Tyler: US must defuse ‘detonator’ Israel’s impetus for neverending war in Middle East

The world’s turning. Here’s a brilliant piece by Patrick Tyler in the LA Times saying that Israel, trapped in a military approach to its neighbors, is trying to serve as a “detonator” to war in the Middle East. And the U.S. should Be Like Ike (Eisenhower) and avoid it at all costs; and seek to engage Israel with its neighbors productively. Too late for the Jewish state, maybe.  (Hannah Arendt said it years ago: warrior states like Sparta is doomed to fail).

Tyler’s new book argues that Israel is incapable of making peace. Note that his Rx for Washington to work against Israel’s militarism is the exact opposite of Jeffrey Goldberg’s ultimatum to the president that his reputation is finished if he seeks to, say, contain Iran. Tyler:

The West can and must continue to oppose a decision by Iran’s leaders to enter the military realm of nuclear development, but the United States and other nations will have little credibility if the net effect of their actions is a “red line” inhibiting the technological development of another state. Young Iranians who risked their lives for reform and who admire Western democracy are also fiercely nationalistic in defending Iran’s right to develop technologically.

President Obama has shown the wisdom of President Eisenhower in resisting war strategies in the Middle East. Eisenhower believed that the modern struggle of the great powers in that region would be for the “hearts and minds” of people seeking a new beginning of freedom, justice and prosperity after a long run of colonialism. The “Arab Spring” movement and Iran’s youth movements reflect this powerful current, which is far more potent than religious extremism.

Yet however the Iran crisis turns out this fall, it is not as important as the profound problem the West, and especially the U.S., faces in dealing with a potential “detonator” strategy emanating from Israel over the long term; a number of states in the region could soon be at the threshold of nuclear development.

Over six decades and through as many wars, the U.S. has escalated its commitment to Israel’s security, but it has neglected a corresponding insistence that Israel develop the institutions of diplomacy, negotiation and compromise necessary to fully engage the Arabs during a crucial period of Arab awakening.

Israel in the modern era has lost sight of peace. A new generation of generals sees war planning and the acquisition of new weaponry as the only effective national strategy.

The West must face the prospect that Israel may not be able to rebuild a strategic consensus for peace like the one that the late Yitzhak Rabin imposed on the military establishment in 1992, an act of courage for which he paid with his life.

As the Jewish state and its military establishment become more hard line, more religious and more prone to propagate a vision of constant threat and peril, America will have to lead the world with an act of courage as great as Rabin’s in rebuilding the strategic consensus for peace — in Israel, in Congress and among the Jewish and fundamentalist Christian communities that so assiduously, and often blindly, advocate Israeli militarism.

That will require presidents, and presidential candidates, to put the security of Israel into a new category of bipartisanship, and to resist the “detonator” theory by building a broad and engaging peace strategy.

The Muslim world and Israel are pulling away from each other. Imagine a region where they were pulling together.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 15 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Les says:

    Israel’s “never ending wars” says it all.

  2. Ellen says:

    At the same time we have Israeli lobbyist Patrick Clawson calling for a false flag operation against Iran.

    link to youtube.com

    People listen to him.

  3. seafoid says:

    “The West must face the prospect that Israel may not be able to rebuild a strategic consensus for peace like the one that the late Yitzhak Rabin imposed on the military establishment in 1992, an act of courage for which he paid with his life.”

    They never stopped building settlements. They never wanted peace.

  4. seafoid says:

    “As the Jewish state and its military establishment become more hard line, more religious and more prone to propagate a vision of constant threat and peril, America will have to ”

    I thought the Jewish state was sovereign .

  5. Dan Crowther says:

    Meh. I find this extremely boring. And why is it that Iran “entering the realms of nuclear development” is off limits, even to those who say they oppose war?

    Let the Israeli’s do for themselves, I can’t read another “here is how we can help Israel and stave off war” column – F the Israeli’s. I have no interest in helping Israel get along with its neighbors, my interest is in not getting called back into the service because a war breaks out. It’s definitely too late for the Jewish State – and after decades of brutality and war, if its break up is violent, so be it.

  6. seafoid says:

    link to haaretz.com

    The Jewish New Year that began last week doesn’t seem to hold much optimism for Israeli citizens: A majority rates the chance of a war breaking out with Iran in the coming year as “high” or “medium,” according to a new Haaretz-Dialog survey.
    And half of Israelis say they either “fear” or “greatly fear” for the state’s continued existence if such a war breaks out.

  7. pabelmont says:

    “Over six decades and through as many wars, the U.S. has escalated its commitment to Israel’s security, but it has neglected a corresponding insistence that Israel develop the institutions of diplomacy, negotiation and compromise necessary to fully engage the Arabs during a crucial period of Arab awakening.”

