The Times of Israel says that John McCain and Samantha Power are now happily joined at the hip because they are beset by “isolationists” and “pacifists” inside their own parties. This piece by an Israeli national security analyst, Owen Alterman celebrates the McCain-Power klatch as key to the great Iraq war and, prospectively, to confronting Iran. This bears out my own reporting about our new UN ambassador’s efforts to cultivate neoconservatives and Israel lobbyists, and saying Israel as many times as the United States in her testimony at her Senate confirmation hearing. And this offers some hope that the two anti-interventionist camps, on left and right, can make a coalition of sorts against the lobby. Alterman:
As isolationist stirrings come onto the scene, today’s American foreign policy debate is shaped less by party lines than by rival camps within the parties. On the left, pacifists and realists face off against liberal interventionists like Power. On the right, establishment realists and insurgent Tea Party isolationists sit opposite the remnants of neoconservatism.
In each party, a non-interventionist faction opposes an interventionist one. In Republican terms, the debate was most on display in last week’s face-off between Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (leader of the GOP’s non-interventionist camp) and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (an interventionist). The two colorfully traded barbs over the direction of U.S. foreign policy in what many saw as a preview of the 2016 campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination.
In this debate within each party, Israel has a stake. Over the past decade, Israel’s interests have often coincided with the interventionists’ platform. The toppling of Saddam Hussein, the containment of Bashar Assad, and—most importantly—the determination to stand up to Iran’s nuclear program, all were generally backed by neoconservatives and liberal interventionists alike. The ascendance of realists and, especially, isolationists could lead to U.S. pullback from the region, with hostile actors filling the void…
This is the policy debate that has brought together the John McCain wing of the Republican Party and the Samantha Power camp among Democrats. Their emerging cooperation points to an opportunity for Israel and its supporters.
Pro-Israel forces should form a broader alliance with the interventionists. Pro-Israel groups and the interventionists share many common interests—and, more importantly, have much to offer each other.
The interventionists have the ear of much of the U.S. foreign policy elite, an asset that, as always, could be useful for Israel. Also, an alliance with liberal interventionists could help Israel maximize its standing among Democrats….
Of course, the Israeli government itself must remain above the U.S. domestic political fray.
Yes, Israel must stand outside the fray, as its advocates toil to make an Israel bulwark in our politics that transcends partisan wrangling. Forty years ago Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol founded a militant neocon foreign policy in opposition to George McGovern’s post-Vietnam pacifism, which threatened Israel because Israel was dependent on the U.S. Samantha Power is thus an heir to the Henry Jackson line in the Democratic Party. The greatest damage we can do to this alignment is to damage these folks’ images. Barack Obama’s vanity has been wounded by Edward Snowden’s bold run to his left, exposing him as a centurion of the surveillance state in his former base, the left. And I don’t think Power’s amour-propre will be able to handle it being pointed out all the time that she is wearing Shmuley Boteach’s uniform, and John McCain’s, and Sheldon Adelson’s. So she will stand up for human rights. Here’s hoping.