Backtalk, April 4, 2006

The Lobby Strikes Back

I am writing to clarify issues raised in your March 31 Web post in regards to a paper by professor Stephen Walt of the Kennedy School of Government and his co-author, John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago.

Stephen Walt is the academic dean, not the dean, of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. There is no connection between the conclusion of Professor Walt’s term as academic dean and the discussion around his recent paper. As agreed a year ago, professor Walt’s term as academic dean will expire at the end of this academic year and this has absolutely no connection to the current conversation around his paper.

Kennedy School Dean David Ellwood recently stated:

“As long planned, Steve Walt will end his tenure as academic dean at the end of this academic year. He had been due to depart last June after the normal three-year cycle, but had agreed, at my request, to stay on for one more year. Everyone at the school has long known that this was his final year as academic dean. … His departure is completely unrelated to the current discussion surrounding the article he co-authored with John Mearsheimer.”

With the expiration of Walt’s term as academic dean, he will continue in his position as professor of international relations at the Kennedy School of Government.

~ Melodie Jackson, Director of Communications & Public Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University


There is indeed NO Israel lobby as critics suggest. That morphed long ago into a Likud lobby. If Mearsheimer and Walt had taken the trouble to be more precise, their observations would be more difficult to attack. Let’s remember that not all Israelis are Likudniks (and didn’t the recent election make that clear?).

This is an important lesson in the virtue of calling a spade a spade, and doing so with precision in political discourse. …

~ Volker Bruhn

Israel dictates U.S. foreign policy?

Let me see if I’ve got this straight. Israel, with a defense budget of $12 billion, is dictating foreign policy to the United States, with defense spending of almost $500 billion, and has forced a bunch of Texan and Western oil men to invade a country which just happens to have the second largest oil reserves in the world.

~ Everett Thiele, Cofounder of Bring Peace to America

Israeli Electorate Rebukes Bush

The new government that appears to be likely to be formed will not be a moderate government capable of achieving a lasting peace with its neighbors. The wall being built around Israel does not follow the 1967 borders but cuts deeply into Palestinian territory that could and should be part of a viable state of Palestine living in peace and partnership with the State of Israel. However, I tend to agree with the broad thrust of your article. It certainly puts forward a perspective rarely expressed in the mainstream U.S. media.

I have never really understood why the virtually uncritical support for an expansionist Israel state is in the national interests of the U.S., or at least the vast majority of its citizens. Maybe your article is an example of a move towards the development of a realistic U.S. foreign policy that will in time be taken up by the U.S. political elite and the sooner the better.

~ Roger Cole, Chair, Peace & Neutrality Alliance

Paul Craig Roberts replies:

I think my column did put an optimistic face on it. But there is some justification. The Israeli electorate did the best that could be done with the opportunity. Likud and “greater Israel” were shattered. The new government is committed to some withdrawals from the West Bank and not to a policy of forcing all Palestinians out of Palestine. If Olmert and Hamas can find some flexibility, a deal might be found that is better than endless conflict.

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