Voices in the Wilderness

Notwithstanding the book's shortcomings, Mearsheimer and Walt do perform an important service in pointing out how difficult it is to produce pragmatic decisions based on national interest.

Issue: July-Aug 2007

When the "The Israel Lobby" first appeared as an article in the London Review of Books, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt instantly became the targets of a barrage of unjustified and vicious personal attacks. Such influential pundits as Martin Peretz, Eliot Cohen and Alan Dershowitz-Walt's colleague at Harvard-casually charged the pair with anti-Semitism, the nuclear option in any political debate. Under the circumstances, it was difficult not to feel respect for Mearsheimer and Walt's courage and disgust with the assault on them, sentiments I expressed on the pages of The National Interest

With this in mind, it is no surprise that their new book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, was controversial even before it appeared in print. Organizers cancelled several scheduled events with the authors, even at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, a respected organization normally open to debate. Also unusual for major books, quotes on the back cover praise only Mearsheimer's and Walt's previous books-a clear signal that it was difficult to persuade prominent people to provide their names in a way that could appear to support this one.

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