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Walt and Mearsheimer don’t think Israel will attack Iran, and neither will we

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I used to think that the left and the realists were going to make a grand bargain. It hasn’t happened (and I’ve fallen between two stools) but there are still inklings. In “Washington’s new antiwar movement,” Jordan Michael Smith at Salon praises the realist group inside the establishment for opposing an Iran war.

Read the whole piece at the link; it describes an important antiwar article (paywall) by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer in the Financial Times and includes Mearsheimer musing on how long it’s been since he was printed in the NY Times. As for the wisdom in my headline, I heard this first from an Iranian at the Penn BDS conference– Israel is getting exactly what it wants out of this uproar, distraction from the Palestinian issue and diminution of its regional competitor. Realists in the leftwing…

Walt and Mearsheimer speak for an entire class of long-silenced voices in Washington’s policy debates: the realists. These are the men and (a few) women who were prominent in the Eisenhower, Nixon and George H. W. Bush administrations, but who have been marginalized with the GOP’s hard-right turn. They believe the United States should narrowly define its national interests, but they also believe America itself has to be restrained, which makes them opposed to the promiscuous use of force.

Here we have Robert Merry, editor of the National Interest, where many of the realists are housed, warning against a war with Iran. The Washington Post published a full-page advertisement this week, paid for by the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC), which took the form of an open letter to President Obama warning him against war. It was signed by eight former U.S. military and intelligence officials, including Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, and Paul Pillar, a former senior CIA analyst, who amplified his views in the Washington Monthly. If Washington has an antiwar movement opposing an attack on Iran, today, these conservative thinkers are in its vanguard.

I spoke with Walt and Mearsheimer, separately, about why they decided to reenter perhaps the most delicate ring in the American political debate. The Op-Ed came about because the British-based FT asked the two political scientists to write it.

“I think it is extremely unlikely that the New York Times would ask us to write such a piece,” Mearsheimer said. “It’s hardly surprising that a newspaper outside the United States asked us to write on Netanyahu’s visit, and an American newspaper like the Times or the Washington Post did not.”..

Interestingly, Walt and Mearsheimer believe that Israel will not attack Iran, and that the United States will not, either. “Israel’s air force capabilities can’t do enough damage to destroy Iran’s nuclear program; they can slow it down but they can’t stop it,” says Walt. “Neither can we, although we can do a lot more damage.” Additionally, Israel has consistently gotten a message from the United States saying it is opposed to a war, and it would be wary of doing something America has explicitly told them not to do. “They would like to keep rattling sabers on the issue to focus attention on the issue, bring the United States into it, and get backing from the Europeans on sanctions, but at the end of the day, I don’t think they will do it.”

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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49 Responses

  1. Krauss on March 8, 2012, 10:49 am

    The GOP right-wing turn was orchastrated from the top.
    Basically, the neocons. They got control of the conservative media and pushed all the realists out.

    You go ahead and ask the folks at American Conservative magazine what happened when they turned on the paleocons in the early 90s. I’m no friend of Pat Buchanan by any stretch but it was a Stalinist purge of just about everyone who didn’t sign up 100 % on Israel. That’s what it was.

    The base never really was for all these wars, but the rise of the Fox News together with 9/11 have brainwashed a large number of grassroots GOP of the ‘totalitarian threat’ of Islam; ergo we must have endless wars.

    We’re seeing some movement away from that with Ron Paul.
    It’s important to seperate the neocons and the Israel Lobby. They often work together but they’re not a single unit. The lobby spends more time policing the Democratic ranks.

    The neocons basically have the total control of the mainstream narrative in the GOP on foreign policy. Thank Bill Kristol and his allies for that.

    But because this hold is basically a reality because of conservative media control(Weekly Standard, National Review and so on) which demands use of constant fearmongering of Islam, I think it can be broken. A lot of young Republicans know people who went into these wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    And they all saw how it was Paul’s opposition to neocon orthodoxy on Foreign policy(especially Israel) that drew the most attacks. The newsletters came later.

    I cannot say I know that much about the Republican party but from what I’ve noticed, many of his supporters are usually young and quite bright. Paul has an intellectual demeanor, even if you disagree with him, it’s hard not to notice that. He isn’t a dull Santorum-esque sloganeer. He writes a lot of books and engages his audience in intellectual discourse.

