the national interest

Israel Lobby Is Playing Mind Games With Stephen Walt Again

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement at the Israeli Defense forces headquarters on June 16, 2014 in Jerusalem. Netanyahu demanded Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's help in securing the release of three Israeli kidnapped teenagers, as the army launched a massive crackdown on Islamist movement Hamas.
Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images

Stephen Walt is a foreign-policy analyst best known for writing a conspiratorial book about how the Israel lobby has manipulated American foreign policy for its own benefit. A lynchpin of Walt’s argument is his accusation that neoconservatives, the central villains of his narrative, place the interests of Israel above those of the United States. (“Like virtually all the neo-conservatives, Feith is deeply committed to Israel … Given the neo-conservatives’ devotion to Israel, their obsession with Iraq, and their influence in the Bush administration, it isn’t surprising that many Americans suspected that the war was designed to further Israeli interests.”)

Walt, now writing for Foreign Policy, has a new column assailing “the neocons’ latest campaign for war” and “the neocons’ all-too-familiar saber-rattling” in Iraq. Once again they are plumping to shed American blood in Iraq for Israel’s sake.

And as the neocon-Israel propaganda machine gears up once again, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is beating the drums of war:

Wait — those aren’t drums of war. Israel opposes American intervention in Iraq.

How can this be? The answer is that Israel’s primary rival is Iran, and its client Hezbollah, both of which are Shiite. Iran is backing the Iraqi government, which is fighting the Sunni ISIS rebels. Israel may not like ISIS, but it does not want to increase Iran’s power, and aiding the Iranian-backed government in Baghdad would do that. And so the neoconservatives currently demanding American intervention in Iraq are acting not in the service of Israel’s interests but against them. Indeed, Israel was always far more ambivalent about war with Iraq in 2003 than Walt’s crude argument ever allowed.

Anyway, Walt’s column today is about how people who have been proven to be ignorant about foreign policy should no longer have prestigious outlets in which to disseminate their ill-informed beliefs.

Israel Lobby Toying With Stephen Walt Again