Those Worried about Russia Being Humiliated Never Seem to Have the Same Concern about Israel

August 4, 2022 | Pinina Shuker
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In 2007, two leading exponents of the so-called “realist” school of international relations, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, wrote a book arguing that a shadowy and nefarious cabal they termed “the Israel lobby” was responsible for various grave errors in American foreign policy while exerting undue influence over the media. More recently, Mearsheimer and his fellow realists have blamed the U.S. for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and urged both Kyiv and Washington to surrender to the Kremlin’s demands. Pinina Shuker sums up their approach to the matter with Emmanuel Macron’s declaration that “We must not humiliate Russia,” and the various suggestions that the West must give Vladimir Putin “a win.” She also points to a revealing inconsistency:

The bottom line to this vacuous strategy is to ensure that the more bellicose a nation is the more it must be appeased with something akin to a victory. It is precisely this way of thinking that has surrounded the endless Western concessions to Iran during the lead-up to the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal, signed in 2015. Nevertheless, this way of thinking rarely seems to extend to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.

The realists claim that, regarding the conflict in Ukraine, the best way to arrive at honest negotiations and a cessation of hostilities is by ceding to Russian demands. . . . While this view is morally repugnant and will merely embolden autocrats worldwide to start wars, it has a certain amount of cold logic to it. However, when the same logic is applied to the Israel-Palestinian conflict it falls down.

I have yet to hear a single voice emanating from the realist or any other school of thought in international-relations theory that Israel needs to achieve a win or not be humiliated.

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