    And these people will form a significant part of the future Republican elite, especially the libertarian side which is very strong in Beltway. And the forming experience for these people will be the Paul campaign and they will remember what was the biggest opposition to his candidacy: he refused to bow to Israel.

    So combine this with the anti-war moods of the Democratic base, especially the younger crowd and you got yourself an emerging bi-partisan concensus coming to sweep the corrupt orthodoxy off.

    As they say in Afghanistan: they got the watches but we got the time.

    • ahhiyawa on March 8, 2012, 3:08 pm

      With the exile of liberal and moderates the party rank and file of the Republican base is far right, while the leadership positions are still in the hands of a diminished ‘establishment’ elite. This unstable relationship is the source of the stasis that afflicts the party and the disarray in their primary.

      The American political landscape is irrevocably turning from a center/right to a center/left orientation. Its emerging and younger generations are more progressive and globalist in their world views, with unfathomable effects upon America’s political, cultural and social landscapes.

      None of this bodes well for the Republican party if it continues on the course it has set for itself. It has rapidly become the party of far right, ultra-nationalist fanatics, neocons, insane Christian fundamentalists, Zionist traitors and so called fiscal conservatives who are nothing more than goons and shilling stooges for private wealth (nouveau riche – the worst kind) and corporate blood suckers (Romney). They are rapidly becoming the party of the few and will slide again into the political wilderness.

      It was clear to me the fat lady began singing the Republican parties death knell the moment the party arose out of the political wilderness by riding the populist wave against Clinton in the 1994 elections. I warned my fellow republicans about Gingrich, that he was no conservative and didn’t create the populist wave. Clinton did and Gingrich merely exploited it and much else. But drunk with victory they weren’t then and are much less willing to listen today.

      The only hope for the Republican party is defeat in the general election November next. It doesn’t matter who the party chooses to carry the banner, Romney or Santorum, either will fail and the party will sink into bitter acrimony and blood letting.

      • Chaos4700 on March 9, 2012, 8:43 am

        You may or may not be right about that, but this new generation, if it’s truly Progressive in any meaningful characteristic, is going to be emerging politically disenfranchised. For all intents and purposes the US government and the political elite class have declared virtual war on liberal-leaning organizations. Just look at what was done to ACORN and Planned Parenthood (which are only liberal-leaning in that these organizations provide vital services to a whole class of people which capitalism tramples under its wheels).

      • ahhiyawa on March 11, 2012, 11:25 am

        The greatest threat to liberty and the republic is the emergence of the ‘national security state.’ It’s not the elites or the ‘military industrial complex,’ which itself was principally the corrupt axis between congress and corporate (fascist) America. The NSS is its birth-ling, what Eisenhower warned the fools their corruptions would wrought into being.

        That monster came alive under Bush 43’s regency, a behemoth no politician on the left or right dares to deride, which Obama is handling far more effectively than that fool the “Shrub,” or any of its like minded minions on the right. In any case, should the NSS win in the final analysis, the first to the slaughter pens will be the elites the left is so worried about. Tyrants always liquidate the useful idiots first who paved their way to power.

    • annie on March 9, 2012, 1:30 am

      It’s important to seperate the neocons and the Israel Lobby.

      why? give me an example of a lobby person who is not a neocon.

      • hophmi on March 9, 2012, 12:03 pm

        “why? give me an example of a lobby person who is not a neocon.”

        Seriously? There are plenty of liberal democrats who are active in AIPAC. They’re not in any way neocons. Abe Foxman is a good example. So is David Harris.

        Do you really think that everyone who is pro-Israel is a neocon?

      • annie on March 11, 2012, 6:35 am

        Do you really think that everyone who is pro-Israel is a neocon?

        everyone who is pro-Israel is not part of the lobby, tho the lobby likes to pretend they are.

        Abe Foxman is a good example

        a good example of a non neocon? funny.

        There are plenty of liberal democrats who are active in AIPAC

        who says liberal democrats can’t be neocons? walks like a duck talks like a duck. Alan Dershowitz is supposedly liberal too. what a joke.

  2. seethelight on March 8, 2012, 11:05 am

    Free registration @ FT and you can read full piece by W&M without subscribing

  3. Les on March 8, 2012, 11:42 am

    What our media has not reported is that the Ayatolah has forbidden nuclear weapons for Iran. Of course, reporting such would require a kind of follow up that, if attacked by Israel, Iran would be completely within its rights to develop nuclear weapons according to IAEA rules.

