The Paranoid View of History Infects Harvard


Mr. Cravatts. Ph.D., a lecturer at Boston University, Tufts University, and Emerson College, was the director of publications at Harvard’s Kennedy School from 1976-78.

"Anti-Semitism," wrote Stephen Eric Bronner, author of the engaging book A Rumor About The Jews, "is the stupid answer to a serious question: How does history operate behind our backs?" For a wide range of ideological extremists, anti-Semitism is still the stupid answer for why what goes wrong with the world does go wrong. It is a philosophical world view and interpretation of history that creates conspiracies as a way of explaining the unfolding of historical events; it is a pessimistic and frantic outlook, characterized in 1964 by historian Richard Hofstadter as "the paranoid style" of politics, which shifts responsibility from the self to sinister, omnipotent others—typically and historically the Jews.

Long the thought product of cranks and fringe groups, Hofstadter’s paranoid style of politics has lately entered the mainstream of what would be considered serious, and respectable academic enterprise. Witness, for instance, the recent article, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” by Harvard Professor Stephen Walt and University of Chicago Professor John Mearsheimer which first appeared, not surprisingly, in the London Review of Books, and then was posted in a longer version as a working paper at Harvard’s Kennedy School, where Mr. Walt is also the Academic Dean.

What the 83-page screed attempts to do is convince readers that America’s support of Israel, both politically and financially, is out of balance with what the authors believe to be benefits derived from this troublesome relationship between the U.S. and the Jewish state. In fact, in the authors’ view, Israel was founded on terrorism, is not a military or economic underdog that deserves or needs U.S. assistance, has made us hated internationally by Arab regimes who have their own loathing of Israel and now conflate that animus to include America, and, most recently, has urged on the neoconservative-led Bush administration to go to war against Iraq—all to benefit of Israel and causing serious damage to U.S. national interests.

What troubles observers of this type of scholarship is that, unlike its intellectually flabby predecessors from right-wing hate groups or left wing cranks, this political analysis comes complete with academic respectability and the crests of Harvard and the University of Chicago, a trend that Professor Hofstadter had himself originally found curious. “In fact,” he wrote, “the idea of the paranoid style as a force in politics would have little contemporary relevance or historical value if it were applied only to men with profoundly disturbed minds. It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant.”

In the Walt and Mearsheimer worldview, there is a troubling disjoint here, where a nation that they believe is clearly undeserving of support continues to receive it nonetheless, at increasingly generous levels, even when all the many flaws in this largesse seem so glaringly apparent, if only to them. Why, then, does Israel still find sustenance and support from the U.S. despite the many defects Walt and Mearsheimer identify in its political, historical, and military character? The answer is in the title of their piece: it is due to the Israel Lobby, an all powerful, manipulative, and influential group whose effect is seemingly to cause rational leaders in Congress and in the White House to make irrational choices in international policy. And why is this group able to induce this irrational exuberance on the part of the U.S. government in formulating foreign policy? “The explanation lies in the unmatched power of the Israel Lobby,” they write. “Were it not for the Lobby’s ability to manipulate the American political system, the relationship between Israel and the United States would be far less intimate than it is today.”

The characterization of pro-Israel lobbying by organizations and high-placed government officials as “manipulation”—coercive, underhanded actions whose end result would not otherwise honestly, fairly, or reasonably be achieved—this language is the very tone that has drawn such immediate and thunderous denunciation of the piece. And it is a particularly incendiary bit of language when discussing Israel, a Jewish state, for it parallels so invidiously the classic anti-Semitic canards, such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, that purport to reveal the intention of Jews to furtively rule and dominate the globe. And as happens here, there is the double insult to Jews: first, that they achieve this supposed sway over governments and other people by indirection, betrayal, and stealth; and, second, that in the end they are not only not admired for accomplishing these extraordinary, nearly superhuman feats, but envied and reviled for having supposedly surreptitiously achieved them.

As Hofstadter described it, the paranoid scholar sees the manipulator, in this case the Israel lobby, as an enemy, one with disproportionate and unreasonable influence. “Unlike the rest of us,” however, he wrote, “the enemy is not caught in the toils of the vast mechanism of history . . . Very often the enemy is held to possess some especially effective source of power: he controls the press; he directs the public mind through ‘managed news’; he has unlimited funds. . .he is gaining a stranglehold,” in this case on the votes of American politicians and policy makers.

Walt and Mearsheimer are nearly in awe with the ruthless precision with which the Israel lobby subordinates Congress to its iron will, having attained what they describe as a “stranglehold on Congress.” “The Lobby pursues two broad strategies to promote U.S. support for Israel,” the professors write. “First, it wields significant influence in Washington, pressuring both Congress and the Executive branch to support Israel down the line,” presumably, they are suggesting, whether or not there is any validity or sound international policy actually involved. They then continue questioning whether American politicians can even vote their own consciences where Israel is concerned, so fearful are they of challenging the pernicious behind-the-scenes policy makers. “Whatever an individual lawmaker or policymaker’s own views, the Lobby tries to make supporting Israel the ‘smart’ political choice,” they write, suggesting that members of Congress would choose political expediency and favor Israel’s interests rather than voice their true feelings about Israel and protect America’s national interest.

Walt and Mearsheimer then reveal a remarkable discovery: that the lobbying organizations actually strive to have Israel’s policies accepted by world opinion, that “the Lobby strives to ensure that public discourse about Israel portrays it in a positive light, by repeating myths about Israel and its founding and by publicizing Israel’s side in the policy debates of the day.” Of course, the smarmy reference to “myths about Israel” would refer to any positive aspects of the history and political evolution of the democratic Jewish State, something than Israel haters—as well as those who never embrace or accept the legitimacy of Israel at all—are fond of criticizing, particularly Israel’s defensive military attempts to ward off Arab aggression and equating those actions with the murderous, intentional terrorism of the Intifada.

“The goal [of the Israel Lobby],” they write, “is to prevent critical commentary about Israel from getting a fair hearing in the political arena,” a rather remarkable assumption that assumes policy makers are never exposed to the ubiquitous, sometimes venomous, anti-Israel bellowing from the U.S. and international press; NPR; Israel itself; Middle East study centers which foment anti-Israel sentiment and have obsessive reverence for everything Palestinian; university campuses across the country where leftists decry Israel’s policies and equate Zionism with Nazism in demonstrations, divestment efforts, speeches, and marches; and even high-visibility UN-sponsored conferences, such as the 2001event held in Durban, South Africa which degenerated into an anti-Semitic hate fest and perfidiously announced to the world that Zionism was racism.

This huge wave of worldwide, consistent, and oft-repeated anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian sentiment apparently never reaches the consciousness of American policy makers, Walt and Mearsheimer have concluded, because the omnipotent Israel Lobby has as its goal “to prevent critical commentary about Israel from getting a fair hearing in the political arena,” ‘fair’ presumably meaning for the authors a critical view which would support their own negative preconceived attitudes about Israel. “A candid discussion of U.S-Israeli relations,” such as the one they weave in their paper, “might lead Americans to favor a different policy.”

This pattern, of trying desperately to reveal the machinations of a subversive group or groups to a world of dupes who cannot see as clearly as the paranoid historian can, is consistent with paranoid scholarship and also conspiracist inquiries. In A Culture of Conspiracy, for instance, Michael Barkun suggests that "Conspiracism is, first and foremost, an explanation of politics. It purports to locate and identify the true loci of power and thereby illuminate previously hidden decision making. The conspirators, often referred to as a shadow government,” in Walt and Mearsheimer’s world of intrigue where divided loyalties account for pro-Israel lobbying, “operate a concealed political system behind the visible one, whose functionaries are either ciphers or puppets."

The other characteristic of paranoid scholarship, as is the case here, is that the paranoid historian does not conduct his research in a methodical, objective way, with the primary intention of creating unbiased history and scholarship. He has already preordained the outcome of his research by the slant of his ideology. “The typical procedure of the higher paranoid scholarship,” said Hofstadter, “is to start with . . .defensible assumptions and with a careful accumulation of facts, or at least of what appear to be facts, and to marshal these facts toward an overwhelming ‘proof’ of the particular conspiracy that is to be established.” This, of course, is the very technique used by Holocaust deniers, who conduct their research and have come to their findings in a manner similar to the way Walt and Mearsheimer come to theirs about the legitimacy of Israel and its role as an American ally and beneficiary.

In his essay “Why Revisionism Isn't,” Gordon McFee seems to echo, in the context of revisionist history, the technique used by the professors of building their case against Israel, namely using facts, myths, and questionable scholarship (including citations from what Harvard law Professor Alan Dershowitz has identified as neo-Nazi websites) to construct their argument. In the same way that the professors begin with the assumption that the Israel Lobby manipulates, unfairly, how policies toward the Jewish state evolve, wrote McFee about deniers, “‘revisionists’ depart from the conclusion that the Holocaust did not occur and work backwards through the facts to adapt them to that preordained conclusion.” “Put another way, they reverse the proper methodology . . , thus turning the proper historical method of investigation and analysis on its head . . . To put it tritely, ‘revisionists’ revise the facts based on their conclusion.”

Walt and Mearsheimer are clearly unhappy with the continued favorable treatment Israel receives from America, and want to expose the subterfuge that allows this process continue, despite what they carefully outline as all the reasons it should not. As paranoids, they cannot accept a different view of why that special relationship exists between the U.S. and Israel, namely that it makes good sense geopolitically, that there is broad public support for Israel here, that it is not alone in the world community to behave in ways which can be criticized, and, that, despite its flaws, it has been and will continue to be a strong strategic ally and democratic model in a part of the world surrounded by totalitarian regimes and social chaos.

Holocaust deniers (such as The Institute for Historical Review ‘think tank’ which coincidentally—but not surprisingly—currently features Walt and Mearsheimer’s London Review article on its web site) expend boundless intellectual energy creating scholarship to confirm that there was no “Final Solution,” that gas chambers were used merely to delouse prisoners, that only hundreds of thousands of Jews, not millions, were exterminated, and that the Holocaust is overall a hoax perpetrated by Jewish victims to extract sympathy and reparations from the world, because they have begun with the premise, and want to prove with their research, that the Holocaust never happened, even though it is the one of the most documented and pernicious events of contemporary times. For the paranoid, for the conspiracist, it is easier to believe that the Holocaust never actually occurred, and that it was actually a complex, hoax perpetrated and promoted in a world-wide conspiracy of Zionists who somehow enlisted the aid of nations, governments, armies, and non-Zionists everywhere as co-conspirators in this fabulous historical construction.

That is the professors’ scholarly flaw here, too: that in their ambitious effort to uncover some hidden reason for Israel’s support in America, they ignore the obvious: that it may well be that the U.S. props Israel up, protects it from its enemies with money and diplomacy, and values it as a model of democracy in a sea of fanaticism, not because of an invidious, manipulative lobby forcing policy makers to make decisions against America’s interests, but for an opposite, and a more believable reason—because it is the right thing to do and America’s leaders and voters know it is the right thing to do.

All the concern and intrigue engendered in this piece of scholarship show that the obvious, and easy, answers are not the ones the paranoid is likely to accept on face value. He is condemned by his nature to suffer in the labyrinthine schemes he uncovers. “ We are all sufferers from history,” Hofstadter concluded, “but the paranoid is a double sufferer, since he is afflicted not only by the real world, with the rest of us, but by his fantasies as well.”

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N. Friedman - 4/13/2006


Never mind the above post. I did not see you other post.

N. Friedman - 4/13/2006


I would like to return to your earlier post http://hnn.us/comments/86189.html (i.e.#86189) in which you seeminly insinuate that Jews have dual loyalty - or, perhaps, that a disproportional number of Jews had such, to one country or another -.

Now, it seems to me - although I would not make this argument other than to note the absurdity of your position - that you can also argue, from the same evidence regarding the development of the bomb, that Jews had much greater than average loyalty - contributing far more to the defense of the country than most other groups of citizens of the country.

In that regard, I ask you to note the number of Jews who served importantly and loyally on the bomb project. And again: absent the work of these loyal Jews, would the US have had the bomb when it developed it? Was that even remotely possible? The answer is, quite obviously, that no, the bomb would almost suredly have been developed later.

I would hope that you would address that point as you are, on the reverse side, quick to insinuate the absence of loyalty of a handful of Jews. Fair is fair, Don.

