Fact-Checking Stephen Walt

By Jeffrey Goldberg

Stevie is upset with me again. He's a remarkably sensitive fellow. You'd think that a guy who has made his career as a scapegoating polemicist wouldn't be surprised when he's criticized for being a scapegoating polemicist, but there you have it. Anyway, he writes any number of silly things in his last post on the subject of Israel's perniciousness (and Goldblog's perniciousness) but let me just highlight one for the moment, his statement that, "Saudi Arabia and the other Arab states have no meaningful lobby in Washington...."

A quick review of the FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) database, which is where lobbyists who advocate for foreign countries must announce themselves, shows that, among other Washington firms, Hill & Knowlton, Inc. has been lobbying for Saudi Arabia from 1982 until at least 2009. Qorvis Communications, LLC has received $60.3 million in Saudi money over the past decade, and is still doing communications work for Riyadh. Hogan Lovells U.S., L.L.P., which was called Hogan & Harston until May of this year, did work for the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in 2009. The Saudis paid the Loeffler Group, LLP, $10.5 million over the past 10 years, and gave Sandler Innocenzi, Inc. $8.9 million. Patton Boggs, LLP, another lobbying firm, also continues to do work for Saudi Arabia, and has earned a little over $3 million over the past decade. 

The Saudis have paid about $100 million to lobbyists, consultants and public relations specialists over the past ten years, according to research in Mitchell Bard's new book, The Arab Lobby. Here are a few other firms which have helped lobby for Saudi Arabia over the past decade, and the amount of money they have collected:
 
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP: $220,770
Boland & Madigan, Inc: $420,000
Burson-Marsteller: $3,619,286.85
Cambridge Associates, Ltd.: $8,505
Cassidy & Associates, Inc: $720,000
DNX Partners, LLC: $225,000
Dutton & Dutton, PC: $3,694,350
Fleishman-Hillard: $6,400,000
Gallagher Group, LLC: $612,337.37
Iler Interests, LP: $388,231.14
Loeffler Tuggey Pauerstein Rosenthal, LLP: $2,350,457.12
Loeffler, Jonas & Tuggey, LLP: $1,260,000
MPD Consultants, LLP: $1,447,267.13
Powell Tate, Inc: $900,732.77

I'm not sure how these firms would feel being described as non-meaningful! Lobbyists, just like scapegoaters, have feelings, too. And oil companies, which also lobby for Saudi interests, also have feelings!  

Just to remind ourselves who we are dealing with here, I will quote from Walt's colleague at Foreign Policy Magazine, David Rothkopf, who, in explaining why he will never forgive Walt for co-authoring, with John Mearsheimer, "The Israel Lobby" (which makes a single specious argument at great length that Mel Gibson made with remarkable concision), wrote,  "...(W)hatever the pale intellectual merits of his hackneyed argument may be, he and Mearsheimer know full well that their prominence on this issue has come not because they have had a single new insight but rather because they were willing and one can only believe inclined to play to a crowd whose 'views' were fueled by prejudice and worse. They may not be anti-Semites themselves but they made a cynical decision to cash in on anti-Semitism by offering to dress up old hatreds in the dowdy Brooks Brothers suits of the Kennedy School and the University of Chicago. They did what the most desperate members of academia do, they signed up to be rent-a-validators, akin to expert witnesses who support the defense of felons with specious theories served up on fancy diplomas. They would argue that they were daring to speak truth to power.  In reality they were giving one crowd in particular precisely what it wanted to hear."

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/12/fact-checking-stephen-walt/67648/