Who Shot Me But Your Punks Didn’t Finish

You really owe it to yourself to read Spencer Ackerman's definitive account of the Scott Beauchamp mess. It'd be easy to dismiss Spencer's support for Beauchamp's reporting based on Spencer's own history with TNR, but as he says at FireDogLake, he didn't expect to write this article. He expected to write a Beauchamp hit piece, using his anti-TNR street cred as backup. Instead, he found that Beauchamp made a couple of honest mistakes, Michael Goldfarb and the Weekly Standard used some mixture of lies and botched reportage to try to discredit him, and Frank Foer and Pete Scoblic threw him under the bus to get the whole thing over with. As Haynes would say, this is some shameful shit right here. Read the whole thing.

Elsewhere in TNR hackery, Jon Chait off-handedly dubs Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer – considered by their peers the 22nd and 5th most influential scholars in all of international relations, respectively – "rabidly anti-Israel loons". Normally, baseless accusations of anti-Semitism emanating from TNR aren't really news, but Chait usually is better than the scummiest of his colleagues, so this is disappointing.

To recap: Walt and Mearsheimer are neorealists. Neorealism posits that states are black-boxes that work to maximize security either through preventing themselves from external assault (defensive realism, Walt) or establishing regional hegemony (offensive realism, Mearsheimer). Neorealism is wrong. It's overly simplistic, and leads to laughably wrong predictions. One of the reasons it's wrong is that it fails to account for American support for Israel. Walt and Mearsheimer tried to remedy this by creating a companion theory based on domestic politics to explain that support. DC journo types who had no background in IR theory proceeded to bash this companion theory as anti-Semitic. The companion theory is wrong too; it's totally out of sync with their larger theory, and symptomatic of that theory's larger failings. But when non-academics like Chait and Jeffrey Goldberg attack it, they're really talking out of their asses. Mearsheimer and Walt are wrong. They're not anti-Semites. There's a difference.

By the way, if you want a better and more coherent comprehensive IR theory than neo-realism, check out Ned Lebow's new book, A Cultural Theory of International Relations. I indexed several chapters of it back when I was in a class of Ned's, so I got an early taste, and it's really stellar stuff. I particularly like it's broad scope, touching on everything from the Peloponnesian War to Frederick the Great's reign in Prussia to the war in Iraq. Given as a lot of IR literature acts as though Gavrilo Princip created international relations, this kind of historical context is truly refreshing. Oh, and the chapter on neoconservatism draws parallels with the Third Reich's foreign policy, so Very Serious People will surely hate it as much they hate Walt and Mearsheimer.

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