Monday, July 28, 2008

Is Israel to Blame for America's Middle Eastern Problems?

Since the US is, for many reasons, committed to an alliance with Israel, our options in the Middle East are limited. Note I make no comment on the Israel Alliance: it is as much a fact as the daily sunrise, and it is not going to change without tearing the nation apart.
But it limits our options as to allies. Given the reality of the US-Israel alliance, our choices of other allies in the Middle East were in effect confined to: The Shah of Iran (but not the mullahs); Saddam Hussein and the Baathist party; and the Kemalist Secularists in Turkey (but not necessarily the people of Turkey).

It is of course easier to take refuge in blaming Israel than in dealing with reality. But I have to ask Mr. Pournelle, how exactly has Israel limited America's options for alliances in the middle east?

Today the United States has extensive ties to Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates, not to mention Pakistan. Egypt and Jordan receive billions annually from the United States and have participated in joint military exercises. The United States has spent a thousand times that in both treasure blood and fortune to protect Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

About the only countries the US can't seem to ally with are Iran, Syria and Libya. Though the US did cut a deal with Libya to end its nuclear program. But these three countries listed are either run by brutal dictators or by ideological fanatics who hate everything the United States is. It's none too clear that we could have had any kind of alliance with Iran, had Israel never existed. After all the Carter Administration gave it its best shot at appeasement and still failed.

Of course America's ties to Saudi Arabia, which incidentally predate Israel, are none too reliable, as the Saudis have a funny habit of funding terrorists and talking out of both sides of their mouths. This has not prevented successive administrations from bowing to Saudi Arabia as if Riyadh were Mecca. Israel's fault, not exactly.

And Pournelle who speaks of the "blood and treasure" the United States has pledged to defend Israel, says nothing about the "blood and treasure" the United States actually has spent to protect the Emirs and Princes of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Then there's Egypt and Jordan, which have to juggle their Islamists by directing regular blasts of hate at America. Would this problem go away if Israel did? Doubtfully. The Muslim Brotherhood is not about to sing Allah Bless America, no matter if Israel existed or didn't. Their hatred for the West predates the modern state of Israel as well.

We can take a look at the British, who despite backing the Egyptians and commanding their armies in the 1948 war with Israel and being on the verge of invading Israel from Jordan after 1948, got left with Nasser's boot in their face. It's hard to be more anti-Israel and pro-Arab than the British were in 1948, yet stabbed in the back by Egypt, the British turned to Israel in 1956 to help them get back the Suez Canal.

It's all too tempting for Arabists and various liberals and paleocons to dream of how dandy life would be in the Middle East if Israel wasn't in the way. But the reality is that America's ties to Israel are not the product of some sinister Jewish lobby, but practical necesity. When the chips are down, Israel is the only ally the United States can really count on. (Unike Turkey who in the late 90's and 2003 turned down the United States.) And any honest person who is knowledgable about foreign affairs would admit as much.

For generations the United States has insisted on playing Romeo to the Arab Juliet, wooing constantly beneath the balcony and sacrificing Israel to pay for it. Today the US is pressuring Israel to divide its own capitol. It's hard to contemplate any "blood and treasure" greater than such a sacrifice. But wooing Al-Juliet with David's hardwon gains will yield D.C.'s Romeo nothing.

The United States has no shortage of alliances in the Middle East. None of them are worth anything. As Britain has demonstrated, you can all but go to war against Israel, and still get treated by your Arab allies, the way Lawrence of Arabia was treated. While Pournelle lists the many "allies" the United States has sacrificed, in Iran, Lebanon and now Turkey, he forgets the ceremonial sacrifice of Israel, annually held at peace conferences at better resorts throughout the world.

It isn't Israel's fault that the United States lacks credible allies in the Middle East, but it all too tempting to blame Israel for it. But the blame lies with the tyrants, dictators and thugs, the murderous fanatics, who have no interest in a genuine alliance and instead play both sides of the table, facililating terrorism and American business at the same time.