Don Williams - 4/13/2006

1) As I noted, Ted Hall was one of the two effective spies at Los Alamos.
(Klaus Fuchs was the other. David Greenglass was largely a technician)

2) Ted Hall was a genius who graduated from Harvard at 18 , whereupon he was drafted by the Army to work at Los Alamos -- at a private's salary and living conditions.

It's usually a bad idea to "draft" a sulky teenage genius into doing anything. Into even cleaning up their room, much less developing an atomic bomb.

Don Williams - 4/13/2006

1) It is true that the contribution of Jews to the Manhatten project and to physics --especially in leadership positions like Oppenheimer -- far exceeded their percentage of the US population.

2) Something you left out is that the prosecutor and judge who so effectively dumped the Rosenbergs into the electric chair --Roy Cohn and Irving Kaufman -- were Jewish.
By then, however, the damage had been done.

3) And if some Jews were Communists, one can imagine the screech of horror with which Jewish capitalists at Kuhn Loeb would have greeted their ideas.
(The Romanovs , sitting in hell with Jacob Hirsch Schiff, no doubt grinned.)

4) So I concur that the situation is complex -- and that I have some understanding if not sympathy for the motives of the spies. While they betrayed the US government, they felt that they did not betray the American people --that if anything they were acting in the interest of Americans.

5) Certainly our political leaders are often corrupt -- and the ones most prone to wave the flag and proclaim patriotism are often the ones who betray this country and people every day. That would have been even more obvious during the Great Depression.

6) Similarly, our history objectively shows no unusually strong committment to humane principles if they conflict with economic or political goals. The napalming of many Japanese cities during WWII , more horrific than even Nagasaki and Hiroshima, would have underlined that point.

7) So it is interesting to ask what would have happened if a nuclear monopoly had allowed the US government to become unchallenged ruler of the world.

As historian Edward Gibbon noted, a community of multiple states in Europe has promoted freedom in the past 2000 years --because one could always flee an unusually bad tyrant to build another life in another country.

But when a global empire was created by Augustus Caesar, the world became a dreary prison for everyone -- whether one dragged golden chains in the Senate or froze in exile on the banks of the Danube.

The paternal Augustus was , of course, succeeded by the horrors of Caligula, Nero, etc and by an unending struggle for supreme power that destroyed the Roman people. The Germanic invaders were greeted with relief by people impoverished and exhausted by the imperial taxcollectors.

8) All that being said, some humility would have been in order. The fact remains that a 1 Megaton Russian warhead detonated above my city would turn everything for 8 miles out into a pile of radioactive ashes. Several MIRVed warheads would be even more destructive , due to overlapping shock waves and ensuring firestorm.
Which makes it hard to forgive the atomic spies.

While we have had 60 years of relative peace due to the "Balance of Terror" set up by the spy rings, I think certain technological developments are undermining that particular pattern.
That the terrible genie handed to Stalin and Roosevelt is about to roam.

N. Friedman - 4/12/2006


You, I note, thought it interesting that those - or at least a good number of those - involved in the spying were Jewish.

I do not hold myself out as an historian. And I am not terribly well read about the various political movements which attracted Jews in the US in the early 20th Century. So, I can only offer speculation based on the books and articles I have read, the best being Irving Howe's fascinating book, World of Our Fathers.

In any event, I would guess three factors were primarily involved.

First, communism was particularly attractive to the educated classes - and Jews, whether or not formally schooled, tended to be well educated. In this I can offer the annecdotal evidence that my grandfather, who never had any schooling (and who died in the early 1930's), could do graduate school level physics and was fluently conversant in 5 languages. I do not think he was unusual.

Second, communism or, at least, socialism was particularly attractive to Jews who migrated to the US from Europe. This was due to social position Jews held - more accurately, did not hold - in Europe and, most especially, in Czarist Russia.

Third, Jews were disproportionately involved in the physics revolution. Moreover, they were disproportionately involved in the Manhattan Project. In fact, it is rather difficult to imagine that the US would have obtained the bomb when it did had Jews not been involved. I trust you know this to be the case.

Now, it does appear that there were a great many spies for the USSR. While some Jews were, as you note, involved in nuclear espionage, rather WASP-sounding names were involved in a lot of the other spying.

So, with the good - assuming that having nuclear power is good - there is the bad. Overall, we hope for the best.

Don Williams - 4/12/2006

1) In my list of Jewish spies above , I listed Lona Cohen. A source interview in her FBI file , however, indicates that she was raised as a Catholic but chose to become an atheist. Her husband, Morris Cohen, was Jewish.

2) This is worthy of note because --unlike the other gentile Al Slack -- Lona was a major player. It was she who travelled west as a courier,
met Ted Hall in heavily guarded/surveilled Santa Fe and who smuggled Ted's notes past security guards and policemen at the train station.

Later she and Morris worked for Rudolph Abel before fleeing to Russia when Abel was captured. They then worked as spies in England under another name , were captured and later exchanged.

3) It must also be noted that different spies had different motivations --often several motivations. Some, like Lona and Morris Cohen, were dedicated Communists, probably in part because of the great deprivation of the Great Depression. Ted Hall indicated that he acted because he felt that if the USA had a nuclear monopoly, then the USA leadership would inevitably destroy the rest of the world. The decision of the US to pursue the bomb after it became clear circa 1943 that Germany was not appears to have disillusioned a number of scientists at Los Alamos.

4) One person I did not list was Ted Hall's college friend , Saville Sax, who helped Hall contact the KGB via contacts in the Russian Jewish community. Sax also served as the cutout between Hall and the KGB. His son described him in an interview for PBS's NOVA series --see http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/venona/fami_sax.html.

5) Also, the Los Alamos technician who was Julius Rosenberg's brother in law was David Greenglass. His wife Ruth also worked in the Rosenberg spy ring.

Don Williams - 4/11/2006

You might look at Document 12 and Document 13 at http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/News/Voprosy2.html
to see the detailed design of the atomic bomb provided to the Soviets by Fuchs and Ted Hall.

N. Friedman - 4/11/2006


I found this on Wikipedia - which does not see the spying as being quite as important as you do, but the spying is noted nonetheless -:

Scholar Alexei Kojevnikov has estimated, based on newly released Soviet documents, that the primary way in which the espionage may have sped up the Soviet project was that it allowed Khariton to avoid dangerous tests to determine the size of the critical mass ("tickling the dragon's tail," as they were called in the U.S., which consumed a good deal of time and claimed at least two lives).

Don Williams - 4/11/2006

1) Kip Thorne is known for his expertise in gravitational physics. He is neither nuclear weapons designer nor historian nor, to my knowledge, has he studied the Soviet Archives in detail.

2) Plus, I'm not sure Mr Thorne would be pleased with your paraphasing. My understanding from his book "Black Holes and Time Warps" is that
Kurchatov and his team went with a reproduction of the American plutonium design --acquired from Klaus Fuchs --because of uncertainty that Zel'dovich's design would work. (p. 225). Thorne does note that the Soviet design was later tested in 1951 and worked.[Footnote 2] But Thorne does not examine how much of the technology from USA leaked into the Soviet design.

3) In his account, Thorne does not mention the information provided by spy Theodore Alvin Holtzberg aka Ted Hall -- which was probably of great value to the Soviets because Hall , not Fuchs, was the one who worked on the RaLa experiments that developed the explosive lens essential for the success of the plutonium design.

Nor does Thorne provide citations for his sources -- something any historian or detective would tell you is essential for judging a narrative.

Finally, Thorne notes on p. 223 that the Soviet Union abandoned nuclear research in June 1941 when Germany invaded the USSR and assigned the physicists to conventional military research more likely to have a quick payoff.

Thorne notes that the formation of the Soviet nuclear bomb team in 1943 occurred because the Soviets learned of Germany and USA's programs to develop the atomic bomb (p. 223)

N. Friedman - 4/11/2006


Again, you want me to take the word of jounalists over the word of Kip Thorne. Do you know who Kip Thorne is?

N. Friedman - 4/11/2006


Again, Thorne disputes your theory. I think Thorne is correct. But, even if that is not the case, the Soviets were going to produce the bomb from their own knowledge, as the various models you mention were known to the Soviet scientists from the very beginning as, in fact, the various approaches are inherent to the subject.

N. Friedman - 4/11/2006


Be advised that Lev Landau managed to resolve his issue with Stalin because Yakov Zel'dovich (whom I mistakenly listed as Davidovich) intervened. So, you are mistaken. Landau did work on the Soviet bomb.

In any event, the assistance that the noted spies gave to the Soviets was trivial as it was not shared with the scientists - a rather big problem with your theory -. I should add that there is a rather good account of how the Soviets developed the bomb by well known physicist Kip Thorne.

I take Thorne's word for the matter - as he has the technical background to distinguish what is significant from what is trivial - and he says that the spy theory does not make sense. He notes, if I recall correctly, that the parameters, including the various technical models for the bomb, were determined well before any of the spying. The Soviet program involved testing each of the various potential models - again, all of which were known before the spying - and, after trial and error, the Soviets eventually hit the correct model, among those thought feasible from the beginning. On Thorne's telling, it was merely the order in which the possible models were denoted which caused the Soviet bomb to appear after the US bomb.

As for Jews and the USSR, a great many Jews from the early 20th Century were rather blinded by communism. So, it does not much surprise me that some spied for the USSR. However, Alger Hiss, if he was a spy, was not a minor person with little to offer. According to Wikipedia:

When Hiss was investigated in 1946 it was discovered he had obtained top secret reports "on atomic energy ... and other matters relating to military intelligence" that were outside the scope of his Office of Special Political Affairs, which dealt largely with United Nations diplomacy."

So, I think your theory is rather bizzare.

I might also add that the percentage of Jews working on the Manhattan Project was also rather large, from J. Robert Oppenheimer to Edward Teller among many, many more. So, how does that fact factor into your universe? Or, do you only count bad things done by some Jews?

Don Williams - 4/11/2006

"Bombshell" was written by Joseph Albright and Marcia Kunstel (1997). The book was based upon information in the Soviet Archives released in the mid 1990s.

3) In Chapter 14, page 127, the authors note that Ted Hall passed on the principle of the "implosion" design --on which the Soviet Bomb was built-- in late 1944 . The authors note:
"This was the germ of one of the seminal inventions of the twentieth century , and the idea was so counterintuitive that Soviet Physicists might have taken a decade to come up with it on their own. Without the implosion principle, it seems likely that the Soviets would have failed in their first desperate attempts to catch up to the Americans on the bomb."

Note also that Stalin would probably have followed Hitler's lead and decided to not pursue the hugely costly atomic bomb project if not for the spy reports --from Klaus Fuchs and Ted Hall -- about the American Manhatten project.

Don Williams - 4/11/2006

1) Mr Friedman, You seem to lack understanding of the technology involved in the early atomic bomb.

First, realize that:
a) there were two atomic bomb designs
-- one based on uranium U235 and one based on plutonium
b)only the plutonium design was practical for the Russians --and for the Americans if they wanted to compete in an arms race
c) the complex design of the plutonium bomb, developed at Los Alamos , required much advanced work.
The leader of the Soviet Bomb project admitted that the design --the very concept -- was not obvious and had not occurred to him before receipt of the information from the two spy rings
d) The two spy rings provided very detailed information. Information which had required lot of work by the huge technical team at Los Alamos to develop. The Soviets did not have a team the caliber of what was at Los Alamos -- top men not only in physics but also in chemistry and high explosives.

Details follow.

2) The U235 atomic design was simple -- shoot one subcritical mass of U235 at another. But uranium ore mostly consists of U238 with only a small percentage of U235.

Separating out significant amounts of U235 from U238 --when they are chemically identical -- required a huge industrial apparatus, at Oak Ridge, Paducah,etc. Basically, uranium (roughly 95%+ U238 with a small percentage of U235) was treated with highly corrosive flurine and the resulting gas was pumped through miles of filters containing powdered nickel -- the slightly smaller weight of U235 allowing it to penetrate slightly faster than the U238. Even this only enriched the mixture by a few percentage points of U235 -- further enrichment required use of huge calutrons at Oak Ridge. Both the nickel filters and the calutrons required massive amounts of electricity. One reason why this industry was located in the TVA area.

