Dana Milbank in the Washington Post today attacks Walt and Mearsheimer’s appearance in D.C. yesterday on racialist grounds, saying that they are blue-eyed and have Germanic names, and he wonders about their motivation for saying what they do about the Israel lobby. He also says they have no idea how Washington works, then dismisses the idea that the attachment among Jews to Israel is a significant factor in policymaking, because while yes, Elliott Abrams and Douglas Feith care about Israel, Bush and Cheney are fervently behind Israel, too.
I also watched Mearsheimer and Walt yesterday, speaking before the Council on American-Islamic Relations, on C-Span. I saw two smart guys sincerely engaging very difficult issues, at considerable personal risk. When Milbank argues—in an underhanded, not direct way— that talking about the Israel lobby’s effects on policy is antisemitic nonsense, I wonder, Is he being sincere? Is he doing what a journalist should do, and tell us what he knows about important issues? No. He’s being obfuscatory. He should take M-W’s argument on genuinely, and tell us, as the big Washington insider he announces he is, just how little power he seems to believe the lobby exercises, and why.
Milbank’s attack is upsetting to some who share my views. It’s so snarky, so backhanded. Well, I see great progress. These issues weren’t discussed a year ago. Now, thanks to M-W, the seal is broken. Many have quietly lined up behind these dudes. Who knows who else will show a little unMilbankian courage….