Saturday, April 30, 2011

America Needs Israel Now More Than Ever

From Ambassador Michael Oren, at Foreign Policy, "The Ultimate Ally":
Rather than viewing Israel as a vital American asset, an increasingly vocal group of foreign-policy analysts insists that support for the Jewish state, including more than $3 billion in annual military aid, is a liability. Advocates of this "realist" school claim that the United States derives little strategic benefit from its association with Israel. The alliance, they assert, arises mainly from lobbyists who place Israel's interests before America's, rather than from a clearheaded assessment of national needs. Realists regard the relationship one-dimensionally -- America gives Israel aid and arms -- and view it as the primary source of Muslim anger at the United States. American and Israeli policies toward the peace process, the realists say, are irreconcilable and incompatible with relations between true allies.

By definition, realists seek a foreign policy immune to public sentiment and special interest groups. In this rarefied view, the preferences of the majority of the American people are immaterial or, worse, self-defeating. This would certainly be the case with the U.S.-Israel alliance, which remains outstandingly popular among Americans. Indeed, a Gallup survey this February showed that two out of three Americans sympathize with Israel. Overall, since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and in spite of Israel's responses to the second intifada and rocket attacks from Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008 -- support for Israel in the United States has risen, not declined ...


Israel not only enhances America's defenses -- it also saves American lives. A kibbutz-based company in the Galilee has provided armor for more than 20,000 U.S. military vehicles. "Two days ago, my patrol was ambushed by insurgents using 7.62mm PKM Machineguns," David C. Cox, a platoon sergeant in Iraq, wrote the manufacturers. "None of the rounds penetrated the armor of the vehicle, including one that would have impacted with my head." Marine gunner Joshua Smith, whose Israeli-armored vehicle tripped an IED near Marja, Afghanistan, described how his unit "walked away smiling, laughing, and lived to fight another day." Military medical experts from both countries also meet annually to discuss advances in combat care. One such breakthrough was a coagulating bandage, the brainchild of a Jerusalem start-up company, a million of which have been supplied to U.S. forces (and even applied by a Tucson SWAT team medic to stanch the life-threatening head wound of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords) ...


WHO ARE AMERICA'S ALLIES in the world today? Which countries are both capable and willing to advance American interests? A truly realist assessment would strive to answer these questions and fairly weigh Israel's worth.

In the Middle East, every Arab or non-Arab Muslim country has at times vacillated in its support of the United States or adopted anti-American positions. Some regimes have also placed oil embargoes on Americans and bankrolled their enemies. Although democratic governments may yet emerge in some Middle Eastern states, autocracy, monarchy, and dictatorship remain the region's norm. And even elected representatives can be profoundly hostile to the United States, as in Iran, Lebanon, and Gaza ...

Israel is the only Middle Eastern state never to oppose America on major international issues. Its fundamental interests, like its values, are America's. For the price of annual military aid equaling roughly half the cost of one Zumwalt-class destroyer, the United States helps maintain the military might of one of the few nations actively contributing to America's defense. It reinforces the only country capable of deterring Hamas and Hezbollah and impeding the spread of Iranian hegemony. According to published sources, the Israel Defense Forces is larger than the French and British armies combined. The IDF is superbly trained and, when summoned, capable of mobilizing within hours.
RTWT at the link.

And you will find there a set of responses, especially that of Professor Stephen Walt, "Whiff of Desperation." Walt attacks Israel as a "colonial" power. And as usual, he prefaces his comments with the obligatory "All of the realists I know support Israel's existence ..." It's telling that one has to declare a commitment to Israel's survival before launching into yet another screed attacking Israel's actions and the U.S.-Israeli special relationship. And as I've said many times, I once admired Stephen Walt. But I awoke from professional slumber when he turned academic realism into a veiled ideological program for the destruction of Israel. The most hard-line Jew-bashing organizations and terror-enabling activists have sworn fidelity to the Walt-Mearsheimer agenda. It's pretty telling that a Harvard political scientist has become world renowned not for obscure journal articles in the field, but for an ideological polemic with a radical agenda. More on this later ...

BONUS: In addition to essays from Aluf Benn, Jeffrey Goldberg, Robert Satloff, be sure to read the comments at Ambassador Oren's essay. There's an animalistic hatred there that's specially reserved for Israel and the Jews. Chilling.


Bruce Hall said...

... and the first error is accepting the term "realist" as proper and correct.