Israel is becoming a liability for the United States

on 15 Comments

Carlo Strenger notes in Haaretz:

During the media frenzy of the last days a crucial headline has received close to no attention: Mossad chief Meir Dagan told the Knesset’s Foreign Relations Committee that Israel is gradually turning from a strategic asset into a liability for the United States of America.

As it’s a bit difficult to brush aside Dagan as a softheaded idealist, our policy makers will find another way not to listen. They will say, “this would never have happened under George W. Bush; this is only because the Obama administration is not friendly towards Israel. We simply need to wait for Obama to end this term; he won’t get reelected.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. I have heard warnings that Israel is becoming a strategic liability for the U.S. from Americans, including high ranking members of the George W. Bush administration, for years. The only difference is that during the Bush years, nobody in the administration would say this on record or for attribution.

As if to echo and underline Dagan’s message, Anthony Cordesman, one of the most respected non-partisan national security experts in Washington writes:

[T]he depth of America’s moral commitment [to Israel] 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.

And then comes word from the Canadian writer, Margaret Atwood, whose impartial observations as a first-time visitor to the Jewish state cut to the core when she says:

[T]he concept of Israel as a humane and democratic state is in serious trouble. Once a country starts refusing entry to the likes of Noam Chomsky, shutting down the rights of its citizens to use words like “Nakba,” and labelling as “anti-Israel” anyone who tries to tell them what they need to know, a police-state clampdown looms. Will it be a betrayal of age-old humane Jewish traditions and the rule of just law, or a turn towards reconciliation and a truly open society?

Time is running out. Opinion in Israel may be hardening, but in the United States things are moving in the opposite direction. Campus activity is increasing; many young Jewish Americans don’t want Israel speaking for them. America, snarled in two chaotic wars and facing increasing international anger over Palestine, may well be starting to see Israel not as an asset but as a liability.

Israelis never tire of declaring with great solemnity that they survive in a dangerous neighborhood — invariably the observation is used as a justification for some form of brutality. Yet behind the faux boldness of this embattled nation is the comforting awareness that little Israel enjoys the protection of its big American friend. But any friendship can eventually be strained beyond repair.

As Israel becomes more and more isolated, that isolation may reinforce the delusions of those convinced that the rest of the world is dangerous yet for others it will make the rest of the world increasingly appealing. Thus will arise the demographic threat that no racist scheme can resolve: the threat that life in a Jewish state is simply no longer appealing to enough Jews.

This is cross-posted at Woodward’s site, War in Context.

15 Responses

  1. Surcouf
    June 3, 2010, 12:53 pm

    – A few questions to the apologist friends of Israel:
    Will the recent raid on the Marmara help to stop/slow the BDS movement or will it galvanize the said movement?
    Will it ensure the final passage by the European Parliament of the Association Agreement between Israel and the EU recently agreed?
    Will it convince the new British government to modify its Universal Jurisdiction Law that currently allows UK courts to issue arrest warrants for Israeli politicians?
    Will it facilitate the adoption of a UNSC resolution asking for crippling sanctions against Iran in order to forestall its nuclear technology program?
    Will it advance Israel’s position in the current proximity talks with the Palestinians?

  2. Colin Murray
    June 3, 2010, 1:01 pm

    Israelis never tire of declaring with great solemnity that they survive in a dangerous neighborhood …

    How much of this danger is a direct result of incessant Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and colonization their land, and Israel’s theft of the Golan Heights from Syria and the Shebaa Farms from Lebanon? I have no sympathy for criminals who complain about the crime rate on their street.

  3. Colin Murray
    June 3, 2010, 1:03 pm

    Now that we can openly say without false accusations of anti-semitism that Israel is a strategic liability for the United States, what does that make WINEP, AIPAC, AEI, CPMJO, JINSA, etc?

    • radii
      June 3, 2010, 2:45 pm

      traitorous spy nests

      • Colin Murray
        June 3, 2010, 4:54 pm

        That’s not quite what I had in mind. I would certainly thus describe (and have several times before) WINEP and two member organization of AIPAC: the Jewish Institute for National Security and the American Friends of Likud. However, I think that many others merely stand by and nod their heads at whatever the neocons and Likudniks say, and either hope for change or that the status quo won’t be disrupted forcing them to make hard decisions.

