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The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy

3.3.2008 - Mearsheimer, John J. / Walt, Stephen M. Harvard 2006

As for so called rogue states in the Middle East, they are not a dire threat to vital U.S. interests, apart from the U.S.commitment to Israel itself. Although the United States does have a number of disagreements with these regimes, Washington would not be nearly so worried about Iran, Ba'thist Iraq, or Syria were it not so closely tied to Israel. (page 5)

Israel's nuclear arsenal is one reason why some of its neighbors want nuclear weapons, and threatening these states with regime change merely increases these desire. (page 6)

the Lobby has also sought to shape the core elements of U.S. Middle East policy. In particular, it has worked successfully to convince American leaders to … take aim at Israel's primary regional adversaries: Iran, Iraq, and Syria. (page 26)

According to Philip Zelikow, a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (2001-2003), executive director of the 9/11 Commission, and now Counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the „real threat“ from Iraq was not a threat to the United States. The „unstated threat“ was the „threat against Israel,“ (page 30)

Iran's nuclear ambitions do not pose an existential threat to the United States. If Washington could live with a nuclear Soviet Union, a nuclear China, or even a nuclear North Korea, then it can live with a nuclear Iran. And that is why the Lobby must keep constant pressure on U.S. politicians to confront Tehran. (page 39)

Source: Mearsheimer, John J./Walt, Stephen M., The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, Harvard, March 2006
(an edited and reworked version of this paper was published in the London Review of Books Vol.28, No.6, (March 23, 2006) and is available online at

The study in PDF »

John J. Mearsheimer is a professor at the Department of Political Science on the University of Chicago

Stephen M. Walt is a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government Harvard University


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