Our November issue featured the story “The Israel Lobby and Global Hegemony: The Mearsheimer-Walt Thesis Deconstructed” by William X. It argued that the controversial essay “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy” by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt replicates the historical pattern of anti-Semitism by scapegoating Jews for the crimes of US imperialism. It especially took Mearsheimer and Walt to task for dismissing the notion of a war for oil in Iraq, instead portraying Bush’s military adventure as primarilly a war to protect Israel. The November Exit Poll was: “Is the Iraq war fundamentally for Israel or for oil? (Note our use of the word ‘fundamentally’— no fair cheating by saying ‘both.’)” We received the following responses:
From JG, New York City:
Oil. The plan after the election will be for US forces to withdraw from the cities so the ‘Iraqi army’ can ‘stand up’ and secure the oil fields from the ‘terrorists’.
William X responds: Could be, but that’s not a litmus test. Staying in the cities may be the cost of maintaining political control of Iraq—without which, securing the oil fields will be impossible in any case.
From Joseph Wetmore, Ithaca, NY:
oil. there is really no question about this. The US wouldn’t care about Israel if it were not in the middle of a bunch of oil fields.
From Margery Coffey, Rosalie, Nebraska:
America is a capitalist society and knows nothing of morals or relationships.
William X responds: Glad someone still gets it. I was getting worried there.
From Kim Alphandary, Eugene, Oregon:
“Neither”. As proposed by author “William X”, the Iraq War is due to U.S. desires to maintain a global empire.
As for all of this Jewish lobby stuff, I do worry about the backlash against Jews! Hate crimes against Jews is definitely increasing, they’re not making it up, is getting worse and will continue.
I believe in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s theory, except for the Holocaust denial part —
The leaders of the U.S. are extremely xenophobic. During WWII, when the U.S. knew about the extermination of the Jews, the U.S. maintained super strict immigration policies against the Jews. After WWII ended, instead of seeking reparations, or using their power over Germany to encourage some kind of resolution within Europe, the U.S. encouraged the formation of Israel. The fact that the Christian Germans had committed a massive crime against humanity, and somehow, out of a complete lack of logic, were not going to be held accountable for that crime — in beyond incredible. Instead — the Arabs were forced to pay for this crime, to give away their homes and lands.
The use of the Jews to further U.S. Empire continues today. As I understand it, many in Israel were calling their leaders U.S.-pawns, stating that the U.S. had encouraged them to attack Lebanon. If we think that our troops are being used as cannon-fodder for the U.S. wars of empire; the Jews are and will be the ultimate dupes/victims in these struggles.
William X responds: Some very good points, but also a few that need clarification…
Oil is the most critical resource on the planet, and the Persian Gulf contains the most critical reserves. Imperial control of this oil is therefore critical to maintaining the global empire. Or at least this was the reasoning of the war-makers, as was delineated explicitly in their own documents. There is no contradiction between a war for oil and a war for global empire. On the contrary, they are fundamentally unified propositions.
Which Ahmadinejad “theory” do you support? That Israel should be moved to Europe? I’m not sure the Europeans would be too crazy about this. And if forced “transfer” is wrong for Palestinians, why should it be right for Jews? I’m afraid the Palestinians and Israelis are going to have to learn how to share the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean in a just and equitable way—whether in one state or two.
The US did not particularly encourage the formation of Israel—remember, the Zionists were waging an armed struggle against Washington’s World War II ally, Great Britain. The US-Israel “special relationship” was really a fruit of the 1967 war. But you are correct on what the general historical dymanic has been.
From Bert Golding, Houston, Tex.:
Oil trumps Israel, if we are limited to these two.
I believe the desire to ensure political and economic control of the Middle East trumps both. Saudi Arabia is a reliable partner, but it’s not a big player because of its small population in a large area (16 million plus 6 million expat workers– which I used to be one of)
William X responds: Once again, is there any real control of the Middle East without control of its oil? And would control of the Middle East be so much of an imperative if it weren’t for the oil? And as the the world’s top oil producer, Saudi Arabia is assuredly a very “big player” despite its small population. Don’t you think it likely that the neocons (rightly or wrongly) no longer consider Saudi Arabia a “reliable partner” and therefore sought control of the Iraq oil as leverage against Riyadh?
From John Metcalf of the Independence.net website, Montrose, Colorado:
Israel, because the US could control the oil away from China with or without a war, and as Greg Palast points out Iraq oil has been suppressed with low quotas in order to maintain higher oil prices, and an oil pipeline to Israel benefits Israel primarily.
William X responds: You are the only respondent to whole-heartedly buy the Mearsheimer-Walt thesis. How, pray tell, could the US “control the oil away” from China short of war? China is already developing oil fields in Iran and building a deep-sea port in Pakistan with an eye towards (as a New York Times op-ed put it April 11, 2005) “a permanent Chinese naval presence near the Srait of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of the world’s oil passes.” You have to be willfully blind to miss the geo-strategic imperatives that propelled the US into Iraq.
As for Greg Palast’s thesis, we have already examined what he got right and what he got wrong—but he was arguing against the idea that the Iraq war was on Israel’s behalf. He was arguing that the motive was to supress oil production so as to hike up prices and thereby enhance the power of OPEC and the “Houston-Riyadh Big Oil axis.” This is obviously antithetical to Israeli aims.
Finally, that supposed “oil pipeline to Israel” strikes us as wishful thinking in the extreme. To say the very least.