Commentary Magazine


Is James Fallows a Disloyal American?

Taking up the ideas of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt about the inordinate influence of the “Israel Lobby” on American foreign policy, James Fallows of the Atlantic writes that “[t]o the (ongoing) extent that AIPAC–the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which calls itself “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby”–is trying to legitimize a military showdown between the United States and Iran, it is advancing its own causes at the expense of larger American interests.” The people behind this cause, he continues, “are not from one ethnic group in the conventional sense but are mainly of one religion (Jewish).”

To observe this, writes Fallows, and to warn against it, “including the disastrous consequences of attacking Iran” that it is seeking to bring about, is not to be anti-Semitic. And noting the “power and potential” of groups like AIPAC “to distort policy” simply means “recognizing that James Madison’s warnings about the invidious effects of ‘faction’ apply beyond the 18th century.”

I agree with Fallows that there is nothing wrong with observing the operations of “factions” in our politics, just as there is nothing wrong with warning against the consequences of their operations.

But why is this game played only one way, with America’s Jews the primary target?

Isn’t Fallows himself part of a faction? To be sure, it is not one organized on ethnic lines. It is a far more cohesive body than that, consisting of liberals who in almost all instances oppose the use of American power abroad. This faction, too, might be thought of as invidiously “advancing its own causes at the expense of larger American interests.”

All loyal Americans–including those, “mainly of one religion (Jewish),” whom Fallows brazenly tries to delegitimize as part of a faction pursuing interests running counter to those of our own country–need to observe carefully his faction, and to warn against its activities, lest it bring about the disastrous consequences of not attacking Iran should that state forge ahead with its nuclear ambitions

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James Fallows’s amazed response to this post can be found here. And my less amazed response to his response can be found here.