"JH: You’ve written a piece in the Christian Science Monitor.You wrote, “If Americans truly are our friends, they would shake us up and take away the keys. Because right now we are driving drunk. And without this wakeup call we will soon find ourselves in the ditch of an undemocratic, doomed state.”
Can you unpack that for us? What do you think the American government should be doing in terms of trying to advance a real peace in this region?
JBA: There’s a hidden assumption in your question. When you say, "What should the American government be doing to promote peace?" you’re assuming the American government wants peace.
Among liberals who give a lot of thought to American and Middle East issues there are two competing views. There are some, like Chomsky, who would say that the US is the dominant power, and within that there are various interests, like corporations. Any other player around the world basically does what the US bids them to do.
There’s this competing view which is at least primarily raised by two professors from Chicago and Harvard [Steven Walt and John Mearsheimer]. It’s about the Israel lobby, and it holds that Israel has a lot of control over US politics. I lean more towards the Chomsky point of view. In that sense I’m taking back some of the things I actually wrote, because I think that a lot of what Israel does is with the consent and pushing of the US.
The US is fully complicit in everything. What I still think holds is that the American population has a lot of influence, but they don’t know many things. The American population has it in their interests to have good health insurance, or to have a controlled Wall Street. That is not happening, because that’s the way the political system is designed."