Mearsheimer and Walt stand in a long tradition of “realist” political scientists known for naivete regarding the power and import of ideological fanaticism in international affairs. This naivete is the reason that radical Islam and the enduring crises of modernization in the region that produced it receive hardly a word in their long attack.
This actually brought to mind an important point Shalom Lappin made in response to Walt and Mearsheimer (emphases mine):
I also found the article by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in the LRB to be a nuanced version of Pat Buchanan’s right wing, isolationist-inspired anti-Israel polemic. Mearsheimer and Walt are apparently members of a nascent “realist” coalition of traditional conservative political thinkers coming from the general direction of the Nixon right. I found the article striking on three counts.
First, it contains no new facts or innnovative analysis. It simply appropriates the venerable slogans, half truths, and misrepresentations of the anti-Zionist left, but it tones them down and presses them into service for a realist agenda. The seamlessness and ease with which this line can cross the political spectrum is a remarkable comment on who is pushing it and why.
The convergence of these two currents in the US (under the guise of “realism”) is disturbing. Christopher Hitchens has been talking about this rather bizarre, sleazy, and incredibly hypocritical alliance between the Left and the Scowcroft Right on Iraq and US foreign policy in the ME in particular (this is really material for another post altogether).
Also, check out Frank Fukuyama’s recent piece in The Guardian, which indirectly touches on the same point.
Back to Walt and Mearsheimer. Check out this detailed dissection by Robert Fine.
Update: Harvard has removed its logo from the Walt and Mearsheimer paper.
Update 2: What about W&M’s footnotes?