"Every Book Gets the Readers it Deserves"

One of the many difficult aspects of being Stephen Walt (aside from the eventual obituary difficulty -- you know, the, "Walt, most famous for scapegoating Jews in the book he wrote with John Mearsheimer....") must be having David Rothkopf as a colleague on the Foreign Policy website. Rothkopf can write circles around Walt -- especially when he's writing about Walt. In a way, it's unfair: Walt gives Rothkopf so much great material. Or should I say, Osama Bin Laden gives Rothkopf so much great material. Walt is already having a bad week, what with Bin Laden's endorsement of "The Israel Lobby." On the other hand, this might have been his first good review. Walt finally responded to Bin Laden's endorsement with a ludicrous statement of his own:

"Ironically, bin Laden's 'endorsement' of our book could even be a self-defeating gesture. If enough people were to read our book and U.S. policy were to evolve in the manner we recommend, bin Laden's call to arms would fall on deaf ears and he'd become even more irrelevant than he is today. Furthermore, any would-be imitators who might subsequently emerge would find an even less receptive audience."

Get it? No, of course not. Because it's twisted. But let me try to translate: If the U.S. listens to the psychotic mass murderer Bin Laden and hops on Walt's anti-Israel bandwagon, then Bin Laden will lose popularity, because America, by abandoning Israel and moving closer to Bin Laden's view of the world, will no longer alienate radical Muslims, for whom the number-one cause is the destruction of Israel, and therefore Bin Laden, having won, will lose relevancy. See? If we just sacrifice Israel, then everything will be okay.

Of course, this argument assumes a couple of things: That the Palestinian cause is uppermost in Bin Laden's mind, for one, even though no serious Bin Laden scholar believes that to be the case; and two, that giving apocalyptic mass-murdering terrorists what they say they want will make them stop being apocalyptic mass-murdering terrorists. Stephen Walt advertises himself as a "realist," but could his argument that the way to stop lunatics from killing you is to let them kill other innocent people be for real?

But why am I talking? Here's Rothkopf:

"Walt's response gets really good when he then goes so far as to suggest that Osama's embrace of his book only proves his point that the Israel lobby (or is it The Israel Lobby?) is used as a justification by terrorists. Blind to the irony all his book did was weave precisely the kind of fabric of partial truths and old biases that are used to dress up the hatreds of demagogues everywhere, Walt actually has the chutzpah to try use the news that the most evil man in the world is reading his work as a soap box from which to once again sell his argument (and books)."

Let's never forget that selling books seems to be Walt's raison d'etre. Rothkopf, once again:

"(Walt and Mearsheimer) 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."