Hostname: page-component-8448b6f56d-42gr6 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-04-20T17:01:55.895Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Rejoinder to Mearsheimer and Walt

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 May 2009

Extract

In their reply, Professors Mearsheimer and Walt focus quite reasonably on my two main claims: that their research methods are flawed and that their evidence is weak. But they begin, tellingly, by citing a range of indirect evidence that appears to depict a powerful “Israel lobby.” Lots of knowledgeable Washington insiders, they say—policymakers, journalists, candidates for office, and the like—say and do things that seem to acknowledge the “lobby's” power. I draw attention to this opening for several reasons. First, it is not clear how much weight some of this evidence will bear. Take, for example, the National Journal survey of members of Congress that Mearsheimer and Walt cite twice in their reply (and once in their book). In this survey, conducted once, in 2005, seventy-three members of Congress (out of 535—less than 15 percent) responded to the question, “Which two interest groups do you believe are most effective on Capitol Hill?” Of these respondents, thirteen (less than 20 percent of the sample) mentioned American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as one of their two choices. It seems something of a leap from the observation that a dozen or so members of Congress said once that AIPAC is “effective” (which might mean any number of things) to the inference that AIPAC—or the lobby more generally—is powerful. Or take the observation that important politicians regularly address AIPAC's annual conference and make friendly speeches when they do. Surely these same politicians visit other such organizations regularly. And when they appear before, say, the AFL-CIO or the NAACP, surely they say nice things about the issues that these organizations and their conference attendees care about. Successful politicians rarely voice open disagreement with the people they are talking to. But are we to conclude from this behavior that the AFL-CIO and the NAACP, or any other groups that regularly receive such visits, are powerful? Again, this inference requires something of a logical leap.

Type
Exchange
Copyright
Copyright © American Political Science Association 2009

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Forman, Ira N. 2001. The politics of minority consciousness. In Jews in American Politics, ed. Maisel, L. Sandy and Forman, Ira N.. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
George, Alexander L., and Bennett, Andrew. 2005. Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Hacker, Jacob S. 2002. The Divided Welfare State: The Battle over Public and Private Social Benefits in the United States. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hall, Richard L., and Deardorff, Alan V.. 2006. Lobbying as legislative subsidy. American Political Science Review 100 (1): 6984.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jervis, Robert. 2008–9. War, intelligence, and honesty: A review essay. Political Science Quarterly 123 (4): 645–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Olson, Mancur. 1965. The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schlozman, Kay Lehman, and Tierney, John T.. 1986. Organized Interests and American Democracy. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
Shepsle, Kenneth A. 1992. Congress is a “they,” not an “it”: Legislative intent as oxymoron. International Review of Law and Economics 12 (2): 239–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Steinmo, Sven, and Watts, Jon. 1995. It's the institutions, stupid! Why comprehensive national health insurance always fails in America. Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law 20 (2): 329–72.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Walker, Jack L. 1991. Mobilizing Interest Groups in America: Patrons, Professions, and Social Movements. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar