Israel is becoming a liability for the United States

Carlo Strenger notes in Haaretz:

During the media frenzy of the last days a crucial headline has received close to no attention: Mossad chief Meir Dagan told the Knesset’s Foreign Relations Committee that Israel is gradually turning from a strategic asset into a liability for the United States of America.

As it’s a bit difficult to brush aside Dagan as a softheaded idealist, our policy makers will find another way not to listen. They will say, “this would never have happened under George W. Bush; this is only because the Obama administration is not friendly towards Israel. We simply need to wait for Obama to end this term; he won’t get reelected.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. I have heard warnings that Israel is becoming a strategic liability for the U.S. from Americans, including high ranking members of the George W. Bush administration, for years. The only difference is that during the Bush years, nobody in the administration would say this on record or for attribution.

As if to echo and underline Dagan’s message, Anthony Cordesman, one of the most respected non-partisan national security experts in Washington writes:

[T]he depth of America’s moral commitment [to Israel] does not justify or excuse actions by an Israeli government that unnecessarily make Israel a strategic liability when it should remain an asset. It does not mean that the United States should extend support to an Israeli government when that government fails to credibly pursue peace with its neighbors. It does not mean that the United States has the slightest interest in supporting Israeli settlements in the West Bank, or that the United States should take a hard-line position on Jerusalem that would effectively make it a Jewish rather than a mixed city. It does not mean that the United States should be passive when Israel makes a series of major strategic blunders–such as persisting in the strategic bombing of Lebanon during the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, escalating its attack on Gaza long after it had achieved its key objectives, embarrassing the U.S. president by announcing the expansion of Israeli building programs in east Jerusalem at a critical moment in U.S. efforts to put Israeli-Palestinian peace talks back on track, or sending commandos to seize a Turkish ship in a horribly mismanaged effort to halt the “peace flotilla” going to Gaza.

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.

And then comes word from the Canadian writer, Margaret Atwood, whose impartial observations as a first-time visitor to the Jewish state cut to the core when she says:

[T]he concept of Israel as a humane and democratic state is in serious trouble. Once a country starts refusing entry to the likes of Noam Chomsky, shutting down the rights of its citizens to use words like “Nakba,” and labelling as “anti-Israel” anyone who tries to tell them what they need to know, a police-state clampdown looms. Will it be a betrayal of age-old humane Jewish traditions and the rule of just law, or a turn towards reconciliation and a truly open society?

Time is running out. Opinion in Israel may be hardening, but in the United States things are moving in the opposite direction. Campus activity is increasing; many young Jewish Americans don’t want Israel speaking for them. America, snarled in two chaotic wars and facing increasing international anger over Palestine, may well be starting to see Israel not as an asset but as a liability.

Israelis never tire of declaring with great solemnity that they survive in a dangerous neighborhood — invariably the observation is used as a justification for some form of brutality. Yet behind the faux boldness of this embattled nation is the comforting awareness that little Israel enjoys the protection of its big American friend. But any friendship can eventually be strained beyond repair.

As Israel becomes more and more isolated, that isolation may reinforce the delusions of those convinced that the rest of the world is dangerous yet for others it will make the rest of the world increasingly appealing. Thus will arise the demographic threat that no racist scheme can resolve: the threat that life in a Jewish state is simply no longer appealing to enough Jews.

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  1. delia ruhe says:

    A related, if slightly more depressing and detailed view, is expressed by Adrian Hamilton at the Independent:

  2. Ian Arbuckle says:

    The premise that the Israel is the small guy in the tough neighbourhood who has a big brother that protects him when things get too tough, may be a bit too Hollywood and not quite real.

    How about the global corporate thug nation of mostly brainwashed people backed by the largest and most funded military the world has ever known of semi-literate semi-educated soldiers, and equipment spread over 700 bases around the world, defining anything extra-territorial that they please as “their strategic interest”, while time after time engaging in wars of aggression, flaunting and even ignoring treaties and international law which governs nations and riding roughshod over the UN to dominate the Security Council with their veto.

    Meanwhile Zionism, this international racist/tribalist fascism and criminal enterprise has successfully dominated the domestic politics of this militarist country, the USA, through the financial control of the military industrial and media complex, which is reinforced by the corruption of political financing allowing monopolistic loops of feedback power reinforcement to these fascist interests thereby accruing further advantage.

