First, it is curious, even troubling, that the Walt and Mearsheimer paper failed to cite those two prominent foreign-policy mavericks who so clearly influenced their opinions. Did they take Fulbright’s and Ball’s material and rewrite it as their own?
They sound like Ball/Fulbright disciples, but did they conclude that Ball and Fulbright were perceived as so one-sided on Middle East issues that their opinions had little currency, and did the two professors keep those sources out lest their work suffer the same fate? And if they didn’t know of Ball and Fulbright’s influential works, what does that say about their scholarship?
Second, on the publication of Walt and Mearsheimer’s expanded polemic in book form, it is important to recall that there is not much new here – not the anti-Israel accusations, not the charges of dual loyalty, nor the challenges to the rights of American citizens who effectively petition their government.
Third, Walt and Mearsheimer were university students studying international relations and political science when Fulbright and Ball were at their peak challenging American policies in Vietnam and the Middle East. How much were the two influenced by Ball and Fulbright who, for many on campus, were heroes? Were positions stated then filed away in their heads much the same way Wesley Clark may have been influenced by Gen. George Scratchley Brown?
The possible residual effect of the professors’ anti-Israel and anti-Semitic declarations is troubling. Will the campus debates and anti-Israel demonstrations today produce the biased Walts and Mearsheimers 30 years from now?
Walt and Mearsheimer claim the amorphous, omnipotent “Lobby” is “policing academia,” that it has “worked hard to stifle criticism of Israel” on campus, and that “there is much less [criticism] on campuses today.”
Walt and Mearsheimer put the lie to their own charge of stifled debate on campus. Their claim that the accusation of anti-Semitism muffles critics was not true in Ball’s day, nor is it today.
An urban legend claims that the quacks of geese and ducks do not create an echo. But it doesn’t take sound laboratories to prove the legend false. The gaggles of Israel’s detractors do indeed have echoes, even over the broad expanse of 30 years.