The Fingerman, again — v. The Walt


Eric Fingerhut further dismantles Stephen Walt’s attempt to identify an everyday DC activity as  evidence of pro-Israel warmongering (I addressed this below).

Here’s the inimitable Eric:

He’s apparently arguing that when he and Mearsheimer advocate in their book that the United States should have a less close relationship with Israel and that the U.S. should use its leverage to force an Israeli-Palestinian settlement — a perfectly legitimate position — that he’s advocating in the best interests of the United States. But when other Americans advocate that it’s in the best interests of the United States that Iran not have nuclear weapons, that’s advocating not for the best interests of the United States but only on behalf of a foreign country? (Walt apparently forgot about all those Arab countries that are scared to death about Iran getting nukes, just to begin…)

Even more ridiculous is Walt’s bizarre conspiracy-minded musings about the participation of unnamed "congressional legislative assistants" in the Jan. 17 conference — he states that they are "supposed to be public servants; we understand that they will be the objects of a lobbying groups efforts but here they seem to be actively helping one."

This is baffling — he’s accusing congressional aides of engaging in …. politics! Imagine that! Having the staff of members of Congress speak to a group which supports their position on the Iran issue is no different than what happens every day in Washington — members of Congress speaking to groups which agree with them on a particular issue and encouraging them to speak out and work to make their positions the position of the government. (Considering Walt has a Ph.D in political science and teaches at the Kennedy School of Government, it’s pretty odd he doesn’t know this.)

Let’s take J Street, a group Walt likes — although they don’t like him much. They had a conference in October which culminated in the group lobbying on Capitol Hill. And guess what? They had five members of Congress speak at a conference plenary session, telling them how much they appreciated their efforts and telling them how important their work was. Wow, pretty controversial.

Oh, and then there was that rally for universal health care I went to last summer. You’re not going to believe this, Professor Walt, but actual "public servants," otherwise known as staffers at the White House, were there and spoke to the crowd. They told them how important their help was to get health reform passed. "Over the line"? Um, no, just how things work in Washington.

Recommended from JTA