With all the childish diplomacy going around between the US and Israel, which is seemingly all that’s employing many of the buffoonish commentators from both sides whose chatter and reading of the diplomatic tea leaves would put high school gossip to shame, one amusing statement out of the State Department caught my eye.
Israel remains a strategic ally of the United States, the US State Department reaffirmed Monday amid a dispute over Israeli plans to build settler homes in east Jerusalem
What does that even mean anyway?
How does an alliance with Israel help the United States achieve its strategic objectives today. I’m not talking about any ethnic, cultural or political ties we may share. Israel is just a country like any other and a country with serious baggage at that. Moreover, nowadays, everything seems to be “Strategic.” Everyone is a major or strategic ally and every problem (flavor of the month Yemen) is of strategic importance.
If Israel is really a strategic ally, then let’s first look at our National Security Strategy and its goals:
It is the policy of the United States to seek and support democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world. In the world today, the fundamental character of regimes matters as much as the distribution of power among them. The goal of our statecraft is to help create a world of democratic, well-governed states that can meet the needs of their citizens and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system. This is the best way to provide enduring security for the American people.
So how are we to acheive these goals (for better or worse)?
1) Champion aspirations for human dignity;
2) Strengthen alliances to defeat global terrorism and work to prevent attacks against us and our friends;
3) Work with others to defuse regional conflicts;
4) Prevent our enemies from threatening us, our allies, and our friends with weapons of mass destruction (WMD);
5) Ignite a new era of global economic growth through free markets and free trade;
6) Expand the circle of development by opening societies and building the infrastructure of democracy;
7) Develop agendas for cooperative action with other main centers of global power;
8) Transform America’s national security institutions to meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century; and
9) Engage the opportunities and confront the challenges of globalization.
Does giving Israel over a billion dollars a year and pretending to be angry when they disobey us really get us closer to those goals? Moreover, we must decide whether our perception of achieving those goals is more important than the perception of others. Logically, given that the goals are international and involve making positive changes in other parts of the world, I would argue that the perception of others is more important, based solely on those stated goals (not whether I agree with them). So let’s check that list again. Does an alliance with Israel help us achieve these strategic goals?
2) Yes and No.
9) ? A vague goal in general.
Of course, I admit and agree there are other reasons for our relationship with Israel, and that policy is not made in such purely logical manner. However, I think it’s time for the US to realize that Israel is more of a liability to us rather than an asset, not to mention a large recipient of government welfare. If we want Israel to be a strategic ally, then we need to adopt policies that truly force them to help us achieve our goals instead of acquiescing to actions that harm US goals and interests.