Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A Challenge to Krauthammer's Israel-as-Strategic-Asset Argument

The end of the Cold War should have made the Israel-as-a-strategic-asset paradigm obsolete. But after 9/11 and against the backdrop of the Iraq War, neoconservatives succeeded in marketing the notion that the United States and Israel were now being brought together in a strategic alliance against "Islamo-fascism" and a global intifada.

This alliance would operate in the form of an American sheriff and its Israeli deputy--American hegemony in the region with certain military tasks subcontracted to Israel. Israeli-Arab peacemaking was placed on the policy backburner. The neoconservative message has been that the United States needs to adopt more of the Israeli-tough methods in dealing with Middle Eastern terrorists and Bad Guys (since Arabs only understand force, etc.), which the Americans have been trying to do in Iraq with very little success. In the process, the Bush Administration has strengthened Iran--which, of course, runs contrary to both American and Israeli interests. Now the same sense of irony could be applied to the disastrous outcome of the Israeli military operation in Lebanon, which could help enhance the status of Iran (and Syria) in the region.

So it is not surprising that neocons like Charles Krauthammer are angry and confused. In his unique form of Israel bashing, Krauthammer in a column in The Washington Post blamed Israel for not playing its part as a "strategic asset" of the United States in the Middle East, based on his own America-and-Israel-defeat-the-bad-guys script. Suggesting that America had given Israel the green light to attack Hizballah in Lebanon not as a favor to Israel, but as an act of clear [U.S.] self-interest, Krauthammer explained: "America needs a decisive Hizballah defeat." Hence, it was "Israel's rare opportunity to demonstrate what it can do for its great American patron." The United States "has gone far out on a limb to allow Israel to win and for all this to happen," counting on "Israel's ability to do the job." And "it has been disappointed." It seems that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's "search for victory on the cheap has jeopardized not just the Lebanon operation but America's confidence in Israel as well."

But Israel, as Ha'aretz columnist Doron Rosenblum put it, "was not established in order to be a spearhead against global Islam, or in order to serve as an alert squad for the Western world."Moreover, the neoconservative paradigm would make Israel a modern-day crusader state, an outlet of a global power whose political, economic and military headquarters are on the other side of the world. America's commitment to the security of the Israeli "province" would always remain uncertain and fragile, reflecting changes in the balance of power in Washington and the shifting dynamics of U.S. politics and economics

Read the full article Here


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