Listen to the interview linked above, cross-posted from Pulse. It’s of Jeff Blankfort interviewing Grant Smith from IRMep. The Smith/Blankfort duo unearth a lot of valuable information. But I do not think they know what to do with that information. The question is not the existence of the Lobby, and the point is not to minimize the Lobby’s power. The Lobby exists and it is powerful. I am not concerned with the factual question of whether it exists or the evaluative question of how powerful it is. I have two other questions: what is the correct analytical framework for understanding the Lobby, and what is the correct way to organize upon this information.  This is also not a question of what Blankfort and Grant are right about. You can listen to the audio and extract that information yourself. This is a question of where they go wrong.

Blankfort brings up the F-35 arms sale, which I wrote about here and analyzed within a materialist framework. Blankfort says,

According to Aviation Week, Lockheed Martin will pay the Israeli aerospace industry 4 billion dollars and conceivably 5 billion to build the wings for 800 of the 3200 prospective F-35s. This means that not only will Israel get 2.5, excuse me, 2.75 billion worth of F-35 for nothing, it will get also an additional 1.25, perhaps 2.25 billion of US taxpayers dollars to play with. Not to mention the well-paying aircraft industry jobs that will be outsourced form the US to Israel…I have written to Lockheed Martin and the Defense Department for an explanation as to why US jobs are being outsourced to Israel.

(It’s also a question of what they omit. The Israeli aerospace firm which will be building the wings 800 F-35s, Israeli Aerospace Industries, has a US holding company, Stark Aerospace, that spent 9.34 million dollars in earmarks, lobbying, and contributions for the 111th congress—the last measurement cycle. They clearly received a good return on that deal, and get what they want quite cheaply. Oddly, something else is left under-analyzed, too. That’s the profit that Lockheed Martin will get from the deal. 3,200 joint strike fighters, each with a 150 million dollar price tag, adds up to quite a lot of money. The portion of that ~480 billion dollars in gross revenue that will manifest as the profits of various companies in various countries, not just the United States, is not clear. But, yea, the total will clearly be immense, far more than the 4 billion dollars flowing to Israeli defense firms).

Blankfort goes on to bring up the important issue of jet-fuel, diesel, and gasoline exports from the United States to Israel, pointing out that gasoline and diesel fuel are only suitable for a ground invasion of Lebanon and possibly Gaza. This is good and painstaking empirical work, a hassle to dredge up, and it’s important that such work be done. It is only a matter of time until the Israeli war machine invades Lebanon again. Gaza may have some breathing space, particularly while there are relatively few rockets coming out of it and so Israel lacks a pretext for the next massacre.

Anyway, to return to the point, what exactly is it that Blankfort is inviting us to be furious about? Not that the US has a massive military-industrial complex and that major domestic industrial sectors benefit the more we kill brown people. Not that our tax dollars are being used to pillage the third world. Not that we are directly responsible for killing those who stand in our way. Not that there’s a global class war going on, one in which weapons manufacturing companies throughout the world benefit while taxpayers lose out monetarily and the people who will be the victims of those weapons lose out in far more substantial ways.

No: the problem is that not all of the profits and jobs from sowing hell in the global South will be going into American coffers. Some of them instead will be flowing into Israeli coffers. So what’s up, Jeff? Why aren’t your weaving your criticism of the Lobby into a broader criticism of American foreign policy and American imperialism? Why is it that anyone who tries to do so in a methodical manner is maligned as a tribalist?

It almost doesn’t matter. When I have some time, I’m going to re-cycle all the amazing work that those above have done into a comprehensive materialist criticism of the Lobby, although I do hope Nitzan and Bichler do it first, because they’ll do it better. And it will be a lot easier not to have to trawl through the primary documents and to instead read everything Grant Smith and James Petras have systematically mis-understood.

[A note: actually bother to read the comments above before responding, especially the bit about “materialist criticism of the Lobby.” Anything about “Lobby Denying” or whether my mom had a Bat Mitzvah will be deleted cool thanks!]

Technorati Tags: Israel, Israel Lobby, materialism, Palestine, Zionism

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