Nixon, Kissinger, and the Influence of the “Israel Lobby”

by John Sides on July 8, 2013 · 3 comments

in Interest Groups,International Relations

Now, Nixon and Kissinger were crazy, and often overestimated the political forces set against them, in particular because of Nixon’s anti-Semitism. Although in this case they may have been right to be concerned about pro-Israeli sentiment, and Nixon’s ‘personal’ relationship with Israel was always more complicated than simple accusations of anti-Semitism really allow. But, I think these archival documents pretty clearly provide direct evidence that Nixon and Kissinger were influenced by at least their perception of the Lobby’s influence. And, at least for Nixon and Kissinger, I am unaware (after reading quite a bit about the administration) of another lobby exercising the same inordinate influence.

That is my colleague Eric Grynaviski over at the Duck of Minerva.  The full post is here.

{ 3 comments }

jonathan July 8, 2013 at 2:25 pm

I read this stuff with a sense of utter disbelief that rational people can so easily jump across logic.

First, it was in the middle of a war. So yeah, there was some hysterical pestering. How does that translate into more?

Second, the post ends with this line: “Unlike Mearsheimer and Walt, I am not sure that US aid to Israel in 1973 significantly undermined US security in a way that could have been predicted from the White House that October.” How does that come about? The insinuation, even when it’s being slightly negated, is that a phone call from an upset ambassador worried in the middle of a desperate war made the US act against its own interests. Prove that. Better yet, think about how easily that insinuation is made. I read that lousy book and they not only don’t prove that but essentially prove the opposite through their lousy examples (and the events of the last year or two in the Arab world have spoken loudly about that). And note the post says the decision had already been made to send ammunition, so the only actual issue determined was how fast.

W&M construct an imaginary world in which a whole bunch of other stuff happens because we did this instead of supporting Israel. It is as academically sound as Len Deighton’s SS-GB, which imagines Britain after the Nazi victory that didn’t happen.

jonathan July 8, 2013 at 2:45 pm

To continue, two additional points:

1. The post never mentions that Kissinger was Jewish and though people might know that the reality is we have a Jewish ambassador calling the highest place Jewish person he knows to get help. If the guy called a non-Jew and got the same response, that would be much more noteworthy.

2. What really bothered me is this statement: “I am not aware, at least in the context of the Nixon administration, of another case where an ambassador listens as one cabinet member chews out another in the presence of a foreign ambassador, especially after a direct political threat.” That’s another insinuation cloaked in an apparently reasonable statement. But wait! This material was new to the poster, so until he read this material he was unaware of any examples at all. See? He isn’t actually aware of any of this material at all until he’s made aware of it and then uses this extra bit of knowledge to imply more than what he actually knows. That’s the problem with insinuations, particularly the kind of dark ones made about Jews. People find it shockingly easy to extrapolate from one case.

jonathan July 8, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Final point: the conversation I refer to is taken as if it made the Secretary of Defense jump into action. Is there any proof of that at all? The post quotes Kissinger saying to the ambassador that they’ll probably have the ammo on planes right away. Did that happen? Or was this just a show for the ambassador to shut him up and at least make it look like the Nixon Administration was responding to the concerns of an ally at war? Without any evidence that this conversation motivated actual action beyond what the DoD was already doing, taking it as a given just shows how easily people want to believe.

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