  4. Kathleen on March 8, 2012, 11:52 am

    Dr. Brzezinski thinks it will happen before the election. Have not heard anyone but Brezezinski say that President Obama should tell Netanyahu that Israel cannot use US controlled air space to conduct a pre-emptive strike on Iran

    Posted on March 7th, 2012

    • ahhiyawa on March 8, 2012, 3:12 pm

      I’m a long time admirer of Brezezinski going all the way back to the Carter years. I’ll bet his prognosis of the situation is a far lot more optimistic than the one he pronounced in January of this year.

      • Kathleen on March 8, 2012, 4:15 pm

        He has been on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Chris Matthews Hardball, Diane Rehm show recently. He does not sound optimistic. He thinks Israel may attack Iran before the November election.

      • ahhiyawa on March 11, 2012, 12:29 pm

        I’ve searched the web and found no instance of Zbigniew Brzezinski saying “Israel may attack Iran before the November election.” If you have a link I would appreciate it if you would send it.

        The most recent video I have found is one dated from 24 Feb on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria show, before the Netanyahu’s visit. Besides current political events, he still consistently condemns any offensive, unilateral action by the Israelis and waxed loudly about all the negatives that would be unleashed in the region for the US and for Israel.

        And though Brzezinski is not an adviser to Obama, his advise that the prez should tell the Israelis not to attack Iran appears to be the outcome of the Obama/Netanyahu meeting.

  5. Kathleen on March 8, 2012, 11:58 am

    “I think it is extremely unlikely that the New York Times would ask us to write such a piece,” Mearsheimer said. “It’s hardly surprising that a newspaper outside the United States asked us to write on Netanyahu’s visit, and an American newspaper like the Times or the Washington Post did not.”..

    And when have you seen or heard Mearsheimer, Walt, Hillary or Flynt Leverett etc on any of the MSM TV outlets? Or NPR? Yet NPR’s Robert Siegel has Israeli officials on to promote an attack on Iran and does not get near a challenge when Micheal Oren repeats absolute lies? Siegel continues to help set the stage for an attackMiddle East
    Israeli Ambassador Weighs In On Netanyahu Visit
    [4 min 32 sec]ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

    Earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Obama at the White House. The number one topic on their agenda was Iran’s nuclear program. Mr. Obama appealed to the Israeli leader to allow more time to pass for sanctions against Tehran to work rather than resort to military action soon. But Netanyahu insisted that his country remain master of its own fate. And here to talk with us about what all this means is Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren. Good to see you again.

    MICHAEL OREN: Always good to be with you, Robert.

    SIEGEL: The president says the U.S. has Israel’s back, while Prime Minister Netanyahu reserves the right to strike preemptively. Does Israel accept that for several months the world can wait to see if Iran is responsive to sanctions?

    OREN: Well, we think that there is time, but there’s not a lot. Keep in mind we have been warning about this Iranian nuclear program for close to two decades now. We appreciate President Obama’s great commitment. But keep in mind Israel also lives in a very tough neighborhood.

    SIEGEL: Does Israel acknowledge, though, that the current round of sanctions, not all of which have taken effect yet, are indeed tougher than what has been applied to Tehran in the past?

    OREN: Definitely tougher. And we’ve seen that they have had an impact on the Iranian economy. What they have not impacted yet is the Iranian nuclear program.

    SIEGEL: But Israel says that after a strike against Iran, if there is such a strike, there should be a regime of tough sanctions applied against Iran to prevent them from restarting. This was, I believe, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statement. There obviously is an acceptance by Israel in that case of the logic of sanctions.

    OREN: The main goal will always be to prevent Iran from acquiring the ability to make nuclear weapons. This is a regime that is sponsoring terror worldwide. It’s actually the largest state sponsor of terror, giving, you know, tens of thousands of rockets to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas. It’s supporting terror in Africa, in South America. This is all they’re doing without a nuclear weapon. Imagine what they would do with a nuclear weapon.

    SIEGEL: But today, are Israel and the United States essentially in agreement about how to treat the Iranian nuclear program, or would you describe Israel’s view of it as being in some way qualitatively different from that of the U.S.?

    OREN: It’s qualitatively different only in the sense that we are right next to Iran. We’re a much smaller country. We’re less than 1 percent the size of the United States. And the Iranian regime is openly saying it wants these weapons to wipe Israel off the map.

