Israel as a Strategic Liability?

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This is a guest note by Anthony H. Cordesman, holder of the Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. This piece first appeared as a CSIS brief and is reprinted here with permission.
israelamericaflag.jpgIsrael as a Strategic Liability?
America’s ties to Israel are not based primarily on U.S. strategic interests. At the best of times, an Israeli government that pursues the path to peace provides some intelligence, some minor advances in military technology, and a potential source of stabilizing military power that could help Arab states like Jordan. Even then, however, any actual Israeli military intervention in an Arab state could prove as destabilizing as beneficial.
The fact is that the real motives behind America’s commitment to Israel are moral and ethical. They are a reaction to the horrors of the Holocaust, to the entire history of Western anti-Semitism, and to the United States’ failure to help German and European Jews during the period before it entered World War II. They are a product of the fact that Israel is a democracy that shares virtually all of the same values as the United States.
The U.S. commitment to Israel is not one that will be abandoned. The United States has made this repeatedly clear since it first recognized Israel as a state, and it has steadily strengthened the scale of its commitments since 1967. The United States has provided Israel with massive amounts of economic aid and still provides enough military assistance to preserve Israel’s military superiority over its neighbors. The United States has made it clear that any U.S. support for Arab-Israeli peace efforts must be based on options that preserve Israel’s security, and its recent announcements that it will consider “extended regional deterrence” are code words for a U.S. commitment that could guard Israel, as well as its neighbors, against an Iranian nuclear threat.
At the same time, the depth of America’s moral commitment does not justify or excuse actions by an Israeli government that unnecessarily make Israel a strategic liability when it should remain an asset. It does not mean that the United States should extend support to an Israeli government when that government fails to credibly pursue peace with its neighbors. It does not mean that the United States has the slightest interest in supporting Israeli settlements in the West Bank, or that the United States should take a hard-line position on Jerusalem that would effectively make it a Jewish rather than a mixed city.
It does not mean that the United States should be passive when Israel makes a series of major strategic blunders–such as persisting in the strategic bombing of Lebanon during the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, escalating its attack on Gaza long after it had achieved its key objectives, embarrassing the U.S. president by announcing the expansion of Israeli building programs in east Jerusalem at a critical moment in U.S. efforts to put Israeli-Palestinian peace talks back on track, or sending commandos to seize a Turkish ship in a horribly mismanaged effort to halt the “peace flotilla” going to Gaza.
It is time Israel realized that it has obligations to the United States, as well as the United States to Israel, and that it become far more careful about the extent to which it test the limits of U.S. patience and exploits the support of American Jews. This does not mean taking a single action that undercuts Israeli security, but it does mean realizing that Israel should show enough discretion to reflect the fact that it is a tertiary U.S. strategic interest in a complex and demanding world.
Israel’s government should act on the understanding that the long-term nature of the U.S.-Israel strategic relationship will depend on Israel clearly and actively seeking peace with the Palestinians–the kind of peace that is in Israel’s own strategic interests. Israelis should understand that the United States opposes expansion and retention of its settlements and its efforts to push Palestinians out of greater Jerusalem.
Israeli governments should plan Israeli military actions that make it clear that Israel will use force only to the level actually required, that carefully consider humanitarian issues from the start, and that have a clear post-combat plan of action to limit the political and strategic impact of its use of force. And Israel should not conduct a high-risk attack on Iran in the face of the clear U.S. “red light” from both the Bush and Obama administrations. Israel should be sensitive to the fact that its actions directly affect U.S. strategic interests in the Arab and Muslim worlds, and it must be as sensitive to U.S. strategic concerns as the United States is to those of Israel.
The United States does not need unnecessary problems in one of the most troubled parts of the world, particularly when Israeli actions take a form that does not serve Israel’s own strategic interests.
This Israeli government in particular needs to realize that as strong as U.S.-Israel ties may be, it is time to return to the kind of strategic realism exemplified by leaders like Yitzhak Rabin. No aspect of what happened this week off the coast of Gaza can be blamed on Israeli commandos or the Israel Defense Forces. Israel’s prime minister and defense minister had full warning about the situation, and they knew the flotilla was deliberately designed as a political provocation to capture the attention of the world’s media in the most negative way possible.
They personally are responsible for what happened, and they need to show far more care and pragmatism in the future.
— Anthony H. Cordesman

Comments

47 comments on “Israel as a Strategic Liability?