A Soviet Union devastated by the German invasion was not prepared to mimic the huge Manhatten project in the wealthy US.
Even the USA found it hugely costly and went to using the plutonium bomb.
Especially with the production demands of the arms race.

3) The REAL atomic bomb -- the one that was also the necessary detonator for the later far more powerful hydrogen bombs -- was the plutonium implosion bomb. The reason was that plutonium could be generated from uranium in a nuclear pile (bricks of uranium separated by a graphite or heavy water moderator ). The plutonium could then be relatively easily separated out from U238 with chemical processes.

The simple design of the U235 bomb did not work with plutonium because the two subcritical mass of plutonium would trigger fission in each other while they would still some distance apart and the resulting energy would blow the two subcritical masses apart before the fission progressed very far.

4) Hence, the complex design of the plutonium implosion bomb developed at Los Alamos: A critical mass of plutonium was formed as a hollow sphere -- so that the plutonium was dispersed sufficiently to avoid the trigger of fission.

5) The sphere of plutonium was then surrounded by a layer of fast and slow explosives so formed that the expanding, concave waves of several normal explosions on the layer would be focused into a compressive CONVEX wave that would squeeze the plutonium into a very small sphere and would hold the plutonium into a compressed form for the few microseconds it took for several generations of nuclear fission to occur --before the huge energy of those fission blew the whole mass apart.
6)It was also necessary to create a neutron generator which would initiate the fission by emitting a burst of neutrons within the mass of plutonium at the time of compression. The design of this initator was non-obvious and was based on an advanced knowledge of explosives (the shaped charge effect of anti-tank missiles was used.)

7) The plutonium design required several novel inventions from a number of geniuses at Los Alamos.

8) Note that the bomb exploded by the Soviets in 1949 was a copy of the US plutonium implosion bomb exploded at Trinity and Nagazaki. Note that the leader of the Soviet effort , Kurchatov, decided to pursue the plutonium approach because he thought U235 was too demanding an effort for the Soviet industrial base:
See p. 104 of http://hcs.harvard.edu/~jus/0302/schwartz.pdf#search='Landau%20atomic%20bomb' , top of right column

9) The cited article is based on recent research in the Soviet Archives. Page 106 of the article Notes that

"Igor Golovin, a scientist
who worked on the Soviet project and was a deputy to Kurchatov, said that the first Soviet atom bomb was based
on a drawing of the U.S. bomb provided to the researchers by spies. He also later added that the Soviet program lagged behind the futile German effort, and that the information provided by the spies allowed the U.S.S.R. to “avoid blind alleys” on which the U.S. and Great Britain had already em-barked.
Furthermore, not only was time saved due to the stolen information, but the nature of the information is astounding. The Soviet scientists received explicit information on
how to build a plutonium bomb. They received sketches,which “might have seemed primitive to those with but a
high school knowledge of physics,” but experts have testified
that “they were invaluable in any attempt to reproduce
American nuclear weapons.”

Don Williams - 4/11/2006

1) There's a huge difference between a spy passing on trival secrets --government gossip really -- versus a traitor passing on the design to an atomic bomb which can destroy his country's cities and kill millions of his own countrymen. Even the most hardened criminal would hesitate at the latter act -- and most would probably not commit treason of this magnitude.

2) Given that only a small fraction of the US population is Jewish, it seemed to me curious that so many in the two atomic spy rings were American Jews.

3) The idea that their acts did not matter -- that their aid was of little help to the Soviets -- is wrong. As I will explain in the next post.

If the "Landau" you cite is
Russian scientist Lev Landau, please note that Lev Landau was opposed to development of the Soviet bomb and did not work on the project because Stalin and Beria distrusted him.

N. Friedman - 4/10/2006


That is a pretty cheap shot. You will recall that a lot of other people were charged with spying as well. Nixon made his reputation finding one of them.

I also note that you are mistaken about how the USSR obtained the bomb. There were spies but, in fact, they had a sophisticated program led by scientists the equal of those we had. The names Landau and Davidovich come to mind. As does the name Sacharov.

Don Williams - 4/10/2006

0) That being said, dual loyalty is not something to be casually dismissed.

1) For 50 years, American cities have lived under the daily threat of being burned to ashes by nuclear fireballs.
And will live under that threat for the foreseeable future.

All because two spy rings gave the Soviet Union the atomic bomb design -- and broke the US monopoly.

2) With the exception of Al Slack, I seem to recall that all other members of those spy rings were American Jews.
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. David Greenblaum. Lona Cohen. Morris Cohen. Harry Gold. Klaus Fuchs. Theodore Hall. etc etc.

Julius Rosenberg cited Stalin's protection of Jews --his "co-religionists" as justification for giving the Soviet Union the bomb -- at a time when America turned refugee ships with German Jews away from her shores.

3) Millions of American Jews were innocent of any wrongdoing -- and were as horrified by this treason as other US citizens.

But that did not undue the enormous damage done by dual loyalty. We have spent TRILLIONS of dollars on the Cold War -- money that could have gone for medical research, to cure poverty,etc.

N. Friedman - 4/10/2006


Perhaps because your theory is not accurate?

N. Friedman - 4/10/2006

Mr. Ramm,

I see your point. I just do not agree with your analysis of it.

First, the problem here is not that Israel has friends in the US. That is obviously the case. The issue, instead, is that the tendentious, conspiracy theory presented by Walt and Mearsheimer amounts to a smear against Jews and others who disagree with Walt and Mearsheimer idea of what is in the interest of the US. Among other things, his accusation is that very large numbers of people have dual-loyalty, which is a pretty outrageous claim that deserves to be rebuked, both by Israel's friends and by others (e.g. Noam Chomsky).

Second, the issue for many Muslims does not so much relate to Israel's control of or settlement on the lands conquered in 1967 but, rather, that there is any land ruled by Jews (or, for that matter, Christians) that might be ruled by Muslims. So, when you say that Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, etc., acted due to Israel - which is possibly part of his motivation although there is rather good evidence suggesting that there were other, more important, factors at work -, the question is what that means.

My bet - and correct me if I am wrong - is that the issue for Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, etc., is Israel's existence, not its behavior.

I think we should ignore what motivates the Jihadists and make clear that we do not make policy to suit barbarism.

Don Williams - 4/10/2006

If you want to see why Howard Dean denounced McGovern, realize that Dean already got his teeth kicked in by the Israel Lobby.

See my post
"The Dishonesty of Mr Cravetts Pt 2"
on April 3.

Now ask why this never gets mention on the 6:00 pm TV news that most voters depend upon for news.

Don Williams - 4/10/2006

1) Who was the source of the false intelligence that Bush cited to justify the war?
Ahmad Chalabi

2) Who's now Iraq's Minister of Oil and in the catbird seat to write sweetheart deals with the Oil Boys in
Ahmed Chalabi

3) Who was welcomed back into Washington by Condi Rice and the Neocons a few months ago --even though roughly 2300 US soldiers are now dead because of intelligence sourced from him?
Ahmed Chalabi

"When two thieves meet, they need no introduction"

Dexter Ramm - 4/10/2006

My point was that Dean, without even knowing much about the source, would annonuce that McGovern's line of argument is beyond the pale. I personally agree with McGovern and Walt.

The response to Walt has been very telling. The paper argues that the Israel Lobby uses charges of anti-Semitism as a cudgel with which to beat anyone who dare criticize Israeli policy or US support of Israel.

In response to these allegations critics liken Walt to David Duke, neonazis, Holocaust deniers, etc. They prove his point.

What I think McGovern and Walt would argue is that the Lobby as it exists in the US is not representative of all Israeli or Jewish opinion on the subject of Israeli-US relations. That it represents the Likud people in its foreign policy goals.

I do not think that the Lobby helps Israel or the US. The US suffers when our most aggressive nationalistic leaders are in power(Bush anybody?). So does Israel.

Evidence of the power of the Lobby abounds. Look at the questions that are never asked:

How is it vital to US interests to allow Israel to maintain settlements in the West Bank?

Kalid Shiek Mohamed (bad spelling, I know) claims that the Palestinian conflict was what made him want to attack the US. So did Ramsei Yosef. How many people know this? Why so few?

In this day and age, with Americans so concerned with national security, how to explain the non existent media coverage of the AIPAC spy trial?

Why have Democrats been so reluctant to point out PNAC and evidence showing that there long existing plans for invading Iraq?

Why do so few pols and reporters point out Israel's support among far right Christians owing to apocalyptic biblical prophesy? Why can't the Dems use this as a wedge issue (between sane and deranged) people)?

I do not think that the Israel Lobby is behind all of our missteps in the region, but I think that trying to reconcile Israel, energy, and defense policies has produced the disasterous results we see now.

Bad for Israel. Bad for America.

N. Friedman - 4/10/2006

Mr. Ramm,

I do not get so much from what you write. Mr. McGovern is entitled to his opinion. However, there are numerous theories from knowledgeable people about why the US invaded Iraq. The choices are not remotely limited to either oil or Israel. So, Mr. Dean may have dismissed McGovern for the reasons said but that does not mean, one way or the other, that he agreed with what McGovern alleged.

If you ask me, I think that protecting the oil supply may have been part of the reason. Helping Israel may have been part of the equation. Believing on faith - without regard to any contradictory evidence - that Saddam had WMD may have been part of the equation. So, may the idea of placing an army in a central location in order to pressure Saudi Arabia and Iran but without having to invade either country directly, been part of the mix. And, so may the desire - in this case, advisors thinking far ahead of the facts - to fight Jihadism been part of the mix on the theory that Iraq was a place in which democracy might be planted, be part of the mix. And so might the idea of sending a message to the Jihadists and Arabs more generally that we can tread where we want, might have been part of the mix.

The main problem is that the results have not advanced any of the causes that may have been in issue. Oil security has not improved. Israel's position has not improved. Our centrally located army has not stopped Jihadism. The democracy project - and this is the one area where some minor progress was made only to find that Arabs appear often to prefer anti-democratic parties - has proven more difficult than imagined. And, the Jihadists and Arabs have seen Arabs and Jihadists fight valiently, if not also rather like barbarians.

Dexter Ramm - 4/10/2006

This is from memory, so pardon me if I get some of the details wrong.

Ray McGovern was a CIA analyst for many years. He was the man who gave GHW Bush his PDB from the CIA during his presidency.

A while back, some members of Congress held a small meeting to discuss the Downing Street Memo (since the GOP controlled congress did not consider it worthy of their time to investigate credible evidence that the Bush administration was fixing intel to provide a pretext for war).

Ray McGovern, at this point retired, testifies. If it wasn't WMD, why invade Iraq?

His answer was O.I.L.



Logistics (A US military presence in Iraq would be very useful when other military action need to be launched)

So why didn't the Democrats make hay out of this issue?

Instead, Howard Dean came out and denounced the guy for suggesting that Israel fit into the Iraq War equation in any way.

A friend of McGovern's ran into Dean at a party or function of some kind. He asked Dean about the rebuke to McGovern.

Dean responded by saying that he didn't even know the guy (McGovern) and that he denounced him after being approached by one or more of the preeminent Democratic campaign financers who demanded that the Dems distance themselves from this guy.

This incident, more than any other, explains the impossibly weak position of the Democratic Party in terms of capitalizing politically on the Iraq misadventure.

Gary George Gogel - 4/8/2006

I haven't read all the posts on this subject but for a good background on how the American/Israeli alliance began I would recomend Warren Bass' Support Any Friend'. I think it is an overstatement to claim that the Pro-Israel Lobby created the war inIraq. I am of the opnion that the idea was germinating in Gearge W. Bush's mind even before he was appointed president in 2000.
As for Israel being another 'third-rail' in American politics; I would have to say Walt and Mearsheimer are pretty much right. Only the Anti-Castro Cuban Lobby holds as much sway on Capitol hill.

Malcolm E Reding - 4/7/2006

Miller, you're about 2,000 years too late. What I mentioned was Old Testament and Torah facts

Don Williams - 4/7/2006

CIA Officer Michael Scheuer also
makes the following points in his book "Imperial Hubris"

1) "The fundamental flaw in our thinking about Bin Laden is that
"Muslims hate and attack us for what we are and think, rather than what we do." Muslims are bothered by our modernity, democracy, and sexuality, but they are rarely spurred to action unless American forces encroach on their lands. It's American foreign policy that enrages Osama and al-Qaeda, not American culture and society."