    SIEGEL: Well, what do you make of Iran never conceding that it’s making a nuclear weapon?

    OREN: Well, Iran has systematically lied about its nuclear program for three decades now. They’ve said that they weren’t enriching uranium to 20 percent; they’re enriching uranium to 20 percent. There’s lie after lie after lie here. The way we see that this could be resolved peacefully is that if Iran would give up its nuclear-enriched stockpile of uranium, it would cease enriching, and it would dismantle that secret facility at Qom. I think that’s the way we could be assured that Iran is no longer threatening to wipe Israel, as they say, off the map.

    SIEGEL: The prime minister said that for Iran, the U.S. is the great Satan; Israel is the little Satan. For them, he said, we are you, and you are us. And he said on that point, they’re right. We are you, and you are us. We’re together. That togetherness would also apply to Iranian reprisals for a strike, that is if the U.S. struck at Iran, the Iranian terror counterstrikes could be at Israel or vice versa. In that case, wouldn’t an Israeli preemptive strike be something that the U.S. should be on board with and approve of if we’re going into the risk together?

    OREN: Let’s understand that Iran has already killed hundreds, if not thousands of Americans, whether it be the 241 Marines killed in Beirut or the American soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq by Iran. But rather than focusing on the price of what happens if there’s any type of action against Iran, let’s pause for a second and consider what will be the price of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

    Imagine Iran which today has a bunch of speedboats trying to close the Strait of Hormuz. Imagine if Iran has a nuclear weapon. Imagine if they could hold the entire world oil market blackmailed. Imagine if Iran is conducting terrorist organizations through its terrorist proxies – Hamas, Hezbollah. Now we know there’s a connection with al-Qaida. You can’t respond to them because they have an atomic weapon.

    SIEGEL: Yes. You’re saying the consequences of Iran going nuclear are potentially global, and the consequences of a U.S. strike on Iran might also be further such attacks against the United States. Why shouldn’t the U.S. be informed of any Israeli plan to strike at Tehran given the fact that, as the prime minister says, you are us and we are you?

    OREN: We have very close relationships with the Obama administration, as with the previous administrations. This is a historic alliance between the American and Israeli peoples. And, of course, America’s interests are part of our calculus in anything we do. At the end of the day, though, Israel must have responsibility for itself.

    SIEGEL: Ambassador Michael Oren of Israel, thank you very much for talking with us.

    OREN: As always, thank you, Robert.

    Have never heard NPR’s Robert Siegel have Mearsheimer, Walt, the Leveretts on to discuss Iran.
    Can you imagine hearing any of them say “as always , thank you, Robert”

  6. Patrick on March 8, 2012, 12:18 pm

    The saber rattling helps to keep oil prices high. This may help Iran, but it hurts Obama’s chances of re-election thus serving Netanyahu’s purposes well.

    • ahhiyawa on March 8, 2012, 2:20 pm

      That’s the conventional wisdom, but I believe we are Oswald Spengler’s (the real guy, not the fraud) “dawn men” and women in a new age where old, conventional wisdom’s no longer apply. Its my hunch higher oil prices won’t negatively impact Obama’s chances for a second term.

      • Mooser on March 8, 2012, 3:43 pm

        “That’s the conventional wisdom, but I believe we are Oswald Spengler’s (the real guy, not the fraud) “dawn men” and women in a new age where old, conventional wisdom’s no longer apply.”

        Yeah, and Hale Bebop’s comet should be along soon to pick us up and bring us to our home in the stars.

      • ahhiyawa on March 8, 2012, 5:56 pm

        In a manner of speaking we are already there.

        IBM creates 1Tbps Holey Optochip

        The world is changing exponentially faster than any one singular person can keep up with. Those who remain ideologically and emotionally stuck in dead pasts, cannot get up to speed or connect with the rapidly changing circumstances in our lives.

      • Mooser on March 8, 2012, 6:25 pm

        The world is changing exponentially faster than any one singular person can keep up with. Those who remain ideologically and emotionally stuck in dead pasts, cannot get up to speed or connect with the rapidly changing circumstances in our lives.”

        Wow! That last paragraph sure proves that language is changing faster than I can keep up with. Guess the old subject-predicate model has gone by the wayside.