  1. scared for the future says:

    A democracy with all the same values:
    torture, indiscriminately assassinating people, indefinite detention, human rights violations, etc. etc.

    Reply

  2. hass says:

    Hey Anthony, where were you when Israel was planning on bombin US targets and blaming it on the Arabs — aka Lavon Affair?

    Reply

  3. hass says:

    Israel is a democracy that shares virtually all of the same values as the United States…. like declaring people of one religion to have superior rights than others…Wait…HUH? LOL!

    Reply

  4. Carroll says:

    Posted by moshe ben yehudah, Jun 08 2010, 3:11PM – Link
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Er….moshie boy..you must have missed this.
    Though I wil say Israel is good at producing one thing….little Israelis full of hot air. You are actually the worlds welfare baby…65 years and Israel is still not self supporting..according the 2005 CIA report to congress….you can find that report at the congressional Library site.
    Tell me moshie why does Israel want weapons from the US if they are such swell weapons makers themselves. Israel is a parasite honey and we all know it…so toot your little horn and whine away.
    Published 01:53 08.06.10
    Latest update 01:53 08.06.10
    Israel asked U.S. to increase weapons supply, Haaretz learns
    Air force seeking more JDAM bombs, and larger emergency stores held by American army.
    By Amos Harel
    Israel recently approached the United States with new requests for security-related purchases, Haaretz has learned. The requests included Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM ) bombs for the Israel Air Force, as well as a significant expansion of the emergency stores held by the U.S. army in Israel.
    The Israeli requests were brought up during recent visits to Washington by Defense Minister Ehud Barak and director-general of the Defense Ministry, Udi Shani, and in conversations with senior administration and Congress officials.
    The priority list reflects the security threats the defense establishment believes Israel will face in the next few years, i.e. the eventuality of a prolonged war, which would necessitate using the IAF widely to attack many targets, along with ensuring enough spare parts and supplies.
    Israel also requested JDAM bombs, seeking to significantly increase the number of such munitions already in its arsenal. The JDAM bombs have been used increasingly in recent operations, including in the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and Operation Cast Lead in 2008.
    Israel is also seeking to increase the amount of gear held by the American army in their emergency stores in Israel by 50% – from $800 million to $1.2 billion. The Obama administration placed the stores in Israel in December, as part of a number of steps to improve U.S. assistance to Israeli security. To date, $600 million worth of American emergency equipment has been placed in Israel.
    The American stores hold rockets, bombs, aircraft ammunition and armored vehicles, along with other weapons. The gear fully matches equipment already used by the Israel Defense Forces and is cataloged upon arrival to ensure quick and easy access at a time of need, pending permission from the United States. The American move has a dual purpose: bringing military equipment closer to areas in which Americans might need to fight, and assisting the U.S. ally should the need arise.
    Senior military sources told Haaretz that the IDF attaches great importance to the stores; in the event of an extensive conflict, considerable time will pass before an airlift of ammunition and spare parts – similar to the one operated during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war – gets under way.

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  5. yogi-one says:

    It’s a good point that Isael does not need to consider US reaction to its actions. The US will support Israel, no matter what they do. If Israel nukes its neighbors, the US will issue some standard statement about how sorry we are it happpened, but Israel has a right to “defend” itself (even when that defense is clearly to start a war by using overwhelming force).
    No politician can become president in the USA without clearly pledging allegiance to Israel. Nor can they rise to promonence in congress. That’s why Hilary Clinton introduced Obama as “a true friend of Israel” during Obama’s presidential campaign. Without that critical endorsement, Obama would not have been a viable presidential candidate.
    So, what the “Israel Lobby” thinks about the US affects the US in a big way politically.
    However, Israel doesn’t need to consider what the US response will be to any of its actions. It doesn’t matter. A more conservative administration (like the Bushies) will aggressively support Israel, and a more liberal administration (the Obama-ites) will support Israel a little less aggressively.
    Israel can take that for granted, so there’s no need to care at all what Washington thinks. Netanyahu understands that fully.

