Sunday, June 06, 2010

Anthony Cordesman on Israel and U.S. policy goals

The refrain familiar to all listeners to the "amen choir," so aptly named by Bob Dole, is that Israel is a strategic asset for the U.S. This unqualified claim is then used to justify overlooking or excusing Israel's behavior, as though it were exempt from international law, accepted standards of human rights or U.S. law (as in the Arms Export Control Act). Cordesman offers a variety of recent examples that easily falsify the claim that Israel is strategic asset for America. He then reminds the Israeli government that it needs to pay more heed to the interests of United States:
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.
Cordesman's piece is not revelatory. It is, however, timely. Many of the officials advising President Barack Obama are of the school that argues that the way you move Israeli policy is by making nice to Israel, "feeling its pain", meeting its security needs, and shielding it from accountability for its egregious actions. The implication of Cordesman's argument is that U.S. interests require a firmer policy hand vis-a-vis Israel, and that if Israel insists on continuing to on avenues that conflict with U.S. interests, then it does so at its own peril.

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