Thursday, July 06, 2006

Mearsheimer and Walt

This morning NPR interviews professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt whose paper on the Israel Lobby created a firestorm of criticism. If you are interested in this issue you should definitely look at this critique by Michael Massing from the New York Review of Books which does an excellent job of surveying the reactions to the Mearsheimer/Walt piece and of critiquing the paper in a scholarly fashion (You may be surprised by Massing's conclusions!) This interview by NPR is pretty thin on substance which is why I recommend the Massing article.

A few further notes of interest in this interview. Inskeep says, "Gentlemen can we get to the underlying issue beneath all of this debate: is it in the US national interest to provide support to Israel?" (I thought Inskeep was going to say that the underlying issue is the charge of anti-Semitism cast on the authors--or, for that matter, anyone who criticizes Israeli expansionist/repressive policies.) Walt answers the given question by stating his belief that support for Israel's existence and defense is a crucial US interest and one that he and Mearsheimer support, but "'s a separate question whether the United States should be providing unconditional backing for Israel and all of Israel's policies, most notably the continued occupation and control over the Palestinians and the refusal to negociate a long term peace settlement with the Palestinians." To this Inskeep cuts in to say, "I should mention, Steven Walt, just to note that Israeli spokesmen would dispute almost every phrase of what you just described..." and when Walt tries to respond Inskeep cuts him off by asking, "John Mearsheimer, what do you think?" This filling in as a hypothetical spokesperson for an antagonistic viewpoint is an interesting role for Inskeep to take, given that Israeli spokespeople frequently get unchallenged airtime on NPR. What do you think?

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