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Is ECI a Typical Kristol Think Tank?

Loyalty to GOP is tested on missile treaty

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Bill Kristol.(Fox News)

The New Republic has a fun article on Bill Kristol’s penchant for starting think tanks, committees, and the like. And next to the fun is a harsh conclusion: Kristol “has developed a singular talent: Cooking up conservative think tanks that churn out pseudo-intellectual arguments to serve the GOP’s immediate political interests.”

I made a similar joke about Kristol’s serial founding (without the reporting and the coherent argument and that other rigorous stuff) several months ago when he co-founded the Emergency Committee for Israel. The article brings up a question raised during the campaign season: Is ECI (and J Street, for that matter, but if J Street founder Jeremy Ben-Ami has a Kristol-esque pattern, I’m not aware of it) designed primarily to advance certain policies regarding Israel, or to help a certain American political party?

TNR doesn’t mention ECI, and I haven’t seen ECI comment on the article (and it has not answered my inquiry). But the group is not exactly building a strong reputation for issue advocacy with its nominal non-stance on the START missile treaty. Most clear-eyed observers recognize that START, which Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitriy Medvedev signed, would, by bringing the United States and Russia closer together, make life tougher on Iran, in turn making life better for Israel; which is why pro-Israel groups of numerous stripes (J Street, yes, but also the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee) support it.

Most congressional Republicans oppose the treaty, for reasons that have at least as much to do with politics as policy (an assumption I make based on the fact that several prominent Republicans who are less electorally engaged support the treaty). Which, you know: They’re politicians, so that explains that. On the other hand, ECI is nominally an interest group. Yet its refusal to take a stand on the treaty, and its castigation of Jewish Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Carl Levin—who quite logically connected the treaty to the Israel issue in an effort, so far unsuccessful, to get AIPAC to endorse it—makes the most sense not if ECI wishes to advance its vision of a strong Israel and a strong U.S.-Israeli relationship, but if ECI primarily exists, well, “to serve the GOP’s immediate political interests.”

Bill Kristol’s Think Tank Fetish
START, K Street, and Short Memories [Capital J]
Earlier: How Does Kristol Do It?
In an Election Month, Everyone’s a Hack

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If anyone believes that the Start trtay between the former Soviet Union, now going by the name of Gangster Republic of Russia and the U.S. is concrned at all with Israel or Jewish people or intersts, I suggest that they seek psychiatric assistance. The Start treaty is of interest to Jews in America only insofar as we are Americans. Senators Schumer and Levin should understand this. Besides, Levin has a big Arab constituency which he always panders to. Let him get their support for the treaty.

rlgordonma says:

Well reasoned, Garry. I think the Heritage Foundation is hiring intellectuals, perhaps if your day job isn’t working out.

Meanwhile, the psychically challenged out there say that START takes Russian out of the Iran camp and will contribute to further isolating Iran, thereby giving a boost to Israel. And perhaps [wow these people are nuts] the people behind START actually do care about stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, and think that stopping said spread benefits all of us as it makes it less likely that some dirty bomber comes across these shores.

But be careful! Some one of these psychos who reads the line “The Start treaty is of interest to Jews in America only insofar as we are Americans” may think that you imply that Jews being Americans is of less importance than fulfilling some other goal [WHAT?!?] in opposing START. I mean, you can never be too careful.

Marc, neither AJC, nor ADL, nor JStreet, is a specifically Israel-centered organization. It’s therefore not surprising that they weighed in on an issue such as START, which is a general political matter that’s only very tenuously related to Israel. For AIPAC or ECI to take a position on something that peripheral, on the other hand, would open the door to a serious dilution of their focus. After all, if START is relevant to Israel, then what about Darfur? DADT? The Bush tax cuts? Not that there’s anything wrong with broad Jewish political activism, of course, but unless you believe that specifically pro-Israel activism is worthless, you should be able to understand the argument that AIPAC and ECI should stick to their core topic.

Then again, given that you’ve bent over backwards time and again to defend JStreet, despite its numerous flagrant demonstrations of bad faith, naked partisanship and fierce anti-Israel, anti-Zionist bias, you probably *do* believe that specifically pro-Israel activism is worthless. In that case, you should stop complaining about ECI’s supposed secret Republican agenda, and just admit that your beef is with its openly professed pro-Israel agenda.


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Is ECI a Typical Kristol Think Tank?

Loyalty to GOP is tested on missile treaty

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