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  6. David says:

    Interesting points, Moshe. They all ring true, and I have long thought that Israel can defend itself just fine without US aid. I also don’t think there is an adversary who could even remotely have the ability to “wipe Israel off the face of the map,” so I think that cry against Iran rings hollow. I do not even think it matters if Iran gets nuclear weapons. They cannot use them, just as Israel cannot use its nuclear stockpile, nor do I think either Israel or Iran will ever do so. The possession of nuclear weapons is like having a bag of fool’s gold, unless you are a country the US is contemplating invading. Then you have no choice but to make yourself uninvadable, as is North Korea, and as wasn’t Iraq.
    So points well made, but to what useful purpose?

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  7. Count Nomis says:

    What is WRONG with us? When are we going to become independent of Israel?
    How has such a puny, insignificant excuse of a country with an addiction for atrocities managed to hijack our foreign policy? When are we going to grow a pair? This parasite—and make no mistake of it, Israel is America’s tapeworm—habitually spies on us, has killed Americans, siphons billions of dollars from us, spits in our faces, has attacked our navy (remember the USS Liberty?) and its admirers keep harping that Israel is our friend. It wouldn’t last two minutes without sucking us dry.
    And the worst part are all the traitors in this country that would put that country’s benefit over ours; no matter what atrocities the Israelis commit, they find some justification for those atrocities—usually by blaming the victims. Or, when all else fails, they bring forth their precious Holocaust.
    I’m sick of it, and I’m ashamed of it. If you have any doubts that Israel controls our country, either directly, or indirectly, I challenge you to find a magazine article, a newspaper article, a TV news item or a Hollywood film that condemns Israel, or takes a compassionate view of the Palestinian victims.

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  8. moshe ben yehudah says:

    All the geniuses claiming that Israel “suckles at the teat of the Eagle” forget that American “military aid” can only be spent in America. This means that we have to buy overpriced American trash instead of good Jewish-made, Jewish-designed weapons. So we get M4s instead of Tavors and F16s instead of Lavis. Some idiot even suggested buying American tanks, but thank G-d he was shouted down.
    As for our “negligible” contributions to your military, go take them all away then. Start with your UAVs. Then get rid of your battle command systems. Don’t forget the reactive armor that protects your Bradleys. Oh, and the radars in your fighters. The HUDs in the cockpits will have to go, too. And your medics will just have to go back to cloth bandages. No more Israeli blood clotters. While you are at it, get rid of the Intel chips from your computers. They’re designed in Haifa. I could go on, but you get my drift.
    The issue is not whether we are a strategic liability to you, but whether YOU are a strategic liability to US. We have a $60 billion budget. We can find another $3 billion for defense spending, especially when it will create thousands of high-tech jobs back home in Tel Aviv and Haifa. And in exchange we will gain the freedom to sell Green Pine radars to China and Hetz ABM to India. And I am sure Cyprus and Greece and Armenia and Taiwan and Singapore will all happily buy all kinds of stuff from us. They all have nasty neighbors and pressing needs for advanced weapons. Hey, we can even help to build a couple of breeder reactors in Yerevan. Just to remind the Turks that we are not the only people with long memories.
    So by all means, let America ditch the alliance that our corrupt politicians are wedded to because American defense companies line their pockets with kickbacks. We will be just fine. Will YOU?

    Reply

  9. samuelburke says:
  10. Paul Norheim says:

    “Did you notice that Carroll cited Mearshimer & Walt as her
    authority for asserting…”
    I notice that you frequently cite George Orwell – a claim he wrote
    in a specific historical context – as your authority for asserting
    that I and several others here, despite what we say, are in bed
    with the Jew-haters.

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  11. nadine says:

    Certainly, I have no problem recognizing there is a pro-Israel lobby, and you might add the influence of Jewish voters in New York, New Jersey and especially the swing states of Ohio and Florida, where they are most concentrated.
    *A* pro-Israel lobby is factual. AIPAC and ZOA WJC are real organizations. However, Mearshimer & Walt’s *The* Israel Lobby, this great virtual lobby of anybody who every had a “pro-Israel” position for any reason, that is supposed to wield incomparable power in DC, unchecked by other powers, a lobby like no other lobby, making and ruining politicians at will, is a fiction. A nasty fiction that feeds every anti-Semitic fantasy around.
    Did you notice that Carroll cited Mearshimer & Walt as her authority for asserting that the Israelis were always staging provocations to start wars, because they want to ruin the US relations with any country but Israel? Therefore she asserts that the Israelis picked out the Turks to execute in order a war with Turkey. (The standard name for this anti-Semitic trope is “Jews poison wells”)
    A rather creative way to explain how come six ships were diverted with no injuries to anybody, but 9 men were killed on the Mavi Marmara. Anti-Semites can be very creative in their fashion.
    BTW, Yediot Aharanot has some pictures of Europeans trying to shield wounded Israelis on the Mavi Marmara, so maybe some of the peaceniks actually were peaceniks. Apparently there were hundreds of peaceniks on the Mavi Marmara to about 50 IHH guys. If so, good for them. I wonder if they knew beforehand that the 50 IHH guys would attack the Israelis?

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  12. Paul Norheim says:

    “To single out one single cause is a sign of a simplistic mindset.”
    I should have formulated this differently. Single out one single…?
    And my oversensitive mind gets nervous re-reading all those
    words starting with an “S”…
    I also have to add that this was not directed against Sweetness,
    who did not indicate any “single cause” in his comment; but
    against those who tend to think that US policies are motivated by
    one singe factor (and not many, frequently contradicting factors)
    – be it Israel, Oil, the military-industrial-congressional complex
    or any other single factor. Regarding US-Israeli relations I also
    think it’s a mistake to reduce this to one single motive.

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  13. Paul Norheim says:

    “Posted by nadine, Jun 07 2010, 6:30PM – Link
    “Cordesman: “The fact is that the real motives behind America’s
    commitment to Israel are moral and ethical. They are a reaction
    to the horrors of the Holocaust, to the entire history of Western
    anti-Semitism, and to the United States’ failure to help German
    and European Jews during the period before it entered World
    War II.”
    Sweetness: “Pretty much dead on.”
    No, only one cause among many, and not the largest imo. The
    Christian attachment to Israel is real. The American attachment
    to Israel as a fellow self-made democracy, carved by pioneers
    out of the wilderness, is real too.
    At least Cordesman is smart enough not to peddle the “Israel
    Lobby” conspiracy theory…”
    ———————————
    Yes, I agree – “one cause among many”, and some are more
    significant than others. To single out one single cause is a sign
    of a simplistic mindset. Nadine mentioned two additional
    factors: the attachment of Evangelical Christians, and the
    (euphemistically formulated) “fellow self-made democracy,
    carved by pioneers out of the wilderness”
    And then there is the factual (not conspiratorial) activities of
    pro-Israel lobbies, which is also very significant.
    Those four factors would go a long way to explain US support
    for Israel. I wish we had a consensus on this here, but doubt
    that this will ever be established.

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  14. nadine says:

    Dismissing a group like CUFI (Christians United for Israel) as “snake-handling rubes” is a vast mistake, factually and politically, one that too many Jews make, steeped as they are in the liberal prejudices of the 1960s.
    The evangelicals are an enormous slice of America (about 40% of adults self-identify as “evangelical” in the Gallup polls). The vast majority are mainstream Protestants. They include every race and strata of society. They couldn’t be farther from some cult of snake-handling rubes.
    The main rational, as opposed to prejudiced, reason to be wary of Evangelical supporters of Israel is the worry that they will demand the Jews convert and turn on them if they don’t. But CUFI and other such groups swear that they have no such intention. It hardly seems like an immediate worry in any case, compared to the rockets of Hizbullah.
    Where Israel’s interests diverge from the left is obvious (the left wants them to almost commit suicide to prove their good faith); I cannot even imagine where you think Israel’s interests will diverge from CUFI.

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  15. anirprof says:

    Nadine,
    I do hope your clear-eyed view of how different groups do not, in the end, want the same thing extends to the U.S. Christian fundamentalists. In the long run their interests and the interests of Israel-loving Jews do not in fact coincide. I’ve spoken with hawkish, AIPAC-supporting U.S. Jews who in private are thoroughly contemptuous of their new fundamentalist allies but forsee no problem controlling those snake-handling rubes when their desires and Israel’s diverge. We’ll see. I hope Netanyahu understands the tiger he’s saddling.