2) The U.S. was attacked on 9/11 and will continue to be attacked because of a number of distinct grievances:

U.S. government supports Israel and is indifferent to the Palestinians
U.S. and western troops on the Arabian Peninsula
U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan
U.S. support of countries that oppress Muslims such as Russia, India and China
U.S. pressure on Arabs to keep oil prices low
U.S. support for tyrannical governments

Don Williams - 4/7/2006

CIA Officer Condemns the Israel Lobby

In "Imperial Hubris", p. 226, Michael Scheuer --a 22-year CIA veteran who ran the Counterterrorist Center's bin Laden station from 1996 to 1999 --
condemms the Israel Lobby:

"Israel. There is certainly not a more difficult or dangerous issue to debate in the field of postwar US foreign policy. The American political and social landscape is littered with the battered individuals --most recently the
president of the United States --who dared to criticize Israel, or , even
more heretically, to question the value to US national interests of the
country's overwhelmingly one-way alliance with Israel.

Almost every such speaker is immediately branded anti-Semitic and consigned to the netherworld of American politics, as if concerns about US national security are prima facie void if they involve any questioning of the US-Israel status

Surely there can be no other historical example of a faraway, theocracy-in-all-but-name of only about six million people that ultimately controls the extent and even the occurrence of an important portion of political discourse
and national security debate in a country of 270-plus million people that prides itself on religious toleration, separation of church and state, and freedom of speech. In a nation that long ago rejected an established church as inimical
to democratic society , Washington yearly pumps more than three billion taxpayer dollars into a nation that defiantly proclaims itself "the Jewish state" and a democracy --claims hard to reconcile with its treatment of Muslims in Israel,
its limitations on political choice for those in the occupied territories,
and the eternal exile it has enforced on those camped in the refugee diaspora across the Levant.

At the UN and other international fora, the US Government stands four-square, and often alone, with Israel to free it from obeying UN resolutions and nonproliferation treaties; with US backing, Israel has developed and deployed weapons of mass destruction at the pace it desires.

Objectively, Al Qaeda does not seem too far off the mark when it describes the US-Israel relationship as a detriment to America.

['the close link between America and the Zionist entity is in itself a curse for America. In addition to the high cost incurred by the US Treasury as a result of this alliance, the strategic cost is also exorbitant because this close link has turned the attack against America into an attack against the Zionist entity and vice versa. This contributes to bringing the Islamic nation together and pushing it
strongly to rally around the jihad enterprise.']

One can only react to this stunning reality by giving all praise to Israel's diplomats, politicans, intelligence services, US-citizen spies, and the retired senior US officals and wealthy Jewish-American organizations who lobby an always amenable Congress on Israel's behalf. In an astounding and historically unprecedented manner, the Israelis have succeeded in lacing tight the ropes binding the American Gulliver to the tiny Jewish state and its policies; as Anatol Lieven has written, the Israelis
have been so successful that Israeli nationalism "for many Americans has become deeply entwined with their American nationalism." "

Don Williams - 4/7/2006

Hence wars of aggression in capitalist oligarchies are always deceitfully framed as wars of "defense". The old Roman historians noted this same effect in the ancient Roman Republic upon which ours was modelled. I can give you a citation if you wish.

Plus by the time people realize how they've been deceived, its too late.
Bush leaves our Treasury in ashes -- he now says Federal debt in 2008 will be $9.9 TRILLION dollars -- $3.8 TRILLION more than what he promised just a few years ago.

But Bush will not suffer for his actions -- he will do the same thing as Republican Senator Phil Gramm did after the Enron collapse: wave gaily to tens of thousands of bankrupt constituents as he moves into a wealthy retirement paid for by the taxpayers , supplemented by lavish sinecures from the rich men for whom he whored.

Jason KEuter - 4/7/2006

I'm not sure what your figures on the distribution of wealth are supposed to mean - other than being ipso facto evidence of injustice.

You might want to look at the second part of my earlier post, where I argued that the paranoid style is a by-product of democratic politics - a manner of galvanizing otherwise disinterested parties towards a specific policy objective.

Regarding the American masses being duped into going into war and the capitalists runnning the show:

1. Presumably, the capitalists wanted to go to war with Iraq.

The relationship of Sept 11 to the war is that Sept 11 gave them the excuse they needed.

This thus implies that an excuse was needed, which , in turn suggests that the underhanded capitalists are actually being vigilantly guarded and are thus constrained by the masses from fulfilling their true wishes (some type of immiseration).

This, thus begs the question: how can the masses be so vigilant as to require such intensive manipulation and yet to malleable and ignorant at the same time?

Marxist analysis falls apart addressing these issues because of its faulty premises: it is a historical and bound to only those "facts" which prove its point - namely that America is not a democracy, and all obvious activity pointing to the contrary is simply sound and fury.

N. Friedman - 4/6/2006


Heavy water has numerous uses. For example: Nuclear magnetic resonance, as a neutron moderator (which may or may not involve nuclear weapons) and as a neutrino detector.

Again, Israel likely has weapons. However, I tend to doubt it has very many. And there are really good reasons to be doubtful, the most obvious one being the need for a small country to hide a very big program - if it is like the accusers claim -.

I might add, if Israel has such weapons, it has not threatened to use them. What Israel obtains by its policy of studied silence is the deterrent value of having such weapons because its enemies believe it has them.

We should remember that Saddam Hussein evidently wanted the world to believe he had them when he did not have. That served his purpose - until, of course, the US invaded and none were to be found -. So bluffs are not unheard of since most people really thought Saddam had them. Bluffs were useful for him, perhaps, to deter Iran.

Peter Kovachev - 4/6/2006

Come now, Mr. Nelson, you don't really believe that the obscurantist poppycock you linked us to explains the substantial "meeting of minds" between Marxists, neo-Nazis, antisemites, "anti-Zionists," conspiracy theorists, Islamists and such when it comes to Jews and things Jewish? I know you all think you are different and unique and that you all bicker among each other, but on the Jewish issues you are all quite content to pull in your talons and purr lovingly.

N. Friedman - 4/6/2006


I do not clearly follow your point. The issue here is what drives the Jihadists, not the propaganda put out by them.

The best that can be discerned is that such people want to re-establish the Caliphate and to conquer, in due course, the world. How do we know that? Because they have said such repeatedly - ad nauseum - in, among other things, private communications that have been found, in sermons given in mosques and statements made in tractates. I trust these things a lot more than propaganda.

Louis Nelson Proyect - 4/6/2006


Peter Kovachev - 4/6/2006

Mr. Williams, I'm stuck. After seriously considering a number of possible responses to you, the one that springs to mind again and again, the only one that seems to make any sense at all is, "Mister, don't be an idiot."

Alas, I can't say such things to you here because it would be rude and I'd be violating the rules. So, for now, accept instead my heart-felt wishes for your speedy recovery from whatever ails you.

Peter Kovachev - 4/6/2006

That's quite the tear-jerker there, Mr. Williams, but you're a bigger fool than I thought if you believe anything bin Laden and the jihadists say or if you still think Iraqis suffered for any other reason than that the ridiculously massive food and medicine aid went into Sadam's pockets, not mention those of his friends, unknown numbers of UN and NGO staffers and sympathetic European politicians and businessmen. The only ones in this remarkable scam who didn't make a dime are fellow-traveller chumps like yourself, who made (and in your unique case continue to make) the proper noises without seeing a red farthing for their loyal service.

Don Williams - 4/6/2006

Mr Miller stated above, without qualification, that Israel had never tested a nuclear bomb. I cited the Vela incident to show that Mr Miller does not know that.

I also noted that the bomb used on Hiroshima was not tested before use.

I also noted that the vast majority of testing needed to develop the plutonium implosion bomb was testing with conventional explosions and provided little signature. That design successfully exploded on the first try at the Trinty site.

So Mr Miller's claim that nuclear weapons have to be tested to be useable is not true either.

Don Williams - 4/6/2006

Your comment that "we can view antisemitism as a specific, self-contained phenomenon which operates very much like a psycho-pathological obsession in otherwise normal individuals and whose root causes may never be discovered. "

strike me as a perfect description of your mentality -- as shown by your tactics in defending the Israel Lobby here.
A Willful failure to address facts, bland pronouncements unsupported by evidence, a stubborn refusal
to acknowledge the enormous damage done to your own countrymen by that Lobby.

Don Williams - 4/6/2006

1) As my citations above note, Bin Laden gave 3 reasons in 1998 for
war with the USA:

a) The US government's causing the deaths of more than
"600,000 children" in Iraq during the 1990s via sanctions (After destroying
the Iraq water treatment plants, the US blocked import of water purification
chemicals, resulting in widespread deaths from dysentery and cholera as people
in a desert area were force to drink polluted water. )
b) US military support for the corrupt dictatorships of Saudi Arabia --
done so that US oil companies could take the wealth of Saudi Arabia
with the royalties flowing to US puppets and little to nothing flowing
to the Saudi people (Why were 15 of 19 Sept 11 hijackers from Saudi Arabia?)
c) Massive US military support for Israeli killing of Muslim Palestinians
and Israeli taking of Palestinian land

2) The posts I link to above have ample citations and documentation showing
that there was ample basis for Bin Laden's complaints.

In the huge barrage of US news coverage after Sept 11, why did our news media rarely if ever
report WHY the attack occurred -- report not the bullshit speculations of
foreign policy whores but the reasons given by the man who commanded the
attack? Why did they suddenly develop total amnesia of all they had reported
on Bin Laden and the Middle East in the preceeding years?

3) Why did the news media refuse to point out that the actions by the
US government --which brought so much death upon us on Sept 11
and which had huge financial costs --had little or nothing to do
with US national interest but rather was whoring done for campaign
donations. WHY did that debate never even occur?

4) Jewish American Madeleine Albright was asked about the terrible
deaths levied on the Iraqi people by the Clinton Administration.
A country which was no threat to the US but was a threat to Israel.

An excerpt from the interview with Leslie Stahl:
Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.

--60 Minutes (5/12/96)
Why didn't the US news media ask Madeleine Albright after the Sept 11 attack
if she still held to her coldblooded vicious attitude?

N. Friedman - 4/6/2006


The September 11 attacks were not so badly reported. The gist of what was said is correct, namely, a bunch of religious fanatics hijacked planes and flew them into buidlings, evidently with the support of other religious fanatics who encouraged and financed the operation.

After that reporting, there have always been different theories about why such occurred.

Some claim - without much evidence - that the issue is us. That is basically what I call the religious argument, as in ancient Israel sinned so it suffered. Such people typically say that we should change our foreign policy.

Other people claim that one should look to what the Jihadists' history and what they now think, as represented in their culture, literature and what can be discerned from their actions, pamphlets and speeches. I would call this the historical school, as it actually investigates the matter. Various scholars have come to different conclusions and theories from such investigations.

There are other points of view as well. So, I think your point is not well taken at all.

Peter Kovachev - 4/6/2006

And yet, Professor Eckstein, I'm willing to wager that Mearsheimer and Walt will continue to uphold and develop their structural realism thesis as if nothing had happened.

This is a prominent and common feature of all varieties of antisemitism, where the antisemite can hold almost any political or religious view...on the left, right, or centre; conservative, progressive, liberal or fundamentalist or whatever...until it comes to the Jew. We can all scratch ourself on the head over this paradox until we lose our hair, or we can view antisemitism as a specific, self-contained phenomenon which operates very much like a psycho-pathological obsession in otherwise normal individuals and whose root causes may never be discovered.

Don Williams - 4/6/2006

What do you think several tons of heavy water is used for, Mr Friedman?

Remember the great lengths that Britain went to in Norway during WWII to keep the Nazis from acquiring heavy water?

See,e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norwegian_heavy_water_sabotage

N. Friedman - 4/6/2006


You make a very well reasoned argument. Very good.

One point. Ken Waltz is not one of the authors of "The Lobby" article. If I understood you correctly, I think you confuse him with Stephen Walt. It is, in any event, my impression that Stephen Walt holds to the realist theory you assert.

Don Williams - 4/6/2006

1) Look at how the US public opinion was manipulated via a false
depiction of reality in the Sept 11 attack:

See http://hnn.us/readcomment.php?id=85027&;bheaders=1#85027 ,
http://hnn.us/readcomment.php?id=85028&;bheaders=1#85028 ,

2) To look at how wealthy men and their tools led to our
invasion of Iraq,
see http://hnn.us/readcomment.php?id=85635&;bheaders=1#85635

N. Friedman - 4/6/2006


How do you know he is not a Mossad agent? And, you have no way of knowing how he was, at most times, while he was allegedly in prison. Again, he could be a spy.

