19 March, 2006

Realists, the USA, and Israel

Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer are the leading academics of the Realist school of International Relations. They have written an article appearing in the London Review of Books, contending that the USA's blank cheque support for Israel is not in the USA's interests. The article is entertaining on a number of levels. Not least is the way they finger US domestic policy reasons for the USA's pro-Israel foreign policy - Realists typically regard domestic policy as not being a significant determinant of a state's foreign policy. My understanding is also that Realists do not believe that a state can indefinitely pursue a policy that does not pursue its interests.

I have problems with the idea that there is such a thing as an objective and knowable national interest, so I don't know if you can straightforwardly say that a given state's policy advances it or not. However, the article does a good job of suggesting that the United States would do well to pursue a substantially less pro-Israel policy.

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