    Reply

  16. nadine says:

    “Cordesman: “The fact is that the real motives behind America’s commitment to Israel are moral and ethical. They are a reaction to the horrors of the Holocaust, to the entire history of Western anti-Semitism, and to the United States’ failure to help German and European Jews during the period before it entered World War II.”
    Sweetness: “Pretty much dead on.”
    No, only one cause among many, and not the largest imo. The Christian attachment to Israel is real. The American attachment to Israel as a fellow self-made democracy, carved by pioneers out of the wilderness, is real too.
    At least Cordesman is smart enough not to peddle the “Israel Lobby” conspiracy theory, but I’m telling you, we are seeing people blow with the wind here. The word has gone out from the Obama adminstration: “find some way to dump Israel, or least credibly threaten to if they don’t withdraw to the exact 1967 lines in return for nothing.”

    Reply

  17. nadine says:

    Sweetness, the US has been Israel’s superpower protector for a long time, its one reliable ally for a small country surrounding by enemies. From the US to Israel, neutrality is not neutral. It is throwing an ally to the jackals. That’s what we hear now, the jackals howling.
    You would not see all this heavy breathing about “Is Israel a strategic liability?” (the NYT, which has become the Obama press office, ran an article with that title yesterday) if the “realist” camp of the Obama administration were not pressing hard to use this opportunity to dump Israel. Just look at Steve’s blog posts. They just don’t dare say it out loud as administration policy. They fear Congress. In any previous administration, Republican or Democrat, the idea of even saying these words would have been off the table. John Brennan, Mark Perry, Steve Clemons, Rahm Emmanuel and Barack Obama want it very much ON the table.

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  18. nadine says:

    “For millions of fundamentalist Christians, that biblical connection far outweighs any strategic logic or any sort of ethical redress for the Holocaust — and it also allows no room for balancing ethical or strategic failings on the part of the Israelis. Contra ‘georges’ above, Israel is *not* like any other foreign country to these people. For them, it’s God loves those who love Israel, period. ” (aniprof)
    On this point, I agree with you, aniprof. It is a curious blind spot of today’s Left (or whatever you call Steve Clemon’s camp) that they don’t really believe in the existence of ideology. Except their own ideology of course, which they deny is ideology, calling it “realism” instead.
    I would add that I have seen some leftists acknowledge and deplore the fundamentalist attachment to Israel. The hitch is that multiculturalism forbids them from acknowledging or even noticing the ideological nature of the Arab/Muslim/Islamist hatred of Israel. Mustn’t judge the other; that is forbiden “Orientalism.” So they go around pretending that everybody wants the same things at the end of the day.
    It’s not true. The Islamists who want to wipe out the enemies of Allah and establish a new caliphate do not want the same thing as a democracy that wants to find a peaceful modus vivendi.
    The great harm in PRETENDING everybody has the same goals is that you blame the victims of Islamist hatred for the hatred, figuring they must have done something really, really bad to deserve it (the Islamists are delighted to supply lists of grievances).
    The Israelis are usually doing some form of self-defense that can be pointed to as the bad, bad thing, even if it requires lots of twisting and taking out of context.
    When the victims are so inoffensive that this argument does not work (for example, the now-destroyed communities of Palestinian or Assyrian Christians), the victims are totally ignored.
    Thus a tolerant humanitarian impulse leads to extremely intolerant, brutal results.

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  19. Cee says:

    Nuclear blackmail is why we haven’t dropped them like a hot stone.
    How much of our technology do they still sell to China?

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  20. Nicholas Wibberley says:

    “The fact is that the real motives behind America’s commitment to Israel are moral and ethical.

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  21. anirprof says:

    Cordesman’s “moral and ethical” comment (quoted by Sweetness right above) is only partly true. It certainly explains one slice of US support, but it misses an important one. Actually two — the second being the natural ethnic ties between American Jews and Israel.
    The larger issue Cordesman and so many other DC wonks miss is the biblical connection. The Christian bible says that nations that bless Israel shall themselves be blessed, among many other similar pronouncements. And of course the regathering of the Jews in Israel is a key part of the Book of Revelations end-times story. For millions of fundamentalist Christians, that biblical connection far outweighs any strategic logic or any sort of ethical redress for the Holocaust — and it also allows no room for balancing ethical or strategic failings on the part of the Israelis. Contra ‘georges’ above, Israel is *not* like any other foreign country to these people. For them, it’s God loves those who love Israel, period.
    I know it’s hard for people like Clemons or Cordesmann to get that, but trust me, I grew up attending such churches out West. It really is that Biblical, literal, and visceral and you just can not understand the domestic politics of our Israel foreign policy without getting that.