And again, I certainly suspect that Israel has nuclear weapons. On the other hand, given the size of the country, I doubt Israel has very many. That is not likely to be feasible.

N. Friedman - 4/6/2006


The New Statesman article includes this telling passage which shows the poor, prejudiced calibre of the report: "Kelly and his colleagues, however, found their views were being challenged. Chief of the challengers was Michael Israel Michaels (such was his middle name, literally)..." (Emphasis added).

As for the BBC, they repeat what appears in the New Statesman article.

But, note: even if the British supplied stuff to Israel - which may well be true - that does not mean all that much. It certainly does not account for all the weapons that Israel haters think Israel has.

Now, Israel may have a thousand nuclear weapons or none. Or they may have 10 or 100. At present, there is no way to know. It is certainly the case that Israel has the know-how to build bombs. But, that does not mean they have stockpiles of them.

Don Williams - 4/6/2006

Aedanus Burke, a member of the first Congress, thought that the Constitutional Convention, held in secret, had been a conspiracy by America's wealthy --that they had mounted a "second revolution" to reenslave the common citizens
who had just thrown off the yoke of King George III.

Anyone who looks at how Pennsylvania's ratification was rammed through here in Philadelphia -- and the role played by the corporate Press of the day -- would see his point.

See Saul Cornell's January 1988 article in the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography
'Reflections on "The Late Remarkable Revolution in Government": Aedanus Burke and Samuel Bryan's Unpublished History of the Ratification of the Federal Constitution '

Circa 1911, historian Charles Beard published his Economic Interpretation of the US Constitution, in which he argued that the Founders had designed the Constitution to protect their economic interests.

While Beard's thesis has been debated back and forth, a recent book by Robert McGuire "To Form a More Perfect Union" gives strong support to Beard's argument. Obviously, however, the Founders looked at power as well as wealth. They well knew , for example, that Rome's wealthy patricians kept much of their wealth under Augustus Caesar's veiled dictatorship --but lost all power and eventually, after a generation or two, all wealth.

To cut through the endless squabbles of academic historians, it's best to emulate Galileo: cut the crap--and observe reality. After 225 years under the Constitution, the Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finances indicates that roughly 5% of the US households own over 53% of the national wealth. On an individual basis, the inequality is even greater. A relative of mine, who works directly for one of America's billionaires, told me that said billionaire informed him a few years ago that 2% of the US population controls 80% of the US wealth.

Jason KEuter - 4/6/2006

If you want citations for Chomsky, pick a book, any book. His "model" is simple:

American "democracy" is an incomplete revolution.

It has set people free, which has necessitated the use of propaganda in order to change people's consciousness, so that the exercise of freedom is really complicity with corporate rule.

Corporations thus use the American government for their own benefit, which results in moral travesties (most of which Chomsky simply invents - like you do with your comments on America inflicting oppression, misery, etc on the Middle East).

Thus, Chomsky argues that America's democracy is a sham democracy. He won't use those words, but that's because he is desperate to disassociate himself from leftist governments in power, whose record is pretty uniformly dismal. Moreover, the suppression of free speech that has come to characterize leftism is justified precisely in Chomsky's terms: namely, there is a "privileged" set of ideas that are perpetually reinforced and those ideas serve a perfidious, capitalist interest (the left uses "corporate" instead of "capitalism" in a feeble attempt to mask its Manichean Marxism).

Thus, the left is "marginalized" and fighting against overwhelming odds, and in order to gain access to the consciousness of the people, cannot be fettered by the false consciousness of capitalist myths in which the people are bound. In other words, the voice of "capitalism" must be repressed as it is inconsistent with democracy anyway, and, if it maintains its privileged position, will somehow work to suppress the left.

Much of what you say about "American Imperialism" and "military occupation" in the Middle East demonstrate that Chomsky and his ilk practice what they preach against: namely, repeating the same falsehoods again and again and again, until they take on an aspect of truth. Moreover, these falsehoods are repeated again and again and again in the very mainstream media which Chomsky insists is in the grips of the capitalists. They come their via academics who believe the same thing and don't tolerate much in the way of contrary information, which is part of an insidious web of deciet spun by our corporate overlords.

Don Williams - 4/5/2006

See,e.g., http://www.newstatesman.com/200603130011 and

Don Williams - 4/5/2006

1) You accuse Chomsky et al of "paranoia" but your entire post is a long-winded "conspiracy theory" lacking in facts, citations, or substance.

2) You sneer re Chomsky:
"But his point is fundamentally (really, laughably orthodox) Marxism: there is the form of democracy, but because there remains powerful, private propertied interests, they have retained control of the democracy by controlling the media and thus containing democratic debate within parameters that serve their narrow corporate interest. "

3) The fact is, there is ample evidence that major, important facts were withheld from Americans re what motivated the Sept 11 attack. Instead, the news media as a monolith propagated George W Bush's bullshit that we were attacked because
Islamists "hate our freedom". The FACTS re the enormous misery, death and deep poverty that the US Government has inflicted on the Middle East over the past several decades --for the sake of US special interests -- were largely concealed and withheld. Condi Rice went to US TV network CEOS and twisted their arms to block broadcasts of Bin Laden complaints -- her rationale being a flimsy lie.

4) Harvard Professor Ernest May --who worked on the 911 Commission -- admitted the following in the New Republic:
"The [911 Commission] report has weaknesses...
...For one thing, the report skirts the question of whether American policies and actions fed the anger that manifested itself on September 11. I think myself that the report is right in saying that Al Qaeda attacked the United States because of what the nation was rather than because of what it did. Still, the report is weak in laying out evidence for the alternative argument that the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the Capitol might not have been targeted absent America's identification with Israel, support for regimes such as those in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan, and insensitivity to Muslims' feelings about their holy places. The commissioners believed that American foreign policy was too controversial to be discussed except in recommendations written in the future tense. Here we compromised our commitment to set forth the full story"
Ref: <http://hnn.us/roundup/comments/11952.html>;

5) Similarly , the close cooperation between top White House officials and New York Times reporters in misleading America in the runup to the Iraq invasion have been well documented.

Don Williams - 4/5/2006

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanunu

Maybe we can ask Israeli nuclear technican Mordechai Vanunu if Israel has nukes. Oh wait, he already told us.

Maybe you gentlemen would like to ask him for evidence. Oh wait, Israel still keeps him under tight guard.

The mental processes of Israel's defenders here on display are interesting -- although it's rib-splitting hilarious when they lecture about "scholarly methodology"

By the way, has Israel ever signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty? Why not?

HNN - 4/5/2006

As someone who has studied Realism carefully and has written a book using Realist principles that is coming out from University of California Press this autumn, what is very disturbing to me about the article of Mearsheimer and Walt is also--never mind "the treacherous Jews" for the moment—the following:

Mearsheimer and Walt have spent their long scholarly careers, and gained prestigious academic positions, as advocates of structural realism--the argument that it is the structure of international relations, and not the internal dynamics within states, that determine state action in the international arena. This is what they have spent 25 years saying, and Mearsheimer’s The Tragedy of Great Power Relations (2001) is a quite extreme statement of that thesis. So the primary explanatory dynamic of state action has to do with the structure of the international environment: anarchy, multipolarity, bipolarity, unipolarity, the worst-case-scenario, the opaqueness of states to one another, the constant "friction" of states caused by their mutual existence, the security dilemma, and threat of violence all leading to power maximalization etc. etc., etc. Hence international relations tend to be (in Mearsheimer's phrase) "tragic" by nature.

And we know how Ken Waltz views the situation of unipolarity into which the U.S. emerged in the 1990s after the victorious end of the Cold War: Waltz contends that in a unipolar world the superpower by is fundamentally unchecked by other states and free to act as it sees fit, especially if it has fears, and also argues that such predominant powers tend strongly to indulge in excessive (even arbitrary) employment precisely because there is no one to balance them (see Waltz in, e.g., International Security 24 (2000). Iraq is in fact a classic example of that thesis.

This sort of realism, on which Mearsheimer and Walt have worked for 25 years, and for which they have been powerful advocates--ALL THIS, ALL OF THIS, is suddenly abandoned by them in the London Review of Books article in favor of the machinations of a powerful INTERNAL LOBBY as the cause of international events and U.S. foreign policy. Not external structure but internal dynamics is suddenly the primary causative element. And the focus is not on the tragedy of state action and interaction within theinterstate structure, but, suddenly it is on on EVIL--the evil Jews, the traitors. Of course, the regenerating of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is disgusting. But it is the general intellectual reversal that is equally stunning, or perhaps even worse-- the sudden and complete ABANDONMENT of the vast Realist structure of theories of which they themselves have been primary advocates for 25 years, and which provides a perfectly good explanation of, e.g., Iraq.

Now THIS is real intellectual degeneration. If Mearsheimer and Walt really believe "the Protocols" hypothesis, then they must now believe that they hold their prestigious positions in academia on the basis of their propagation of a false hypothesis of international relations, a hypothesis which they have advocated for decades, one on which they have carefully trained two generations of graduate students, and one in which they now no longer believe, having replaced the international tragedy of great power relations with the machinations of the evil traitorous Jew.

THAT is really stunning.

Arthur M. Eckstein
Professor of History
University of Maryland

N. Friedman - 4/5/2006


As I said, Israel's program is mostly based on the rumor mill. I also note that there is a story running around Britain about Britain's role in helping Israel, evidently behind the back of the then somewhat pro-Israel prime minister, Harold Wilson. The hate groups even point out that the British functionary involved has "Israel" as a middle name - imagine that -. That name fact appeared in an important British journal.

Again, there is some reason to believe Israel has at least some weapons and there is some reason to doubt such weapons. But there is nothing like proof in any direction. And there is nothing at all to suggest a substantial program, which is why nutcases suggest Western help from people with middle names like "Israel."

Testing weaponry is the norm in the world. Of course, the superhumans of Israel do not need to test things. And that is because they often have the correct middle name.

Richard F. Miller - 4/5/2006

In the shadowy world of some of our posters' imaginations, a "Vela incident," the alleged theft of radioactive materials from a French freighter in the 1960s, the fact that Albert Einstein and several prominent researchers associated with the Manhattan Project were Jews, not to mention that final refuge of the hard left and right--"Mossad can do anything"--is today what passes for quality inference among those who already believe. It is the same logic that used to put the CIA at the center of all evil until 9/11 and the non-being (c. 2003) of Iraq WMDs exposed them for the incompetent doofuses that they were--and likely still are.

In the meantime, despite Mr. Williams's assertions, I will repeat my question: Is there any nuclear power that did not first test a weapon?

PS to Mr. Williams. Testing a weapon has a good deal more to do than simply predicting fission. Predicting a bang is the easy part--it's the triggering mechanism that requires testing.

Peter Kovachev - 4/5/2006

Just an idle question, Mr. Williams. Did you actually read the source you provide for your argument?

There isn't even agreement on whether the "Vela incident" actually occured and even those who think that it is possible that a nuclear test was conducted couldn't agree on whether South Africa, Taiwan or Israel may have been behind it. That's if you ignore other nations or organizations with nuclear know-how.

And then, if you pre-emptively dismiss even the need to establish the reality of the test by saying that one isn't necessary anyway, why bother to bring up rumours? So, with virtually zero evidence to submit, what on earth are we supposed to go by? Your oracular powers and ability to see throught walls?

Peter Kovachev - 4/5/2006

Mr. Williams,

The world has yet to see some, much less "enormous" evidence for the feverish descriptions of the cabal you provide. You are obviously a "believer" to whom the two cranks really addressed their tract, and neither they nor you need much evidence to keep you believing and there is no evidence anyone can ever present that would convince you otherwise.

As for your charge that Dr. Cravatt evaded the issue by cricising the authors' methodology and not their scholarship, you may be unaware of this, but scholarship is mostly about methodology. This is why scholars will usually not debate (or even bother to look at) breathtaking "discoveries" by people whose research methods consist of tea leaf readings, aluminum foil thought-wave sensors or a regurgitated mix of neo-Nazi and Stalinist phantasmagoria.