        The time for hard decisions has arrived. The passive institutions have IMO plenty of potential for reform, perhaps either by changing AIPAC from within by expelling JINSA and fellow travelers (admittedly staggeringly unlikely), or severing relations with the extremists by leaving and forming their own group. AIPAC could be left a discredited husk of ‘Israel-first’ers at any price’.

        There are a lot of potential scenarios for the transformation of American Jewish political institutions, but I don’t think there is a scenario where it as an aggregate will come out not smelling like sewage if the majority don’t ostracize the neocons and Likudniks.

      • Chu
        June 4, 2010, 9:42 am

        Self-serving think tanks with [uber-cause] ‘Israel’ as top priority.
        If Israel fails, then so does the US. That’s their secret pact they make. Obama know this as he drags the ball & chain attached to his ankle around the world. What other explanation is there?

        Congress willingly is a servant to this cause, as their embarrassing voting record shames the dignity of this country. Not to say were a shining example, but cutting the chains from mission ‘Israel’ would be a great start to the path of moral righteousness.

  4. annie
    June 3, 2010, 1:07 pm

    excellent post paul, thanks. would that be the same margaret atwood that recently thumbed her nose at the boycott and went to israel to accept an award? nuthin like an eat and run. good for her for stepping up to the plate.

    • jimby
      June 3, 2010, 1:18 pm

      She had a great post in Ha’aretz a couple of days ago. I notice others are referring to “the Shadow”. It is strong.

      link to

    • potsherd
      June 3, 2010, 2:52 pm

      Hypocrisy. For a shitload of money, she’ll store her conscience.

      • kapok
        June 3, 2010, 5:05 pm

        Return it, hag!

  5. seafoid
    June 3, 2010, 1:18 pm

    Aliyeh has been dead for several years. Israel has milked all it can of Jews who want to live in Israel. There are no more. Not even Russians.

  6. Avi
    June 3, 2010, 5:43 pm

    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.

    Instead of using vague concepts such as “undercutting Israel’s security”, why can’t Cordesman put in concrete and detailed terms what he thinks the US should be doing?

    For Israel, if someone farts in China, it’s considered a threat to its security. Cordesman knows that. He also knows that Israel uses the Dahhyia Doctrine to expand and broaden its definition of “military targets” to include hospitals, schools, mosques, food processing factories, bridges, water purification facilities and entire neighborhoods.

    Is Cordesman feigning ignorance of the United States’ own Shock and Awe Doctrine? There is very little difference between Shock and Awe and Dahhiya. Incidentally, both fit the definition of terrorism.

    Furthermore, what is this discretion Cordseman speaks of?

    Israel should show enough discretion to reflect the fact that it is a tertiary U.S. strategic interest in a complex and demanding world.

    Is “Discretion” the best euphemism with which Cordseman could come up?

  7. eGuard
    June 3, 2010, 6:03 pm

    Well, OT here maybe, but on topic in general: Al Jazeera (English) says: “S Africa recalls Israel ambassador”. Later more?

  8. hayate
    June 3, 2010, 10:47 pm

    Dagan is mossad.

    “By deception, we will wage war” or something like that.

    I’m reminded of the israeli radio show programme snippet that has made the rounds over the years where sharon says something like “don’t worry about what america thinks, we own them, they’ll think what we tell them to”

    And peres responded (I paraphrase) : “ssshhh, that kind of honesty could create problems for us in america, if americans hear about us talking this way”

    I think dagan is using code phrases that really mean israel should lay low for a while, not do anything, till this “bad press” fades. Perhaps a switch in figurehead too, since nutlessyahoo is is getting israel a lot of “bad press”.

    Will america break its zionist chains any time soon? Despite the grumbling in some “inner circles” that’s been reported, I doubt it. The bond is very deep and so are the mutual interests between zionist leaning oligarchs and the rest of the oligarchy. Breaking those chains will have to be done at a grassroots level and at great personal risk once people start making serious progress.

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