Where does this stuff come from?
It’s very simple. Did you ever study international relations?
To my misfortune.
Har har. From an interview by David Samuels (bold) of Noam Chomsky, referring to Walt & Mearsheimer's Israel book. Pretty vapid interview. They don't dwell on IR for long, but they still manage to get an impressive number of things dead wrong. For example, they dislike Walt/Mearsheimer because it is realist IR when they should dislike it because it neither realist nor IR. Or take this part from Chomsky:
American innocence is built into international relations theory. That’s what American exceptionalism means. If you read the founders of the theory, like Hans Morgenthau, it’s very straightforward. Hans Morgenthau was a smart guy, a very decent guy, incidentally. He has a book called The Purpose of America. He said the historical record doesn’t conform with the purpose of America, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have the purpose. In fact he says, this is like atheists criticizing religion because people do bad things. The truths are still there, even if the record conflicts with them. That is the foundation of realist international relations theory.
How to parse this? Nearly all of it is wrong. (For all I know, Morgenthau actually was a decent guy.) American innocence is built into realist IR? Tell that to this guy. Or this guy. Morgenthau himself wasn't an American, and opposed American adventurism in Vietnam (a stance taken after the publication of The Purpose of America). Waltz claimed that states are functionally undifferentiated, which doesn't sound like American innocence or exceptionalism to me. Mearsheimer and Walt are certainly not alleging American innocence. In short, realism is the opposite of American exceptionalism or innocence.
This kind of makes me happy. Chomsky is wrong about basically everything these days, so it's comforting to know that comes from garden-variety ignorance. He just doesn't have even a rudimentary understanding of the topics he's discussing, and it sounds like he hasn't read an IR book since the 1960s. But it is depressing that both interviewer and interviewee view studying international relations to be a misfortune.