      • Chaos4700 on March 9, 2012, 8:40 am

        Huh. I’ve fallen behind on keeping up with the tech curve. I was going to write something cynical but opto-electronics (I prefer optronics, because that’s the term Star Trek uses :D) is actually a revolutionary leap in electronics technology. And here I thought practical progress in computer technology had stagnated.

      • Duscany on March 10, 2012, 4:07 pm

        “Its my hunch higher oil prices won’t negatively impact Obama’s chances for a second term.”

        Perhaps you don’t live in fly-over country. My impression is that every time a guy in a pick up truck drives by a gas station and sees the price is over four bucks, he interprets the sign as a subliminal message to vote for anyone but Obama.

      • ahhiyawa on March 11, 2012, 10:06 am

        And that same guy has seen pump prices driven up by wars and market speculation due to senseless saber rattling by Republicans and Israel.

        There are other considerations militating against the conventional wisdom of “anyone but Obama” like hydro carbon depletion, the price of oil determined by supply & demand in the global marketplace, besides the glaring fact it was under the Republican regency the worst blows were wielded against the economy.

        Pre 2000 I would agree, but a lot has changed in the past 12 years with a more aware American voter than whether he or she wanted.

  7. CitizenC on March 8, 2012, 12:30 pm

    I would feel more confident if the US weren’t preparing so eagerly for war, “just in case”, and also preparing Israel for war. For example the US will sell Israel its biggest “bunker busters” and also provide advanced aerial refueling equipment as a result of Netanyahu’s visit.

    Moreover, the US now has 3 aircraft carrier groups in and around the Gulf, which one officer has called a quorum for war. This link is about the 3-carrier rule.

    There has been other discussion about the 3 carriers now present; this stuff is actually on public web sites. Precise dates of sailing and arrival on station are not posted in advance, but such deployments are too big to conceal and generally acknowledged shortly after the fact.

    My head still tells me this is too over the top to happen. My heart isn’t so sure.

    The “realists” are a remarkable phenomenon, politically and historically. They are an establishment in exile, veterans of the Foreign Service and intelligence agencies and Congress, including some of the most talented; Chas Freeman is fluent in Mandarin Chinese (translated for Nixon in China) and Arabic. They are in exile because of their opposition to a Zionist Middle East policy; Loy Henderson was their Moses, exiled to a post remote from his Near East specialty, after leading the State Dept’s opposition to Zionism in the 1940s. Has US history ever seen such an elite division over foreign policy? Not perhaps since the War of 1812.

    They are comparable to the non-Nazi German conservatives in the 1930s, whom Hitler outflanked and purged on his way to total war. If we manage to avoid war on Iran before the presidential election ,it will be a major victory, but it will leave everything, incl Iran, still hanging fire.

    • ahhiyawa on March 8, 2012, 3:16 pm

      The crucial factor isn’t Congress, battle fleets or how much ordnance and aid the US funnels to Israel, its the mindset and intentions of the Chief Executive in the Oval Office. In this and much else Obama is no George Bush 43.

      • Mooser on March 8, 2012, 6:29 pm

        “In this and much else Obama is no George Bush 43.”

        Must be wonderful to have such an intimate and frank personal relationship with Presidents and ex-Presidents. Does Obama call you to tell you his “mindset and intentions” or do you communicate by e-mail?

      • Chaos4700 on March 9, 2012, 8:36 am

        In the only sense that Obama isn’t like Bush is that Congress might as well be sending bills to a rubber stamping machine in the Oval Office. Obama isn’t going to go against Congress, and Congress in its majority is in the pocket of Israel.

        I appreciate how you feel about Obama, I felt that way about him once too (long long ago) but, and I’m sorry, you need to wake up. Gitmo is still open, we’re still in Iraq in any practical sense that matters and no one who kills civilians in our occupations gets punished with any sort of jail time, let alone anyone who tortures (and we have no reason to seriously believe the torturing has stopped).

      • ahhiyawa on March 11, 2012, 10:23 am

        I understand some on the left are disillusioned with Obama, but he still remains infinitely superior in all respects to the insane asylum escapees my sick party is running for the presidency.

  8. Chu on March 8, 2012, 12:59 pm

    All this talk of war helps the crippling sanctions and punishes the middle class of Iran. Israel doesn’t have the capacity to send in bomber jets and return, they run out of fuel.

  9. Chespirito on March 8, 2012, 1:15 pm

    Ha! I’m right there with you btw those two stools Phil.