It isn't Israel that causes the United States to be hated, but a Middle Eastern reality in which Islamists preach against American cultural influences and the secular dictatorships barely keeping a lid on issue blasts at America to direct the people's anger away from their own corruption and malfeasance.

Today Israel is being called on to divide Jerusalem to appease the tyrants, dictators and thugs of the Arab world. In doing so an ally the United States can count on is being sacrificed in order to woo allies the United States cannot count on.


The New Centrist said...

Great topic.

The historians Bernard Lewis and Efraim Karsh really broadened my perspective regarding the relationship between U.S. foreign policy and the policies of various governments in the Middle East. For many Americans and Europeans, Middle Eastern peoples have no agency they are only reacting to what the West has done. Rather than examining the desires, ideologies, and history of these diverse peoples and places, everything is viewed through the lens of the colonist. It is only when we can read and listen to those on the ground, in their own words, that we can understand what they are truly after. Karsh’s “Islamic Imperialism: A History,” is excellent in this regard.

So many people are convinced that the struggle between Israel and the Palestinians is paramount to all other grievances in the region, it’s mind-boggling. A very intelligent friend of mine told me, in so many words (this was 2006), that the road to Baghdad runs through Jerusalem. I seriously doubt he believed it as when I pressed him regarding whether Shia and Sunni would stop killing each other if the Palestinians had their own state, he began to back-track. And it is the same with Kashmir, same with every other piece of land the Islamists are trying to re-conquer. The Arab countries claim to care so much about the Palestinians while they deny citizenship to these people and keep them in camps. It’s clear for anyone with a bit of critical sense to see.

Lastly, the amount of aid provided per annum to Israel and Egypt is very similar. For Israel, the vast majority is military aid and for Egypt it is non-military aid but the dollar values are about the same. When you add all the rest of the Muslim countries the U.S. provides aid to the numbers don’t compare.

***Jerusalem Will Never Again Be Divided***

Keli Ata said...

The Romeo and Juliet comparsion is exactly right.

With the heart of Israel--Jerusalem--about to be destroyed Israel is reaching a point that it will truly have to separate itself from the nations seeking its destruction, even if it means saying no to the United States.

Yobeeone said...

The US is far from being an ally of Israel. An ally doesn't expect you to cut your own throat for their sake and that's all the US does.

The US is only an ally to terrorist nations. Which, in reality, would make a perfect stage for a muzlim president. has v'sholem. Not a pretty play.

Kate said...

I, for one, am disgusted at the thought of a divided Jerusalem.

ytba said...

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explained it.

"...when [America] needs oil it is forced to listen to others — even to concede matters that are the opposite of justice, fairness, and goodness.
. . . . .
since [America] has the mission of bringing about true peace in the world, and may not disturb justice and fairness — including also the justice that the “eternal inheritance” belongs to the “eternal nation,” as a result of the “eternal covenant” that was made by the “eternal G-d” — obviously there is something that people can do. After all, IT ISN'T POSSIBLE THAT THE NATION THAT IS CHARGED WITH SUCH A MISSIOIN SHOULD BE 'ENSLAVED' AND DEPENDENT UPON A LOWLY NATION, JUST BECAUSE THEIR COUNTRY HAPPENS TO HAVE OIL!
. . . .
this is for America’s own good. It is not a request for a favor or kindness for others, for some “patient”; it is to this country’s benefit to free itself of its subjugation to the oil-producing countries, a subjugation which is completely unjust, and that stems only from those countries’ INGRATITUDE.
. . . . .
When the U.S. achieves its freedom from this subjugation, it will be able to assert itself with greater force. The truth is that no “force” will even be needed; the very fact that everyone will know that there is no longer any dependency will break the pressure, since there will no longer be anything with which to threaten, as they will see that no attention is being paid to those who tried to block this."


Personally, I am hopeful that those House Republicans who are rebelling against Pelosi's tyrany will succeed in breaking the Leftist strangle hold on US energy (and every other) policy. Then America can stop being a weapon in the service of the Arabs in their war against Israel.

I suggest we all let those House Republicans know how critically important what they are doin is, and that we support them.

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