Monday, October 15, 2012

Forget The "Israel Lobby" -- What About The "US Lobby" In Israel!?

An Op-Ed in the New York Times last week addresses the issue of Israel's pushing for US intervention with Iran's nuclear program and -- Why Netanyahu Backed Down:
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the Obama administration was conducting a quiet campaign that would strengthen the view, already circulating among Israeli security professionals, that prematurely attacking Iran would not advance Israel’s interests and would damage Israel’s relationship with America. Instead of holding Israel at bay or threatening punitive action, the administration was upgrading American security assistance to Israel — so much so that earlier this year Mr. Barak described the level of support as greater than ever in Israel’s history.
While the word of an Israeli leader eager to not contradict the word of a US president may not be the best proof of increased American assistance, the fact is that the Obama administration has also been more direct in communication its expectation that Netanyahu would hold off on taking action against Iran:
Equally important, increased American assistance has been accompanied by closer institutional links between the two countries’ defense and intelligence communities, as well as more intimate personal ties between both communities’ top echelons. Through numerous meetings in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Washington, the Obama administration has used these connections to convey an unambiguous message: Do not attack before all nonmilitary efforts to roll back Iran’s nuclear program have been exhausted.
While "convey" may be a more polite way of saying "warn" or "threaten," in any case Israel in general -- and Netanyahu in particular -- appear to have have gotten the message.

Consistent with the theme of conveying a message as opposed to issuing a threat or a warning, the New York Times op-ed views this as the creation of something new: a "United States lobby":
Ever deeper American-Israeli defense ties have created what might be labeled a “United States lobby” among Israeli security professionals, who now have a strong interest in continuing the close partnership. It is no accident that the security institutions have become among the most vocal opponents of attacking Iran. No one knows better than they what is at stake if they ignore Washington’s concerns.
However one may view this candy-coated version of the application of US pressure on Israel, the Middle East expert Martin Kramer agrees the US is making aid to Israel dependent on waiting on Iran:
The analysis is sound. The US has tethered Israel’s defense establishment by offering goodies it can’t resist. But it’s not only the defense establishment, and Israeli restraint in exchange for US backing isn’t a new story either: it’s why Israel held back in 1973, when it realized it would be attacked by Egypt and Syria, and in 1991, when it came under attack by Iraq. Israel is self-reliant—but not free to act.
The examples of 1973 and 1991 are instructive: in both cases, the US ally which claimed to have Israel's security interests at heart made demands which put Israel at risk and put her security on the line.

Which is what the Obama administration is doing in requiring Israel to rely on it to exhaust "every option" before resorting to military force while depending on US intelligence to know when Iran is about to acquire a nuclear bomb.

There is nothing new or clever about pressuring Israel to not take the steps it needs to protect itself.

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