It is interesting to note how the Israel Lobby is able to manage and contain the commentary of groups in America that might normally be critical of Israeli policies vis-à-vis the United States. A recent article by Professor Andrew Bacevich entitled “President Trump, Please End the American Era in the Middle East” is a good example of how self-censorship by authors works. The piece appeared as one of Bacevich’s regular weekly contributions to The American Conservative website under the rubric “Realism and Restraint.”
The article particularly focused on the foreign policy pronouncements of Bret Stephens, the resident neocon who writes for The New York Times. Stephens, per Bacevich, has been urging constant war in the Middle East and worrying lest “we may be witnessing the beginning of the end of the American era in the Middle East.” Bacevich, unlike Stephens, is a genuine foreign policy expert, a realist, an Army veteran, and always quite sensible. He correctly described how “in the Middle East, the military power of the United States has played a large part in exacerbating problems rather than contributing to their solution.”
The overall message is sound, but in this case, it is interesting to note what Bacevich left out rather than what he included. It is easy to understand the “realism” part when he writes and it is sometimes also possible to perceive the “restraint.” He cited Iran seven times as well as Saudi Arabia, but, strangely enough, he never mentioned Israel at all, which a number of commenters on the piece noted. It rather suggests that there is a line that Bacevich is reluctant to cross. The omission is particularly odd as Israel is absolutely central to and might even be described as driving American policy in the Middle East and Bret Stephens, whom Bacevich excoriates, is a notable Israel-firster who once worked as the editor of the Jerusalem Post. Almost everything Stephens writes is basically a promotion of Israel and its interests coupled with a call for the United States to do what it must to attack and destroy the Jewish state’s principal perceived enemy Iran.
The reticence is perhaps understandable as Bacevich is president of a newly organized group called the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft,