Several publications have invited me to respond to The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, but I have desisted (other than to correct the record about myself), for three minor reasons and one major one. The minor reasons first::
- Many others have eloquently and devastatingly refuted the book.
- I prefer to offer my own ideas rather than respond to someone else's.
- Life is too short to read with care a long, boring, inaccurate book with a tendentious thesis.
The major reason has to do with my belief that it was a tactical mistake to respond to what was originally a minor essay by two obscure academics in an obscure publication. Had attention not been drawn to it, the essay would long ago have disappeared down the memory hole. Arguing against it turned it into the monument that it now is.
I myself have repeatedly been the beneficiary of the same tactical mistake: opponents of Campus Watch turned it from a minor website into a significant force by dint of relentless attacks on it; CAIR's opposition to my U.S. Institute of Peace nomination offered me an unprecedented platform for me to get out my views; and protests against my talks on campus garner them far larger audiences and more press attention than would otherwise be the case. In brief, a symbiotic relationship often exists between political opponents.
Not wanting to help the Mearsheimer-Walt publicity bandwagon, I gently decline invitations to comment on their book. (September 9, 2007)