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  22. Sweetness says:

    Cordesman: “The fact is that the real motives behind America’s commitment to Israel are moral and ethical. They are a reaction to the horrors of the Holocaust, to the entire history of Western anti-Semitism, and to the United States’ failure to help German and European Jews during the period before it entered World War II.”
    Pretty much dead on.

    Reply

  23. jon says:

    Israel may not play a great strategic role for the US. But Israel has
    the ability to destabilize and upset the Middle East and US strategic
    interests. This is a negative capability that I believe Israel is
    exploiting in order to achieve desired results from the US. Israel’s
    acts, such as threatening to bomb Iran, destroying Lebanon’s
    infrastructure, expanding West Bank settlements, etc. all
    complicate various interests and initiatives of the US in the region.
    And a great deal of US time and treasure is devoted to smoothing
    feathers in Israel. This is a position rather like that of North
    Korea’s.

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  24. georgesdelatour says:

    The point about Israel is really really simple. It’s a foreign country –
    one of 192 countries in the world that aren’t the United States of
    America. That’s all.

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  25. kotzabasis says:

    We aren’t talking about Japanese “politeness” but about the ‘Sun King’ of the sole superpower.

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  26. rc says:

    And the Japanese bow of politeness and custom is also deferential weakness?

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  27. kotzabasis says:

    For aeons during the Ottoman Empire and during the reign Of Arab kings and princess the latter had Africans in their retinue as slaves. This is why Obama will never have any respect among Turks and Arabs, especially when with deferential weakness, even as president of the United States, he still kowtows before Arab kings.

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  28. mj says:

    “The U.S. commitment to Israel is not one that will be abandoned.” — and that IS the strategic weakness in all this.
    If the US policy towards Israel became more ambiguous then there might be a different tone and more opportunity for ‘win-win-win’ change.
    What is Israel’s commitment to the US?
    Is it also one that cannot or will not be abandoned?

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  29. Don Bacon says:

    Meanwhile I love these pro-Israel ads running at the top of TWN. “There’s a little bit of Israel in all of us.” Just ask Helen Thomas.

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  30. Don Bacon says:

    POA, don’t you agree that it’s important that we don’t take this Cordesman piece for any more than an attempt to grease the skids for Obama’s next probably fruitless appeal for reason directed toward Israel. I’m sure it’s already been approved by you-know-who. It’s part of the dance, and we’re supposed to be impressed.

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  31. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “All this Dem Establishment hand-wringing about whether to keep supporting Israel….”
    On what fuckin’ planet is that occurring??? Are you out of your mind? That comment is completely removed from reality. Thats one of the things that makes your drivel so obnoxious, you seem, for the most part, to form your opinions in some bizzarre separate reality that doesn’t even bear a vague resemblance to the facts in the real world.
    I think Steve is being outrageously charitable by saying that you offer enlightening opposition here on this blog. More oft than not, you’re pulling your “facts” right out of Fantasyland.
    “Dem Establishment hand-wringing about whether to keep supporting Israel………”
    Thats a classic, Nadine. You’re on a roll. Gads, whatta buffoon.

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  32. Sweetness says:

    Nadine writes: “Obama has done such a splendid job persuading Erdogan of his supine weakness that Erdogan is proceeding full speed ahead and is spoiling for a war. All this Dem Establishment hand-wringing about whether to keep supporting Israel – a major regional American ally since 1967 – gives him encouragement that Washington will sit passive if he sends the Turkish Navy to take Gaza. Iran has now offered to send Revolutionary guards to Gaza, wanting to get in on the act. Clearly they feel the wind is at their back, and there is no need for subtlety.”
    I know you and I see things very differently, but it’s hard to see what Obama has done to give Erdogan or the Revolutionary Guards the greenlight.
    Yes, he’s pressured Bibi on settlements and then backed off. He’s huffed and puffed a bit, and tried to take a more evenhanded approach, but where has he actually threatened to leave Israel in the lurch?