    USA has also lost sight of the need to insist that Israel comply with international law. How can USA keep a straight face (with Arab diplomats) (or with anyone) demanding that Israel negotiate but allowing Israel to flout the law and keep its settlements PRIOR TO a negotiated peace which allows Israel to keep them?

  8. American says:

    Tyler spot on about the ”detonator” country always being a threat in the future.
    I was commenting on this on another thread after I saw it yesterday.
    So I’ll just repeat….US politics is kicking the Israel can down the road to the day we will have no choice except to take some action against it.
    People who can’t or don’t want to imagine that better start thinking about it.

  9. piotr says:

    ” … but [USA] has neglected a corresponding insistence that Israel develop the institutions of diplomacy, negotiation and compromise necessary to fully engage the Arabs … ”

    I see strategic ambiguity in Tyler’s writing. On the face of it, it is nonsense. Israel has all the institutions she needs to conduct diplomacy, including a ministry with foreign affairs. The issue is how these institutions are used.

    My perception is that 90+ Jewish citizens supports a policy that strives to get as good deal for Jewish Israelis as possible. For example, as much land as possible. There is also strong perception of Arabs as enemies and the corresponding zero-sum attitude.

    If transferring all Arabs outside the territories controlled by Israel is possible, that would be the consensus. If a slow-motion landgrab and immiserating all Arabs under control (or a big majority) is possible, it will be the consensus (and it is). There is no way Israel will restrain itself with no pressure from outside. The liberal – right wing discourse in Israel is “we should restrain ourselves because we will not get away with it” versus “you fools”. As it is, liberals are indeed the fools, with some small exceptions that border with bizarre, e.g. plans of controlling foreign NGO funding were shelved. The plans to dissolve treacherous university departments perhaps will be shelved too.

    In short, Israel is not lacking institutions but clear red lines imposed by USA and other countries.

    This of course begs the question, why this idea is so overwhelmingly rejected in USA? One can say “lobby”, but in my perception, lobby is not an intelligent entity proceeding according to a master plan, but it simply reacts to signals, not unlike an amoeba. If alarmist protest that “now Israel need you help more than ever” provide money and jobs, we will have consistent alarmist protest — amoeba moves toward its nutrients. And of course the markers of success are what Israel can get away with. The real question is why the American polity has no immunity, not resistance to such pressures.

    For example, American elites keep international law in contempt. Clearly, no enforcement can affect a superpower. We can torture, bomb, invade as much as we wish, and Washington consensus is that we should not be swayed by foreign opinions on those matters (even if those opinions invoke treaties).

  10. xanadou says:

    The ‘detonator’ will never be dismantled until/unless:
    1. the zios are forced off the war-wagon that is the Israeli government,
    2. the US surrenders its neo-colonial policies, especially in the ME, since its warmongering client state has no intention to serve US regional interests unless those interests are Israel’s interests, and for which the US taxpayers have been paying for a very long time and in clear violation of US (Symington Act, anyone?) and international laws,
    3. the Israelis cease to delude themselves that they are living in a country oh-so much safer than the ghettos of the past, and
    4. ‘insistence that Israel develop the institutions of diplomacy, negotiation and compromise’ – that may have a chance to work only if/when the US takes that good advice, by closing the hundreds of military bases in the ME and Asia, and taking a cue from the Chinese and learn to negotiate for the resources the US needs. (Cheaper than trillion dollar wars, all lost together with the US’s credibility, trust and treasure.)

  11. Sin Nombre says:

    I think it might have been helpful to have noted where Tyler got his “detonator” language from, not only to note it comes from Israel itself but also to note its fullness.

    As Tyler quoted, the phrase originated with Moshe Dayan who, way back when, argued for Israel to take up the following policy that is nothing but a form of sheer blackmail. So here’s Dayan’s statement:

    “When someone wishes to force on us things which are detrimental to our existence, there will be an explosion which will shake up wide areas, and realizing this, such elements in the international system will do their utmost to prevent damage to us.”

  12. RE: “Yet however the Iran crisis turns out this fall, it is not as important as the profound problem the West, and especially the U.S., faces in dealing with a potential “detonator” strategy emanating from Israel over the long term . . .” ~ Patrick Tyler

    MY COMMENT: Personally, I believe Israel’s Likudniks consider (at least subconsciously) Iran’s nuclear program to be a potential breach in Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s “Iron Wall”. And they expect the US to help them maintain their precious “Iron Wall” which then enables them to do whatever the hell they want to do (like colonize the West Bank).