Sunday, November 04, 2007

Non-paradoxes

Remember the stupid argument that the thesis of Lobby power must be wrong as otherwise Walt and Mearsheimer would never have been allowed to publish?  Here’s another one (emphasis in red):



“Although their contrarianism makes them magnets for controversy, a number of scholars are bewildered that Mearsheimer and Walt are championing a case against the Israel lobby that so directly contradicts basic realist theory. ‘All their professional lives, they projected the idea that international politics is determined by national interests, not domestic factors,’ says Shai Feldman, who directs the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University. ‘And now, all of a sudden, they discover after 30 years of scholarship that there is an exception to the rule, Israel.’


Josef Joffe is even more incredulous. ‘I am deeply puzzled that they have applied their considerable intellectual talents to such an execrable exercise,’ he writes in an e-mail message. Joffe, a lecturer in political science at Stanford University, considers The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy an ‘obsessive’ and tendentious book, a style very much out of character for the two coolly analytical colleagues he has known and respected for decades.


Mearsheimer and Walt are quick to acknowledge that realist theory fails to explain the outsize influence of the Israel lobby. ‘All theories face anomalies,’ Mearsheimer reasons. ‘There are always going to be cases that contradict a particular theory; this is true of all social-science theories.’ With a mixture of defensiveness and reassurance, he adds, ‘And this case is an anomaly.’”


I would be surprised if ‘realist theory’ was so dumb that it would not take into account the fact that people make mistakes, that factors change, that the changes are not always acted on quickly enough, that domestic interference might assist in causing confusion, and that empire leaders are not immune from making mistakes, some of which lead to loss of empire, exactly what we are seeing now.


 

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