Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Mearsheimer On The Colbert Report

Posted by K.E. White on October 3, 2007

Prominent international relations scholar John Mearsheimer went on the Colbert Report last night. Anyone who has taken a class explaining the concept of “realism” has probably brushed across his name. His particular contribution in the field of IR theory has beenJohn Mearsheimer offensive realism.

He’s gained attention for writing the Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, a work that explores the influence of the “Israel Lobby” on American foreign relations. From the title, controversy over the book is easy to see. (This controversy has been protracted: while published this September, the book has been in development for years)

Mearsheimer’s recent book does bring up an interesting question for IR theory: why did this luminary of realism–a theory which holds that states are unitary actors with set interests–opt to study how an interest-group affects American foreign policy?

“Is Anybody Still a Realist?” Jeffrey Legro and Andrew Moravscik asked in 1999. (They argue for a new realist lens, so yes—somebody is still a realist)

Colbert, all jokes aside, did (lightly) critique Mearsheimer’s thesis buy bringing up American arm-deals to Arab nations like Saudi Arabia. And Colbert gave Mearsheimer ample time to explain/plug his book.

From the interview:


Mearsheimer: “Jews do not control out foreign policy. The lobby is a powerful influence on American foreign policy especially in the Middle East—nothing more, nothing less.”

Mearsheimer: “Our argument is that the United States should support the survival of Israel. If Israel’s survival is threatened, we should come to its aid. But otherwise we should treat Israel as a normal country. The way we treat Britain, France, India—other democracies.”

Colbert: “If we’re not going to cut off aid to them, should we at least stop sending them Christmas cards? Because they never send them back.”

One Response to “Mearsheimer On The Colbert Report”

  1. […] Israel and that prominent academic critics of the U.S.-Israel relationship are not exactly invisible; if anything has proven immune to criticism, it is this demonstrably false claim about our public […]

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