The historic piece on the Israel lobby in the London Review of Books in March continues to reverberate. The latest LRB contains a dispute between the paper’s authors, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, and the former executive director of the 9/11 Commission, Philip Zelikow.
The dispute was perhaps inevitable. The original article quoted Zelikow in such a way as to offer a smoking gun for the assertion that Israel’s interests played an important role in the U.S. decision to invade Iraq.
Zelikow now writes to the LRB that he was quoted out of context, and that he was referring to the 90-91 Gulf War. What he surely did not anticipate is that Walt and Mearsheimer would produce a transcript of the speech, which includes the following:
The authors say that Zelikow is now trying to “rewrite history.” Where did they get the smoking transcript? Apparently from the reporter who broke the Zelikow story two years after the Virginia speech: Emad Mekay of Inter Press Service, writing in the Asia Times online. In 2004, Mekay wrote:
“Those of us speaking about it sort of routinely referred to the protection of Israel as a component,” said Phyllis Bennis of the Washington-based Institute of Policy Studies. “But this is a very good piece of evidence of that.”
How did Mekay get that transcript, a year after the war began? Jim Lobe of IPS says the Service declines to say. But Lobe adds: “Zelikow, who is now State Department counselor, traditionally a very influential position, has been one of Condi’s most important advisors dating from their NSC days under Bush I. That, more than his 9/11 commission position, is what makes his 2002 remarks so important. She was clearly talking with him.” Indeed, Zelikow’s comments reflect the huge and quiet institutional resistance to the radical neoconservatives. Those resisters don’t like being outed.