Friday, September 14, 2007


Matthew Yglesias blames critics of Walt-Mearsheimer for misrepresenting their work, and for reading anti-Semitic and anti-Israel messages where none exist. He and I clearly disagree on what an accurate representation of their work consists of, but let's say he's right. As I commented on his post (but decided merits a post of its own): what about all of Walt and Mearsheimer's supporters who are delighted that it is now socially and--better yet--academically acceptable to declare Jews the root cause of all evil? Even for those of us who have read their article, paper, or book (just the article, in my case), it can be hard to respond to their message without taking into account its reception. The number of blog-comments to the effect of, 'We all know the Jews got us in this mess re: Iraq/Bush/everything,' referring directly or indirectly to their work, is astounding.

I've already asked to what extent we can blame W-M for this avalanche, if they did not intend it (which is debatable); now I'm asking whether it's really fair to expect Jews to respond to W-M without noticing said avalanche. W-M are not addressing only political scientists, who might be expected to produce a more dry, point-by-point discussion of what realism does or doesn't mean. The fact is that Walt and Mearsheimer's work has a specific meaning in the specific context in which it appears, and has become the rallying point for all sorts of traditional anti-Semitic anger. So maybe the answer is to respond to their paper and the avalanche separately, making explicit which part is a critique of the work, which is a critique of the avalanche, and how much the two can justifiably be connected. But it's absurd to suggest that we can look at one with no mention of the other.


Eris said...

For a concise overview of the problems with the Walt-Mearsheimer essay and book, see the 5 page pdf at this link.

This pdf is being widely disseminated in academia, industry and government.

Eris said...

Walt and Mearsheimer's essay and book are probably the most thoroughly discredited works in history (see this link).

Oh, and please, no ad hominem attacks (see this link) against the authors of these critiques. if you're going to open your piehole, find some meat and make an argument like a man, not a drunken cossack, demented leftist, sufferer of this problem, or chimpanzee, if you disagree with the above-linked assessments.

Rachel said...

I guess it keep coming back to this for me with the paper.
1. Just because anti-semites like the paper does not make the paper anti-semitic. Some anti-semites like Buck's fancy french vanilla ice cream as do I, that does not make me an anti-semite. This is a simple logical issue that people seem to be having.
2. As for the argument put forth in slate today. Everyone feels bad about the holocaust; but it simply cannot be used as an excuse to opress other people. There are a lot of good reason for Israel's policies regarding the Palestinians, and they should be set forth by people who aren't going to convulse into hysterics about Anne Frank everytime someone mentions that something needs to be done about generations of people living in camps on the margin of life.
Do I want to see a happy, secure Israel? Yes! As much as I want to see a happy, secure Palestine.