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  33. YY says:

    I think the weapons testing part is strategic, but I agree it isn’t primarily strategic as strategic interests have really not aligned all that well. The nature of the relationship predates the current convenient reference of the Persian nuclear threat and hasn’t changed one iota whether Iran (Iraq, Egypt, or USSR) is viewed as a threat.
    Moral and ethical sound to me as sentimental, familial, ideological, and reflexive based upon very selective writing of history. It also tends to suggest that things that run counter to view is somehow not moral and ethical? Perhaps some measure of national interest is in order, so as to discern where the mismatches are?
    Moral and ethical views of international relations should encompass all peoples and not just adopted siblings.

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  34. ... says:

    dons comment regaarding cordesmans attitude – more than a day late and a dollar short. – yes dons – definitely a slow motion train wreck that the usa is supposed to happily watch unfold while financing it…

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  35. ... says:

    cee -413pm – that is a disturbing post and if it reflects a common thought in israel, they and us are screwed… it is a scorched earth attitude..
    when do these folks get a new holy book to replace this one that isn’t very holy?

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  36. non-hater says:

    non-hater, like most leftists you are total fool about economics. You’d do better to stfu about it.
    When did I every say anything about economics? The question at hand is whether or not Israel is a strategic liability for the US. It is, full stop. And as long as Israel takes aid from the US, the US has a right to expect to Israel to not harm it’s interests.
    Obama has done such a splendid job persuading Erdogan of his supine weakness
    And this is where Israel comes in. The deliberate public snubbing by the Israeli government of Biden and Obama, by announcing settlements during or right after important meetings, is what has made Obama look weak to the Muslim world. And the weaker he looks, the less able he will be in pursing American interests abroad. Those interests include maintaining good relations with Turkey, which is a NATO signatory.
    Great powers that jettison their allies at small provocations from regional powers find themselves without allies in a hurry.
    There is no other “ally” of the US that is remotely as troublesome as Israel. If the US abandoned support for it, the US’s standing in the rest of the would only go up. OTOH, if the US antagonizes Turkey by defending Israel – a country with which the US has no defense treaties – in its most recent foolishness, then the US’s standing in the world will go down substantially.

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  37. Cee says:

    Passengers helped Israeli soldiers. Go see the photos that the IDF couldn’t destroy.
    Lies exposed AGAIN!!
    In some of the H

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  38. JohnH says:

    Poor Nadine, ranting and raving with Netanyahu alienates friends and antagonizes everyone. It must be tough to watch silently as the Zionist chimera dissolves. Better to rant and rave.

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  39. nadine says:

    non-hater, like most leftists you are total fool about economics. You’d do better to stfu about it.
    This is not about Israel’s economic support and only marginally about Israel at all. This is about the Pax Americana that has held power in the eastern Med and the Persian Gulf since WWII, and whether it is about to be replaced with an Islamist Iranian/Turkish/Syrian hegemony.
    Obama has done such a splendid job persuading Erdogan of his supine weakness that Erdogan is proceeding full speed ahead and is spoiling for a war. All this Dem Establishment hand-wringing about whether to keep supporting Israel – a major regional American ally since 1967 – gives him encouragement that Washington will sit passive if he sends the Turkish Navy to take Gaza. Iran has now offered to send Revolutionary guards to Gaza, wanting to get in on the act. Clearly they feel the wind is at their back, and there is no need for subtlety.
    Whether Erdogan takes Gaza or sets off a shooting war between Turkey and Israel (which Hamas and Hizbullah would instantly enter), this would be a calamitous blow for US interests, and that is quite separate from how Israel’s government has behaved or whether you like the alliance. Israel is an ally of the US. That’s just a fact, like it or not. Great powers that jettison their allies at small provocations from regional powers find themselves without allies in a hurry.
    This, btw, is a realist analysis.

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  40. non-hater says:

    “Another exercise in saying that Israel has a theoretical right to self-defense, but only after getting permission in triplicate from the United States”
    You seem to have temporarily forgotten a fundamental fact, which is that Israel suckles at the teat of the Eagle. See to it that Israel starts refusing US aid, and nobody will demand that Israel should act in a way that doesn’t harm US interests.