Jason KEuter - 4/5/2006

First, thanks for writing on Hofstadter.

As for paranoia, I would like to propose two reasons for its prevelance.

1. On the left, despite the arguments from Chomsky and his ilk that they don't write "conspiracy" history but instead "institutional" history, they do engender an overall implausible argument about minority power. This is necessary to buttress the left's essentially Marxist view of American democracy - namely, that it isn't "real democracy" after all. Rather, democracy is a cover for something more isidious. Chomsky admits Americans are "free", but then turns around and argues that they are manipulated by "corporate elites". Chomsky is ever desperate to pretend he's not a communist, in order to disassociate leftist radicalism from the horrors of its own past. But his point is fundamentally (really, laughably orthodox) Marxism: there is the form of democracy, but because there remains powerful, private propertied interests, they have retained control of the democracy by controlling the media and thus containing democratic debate within parameters that serve their narrow corporate interest. In other words, because capitalists exists, they use their power to create a false consciousness in the masses that buttresses capitalist power and renders modern democracy the sham Marx called bourgeois democracy, which Marx called upon people to destroy.

This is paranoia, and it's especially paranoid because Chomsky and his ilk cannot take any among the multitude of diverse issues in politics and governance at face value, and instead see everything in terms of this apocalyptic struggle between the unknowing masses and the capitalist class - with the likes of Chomsky and his followers desperately trying to show the masses the truth. Thus, most issues are red herrings, distractions, despite the heartfelt passions they elicit.

The paranoia is heightened because this must somehow take place insidiously, behind the masses back, or obscured from their "consciousness". Were the process to be less insidious (which would render Chomsky less paranoid sounding), then that would imply some kind of willfull and conscious consensus among the American people for their governing system. Since the Chomsky/Zinn left can't bring itself to admit that the governing process has any democratic legitimacy, it must fall back on these trite notions of engineered false consciousnness. Thus, paranoia is the inevitable result.

2. I love Hofstadter's work, but I think he might be a little off in characterizing paranoia as an American style. Rather, it is arguably characteristic of democracies: it is one of many imperfect ways in which politicians can mobilize otherwise inactive groups towards achievement of a policy objective.

Objective, scientific, rational discourse lacking in any kind of potent, albeit less than perfectly truthful, symbolism galvanizes policy wonks who are already galvanized. More often than not, paranoid fantasies are a way to bring otherwise apathetic parties into the political process in order to tip a pretty even balance in a policy debate. Simplistic tales of cabals of evildoers motivate people to back policy objectives that involve a great deal more than simply getting some personification of evil.

This creates future policy problems, however, as it is difficult to sustain paranoid fantasies and thus the truth ultimately comes out. Moreover, the same people who were once predisposed to believe the paranoid fantasy are equally predisposed to change their mind, and in turn see the person that fed them that fantasy as part of some misleading cabal, once again taking the inherently virtuous citizens of a democracy down a wayward path.

Don Williams - 4/5/2006

I.e., the detection of a nuclear explosion in the deep southern Pacific by a US Vela satellite in 1979? See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vela_Incident

Plus you assume that it is necessary to test a nuclear bomb in order to have confidence in it.

But that is not so. The "Little Boy" bomb dropped on Hiroshima was never tested because of its simplicity -- one subcritical mass of U235 was shot into another to achieve fission. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Boy

The more complex plutonium implosion design was tested at Trinity prior to use at Nagazaki. But the real testing -- to develop the implosion lens -- was done as in the RaLa experiments at Los Alamos and emitted neglible amounts of radiation and noise.

Richard F. Miller - 4/5/2006

Mr. Friedman: It has become an article of faith in the West that Israel has such weapons. Indeed, the same mindset prepared to discount Iran's nuclear program are the first to insist that the Israelis are equipped with (I've seen the following among various estimates): 80 to 200 fissile weapons; fully MIRV'd missiles; stealth-skin technology for covert delivery. Given that Israel has never tested a nuclear device, nor, at least as is publically known, ever tested a MIRV re-entry cone or stealth technology of any kind, these strike me as very odd claims. If true, Israel must employ clairvoyance for testing; if false, Israel possesses the least expensive form of deterrance known to mankind--newspaper deterrance.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I cannot recall a nuclear power that has not tested at least one weapon.

Peter Kovachev - 4/5/2006

Mr. Jackson,

I also don't like smearing individuals, but nothing in Dr. Cravatt's essay comes close to a smear. In fact, he is milder with the authors than many others and from what I can read, he addresses their argument, not their personalities.

Still, if anyone deserves a smear, or better still, some tar, feathers and donkey-cart out of town, I can't think of anyone more deserving than Mearsheimer and Walt. The two composed and published a classical, but "modernized" antisemitic conspiracy theory pamphlet consisting of opinion, inuendos and shoddy research, and tried to sneak it by as scholarship. They attempt to smear an entire community and its organizations with the stigma of conspiracy. The only reason their "paper" is getting any attention, while similar and equally shoddy trash emanating from the loonie frontiers gets ignored, is that the authors are well-placed academics. The only "argument" they can present which is different from those of their more obviously unhinged and less connected fellow travelers is a fallacy...the old "argument from authority." The wing-nuts wout there will be living off this morsel for years to come. Like I said, Dr. Cravatt was too mild with his critique.

You needn't be up to date on the latest academic arguments for this, since nothing M & W present is in any way new. If it looks new to you, and you feel you may be behind on things, don't worry; you just haven't been exposed to run-of-the mill antisemitic swill emanating from the extreme Left and Right.

N. Friedman - 4/5/2006


There is enormous evidence that oil companies and Saudi Arabia exert enormous influence on US policy. Large sums of money - dwarfing by far that of Israel's friends - have flowed from these groups into US politics. And all of these groups have the longstanding ear of our current President and the Vice President as well. Israel's many friends are just one group of voices among many.

And Israel's friends have rather competing agendas. Some favor Israel's retreat to the 1967 Armistice line. Others do not. Some want Israel to receive substantial aid from the US. Others - evidently including the infamous Richard Pearl - do not (See, A Clean Break where he advocates Israel breaking its cord to the US).

Now, Jews do have a lot of influence in the Democratic party. But the Democrats are not in power. Jews donate to Democratic candidates and live in states where their votes have magnified significance (e.g. NY and FL). But, Jews take, for the most part, a rather hands-off view, hoping for a settlement and assuming that Israel will, to achieve that result, cede land to somewhere near the Green line.

Republicans are far less influenced by Jews as, to note Goldwater's statement, politicians hunt for ducks where there are ducks. Republicans have a very large percentage of evangelical Christians, a very, very large portion of the country's voters, in their camp. And such people see Israel as rather important. So, that is one group of voters that Republicans cannot ignore.

So, your talk about money sort of misses the point here. Americans support Israel. People in both parties largely support Israel. Why? Probably because Israel is more like the US than its enemies are. And probably because the powers that be are not much different in their views than are average Americans. And probably because most politicos see Israel's cause as also advancing the US cause.

Don Williams - 4/5/2006

1) There is enormous evidence that some very wealthy men both exert great power in US politics and also act strongly to influence US Middle Eastern Policy to favor Israel.

2) There is enormous evidence that the influence of the Israel Lobby has brought enormous damage down upon America --for no good reason. Although I acknowledge that Big Defense and Big Oil also had a role in provoking Sept 11.

3) Therefore, there is ample reason to question the loyalty of the Israel Lobby to America.

4) I concur that Walt and Mearsheimer could have made a much stronger case and could have provided much more detailed evidence with citations. But they were, after all, writing a magazine article.

5) To avoid addressing their specific charges by criticizing their methods and writing seems to me to be an act of evasion, not scholarship.

Gregory Jackson - 4/5/2006

Mr. Kovachev,

I am not an academic, but a mundane everyday historian who muddles in archives and museums. I don't usually take time to post to discussions as these as I don't feel up to date on the latest academic arguments. However, my protest is not that Dr. Cravatt doesn't answer each point but that he seems (to me at least) to do what so many others do and that is to attack the authors, not the work. It's more of a political weapon than a scholarly one. I believe that he would have been more effective challenging the leadership of the universities in question than smearing the authors with whom he so vehemently disagrees. I personally don't like the idea of ANY foreign country having undue influence in Washington, but I don't know that Israel has more clout than Mexico or Canada or anyone else. It pains me to see historians (or any academically inclined person) to stoop to smearing individuals, when he should be dismissing their work and questioning the authorities that endorsed them.

Richard F. Miller - 4/4/2006

Mr. T:
Here is my response to you that I gave on another post. It speaks for itself:

"One reason why I'm reluctant to deal with you is because as an "historian," you're simply a fabricator; thus, the factual information you cite is generally untrustworthy. Let me refresh your memory of one such example. In your post #73096, from last December, you claimed far lower numbers for the death count at Auschwitz and gave as a source a New York Times article dated 18 January 1995. You declared, "Too bad they [the NYT] had no internet postings back then, but if you wish to go to the microfiche I believe the date was January 18th, 1995."

Of course, as serious researchers know, the NYT is available online as far back as 1851. (Incidentally, as all but a fake would know, archival copies of 19th century newspapers are generally available on microfilm, not microfiche.) Having a retrieval account with the NYT, I went back to the date, month and finally the year you claimed--guess what? No such article exists involving the Russians and Auschwitz.

In subsequent posts, I challenged you repeatedly to substantiate your claim. You never did.

In my view, that puts you in the Michael Bellesiles class of historian. Google him if you don't know who he is. But after you Google him, you'll understand why I generally don't respond to your posts.

As Mr. Cravatts notes of Hostadter's analysis, even paranoids copiously footnote their claims. You seem to be one paranoid unable to do even that successfully."

All the best,
Richard F. Miller

Peter Kovachev - 4/4/2006

Mr. Williams,

Unless you are ready to pay me for research time, allow me to refer you to fairly decent search engine, Google, at www.google.com. If you were to enter the Mearsheimer and Walt's names, the title of their tractate or whatever it is, and throw in a few keywords like "critique," you'd be sure to find quite a few critiques from the Right, Centre and even the Left, as Mr. Friedman kindly pointed out with his reference to Chomsky.

One of the better summaries I've come across is an analysis by the Anti Defamation League, at http://www.adl.org/Israel/mearsheimer_walt.asp. I can only hope that you are not overly bothered by the fact that the ADL is Jewish organization.

You will also find that there are very few favourable reviews from the political and academic centre and the mainstream sectors, and the ones who are excited about the tract are the "usual suspects" of the lunatic fringe, all clustered in the extreme left and right wings; the Islamists, the neo-Nazis, Stalinist types and the usual conspiracy theory crowd.

But again, this is beside the point. The point, again, is that your complaint that Dr. Cravatt doesn't engage in a detailed refutation of M & W's rant is quite irrelevant. First of all, it's impossible to refute unquantifiable, unprovable and highly subjective claims. M & W's paper would fail even as a first-year poli-sci or history paper simply because, as is amply evident and as many have already pointed out, it's essentially an ideological rant which begins with a conclusion and then attempts to hammer carefully selected factoids (many of them also little more than biased conclusions by like-minded sources) into what is supposed to appear as evidence. This, and not a grand Zionist conspiracy, best explains why M & W's own universities blushed and hastily removed their imprimaturs from the work. Secondly, it is perfectly acceptable to address general trends, in this case politicization of scholarship, or as I would reach even further, tarted-up conspiracy theories masquarading as scholarship. This is why historians can speak of historical phenomena like the witch craze, without having to address the debate whether witches can turn into bats, cats and rats or having to sift through volumes of demented "studies" by late medieaval and Renaissance scholars or reams of duly recorded and notarized "court evidence" from the witch "trials."

N. Friedman - 4/4/2006


Conspiracy theories are generally wrong headed.

As for the Democrats, they probably would be upset about losing money. But, were the Democrats to become anti-Israel - as you prefer -, they would also lose large numbers of voters, enough to lose a lot of elections. So, in fact, the support by Democrats for Israel serves the interest of voters, not just the financing of the Democratic party.

N. Friedman - 4/4/2006


Has it occurred to you that the stories are planted or - what is rather common for the press - wrong?

Now, I suspect Israel has such weapons. I just do not think they have anything to do with Iran's interest in such weapons. I think the main story for Iran is: (a) Pakistan and (b) power in the region. Those are both good reasons for states to acquire nuclear weapons.

