The Israel Lobby Controversy: Elite Factionalism or Elite Conspiracy Theory?
[...] Aside from viewing The Israel Lobby controversy as confirming the unpalatable anti-Semitic nightmares of David Duke and others, there are from a conspiratorial perspective at least two more plausible ways of interpreting the storm.
The first is to see The Israel Lobby as a well-crafted attempt to divert blame for the costly debacle that the invasion of Iraq has become from the rest of the Establishment, especially the oil lobby, to the age-old scapegoat, the Jews (Zunes 2006a; Peretz 2006). In this counter-narrative Israel is the victim. Consider Zunes’ commentary on Israel’s recent attack on Lebanon - a military adventure he suggests Israel instigated “largely at the behest of the United States” - where Israel is painted as a U.S. “proxy in the Middle East.” Zunes contends this use of Israel “corresponds to historic anti-Semitism” with the ruling elite using the Jews as the “most visible agents of the oppressive social order,” who were always “convenient scapegoats” when the elites were seeking to redirect the anger of the restive masses. So now the scapegoating continues, evident in the blame placed on the “Zionist lobby” by Establishment critics (Zunes 2006b).
The second and more plausible interpretation (in this author’s opinion) is that the Mearsheimer-Walt paper is another salvo in an ongoing struggle between competing elites for control of the War on Terror. Rather than the U.S. power-elite being a monolithic entity, the increasingly shrill dispute over The Israel Lobby paper reveals that the fissures at the highest levels of the food chain have become deep and suppurating.
Rather than being a crude attempt to unfairly smear a single ethnic lobby, there really is an Israel Lobby (as AIPAC’s own website proudly attests), which has been successful (despite some exaggerations), and not surprisingly its agenda is opposed by elements in the Establishment. The paper suggested that the usual suspects in most conspiratorial accounts of the “New World Order” — the Council on Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission and Bilderbergers — have some serious competition when it comes to influencing American foreign policy.
Continuing on with the argument raised in an earlier piece (Banyan 2006), it is the contention of this article that while the Mearsheimer-Walt article perhaps overstates the influence of the Israel Lobby, it exposes an aspect of elite factionalism missing from most mainstream and alternative narratives of the seemingly endless War on Terror.