  10. tombishop on March 8, 2012, 2:28 pm

    U.S. denies Obama promised bunker busters to Netanyahu
    White House statement comes after Israeli media reports claim U.S. President agreed to give Israel the GBU-28 bombs; Netanyahu: Strike on Iran could be matter of weeks or years.

    So who’s lying?

    • ahhiyawa on March 8, 2012, 3:22 pm

      Obviously Netanyahu and his legions of prevaricators in the hope of concealing Bibi’s failure in strong arming Obama into compliance with his ‘red lines.’

    • on March 8, 2012, 7:27 pm

      there’s an article posted somewhere today — can’t find it just this minute — that Israel sold $1.6 billion in weaponry to Kyrgyzstan.

      On Mar 5, NYTimes had an article about Netanyahu’s appearance in DC. There were >230 comments; the first 100 were stridently anti-Bibi, anti-Israel.

      One curious comment, apparently from an Israeli, said, Please stop sending money to us in Israel. The money comes with strings attached — we have to buy US weapons, at premium prices, and we can’t sell weaponry to other nations. If you stop sending us money that we don’t need, we can sell our weapons to other countries and create our own revenue streams.

      maybe that’s why US sends money to Israel — to tamp down arms proliferation.

      • ahhiyawa on March 9, 2012, 4:36 pm

        That’s the dirty little secret in foreign aid to Israel. Attached strings returns most of those aid dollars to US industry and worker payrolls.

    • American on March 8, 2012, 7:44 pm

      Fox News is the one pushing the lie that the US is giving Israel bunker busters….been hawking that all day long. Total zionist propaganda outlet.

  11. DICKERSON3870 on March 8, 2012, 3:30 pm

    RE: “it describes an important antiwar article (paywall) by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer in the Financial Times” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: It’s not exactly a paywall. Free registration allows you to read a limited number of articles in a 30 day period.

  12. CitizenC on March 8, 2012, 5:02 pm

    The two Haaretz articles don’t really contradict. Obama denies promising, but Panetta will handle the request in detail, as the 2nd piece notes. What orders did Panetta get?

    The opportunity for the left to make common cause with the realists was lost decades ago, thanks to the Chomskyite “strategic asset” orthodoxy. The Jewish left so enjoyed sticking it to the gentiles over anti-semitism with “strategic asset” that it never bothered to analyze the sources of US policy, beyond a risible case for “strategic asset”.

    It declined to give cover to the gentile critics like Paul Findley, the grand old man of the Arabophile politicians (in whose district I grew up) and encourage realist academics like Mears and Walt. Nothing budged it from that course, not the 1973 war, not the 1978 or 1982 invasions of Lebanon, not the crushing of the first intifada, or the phoney peace of Oslo, or the second intifada, or 9/11, which was above all an attack on US patronage of Israel.

    Instead of “strategic asset” we should have had a forthright condemnation of the “Israel lobby”, and a complete analysis of American Jewish pro-Israelism. Equally important, there should have been a full depiction of the moral antipodes of those forces, the traditions of anti-Zionism, classical Reform, Marxist internationalism, and what the last Israel Shahak (who calibrated my psyche) called the “modern secular Jewish tradition” which he dated from Spinoza.

    But nooooooe. It was far too much fun policing the left, affecting to be threatened by anti-semitism, when Zionism is the mortal threat to us all. So we see the reductio ad absurdum, at Move Over AIPAC, and again at Occupy AIPAC, of Phyllis Bennis, a bishop under Pope Chomsky on strategic asset, holding forth on opposing the arms industry, even as thousands of AIPACers and the top of the federal government are meeting down the street.

    Even when the left finally organizes a national demonstration, it is so impoverished that the hoary orthodoxy dominates. The panel of the anti-AIPAC experts was again second fiddle this year.

    • Pixel on March 9, 2012, 12:25 am

      … which was above all an attack on US patronage of Israel.”

      look deeper

      • Thomson Rutherford on March 9, 2012, 11:01 am

        CitizenC is correct: 9/11 was indeed an attack on U.S. patronage of Israel. Whether it was no. 1 or no. 2 on Al Qaeda’s list of grievances is not relevant.

  13. Keith on March 8, 2012, 7:35 pm

    “Israel’s air force capabilities can’t do enough damage to destroy Iran’s nuclear program; they can slow it down but they can’t stop it,” says Walt. “Neither can we, although we can do a lot more damage.”