Don Williams - 4/4/2006

My snicker was not at Noam Chomsky,b ut rather at the idea of Mr Friedman citing Noam Chomsky to buttress his argument. Anyone who has talked with Mr Friedman in the past year would have felt the same impulse to break into uncontrollable laughter.

But Noam's point -- that US Middle Eastern policy is set by special interests beyond the Israel Lobby -- is correct. The oil companies, obviously. But defense contractors like Lockheed Martin ( Lynne Cheney was one of their Directors from 1994 till 2001) make a huge amount of money from the conflicts in the Middle East. They sell a bunch of F16s to the UAE and then turn around a sell more to Israel.

The cleverness of Bush-Cheney has been to wrap the agenda of traditional Republican interests --Big Oil and Big Defense --up with the agenda of the Israel Lobby. This is why the New York Times has been so servile and why Democrats have been left to sputter in outrage. Democratic leaders --unlike the base --know that the Democratic Party is largely financed by billionaires who are strong supporters of Israel and they are deathly afraid of losing those donors to the Republicans.

Don Williams - 4/4/2006

The title cited by Mr Cravatts "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy" was the title of the earlier working draft.

Don Williams - 4/4/2006

It is amusing that HNN would publish Mr Cravatts' claptrap but not provide a link to the paper he is condemming so readers can judge for themselves.

The paper is here:


This way you can see what the authors actually said, vice Mr Cravatts' tiresome strawmen.

Actually, the authors of the paper seem to have made some obvious, straightforward observations. I think they should have looked more deeply at the money sources funding all this and provided more citations, but that is just my opinion.

Don Williams - 4/4/2006

Consider that following:
1) Peres admission that Israel has a nuclear option: http://www.fas.org/news/israel/980714-israel1.htm
2) Israeli Nuclear technican Mordechi Vanunun's testimony to the British prior to his capture by Israel and his sentence to 18 years imprisonment. See ,eg. , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israel_and_weapons_of_mass_destruction
3) RUMSFELD'S WAR, a book by WASHINGTON TIMES Pentagon reporter Rowan Scarborough, includes a secret Defense Intelligence Agency report stating that Israel owns 82 nuclear weapons.

Frederick Thomas - 4/4/2006

Exxon Mobile is not a country, and does not have a foreign policy, nor does it enslave a population of millions, after having stolen their land and homes in an unjust war, nor does it constantly push the US into doing its dirty work for it. It does not control the US media nor squelch coverage of opposing opinions.

Apples to apples, remember?

By the way, remember Mordechai Vannunu's accusation against Ben Gurion, as more damning circumstantial evidence has come out. It seems that Messrs Ben Gurion and Begin were really into killing Western politicians in situ who stood in their way:

In this case it was Mr. Bevin, British foreign secretary:


Fits the Vannunu pattern pretty well, doesn't it?

As for Mr. Bray, he seems to be what we called a "Saigon commando," writing reports on the war in air-conditioned comfort. No bugs, no bullets, no fightin', beer every night. Am I right?

Don Williams - 4/4/2006

(Snicker )

N. Friedman - 4/4/2006

Mr. Williams,

You draw overly strong conclusions from the various "facts" you have cited.

I am not going to review all of them. However, here is a stellar example. You write:

3) Israel exists because the US Government has given her $91 Billion in past aid, about $3 Billion/year
in current aid, massive amounts of advanced weapons and has kept silent while Israel developed
dozens of nuclear warheads with which to threaten her Islamic neighbors --thereby touching off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East which threatens the USA as well.

Now, Israel exists because it has not been beaten on the battle field and has not been beaten diplomatically. There are a thousand reasons why such is the case and the US is only one among many such reasons.

Now, if Israel's nuclear force - if it actually has one (rather than employing an elaborate bluff, like Saddam Hussein evidently employed regarding his alleged WMD) - exists, there has been no threat of its use. In fact, the only country in the region which has threatened explicitly to use nuclear weapons is Pakistan, which just happens to share a border with Iran.

Pakistan's activities are cause enough for Iran to seek such weapons, especially since Pakistan is ruled by a Sunni regime. And, the possibility that Iran might obtain such weapons is, of itself, enough to worry countries all over the Gulf. So, the Israel theory is pretty thin.

Just maybe, what drives the cause for nuclear weapons among the other states in the region is not Israel but the desire to have more influence in the region. Hence, if Iran had such weapons, it would have substantial influence in the Gulf and over its actual neighbors. In fact, a nuclear Iran would effectively become a world power. And that is also reason enough for Iran to pursue such a course.

Of course, Israel is the ever ready excuse for any and everything done in the Muslim regions. Such excuse makes it difficult for a Muslim country to object publicly, for fear of standing in the way of the Jihad against Israel.

N. Friedman - 4/4/2006

Mr. Williams,

Even Noam Chomsky has criticized the article.

Don Williams - 4/4/2006

In your post , you state:
"Walt's and Mearsheimer's pamphlet has already been riddled full of holes by at least dozens of scholars within days of its publication. The critique has been both general and finely detailed and the ball is in the authors' court to defend at least some of their more outlandish contentions."

That's rather vague, especially given your forceful tone. Not only do you not identify the authors/papers which you claim have refuted Walt's and Mearsheimer's "pamphlet" you do not even identify which "outlandish contentions" have been refuted.

How about telling us which specific "outlandish contentions" have been refuted and giving us some citations for the critiques from
"dozens of scholars" who have done the refutation.

Peter Kovachev - 4/3/2006

Perhaps, Mr. Jackson, you've missed Dr. Cravatt's point. Walt's and Mearsheimer's pamphlet has already been riddled full of holes by at least dozens of scholars within days of its publication. The critique has been both general and finely detailed and the ball is in the authors' court to defend at least some of their more outlandish contentions. Personally, I don't see that happening soon or in a serious way.

M & W got far more attention than they deserved, but I suspect that the reason real scholars took a deep breath, held their noses and dealt with the paper is that for a short time at least, two genuine universities allowed their imprimatur to be attached. The fact is that were it not for the status the authors hold (or held), “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” would have been unnoticed by academics and would have gathered the proverbial dust on the Stalinist, Islamist and neo-Nazi websites...where in fact the essay is "coincidentally" making quite a splash.

Dr. Cravatt and others need not examine the minutiae of the authors' feverish claims anymore than a psychiatrist needs to hear every garbled detail of a delusional paranoid's tales before diagnosing and prescribing. Some pathologies are, simply, quite ornery. In any case, Walt and Mearsheim, like every ornery tinfoil warrior out there, have already built-in a what they no doubt consider a water-tight defence for their thesis by pre-emptively suggesting that criticism or rejection will serve as proof of the validity of their arguments. No one can effectively and fruitfully argue against such logic other than with a hearty laugh.

Dr. Cravat quite rightly focuses on the larger phenomenon of the "paranoid style of politics," specifically the varieties which again focus on Jews as sinister manipulators. Perhaps in time he and others will expand on it. I personally would like to see an even broader treatment, where this rather banal phenomenon is examined in relation to very similar spasms of Jewish, Knights Templar and witchcraft conspiracy paranoias by revered scholars in some of the top medieval and Renaissance universities. History may not repeat itself, but patterns, especially pathological ones, seem to come back again and again under different names and guises.

Richard F. Miller - 4/3/2006

Actually, Mr. Thomas, on a less humorous note, the largest Mideast lobby is probably Exxon Mobil. But that wouldn't bother you, because their extortion only amounts to some 40 billion a year. But obsessed as you are--I well recall your post that Ben Gurion was behind the assassination of JFK!--it's better that you post here, otherwise, you and your ilk would probably be planting IEDs on some interstate.

And by the way, despite your alleged service in Vietnam, impugning my patriotism is on the same order as your calling Chris Bray "a hothouse flower." I visited Bray in Kuwait, and I can assure you, the man sacrifices more for his country in 24 hours than you have the past 24 years.

Frederick Thomas - 4/3/2006

OK, Mr. Miller:

The biggest accomplishment of the Greek or Turkish group in all time was a 1 cent reduction in the olive tariff.

AIPAC extorts over 3 billion as year.

Next question?

(When you Israel-firsters make comparisons, even humorously, you certainly don't do much homework! Remember that it's apples versus apples, for a good camparison!)

Richard F. Miller - 4/3/2006

Dear Mr. Thomas:

I see you're frothing on the margins once again. This particular post has brought out the usual suspects afflicted with a "Jewish Problem" including Mr. Reding (a people cursed) and now yourself (dual loyalties.)

Speaking of dual loyalties, I'm wondering if I could enlist you to help me keep on eye on some mighty suspicious activities. First there's those so-called "American" Greeks. Take a gander at this quote:

"A factor that has shaped American policy toward Greece and
Turkey is the influence of the Greek lobby in Congress. The Greek lobby
has made Congress a powerful, Greek-biased player in formulating US
policy toward the dispute." "Greek-Turkish Tension," Princeton Journal of Foreign Affairs, http://www.princeton.edu/~foreigna/winter1998/turkey.html

The Irish American Lobby (proudly identifies itself as a Sinn Fein organization)http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Hills/3795/

Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA, especially speech entitled "The Impact of an Effective Turkish-American Lobby on Business Relations with the U.S.," Statement by Ambassador Eric Edelman, http://ankara.usembassy.gov/sp_05312004.html

Japan America Society of Washington, DC. This one describes itself benignly enough as a "nonprofit, nonpartisan educational and cultural organization of individuals and institutions with an interest in Japan and U.S.-Japan relations." But isn't that what they said before Pearl Harbor? Mr. Thomas, please keep an eye on this one--right now we've got whole an entire Pacfleet standing between these guys and the Chi-NKors. http://www.us-japan.org/dc/about.html

Well, Mr. T., between the two of us, we'll keep them foreigners from corrupting our foreign policy.

Frederick Thomas - 4/3/2006

...are good for no nation.

It seems that AIPAC conducts espionage against the US, supports the most inhuman of Israel's murderous policies, interferes with and subverts United States interests and policies for its own benefit, and routinely threatens Senators and Congressmen with personal and political destruction, through the media, if they do not support Israel, slavishly. To whom is AIPAC loyal? To the USA? Surely not.

The "Americans" in AIPAC are no more loyal Americans than the members of the German-American Bund or the Japan Society at the beginning of WW II. FDR conducted a ferocious campaign against those organizations. Perhaps it is time to raise again the terms "alien" and "sedition," and get to the bottom of AIPAC.

I notice that Menachem Begin once attempted to murder Mr. Blevin, the UK Secretary of State for not supporting Israel slavishly enough. Is there any reason to believe that the same sort of threat is not going on here, against US politicians?


None of this of course, would cause Mr. Cravatts to behave differently. For him, it's "Israel Ueber Alles," no matter how much it costs his own country.

Don Williams - 4/3/2006

Some other FACTS that were ignored by Mr Cravatts:

1) Fortune Magazine rates AIPAC as the most powerful foreign policy lobby in Washington --
and the fourth most powerful lobby overall.

2) Political observers agree with Fortune's rating -- see ,e.g., http://www.tbrnews.org/Archives/a148.htm .

3) Israel exists because the US Government has given her $91 Billion in past aid, about $3 Billion/year
in current aid, massive amounts of advanced weapons and has kept silent while Israel developed
dozens of nuclear warheads with which to threaten her Islamic neighbors --thereby touching off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East which threatens the USA as well.

4) Israel's collection of F-16s rivals the US Air Force. When Sharon bombed an apartment building in Gaza --one of the most densely populated places on earth -- and killed several children in the middle of the night, Arabs knew that the F-16 and its bombs were made in the USA. When the Israelis fire Hellfire missiles into crowded Palestinian intersections, Arabs know the Apache Helicopters and
Hellfire missiles were made and supplied by the USA.

5) In a Nov 2001 interview with Pakistani DAWN news, Bin Laden was asked why the Sept 11 attack occurred.
Bin Laden replied as follows:
"The Sept 11 attacks were not targeted at women and children. The real targets were America's icons of military and economic power. .....The American people should remember that they pay taxes to their government, they elect their president, their government manufactures arms and gives them to Israel and Israel uses them to massacre Palestinians. "
(See http://www.robert-fisk.com/ usama_interview_ hamid_mir_ausaf. htm for a transcript of the interview )

Don Williams - 4/3/2006

Some FACTS Mr Cravatts does not address:

The really slick thing about Iraq is how Bush and Karl Rove used it to really , REALLY screw the Democratic leadership.
They potentially have destroyed the Democratic Party. The Democrats' treasury is starting to look a lot like Fallujah.