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  41. nadine says:

    Another exercise in saying that Israel has a theoretical right to self-defense, but only after getting permission in triplicate from the United States and guaranteeing that every operation is executed perfectly.
    In other words, Israel can only defend itself if it never makes even the smallest mistake. No country on earth, certainly not the United States, could fulfill those conditions.
    It was the United State’s responsibility to warn the Turks off staging provocations by sending boatloads of violent jihadis to run a the Israeli blockade. Must I remind Mr. Cordesman (who knows it quite well) that the US officially supports that blockade? and this Turkish provocation was a slap at the US as well as Israel?
    Meanwhile, we can watch Obama “assume the pruning position” again.

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  42. Cee says:

    Anthony is wasting his breath.
    “Rabbis: Flotilla Clash Similar to Gog and Magog Prophecy”:
    “The Rabbinical Council of Judea and Samaria issued a statement Thursday in which it said that the results of the incident in which Israel intercepted a flotilla trying to break the naval blockade of Gaza seem like the Biblical description of “the beginning of the Gog and Magog process where the world is against us, but which ends with the third and final redemption.”
    The statement explained that while secular Zionism always wants Israel to be beloved by other nations, “the legitimacy of our people is not derived from the nations of the world and their poisonous traditions, rather from the Torah of Israel which teaches us that [Israel] ‘is a people that shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations'” (Numbers 23:9). They emphasized that there is no reason to be alarmed by the world’s condemnation as it is a predicted result of fear of Israel’s success.”

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  43. DonS says:

    Cordesman outlines all the “needs to” and “shoulds” that Israel must undertake to fulfill its “responsibility” to the United States, which he correctly notes is Israel’s mainstay and benefactor.
    This is all well and good, and Cordesman is not the first to say so. Nor is he the first to outline the corresponding need for the US to look after it’s own interest in the world, primarily, not Israel’s.
    But, like many other a well meaning had wringer, Cordesman goes on to state “This does not mean taking a single action that undercuts Israeli security” — read don’t cut military aid — “but it does mean realizing that Israel should show enough discretion to reflect the fact that it is a tertiary U.S. strategic interest in a complex and demanding world.”
    So there’s the tough love, I’d call it marshmallow, bottom line: Israel should show “discretion”, and the US (presumably, gleaning the syntax) should “realize” that Israel should show discretion. Wow, I’d be asking ‘how high’ if I were Israel, with that kind of a muscular policy prescription.
    Note: If Cordesman has something more muscular in mind, I wish he’d say so. Just hinting that Israel has been the bad actor that administration after administration (and Congress all the time) bends over backwards to avoid factoring into policy decisions, is more than a day late and a dollar short.

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  44. non-hater says:

    PS: Underlying causes aside, I am pleased that Cordesman was willing to state point-blank that Israel is a strategic liability. I hope to hear more like this from the policy establishment but, of course, I’m not holding my breath.

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  45. non-hater says:

    Cordesman: “The fact is that the real motives behind America’s commitment to Israel are moral and ethical.”
    False. America’s commitment to Israel is a toxic stew of tribalism, religion, arms sales, and campaign contributions. Selective, self-serving references to morals and ethics, along with invocations of guilt, have been used sway general public opinion, which is remarkably uninformed about the most recent 200 years of the history of the Levant. But morals and ethics have never been the actual driving force.

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  46. Don Bacon says:

    Cordesman: “The fact is that the real motives behind America’s commitment to Israel are moral and ethical.”
    I didn’t get beyond that farcical statement. What’s the use in reading more?
    You start with a wrong assumption and your subsequent statements have no validity.
    Like, HELLO, Anthony, don’t you think there might be a little financial influence buried in there somewhere? Don’t you think there’s a teensy-weensy little bit of vote-buying going on? Have you perchance ever heard of The Lobby?
    And what’s “moral and ethical” about the rape of Gaza, killing 34 US sailors on the USS Liberty and the kidnapping and killing of various other souls, some of them Americans, and recently, Turks?

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  47. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “They are a product of the fact that Israel is a democracy that shares virtually all of the same values as the United States”
    Oh horseshit.When are you Washington elitists going to stop spouting this crap??? The “values” this nation was founded on have nothing to do with dumping white phosphorous or cluster bombs onb civilian populations, or collectively punishing and oppressing an entire people.
    Cordesman, if you find shared “values” in current Israeli policies, you should hang your head in shame.

    Reply

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