    What a curious statement. As if Iran’s nuclear power program was the primary cause of our actions rather than an obvious pretext. True, if Iran had nuclear weapons to defend itself, that would restrict US/Israel’s freedom to commit aggression. However, the primary reason for our aggression against Iran has to do with US/Israel’s Middle East hegemony. With the completion of a couple of oil and gas pipelines involving Iran, the US ability to hold China hostage to the US for guaranteed access to energy resources will be compromised, and with it, significant geo-strategic leverage. The US has a narrow window of opportunity to reestablish effective control over access to Iranian oil and gas. And to exact retribution for the overthrow of the Shah and escaping US control. The Godfather likes to make examples. And then there is Israel, Saudi Arabia and the gulf monarchies seeking the destruction of Iran.

    An attack would primarily focus on the Iranian air defenses, oil/gas fields and infrastructure in general, with the nuclear facilities thrown in for credibility. The plan would be basically to destroy the country as was done to Iraq in Gulf War I. If successful, Iran would be destroyed economically and militarily. The oil/gas would be brought back on line if and when the US decided to do so. It would not be necessary to occupy Iran, effective control achieved by the surrounding bases, including special operations forces, drones, etc. An attack would likely occur in the fall (October surprise?) or early next year. This option is both fraught with peril and a long time in the planning. Of course, the situation is highly volatile, predictions unreliable. However, should Iran escape imperial control, this would likely result in a major shift in the global power structure.

  14. kma on March 8, 2012, 7:44 pm

    Walt & Mearsheimer say Israel/US won’t bomb Iran because it won’t stop a nuclear program (or ambition). but having seen this movie before, I know the motive is to destroy infrastructure, change regime, divide the country, control the oil. Israel and the US feel perfectly capable of that.
    Israel doesn’t bomb Gaza to rid it of rockets! and Israel and the US have apparently stopped worrying about Iraq’s nuclear program. I don’t see it exactly the way Walt & Mearsheimer do. in fact, I think Israel WANTS Iran to have some sign of enrichment just to have an excuse to commit unspeakable atrocities, and the US is just mean enough to jump right in.

  15. atime forpeace on March 8, 2012, 8:01 pm

    Prof’s Walt and Mearsheimer should receive the Medal of Freedom for having spearheaded the assault on “the lobby that doesn’t exist”.

  16. anonymouscomments on March 8, 2012, 8:14 pm

    an attack on iran, from israel and/or the US, is obviously a disaster and counterproductive, therefore i have often *hoped* it was a distraction. but might counterproductive be exactly what israel needs? might radicalization and regional turmoil be what the zionist right *wants*, and gains power from?

    i think we have to assess- what will the right wing powers in israel will do, if there is NOT an iran war? they cannot cry wolf endlessly to distract, and if there is not a war, there will have to be an agreement between iran and the western powers eventually….

    where will this leave israel? israel has *destroyed* the 2SS, and given their right wing slide, peace is politically impossible out of israel, short of a civil war. even that seems unlikely, as no coalition would even be able to attempt a viable 2SS, and a just 1SS is also untenable given zionism.

    where does this leave us? i think (likud/right) zionism has been intent on kicking the can down the road, grabbing territory, and driving the *clash of civilization* as the main cover on the global scene.

    zionism in its dominant political form is highly racist and expansionist. zionism itself and the idea of a jewish state is unable to defend the injustice it was built upon, and the injustice it continues to add to, *unless* there are major ethnic and religious divides. in its ultimate expression this requires a deep divide between the west and the arab/muslim world.

    israelis are obsessed with europe’s (manufactured) “muslim” problem. they are almost proud in seeing political islamophobia in europe, and act like “i told you so” as if this justifies their thick collective racism/bigotry. in the USA it is very clear that right wing zionists and neocons are key forces driving both islamophobia and the disastrous “war on terror” that in fact creates more radicalism and sincere terrorists than it “liquidates”.

    where does this end? the interconnected world, sharing ideas, and seeking understanding and peace are threatening. the iran conflict seems inevitable should the zionists want it, and i think they have no other “choice”, as stability is their biggest threat.

    fortunately, the iran disaster might be the final scene in this horrible saga. no idea how it could play out post-iran, but if truth and knowledge prevail, israel *should* loose its support from the west and much of world jewry. perhaps israelis will finally look at themselves and ask what they have done. on the other hand, if the xenophobic and fascistic elements prevail, especially in the US, we may have an orwell/huxley distopia. regardless, the next few years will be intense.

