In support of Mark Krikorian’s point that Walt and Mearsheimer don’t seem to really understand American politics, I want to offer a remarkable recent comment made by an august professor of political theory at the overwhelmingly liberal Columbia University. (As part of a midlife makeover I am taking some grad school classes there.) Imagine my surprise when the professor took time from his first lecture of the semester, on “levels” of political analysis, to explain to the class that he knows both Mearsheimer and Walt personally, and has for many years. “They are both excellent political scientists. But their book is awful. It’s embarrassing.”
“Everything in the book that isn’t just blatantly obvious is ridiculous. The Israel lobby controls U.S. foreign policy? In this country all ethnic groups attempt to influence foreign policy towards their country of origin. That is normal and legitimate. Ask the Greeks, Armenians, Turks. You would think that neither of them had ever lived here in America… In a sense, of course, they haven’t…” he chuckled, before getting back to the business at hand. The class, filled with new grad students, all laughed too.
The professor did point out that a vast amount of political theory is rubbish. (Though he did add that historians, who often regard all theory as nonsense, go too far.) In any case this utterly ahistorical stuff makes no sense — except if you already believe that Jews control the world.
As for America being the New Jerusalem, the founders seeing themselves as analogous to the Jews, and the consequences of those ideas in US Mideast policy, Michael Oren’s recent book, Power, Faith and Fantasy, explored this ground, and the history of American Christian Zionism, impressively. But then he was trained as an historian.