Sent to you by Sean McBride via Google Reader: Lawrence Summers Told
Stephen Walt: 'You Could Have Been National Security Adviser, Now It's
All Over' via Mondoweiss by Philip Weiss on 10/21/08

Former Air Force captain John Mearsheimer is tough. The co-author of
The Israel Lobby could give a s--t that he gets disinvited from the
Chicago Council on Global Affairs and gets disbarred from his former
haunt, the New York Times, and uninvited by the Council on Foreign
Relations. Three days ago he gave a talk at the Oak Park [Illinois]
Public Library, a video posted by Palestine Remembered. And if you go
to 1:29 or so in the tape, he goes on a fascinating ramble.

Someone in the audience asks about people's careers being "truncated"
by their talking about the Israel lobby, and whether the fact that he
was "closer to the end than the beginning of his career" and had tenure
played a part in his deciding to write the book. Mearsheimer grins and
says "This is a great question, I honestly love the question." A great
question deserves a great answer. So here we go.

Mearsheimer says of course tenure was important to him. He was not
nearly as brave as Norman Finkelstein, "a very fine man" who did his
work without having tenure. "The fact that he didn't get tenure is a
tragedy." And now Finkelstein is jobless in New York: "a disgraceful
situation... Norman would have been much smarter to have waited till he
had tenure."

The Atlantic magazine called Mearsheimer in October 2002. "They'd
gotten wind I was doing something on the lobby." They wanted the story
on the subject, "The Israel lobby and U.S. foreign policy," which was
the title of the eventual article in the LRB, after the Atlantic killed
the piece, and the book. The Atlantic was calling Mearsheimer because
he had "an impeccable, established reputation," a frequent contributor
to the Times Op-Ed page, and was a chaired prof at the University of

"I said to them, I won't do it alone... I have to ask Steve Walt if
he's willing to do it with me." Walt was his realist "buddy," they'd
talked about the lobby a lot. And Walt was getting ready to unload in a
judicious manner on the lobby in Taming American Power, a 2005 book
that you will see was excerpted in Foreign Affairs.

Walt was then 47, a Harvard dean, and as I have always said here, a
polished courtly man, tall, goodlooking, and very comfortable in a
Jewish milieu. Stanford/Princeton; his physicist dad worked at Los
Alamos. Married to a half-Jewish woman, living in Brookline hard by the
birthplace of Mondoweiss, and sitting in the Belfer chair at the
Kennedy School. Robert Belfer being a big Jew, big donor, associated
with WINEP.

Mearsheimer was then 54, and more of an outsider, a West Point grad, an
autodidact as a young man. He knew he'd be called an antisemite and
knew that he needed a friend along side to go into this. You go in
alone and you end up with "psychological damage." (I know who he's
talking about...) But he didn't think Walt would tumble for it.

"I was actually surprised that he did it. He was the academic dean of
the Kennedy School at Harvard. Many people thought that he had the
capabilities to become the university provost or university president
and there was no question that if he wrote the piece, that would never

"Many people also thought that he would be a National Security Adviser
for someone like Barack Obama. I believe if we hadn't written the lobby
article or lobby book, Steve would have been one of Barack Obama's
principal advisers. He's a very smart man, he has very good judgment,
he's a brilliant bureaucrat, and he would have risen far."

Before the article came out in LRB in mid-March 2006, Mearsheimer gave
the piece to the "high command" at the University of Chicago so they
wouldn't feel blindsided. Because he anticipated, correctly, that the
firestorm would not be confined to the authors. The President, the
Provost, the deans got the paper. And Steve Walt did the same at
Harvard. The president of Harvard was then Lawrence Summers.

"Larry Summers had seen the piece before it came out, and he saw Steve
a day or two later, before the piece was on the internet...And he was
very supportive of Steve, very supportive. But he said to Steve, in
this one conversation he had with him... 'I just don't understand why
you did this.' He said, 'you could have been a high level academic
administrator. You could have been National Security Adviser. And now
it's all over.' And of course he was right.

"And I anticipated that Steve would not be willing to do it because he
would be unwilling to give those things up. Also by the way my wife and
his wife were adamantly opposed to us doing this. But anyway, he agreed
to do it, and I agreed to do it, and we marched ahead."

Two comments. The first is to marvel at the considerable power of Walt
and Mearsheimer's choice. The other day I said that taking on the lobby
was a Jewish fight and activist Anna Baltzer was wrong to say that the
battle must involve all Americans. Jeff Blankfort, another anti-Zionist
Jew, agrees with Baltzer: "I agree with her that solving this issue, if
it is solvable, is a job for all Americans and leaving it to the Jews
not only absolves non-Jews from their responsibilities but leaves the
Palestinians ultimately at the mercy of those supporting their
oppression and who strongly believe that they have a vested interest in
doing so. Not a formula for success. It is worthy to note that it was
not until three non-Jews, Mearsheimer, Walt and Carter wrote their
books that the issue reached a higher level, since the lobby's attacks
on Chomsky never rose to that level. It is when non-Jews who have no
vested interest in supporting Israel pick up the cudgels is when the
Jewish establishment gets worried and starts freaking out. Hence, the
concern when a Protestant church group starts talking about
sanctions... It is our job to encourage all Americans to speak out."

Also: Steve Walt has said that he has no regrets.

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