Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I repeat: with an ally like this, who needs enemies?

Daniel Larison has an excellent article on the totally one-sided, dysfunctional relationship the United States has with Israel.

I especially like this point, which needs to be made and trumpeted to the skies:

Dependence of one state upon another creates perverse incentives for both. The unconditional backing of one side in a conflict does not encourage compromise but devotion to maximalist positions. Likewise, if a patron receives no reciprocity for its support, only the client state benefits from the relationship, creating an increasingly untenable situation for the patron. Maximalist demands backed by a patron’s support tend to be detrimental even to the client state in the long run—because they shield the client from the consequences of its actions.

In other words, by protecting Israel when its government pisses off the rest of the world through blatantly outlaw behavior, the United States is in the long run weakening Israel. This protection only encourages Israeli governments to become more radical, more intransigent, and more bigoted against Palestinians- and even Arabs with Israeli citizenship. The final result: a government which, without American support and protection, would drown in civil war and invasion from furious neighbors.

And this protection certainly does nothing whatever for the United States, either. Israel has done nothing- absolutely nothing- to help America protect its interests or achieve its goals abroad. Indeed, in one of its main goals- stabilizing the Middle East- Israel has been a consistent and unyielding opponent, continually dispossessing Palestinians of their lands, expanding settlements illegal even by Israeli law, and committing violations of the peace such as the invasion of Lebanon two years ago, the massacres of the recent Gaza assaults, and the Mossad assassination of a Hamas leader in Qatar last month.

Do we gain economic benefits from Israel? No. Granted, we have a large trade surplus with Israel... but this is paid for entirely though American tax dollars, used to fund the single largest foreign aid recipient we have. Israel manufactures virtually nothing, has virtually zero natural resources, and has a labor pool too distant and too expensive to compete with either domestic labor or nations such as China, India or Indonesia.

Military benefits? HA. The very fact that we continue to defend Israel and pay it as much as $4 billion per year in foreign aid makes almost every other nation in the Middle East a default enemy. In order to maintain even minimally friendly relations with those countries willing to talk to us at all, we have to decline all offers of Israeli military support in our wars. Add to this the fact that Israel's intelligence network only shares information with the United States when it serves their own interests, and Israel as a military ally is on a par, in practical terms, with the armed forces of East Timor.

So, from our unique and totally one-sided relationship with Israel, the United States gains absolutely nothing. On the debit side, of course, we pour billions of dollars of money into the Israeli government. We gain the ongoing enmity of virtually the entire Muslim world. We lose diplomatic points with the rest of the world when we protect Israel from its policies of land theft, political imprisonment, and denial of basic civil liberties.

So, in every single practical measurement, the United States relationship with Israel is entirely to our severe DISadvantage.

And Israel, happy in the knowledge that the radical right religious forces in the United States, combined with American Zionists and their own deep-pocketed lobby groups like AIPAC, will keep this relationship comfortably one-sided and unconditional, has absolutely no interest in making things any better for the United States.

Obama of course knows this: that's why, after the initial posturing, he and his White House have shut up about Israel- backing down, yet again, from the shouting of the Republican right and the Israel lobby and their paid mouthpieces.

It's long past time for the United States to give Israel an ultimatum: get serious about peace with the Palestinians, or else lose their foreign aid and UN Security Council veto. Unfortunately, neither party is going to do that- which means, no matter what our own voters do, on foreign policy the President of the United States remains Benjamin Netanyahu.


Anonymous said...

"We gain the ongoing enmity of virtually the entire Muslim world."

Except Turkey, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Brunei, Indonesia, Jordan, Egypt....


Kris Overstreet said...

Out of the list you name, the only ones that aren't monarchies or dictatorships are Turkey (which is getting steadily more theocratic and Islamist), Pakistan and Indonesia (whose governments, thankfully, have been generally secular).

The average citizen of any Arabian country you care to name except maybe Kuwait has a serious hate on for Israel- and for Israel's number one lap-dog, the United States.