AIPAC and Empire

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For those interested in the Mearsheimer-Walt essay on The Israel Lobby you don’t want to miss this follow up in the New York Review of Books: The Storm over the Israel Lobby by Michael Massing.

Massing gives a great overview of the various reactions over the essay and then gives his own critique. A primary critique is that they do not do the legwork to really demonstrate how much influence AIPAC has and how it works. So rather than just criticize he spends the rest of the article doing just that. Here is a summary statement of AIPAC’s influence near the end of his reporting:

Partly as a result of such [AIPAC coordinated campaign] giving, says one Hill staffer, “We can count on well over half the House—250 to 300 members—to do reflexively whatever AIPAC wants.”

But, so what, you ask? As I myself argued a month ago, while America is an empire the influence of foreign lobbies is inevitable. Where Massing’s article gets interesting to me is where he goes beyond documenting AIPAC’s influence to explaining why it (and the important Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations) are so unreflective of majority opinion among Jewish Americans, (which is much less hawkish). And then, beyond that, he explains AIPAC’s adoption of a larger mission:

While pursuing its traditional concerns about Israel, the lobby in recent years has been steadily expanding its mission, becoming a strong force in the extended network of national security groups and leaders who have used September 11, the war on terror, and Israel as a basis for seeking a more aggressive US stance in the world.

This is where it gets really relevant for libertarians. That there is a foreign lobby urging the U.S. to swing towards Israel in its policies is not shocking, and even understandable. I’m sure there are similar lobbies for Saudi Arabia, France, England, etc. The Israel lobby seems to be singularly successful in its efforts. Bully for them. But this effort towards expanding the U.S. Empire puts these folks directly in conflict with a libertarian vision for the U.S. Will we never have done with Cold Warriors?

2:14 pm on May 22, 2006