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely and the present collapse of the global financial and economic system is in some part a result of the effects of this criminal syndicate of corrupt power. They have done what Hitler would have if he could.

    Israel and America with the collaboration of a few hangers on of other national elitists (mostly put in power by the same corrupt criminal organization; Sarkozy, Blair, Merkel, Harper, Cameron, Berlusconi, Mubarak, etc…) together consider themselves above the law, and are literally attempting to enslave the resources and peoples of the world to serve their neoconservative, neo-colonial capitalist enterprise vision through a New World Order under their domination and subjugation.

    The emphasis and enormous investment in military and what has been referred to of late as “the war on terror” in the name of defence is in fact because this insidious and unhidden reality will soon become obvious to more than just the Muslim community of the world who have been the first to see their values resources and freedoms attacked. The world’s people will soon have to decide to accept this domination and return to a new dark age of virtual servitude to the financial/corporate machine of this New Word Order, or appose it, and that opposition can and will be countered violently and without mercy. The New World Order is not moved by any number of non violent “peace activists”, but can though us all into the penury “disaster capitalism” with one flick of the switch.

    The Israeli attack on the flotilla and the whole subjugation of the Palestinian people is just another and a small but clear example of this evil fascism at work and in harmony, if not discreetly enough, with the US and its administration.

    We must realise one and all that: “We are all Palestinians now”.

  3. Bottom line here again.

    One problem with Cordsman

    What “Moral Obligation” does the US have to Israel?

    It’s time to bust thru that myth the same way we busted thru the Israel is an asset myth.

    Ask a politician what our moral obligation is and how it came about. They spout this line all the time, along with how Israel and the US are same democratically and culturally…totally untrue.
    Were we responsible for the holocaust? No. Have we ever persecuted the Jews? No. Did we ever exiled any Jews from the US? No.

    Exactly why does the US ‘ owe’ the Jews or Israel anything?
    It would seems to be exactly the opposite. If the US hadn’t joined in WWII Hitler would have very likely defeated Europe and exterminated every Jew on the continent.

    And yet instead of gratitude for all the allies that died saving Europe from Hitler and therefore saving the Jews from total extinction , all we hear from the Jews and Israel is you ‘owe ‘us, the world ‘owes’ us, everyone ‘owes’ us.

    The only people that ‘owe’ the Jews are a bunch of long dead nazis……and the Jews are only one of the groups the Nazis owe. The present day, going into the third generation now, of Germans doesn’t even ‘owe’ the Jews.

    This 60 year old propaganda of the US having a ‘moral obligation’ to the Jews, implying we somehow are responsible for their victimhood and holocaust by the nazis, and therefore to the Jewish state, needs to be exposed and laid to rest.

    There are a some countries and people, like the blacks we enslaved, that the US “owed” but the Jews aren’t one of them.

    It’s time to reject the political Orwellington version of the US and the Jews and Israel.

  4. Ian Arbuckle says:

    Hi Delia Ruhe, read the Independent article and beg to point out that there are no north Korean agents and funds keeping a third or half of the Chinese politburo in their seats of power. It’s a ruse to compare Israel and USA with China and North Korea. And there is a very good reason that the Russians are sending their own investigation team.

    Of course all conspiracy theorists are mad, because as everyone knows conspiracies cannot exist and stay hidden. They are not hidden. The king is quite in his altogether, but most have been conditioned not to see it.

    PS Correction to my above :
    “The New World Order is not moved by any number of non violent “peace activists”, but can though [throw] us all into the penury “disaster capitalism” with one flick of the switch”

    The automatic spell checkers are out to get us too!

  5. Israel has always been a liability for the US.
    I well remember having been screamed at by an elderly Libyan whose anger over the result of the 1967 war included an equal condemnation of both Israel and ‘Amerikia’ when I was chased out of Ben Jawad, a village on the coast road. (I worked then on the last oil company crew operating anywhere in the Arab world during that war.) The one sided alliance was a liability then, even though it was US intervention that had prevented Ariel Sharon’s blitzkreig from reaching Cairo.
    What is important is ‘when will this liability called Israel become so significant that it has to be dropped’? The US seems content to muddle along, continually losing its interests in slow motion forever. I would suggest the incident that will raise the burden of that liability to intolerable will come from neither US nor Israeli actions. The rest of the world is beginning to see that they too are all Palestinians.