aramco corporation criticize the funding of extremist Madrassahs by Saudis or the fact that women in Saudi Arabia can't get a license to drive an automobile, or confiscation of Bibles? Wouldn't they be doing Saudi Arabia a favor by offering such criticism? Does the Iran lobby criticize the hanging of homosexuals and the murder of Bahai women Sunday school teachers? As for the United States, it has never hidden its distaste for settlements, and has insisted that settlements are "an obstacle to peace." The United States does not even officially admit that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel or that it is a part of Israel. So much for the vaunted influence of the "Israel Lobby." But Israel is an independent country and can do what it likes. Did France or the United States stop their "friend" Lebanon from harboring the genocidal Hezbollah, allowing them to hoard thousands of rockets and allowing them to attack Israel? Does the United States stop their "friend" Egypt, recipient of $2 billion in foreign aid annually, from persecuting Coptic Christians, and publishing vile denunciation of Jews in their media, including support for the veracity of the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion? Why not? Isn't that what friends are for? It is just not done, and Cohen knows it, and the idea is absurd.
By the time I put down the book, occasional critic of Israel though I am, I was ready to burst into "Hatikvah," the Israeli national anthem.
Cohen may be beginning to understand the kind of thinking behind anti-Israel propaganda. Maybe the popularity of this book is not such a bad thing, if it can convert a man like Cohen into a Zionist. But Cohen cannot name the thing for what it it is. George Shultz, who is not Jewish, is not afraid to tell it like it is:
Defaming the Jews by disputing their rightful place among the peoples of the world has been a long-running, well-documented, and disgraceful series of episodes across history. Again and again a time has come when legitimate criticism slips across an invisible line into what might be called the "badlands," a place where those who should be regarded as worthy adversaries in debate are turned into scapegoats, targets, all-purpose objects of blame.
In America, we protect all speech, even the most hurtful lies. We allow a virtual free-for-all by which laws are adopted, enforced, and interpreted. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent yearly to influence this process; thousands of groups vie for influence. Among these are Jewish groups that have come under renewed criticism for being part of an all-powerful "Israel lobby," most notably in a book published this week by Profs. Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer.
You don't have to be Jewish to smell anti-Semitism in Mearsheimer and Walt's book. In fact, Jews are often the most reluctant to admit the unpleasant facts, especially if they are no friends of Israel.
Jewish anti-Zionists who are part of the bash-Israel crowd, always delude themselves into thinking "they don't mean us, they only mean Israel." Like the German Jews who thought the Nazis were only against "ostjuden" - Eastern Jews, certain Jews arrive at a moment of truth when they realize, "Hey - they really do mean us, after all." Cohen is approaching that point, but he didn't get there yet.
You can write to Cohen here -
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