Bush knew that the Democratic Party is largely funded by billionaires who are strong supporters of Israel. He knew that while Hussein was not a real threat to the USA, Hussein was seen as a serious threat by Israel. (Partially because Hussein was getting angry over Israeli plans to take water out of the Euphrates River in the Turkey headwaters --via the Turkey -Israel pipeline.)

Bush knew that if he could bring Israel's wealthy US supporters over to the Republicans, it would really kneecap Democratic finances. He ben proven right.

Look at what's happened:

a) November 2000- 2002: The biggest campaign donor to the Democratic Party is Israeli billionaire Haim Saban, who contributes $12.7 million in the
2000 and 2002 campaign cycles. (His wife Cheryl's donations raises the total to
$13.7 million) See Reference [1] below

b) May 2002: Haim Saban funds the "Saban Center for Middle East Policy" at the Brookings Institute. One of the four stated research areas is "the implications of regime change in Iraq". Another task is providing "future policymakers with a better understanding of the complexities of the Middle East and the process of developing effective policies to deal with

c) June 30,2002: St Petersburg Times notes that "leading congressional Democrats were concerned that Jewish voters and donors were reassessing their relationship "with the Democratic Party given Bush's strong pro-Israel stance [3]

d) September 10, 2002: During a conference at the University of Virginia, high level intelligence adviser to the White House, Philip Zelikow, states: "Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I'll tell you what I think the real threat (is) and actually has been since 1990 -- it's the threat against Israel," [4]

e) December 19, 2002: In a Los Angeles Times op-ed "Lock and Load", the Directors of Haim Saban's Center for Middle East Policy ,Martin Indyk and Kenneth Pollack, state "Saddam Hussein has failed to come clean. His denial of possessing any weapons of mass destruction makes that clear ... As former U.S. government officials who had access to the most sensitive U.S. intelligence on Iraq, we are well aware of Iraq's continued efforts to retain and enhance its weapons capabilities" They then advocate launching a war on Iraq.[5]

f) January 17, 2003: Atlanta Jewish Times notes that " pro-Israel interests have contributed $41.3 million" in campaign donations over the past decade, with more than two thirds going to the Democrats. Article also notes that Republicans are making a strong push to court those big donors. [6]

g) June 20, 2003: In a New York Times column, "Saddam's Bombs? We'll Find
Them", Saban Center Director Kenneth Pollack tries to excuse his earlier claims re Iraq WMDs (see (e) above ) by stating "Where are Iraq's weapons of mass destruction? It's a good question, and unfortunately we don't yet have a good answer... In any event, the mystery will be solved in good time; the search for Iraq's nonconventional weapons program has only just begun." [7]

h) September 2004: John Kerry attempts to criticize the Bush war on Iraq but can only make incoherent, strangled sounds.

i) November 2004: Instead of $12.7 million, Haim Saban's campaign donations
in the 2004 election only total $84,000 -- and $2,000 goes to George W Bush, in case
the Democrats don't get the message.[8]

j) November 2000-2002: Another large Democratic donor is billionaire S Daniel Abraham of West Palm Beach, Florida --who donates over $2.3 million to the Democrats in 2000-2002. [9]
Mr Abraham has long been a strong advocate for Israel in US foreign policy circles via his Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation [10]

k) March 18,2003: S Daniel Abraham donates $2,000 to Howard Dean's campaign [11]

l) September 11, 2003: Howard Dean receives a storm of criticism from the Democratic leadership after saying that the US needs to be evenhanded in the Israel-Palestinian issue [12]

k) November 2003-Feb 2004: Howard Dean campaign is destroyed in Iowa primary by barrage of attack ads from a mysterious group "Americans for Jobs and Healthcare". Leader of group refuses to disclose funding sources. Disclosure to FEC not required until end of quarter. [13]

l) March 2004: FEC report indicates that attack group "Americans for Jobs" received $1 million in funding, with the largest donation --$200,000 -- coming from S Daniel Abraham.[13]

m) November 2004: Instead of $Millions, S Daniel Abraham only gives the Democrats $81,500 in the 2004 election [11]

n) October 2004: John Kerry attempts to criticize Bush's invasion of Iraq but can only make incoherent, strangled sounds.

o) Jan 2005: Capital Hill Democratic insiders are aghast when Howard Dean is put in as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee during a revolt by grassroots activists in the party. (It's easier to find out the membership of Al Qaeda than it is to find out who's on the "Democratic" Committee. )

p) One Year Later on Jan 30, 2006: Roll Call reports that "Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill are privately bristling over Howard Dean’s management of the Democratic National Committee and have made those sentiments clear after new fundraising numbers showed he has spent nearly all the committee’s cash and has little left to support their efforts to gain seats this cycle. ".[14] The specific war chest numbers are Democrats $5.5 million, Republicans $34 million.[15]

[1]http://www.opensecrets.org/indivs/index.asp , enter "Saban, Haim" and select election cycles 2000,2002


[3] http://www.sptimes.com/2002/06/30/Columns/Jewish_voters_noticin.shtml

[4] http://www.ipsnews.net/interna.asp?idnews=23083

[5] http://www.brook.edu/views/op-ed/indyk/20021219.htm

[6] http://www.atljewishtimes.com/archives/2003/011703cs.htm

[7] http://www.brookings.edu/views/op-ed/pollack/20030620.htm

[8] http://www.opensecrets.org/indivs/index.asp (enter "Saban, Haim" and
choose 2004 )

[9] http://www.opensecrets.org/indivs/index.asp , enter "Abraham, S Daniel"
and 2000,2002

[10] http://www.motherjones.com/news/special_reports/mojo_400/1_abraham.html

[11] http://www.opensecrets.org/indivs/index.asp , enter "Abraham, S
Daniel" and 2004

[12] http://www.cbs2.com/politics/politicsla_story_254070009.html

[13] http://www.public-i.org/report.aspx?aid=194&;sid=200

[14] http://www.rollcall.com/issues/51_74/news/11931-1.html

[15] http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/politics/13751602.htm?source=rss&;channel=kansascity_politics

Don Williams - 4/3/2006

Anyone notice how Mr Cravatts long article is one long ad hominem --that he never addresses the FACTS?

Rather , he constantly heaps invective on Harvard Professor Stephen Walt and University of Chicago Professor John Mearsheimer while carefully avoiding the substance of their conclusions and supporting evidence.

It is interesting that Mr Cravatts , in the course of suggesting Professors Walt and Mearsheimer are anti-Semitic, cheerfully engages in the typical neocon anti-Semitism himself. Which is that criticism of the Israel Lobby is criticism of Jews as a whole.

Cravatts seems to share the neocon view that all Jews support Likud's aggression and the Israel Lobby.
That they all put Likud's agenda above America --Except for the "self-hating Jews" , of course.

This should be a deep insult to American Jews --who have a long history of loyalty to this country. Here in Philadelphia a wealthy Jewish merchant, Haym Solomon, went bankrupt supporting the American Revolution -- at a time when some gentile merchants were getting rich trading with the British enemy and selling rotted meat to the Continental Army.

The fact is, most of America's 6 million Jews are middle class professionals. Neither their votes nor their wealth is sufficient to exert the malign effects of the Israel Lobby. Plus the views of America's Jews are diverse --look at
George Soros and Noam Chomsky.

What is happening is that the Republicans and Democrats are in a death struggle -- and Bush knows that the Democrats receive much of their funding from a few billionaires who are strong supporters of Israel. Bush knows that if he can lure those
donors over to the Republicans, he can destroy the Democrats. Hence, the power of AIPAC. It can tip the balance-- not of millions of votes but of millions of dollars in campaign donations.

Bush knows that he can damage national security by pandering to Likud extremists -- that the Democratic leadership will not criticize him because some of them have whored for the Israel Lobby for decades.

Rich men and their sycophants, in pursuit of questionable ends, never hesitate to wrap themselves in the flag.

The Israel Lobby goes further --it wraps itself in the Holocaust. It thereby creates a danger to Jews.

Adolf Hitler and the Nazis rose to power in Germany in the 1930s because Germans, including German Jews, endured enormous misery and deep poverty when Germany's economy was destroyed by the vicious terms of the Versailles Treaty: 50%unemployment. Loss of life savings. Widespread malnutrition and disease.

John Maynard Keynes clearly predicted these consequences while the Treaty was being written -- see his "Economic
Consequences of the Peace". The 5 million Jews killed in the Holocaust had nothing to do with the Treaty -- the Treaty was the result of greedy men trying to get rich by raping Germany and making good on war loans they made to France and Britain. But it was the innocents, not the guilty, who paid a horrible price.

The very Republicans who are pandering to the Israel Lobby today -- in order to secure the political power to cut the taxes of the superrich and to also grab the huge oil deposits of Iraq and the Caspian Sea-- will be the first to launch a pogrom in the future if Bush's courtship fails. They will be the first to blame "the Jews" for the Sept 11 attack, for the debacle in Iraq, and for the pending bankruptcy
of Social Security due to the Republican theft of $3 Trillion from the Trust Fund.

Richard F. Miller - 4/3/2006

Hofstadter might have had Mr. Reding in mind when he wrote "The Paranoid Style in American Politics." Or maybe Reding was a fly on the wall at the first meeting of the Elders. Maybe it was Reding's money changing table that Jesus (another "constant bitching and complaining" Jew) kicked over in the Temple.

I don't know. What do you think?

Tim Matthewson - 4/3/2006

What does "disproportinate" mean and how would one establish a scale of "disproportion." Does England have disproportinate influence on US policy, what about Canada? The U.S. has vital interests in the Middle East and Isreal is our only true ally in the region, aside from so-called moderate Arab Muslim regimes. Our close ties to Isreal have been beneficial to the U.S. and have encouraged those moderate regimes to pursue a course of moderation. Even Libya has now decided to give up its support for terrorism, a result that has grown out of support for democracy in the region. I've not been a supporter of the war in Iraq, but it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the successful fostering of democracy in Iraq will have a beneficial influence on the entire Arab Islam. Hostility to Isreal would have a harmful result on the policy of supporting moderation and democracy on the Middle East.

Malcolm E Reding - 4/3/2006

If Cravetts knew his old testament bible history he would underestand the Jews come by their paranoia and neuroticism genetically. God threw them out of the holy land becasue he grew tired of their constant bitching and complaining and that hasn't changed in 2,000 years.

Gregory Jackson - 4/3/2006

If Dr. Cravatts were truly concerned with open and honest dialogue, he would stick to correcting the questionable scholarship and punch holes in the theory of the relevant article. Instead, he merely tries to marginalize the authors by labeling them paranoid and implying that they are the same as holocaust deniers or perhaps anti-semites. While I agree with Dr. Cravatt's view of the necessity of current foreign policy regarding Israel, I condemn his view of the authors' raising of a legitimate concern (warranted or not). Labeling the authors as paranoid is like liberal black leadership labeling Condoleeza Rice a house slave because she doesn't agree with them on policy. And asking Alan Dershowitz about anti-semitism is like asking David Duke about reverse discrimination. They both see it lurking around every corner. Neither man is a credible figure. To use his own words, it sounds like Dr. Cravatts has "already preordained the outcome of his research by the slant of his ideology."

William Marina - 4/3/2006

or "The China Lobby!"

Jonathan Dresner - 4/3/2006

...when "the Lobby" meant the Japan lobby.

Chris Murphy - 4/3/2006

Mr Cravatts appears to have worked himself into a lather over this issue. Why the hysteria? All Walt and Mearsheimer appear to have asserted is that the Jewish lobby - whose existence in American politics, surely, cannot be denied - has a disproportionate influence on US foreign policy. There is ample evidence of this, and most reasonable people would conclude that this is not necessarily a bad thing. But the more Mr Cravatts denies the obvious, the more the people are bound to question his motives.

Michael Green - 4/3/2006

I wondered whether the headline on this article is that of the author or the History News Network? If the former, why does the author think that because the dean of the Kennedy School wrote this, his views "infect" Harvard? If the latter, why is HNN allowing such ridiculous headlines?