    • Pixel on March 9, 2012, 12:15 am

      “israelis are obsessed with europe’s (manufactured) “muslim” problem. they are almost proud in seeing political islamophobia in europe, and act like “i told you so” as if this justifies their thick collective racism/bigotry.”

      Actually, a European version of the Israel Lobby exists over there.

      It’s all connected. Everything is connected.

    • Pixel on March 9, 2012, 12:31 am

      “israelis are obsessed with europe’s (manufactured) “muslim” problem. they are almost proud in seeing political islamophobia in europe, and act like “i told you so” as if this justifies their thick collective racism/bigotry.”

      A European version of the Israel Lobby also exists.

  17. chris o on March 8, 2012, 10:16 pm

    I just looked at the NY Times archives. Mearshimer had an opinion piece 1st published in Feb. 1991 on the first Gulf War. F0llowing is the list
    * 1993- Bosnia
    * 1996 – Bosnia
    * 1997 – Bosnia
    * 1998 – Nuclear Proliferation
    * 1998 – Bosnia
    * 1999 -Kosovo
    * 2000 – India and The Bomb
    * 2001 (Jan) – Israel/Palestine peace talks -Clinton’s last gasp; highly recommended in retrospect –
    * 2001 – Afghanistan invasion
    *2003 – Pending Iraq war (with Walt)

    That’s it. Then in 2006, there is a news article about the controversy on the Lobby after the piece was published in the London Review of Books. And he hasn’t had an article since. With Walt, he did publish a letter responding to Leslie Gelb’s review of their book in 2007.

  18. G. Seauton on March 8, 2012, 11:26 pm

    I’ve got to hand it to Walt and Mearsheimer. I can’t help but agree with them. I’ve been thinking almost exactly along the same lines for quite a while.

    In fact, it has seemed to me for quite some time that I should just issue a challenge for people on this site to give me odds that there would be a war against Iran within the next year (careful, odds are usually against). I figured, with all the comments I’ve been reading lately, that I’d get odds of at least 20 to 1 for. I’d bet against and make a killing (so to speak).

  19. kalithea on March 9, 2012, 12:46 am

    How foolish and naive everyone is regarding Obama.

    “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested the United States approve the sale of advanced refueling aircraft as well as GBU-28 bunker-piercing bombs to Israel during a recent meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, a top U.S. official said on Tuesday.

    The American official said that U.S. President Barack Obama instructed Panetta to work directly with Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the matter, indicating that the U.S. administration was inclined to look favorably upon the request as soon as possible.

    During the administration of former U.S. President George Bush, the U.S. refused to sell bunker-penetrating bombs and refueling aircrafts to Israel, as a result of American estimates that Israel would then use them to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities.”

    So, there will be WAR on Obama’s schedule AFTER HE WINS THE ELECTION. In other words, Obama’s trying to prevent an October surprise by promising he’ll be on board with the Israelis if they WAIT A LITTLE LONGER. Typical Obama capitulation !

    I’m sure the bunker busters and refueling aircraft delivery will be delayed until AFTER the election.

    When I think that even that clown, Bush, wasn’t stupid enough to put a loaded weapon like this in the hands of the Israelis and Obama is, IT LITERALLY MAKES MY BLOOD BOIL. But worse than that is how many around here are AGAIN falling for Obama’s sweet talk!!


    Give me Ron Paul’s clumsy straight talk against war ANY DAY to Obama’s slick car salesman double-talk!

    • Chaos4700 on March 9, 2012, 8:32 am

      That’s rather how I feel too. Heck, I haven’t seen a post of yours yet that I haven’t agreed with.

      On a side note, have you ever made comments at Huffington Post? The screen name is sort of familiar and your style reminds me of the screen name I’m thinking of.

  20. quercus on March 9, 2012, 7:31 am

    Behind all the talk about Israel not attacking Iran because of strategic, tactical, political, what have you, concerns, there lies a fundamental observation about human nature. Israel is a ‘bully’ and bullies only attack those weaker than themselves It’s just that simple. Israel would get a serious bloody nose from an attack on Iran.

    Just out of spite, and to convince themselves they’ve still got cajones, they will probably go and kick the Palestinians’ ass.

    The Chosen People???? Hell no! Just people with all their stupidity and weakness.

    Ron Paul 2012!

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