Walt obviously doesn’t “conspire” with Mearsheimer

Stephen Walt watches and reads his former co-writer’s recent speech forecasting the inevitable death of “the Zionist dream” and observes:

He believes the two-state solution is no longer possible, and that the next phase will be struggle for Palestinian rights within a “greater Israel.”

Wow. Then, this should be major news to Walt! His co-writer for a book that had to have a delicate but completely honest discussion about Israeli and American interests, while assuring Jews that they supported Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, has changed his mind about the possibility of the two-state solution. Shouldn’t Walt feel blindsided by this revelation? He doesn’t sound taken aback at all …

A key element of that struggle will be inside the Jewish Diaspora, between those he terms “Righteous Jews” (i.e., those who favor universal human rights), and “the New Afrikaners” (i.e., those who will defend “greater Israel” no matter how it treats its Palestinian subjects).

Oh, well then, “You have to acc-cent-tchu-ate the positive,/and eliminate the negative/and latch on to the affirmative,/and don’t mess with Mr. In-Between.”

I’m not as pessimistic as John is on this front (i.e., I think there is still a slim window open for a viable two-state solution, though the door is closing).

Slim, you say? … How slim was Mearsheimer’s window, when Walt knew him as a a two-state believer, encouraging Israel to make the necessary sacrifices (– instead of encouraging the Palestinians to stick to their 1920s political playbook)?

Perhaps a professed believer in a two-state solution needs to have more substantial faith in the peace process or just in the durability of the Jewish state, before this believer starts advising Palestinians to pursue a historically inevitable one-state solution … as an active political strategy.

Andrew:

I suspect that the only major political “ism” of the nineteenth century to survive intact in the twenty-first is in grave danger of dying.

Well, we should try to save it, right? Like the the other 19th century isms we have kept alive in zoos across North America …

Well, putting aside the question of whether it was in God’s plan, or Hegel’s for the Dodo to go extinct, let’s deal with the here and now:

So given that there’s no real way to stop the emergence of a de facto apartheid state, and assuming that Israel will not engage in massive ethnic cleansing, what will happen in the future?

Whoa, whoa! That’s quite a “given,” my fervent Zionist friend. I’m afraid I don’t agree. Uh oh, neither does Hussein Ibish, in a post that says Mearsheimer is being stupidly unrealistic, ignorant of the region and encouraging Palestinian revanchism … That would make the Daily Dish seem more than a bit silly in the same way. Don’t worry,  Andrew will just fix that with a quick post before the next cappucino.

First he’ll quote a reader that says that Israel could be a long-term apartheid state, by just repeating “America’s historic treatment of Blacks and Indians” and China and Russia becoming more influential than the West, and not caring about human rights issues. Andrew:

I fear my reader is right. The “forever war” [of such nationalists as those who do not believe in an appropriate two-state solution, under the future apathetic eye of the world community] is the point.

And then, the Dish will just quote Hussein Ibish as if he was talking about Israel promoting a “forever war,” instead of establishing “peace” entirely on its own terms. Andrew:

Hussein Ibish sees the following scenario as the likeliest […]

“Likeliest” … um, no. Andrew is fudging; Ibish didn’t say that. He laid out a scenario that was the most likely if Measheimer, and Andrew, were right … but in fact:

[…] a lot of inevitables for a so-called realist and a professor of political science, is it not?

In my view Mearsheimer misses at least two of the most obvious and plausible scenarios for the medium-term, in a manner that suggests he doesn’t really understand the conflict in a very complex way (actually, that’s kind of obvious).

Here’s something obvious, for Andrew, in Ibish’s words:

there is something much less dramatic than that which Israel can do as a game changer in the medium- to long-term that would completely alter the strategic realities he describes, especially the tension between Palestinian demographic pressure on the one hand and Jewish attachment to some key parts of the occupied territories on the other hand. This is, of course, the imposition of unilateral borders, more or less along the lines of the West Bank separation barrier, with or without some other parts of the occupied territories. Israel is, in fact, militarily capable of creating and enforcing such a fait accompli and annexing key parts of the West Bank, not including most population centers, in addition to municipal Jerusalem (by its own definition of the term) which has already been subject to de facto annexation, and presenting the Palestinians, the Arab states and the world with a situation in which a sizable majority of the occupied territories are no longer under direct Israeli occupation and which Israel formally renounces any claims over and in which it has no troops or settlers.The reason this is a kind of “nuclear option” that Israel would only resort to as a last-ditch effort is that it will be very difficult to enforce, would place Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt, and especially Jordan, in serious question, and consign Israel to many further decades, if not centuries, of warfare and enmity with the region and the broader Islamic world. It also begs the question of how the Israelis would deal with the Palestinian citizens of Israel and the territories it unilaterally annexes, but historically minorities of that size are, in fact, generally manageable, and the Israelis already experienced a similar problem in the aftermath of the 1948 war.

(They’d actually be quite small, if Israel keeps the border close to the current position of the Fence.)

Obviously such a “nuclear option” scenario carries, in the long run, similar risks to permanent occupation resulting in religious warfare, but it’s more attenuated and much more amenable to Western support and international understanding than ethnic cleansing and maybe even formalized apartheid and far more imaginable than ethnic cleansing of millions of Palestinians. In the long run, it might also prove a foolhardy, suicidal and self-defeating gesture, but there is certainly a space between the absolute minimum right-wing Israelis can accept as an outcome and the kind of ethnic cleansing of the entire occupied territories Mearsheimer envisages. I don’t know how he missed it, but obviously it’s a measure that falls right in between continued occupation turning into apartheid and massive ethnic cleansing.

In other words, duh.

Duh, Andrew. So, no need to get Chinese and Russian preeminence in a future dystopia, which no longer assails Israel disproportionately for human rights violations, involved in all this.

The Dish tries to marginalize Ibish’s most basic points because … they are any fair-minded observer’s basic points and in Andrew’s crippled, obsessive universe, they don’t exist.  He has taken to calling that mental state realism, and himself a reformed neoconservative, newly open to reality over ideals … I suppose that these basic points are colliding with the walls of Andrew’s world for the first time, since they are not coming from “the AIPAC crowd” — i.e., not-liberal-enough Jews like Jeffrey Goldberg and Christianist folk like Walter Russel Mead. It’s sad.

Don’t worry, Andrew can cheer himself up:

I suspect the virulence and extreme rhetoric of those criticizing Mearsheimer’s challenging and provocative address is directly related to the brutal truth of the analysis he presents. If Israel does not get out of the West Bank soon, if it does not remove every single settlement, if it does not act decisively to escape the death trap of Greater Israel, no Israel will survive as a morally defensible or democratic or Jewish state.

Far from being, as Goldblog asserts, an abandonment of foreign policy realism, Mearsheimer’s speech is a pellucid, if flawed, example of it. I suspect that’s why it wounds. The truth usually does.

I’ll have more to say about Mearsheimer’s speech and Andrew’s self-justifying treatment of it in due time.

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  1. […] suppressed when addressed and emailed to him, or ancillary quotes are plucked from posts (such as Hussein Ibish’s) in order to deflect their main points which would embarrass the Dish with its headstrong […]

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