Monday, February 10, 2014

Surviving anti-Semitism smear, Walt and Mearsheimer seem to have influence in high places

Mearsheimer, photo by Varsha Sundar in the Chicago Maroon 
Mearsheimer, photo by Varsha Sundar in the Chicago Maroon
Philip Weiss
When Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer published their paper on the Israel lobby eight years ago, one of its openings was that two scholars with prestige status signaled that they were willing to risk the anti-Semite smear. They surely knew the label might be applied to them; still they went ahead with their ideas, which now seem tame (the lobby has a stranglehold on Congress, the lobby pushed for a war); and they were duly tarred as anti-Semites, by some fairly august claimants. But one of the victories of the last year is that both political scientists are not only still on the case, but they seem to have a more respectable following than ever– with Obama reflecting their thinking on Syria. The lesson is that the anti-Semite smear, while a libel that can hurt career and reputation and scare jousters from the field, has lost its sting because it has been thrown around so meretriciously.
Here are two items involving the profs:  The neoconservative Lee Smith has anointed Walt the next George Kennan, saying that he is influencing Barack Obama in the same way that Kennan, a Cold War-horse, influenced John Kennedy. Smith wants to hurt Obama by advancing his claim; but Scott McConnell celebrates the synchronicity as a sign of Obama’s realism.
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