The first thing to note about it is:
But recognizing that M-W took a courageous stand, which merits praise, we still have to ask how convincing their thesis is. Not very, in my opinion.I have to wonder why such an unconvincing argument (to Chomsky) would deserve praise and merit (from Chomsky). I've noted before that his explanation for the appeal of M&W looks a lot like Chomsky is accusing M&W of scapegoating Jews for American imperialism:
The reason, I think, is that it leaves the US government untouched on its high pinnacle of nobility, "Wilsonian idealism," etc., merely in the grip of an all-powerful force that it cannot escape.Except Chomsky doesn't seem to recognize the familiar pattern of scapegoating Jews.
M-W focus on AIPAC and the evangelicals, but they recognize that the Lobby includes most of the political-intellectual class -- at which point the thesis loses much of its content.What Chomsky seems to appreciate is not the argument, but the target.
Israel, for Chomsky, is a client state of the US, not the other way around. He cites several cases where Israel has furthered the interests of the US or bowed down to the interests of the US. (Here, Chomsky shares the definition of American interests with Mearsheimer and Walt as specifically being national security and business interests. I disagree with that definition.) But if Israel is a client state, it should follow that Israel has interests that we, the Left, ought to liberate Israel from American imperialism. I imagine Chomsky may agree with that so far. I've also seen others write in the same vein about how the Miltary Industrial Complex in the US profits off Israel's conflict. But it's plain that if we are to liberate Israel from American imperialism, then we, as Americans, ought to do a better job of listening to Israelis. Otherwise, we're only presenting a different face of American imperialism; you can't liberate anyone by forcing something on them. Israelis want security, and so American anti-imperialists ought to be concerned with Israeli security. Here, it's also plain that Chomsky disagrees that such a principle ought to be applied to Israel. He isn't interested in exploring how Israelis view their interests, except to criticize and undermine Israelis. It's exactly the sort of stance Moishe Postone singles out. Chomsky isn't interested in anti-imperialism, per se, but a perverted form of anti-imperialism. Chomsky is a second campist -- and here I choose the phrase second campist over similar terms such as Manichean entirely on purpose.