Et tu, Cato?

Philip Weiss, over at the New York Observer, is always a good source of information, and here is his take on the thinktank situation and how it relates to U.S. policy toward Israel:

“As we are frequently told, universities belong to the left. The academy is like an internment camp, the one place they can put ’em all; and it’s become more and more irrelevant to policy-making. But the Washington thinktanks are camped next to the corridors of power. ,,,

“Indeed, this is one of the most important points in the Walt-Mearsheimer paper that set off this debate: in the last generation, rich liberal ponds like Brookings and Carnegie were stocked with pro-Israeli carp; pro-Arab fish simply disappeared. It’s not a conspiracy, but acts of devotion: Conservative Jewish backers, recognizing the importance of thinktanks to the formulation of policy, have forcibly established an orthodoxy of opinion here.

” … Here are a few data points. Roger Hertog, chairman of the rightwing Manhattan Institute—’turning intellect into influence,’ is their brag—got choked up at the annual dinner last year describing his core commitment to Israel. His friend and co-New-York-Sun-backer Bruce Kovner chairs the American Enterprise Institute, which gave a home to Dick and Lynne Cheney in days gone by, gives Likudnik Jerusalemite Dore Gold $96,000 a year for what it’s not clear, and has stocked the White House with neocons like Richard Perle who opposed the Oslo peace process and the idea of land-for-peace and came up with Baghdad-for-peace instead. Or there is Dennis Ross’s sock, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, whose views are epitomized by the former chief of staff of the Israeli Defence Forces who served as a distinguished military fellow last year when he was sued for alleged war crimes at Qana in Lebanon (the last time, in ’96, not this time)(and sued by the Center for Constitutional Rights.) Or Martin Indyk’s spot, Brookings’ Saban Center, financed by ‘a fanatic Zionist billionaire’ Israeli (per Alexander Cockburn), from which Ken Pollack launched the Iraq war for liberals with a book that as I have pointed out before spoke many times about vague Arab/Israeli ‘troubles’ and their importance to the Arab street without once using the word occupation. (Israeli officials don’t like to say occupation; they prefer “administered territories.”) Move on to libertarian Cato, where I am told scholars were warned to pull in their horns on Israel last year lest they endanger funding. Or to the place all these guys get to ski, the Aspen Institute, to which the brilliant Anatol Lieven was never invited again after bringing up the occupation as a source of Arab rage at a 2002 conference discussing the sources of Arab rage. Or the Carnegie Institute for International Something or Other, where Lieven, then a fellow, became a ‘pariah’ after publishing a book that was sharply critical of Israel, and from which he soon debarked for the underfunded Center for American Progress.

I’m not surprised at the pro-Israel bias of the thinktanks cited above, including the pressure put on the “libertarian” Cato Institute, which said practically nothing about the Israeli invasion of Lebanon except to object when the U.S. evacuated its citizens from Lebanon — after all, why should taxpayers pay for getting our people out of Lebanon? Wasn’t it enough that we paid for the Israeli bombs that were landing on their heads?

 

  • Lieven’s departure from the Carnegie Endowment was probably also related to his opposition to the saintly treatment accorded jailed Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Said oligarch gave Carnegie $500,000 USD. In addition, there might’ve been some personal clashes not necessarily related to Lieven’s politics. There’re some big time egos involved with the Capital Hill wonk scene.