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Posted by on Sep 7, 2012 in International, War | 6 comments

The United States and Israel RE Iran

Robert W. Merry at The National Interest has a really striking post on the divergence of U.S. and Israeli interests in general but especially RE Iran.

The essence of the argument would have to be that it isn’t in America’s interest to go to war with Iran while the president is pursuing his regimen of economic sanctions and seeking a negotiated solution through the ongoing talks involving Iran and the so-called P5+1 (the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany). And he isn’t willing to cede to other nations U.S. decisions that could result in perhaps thousands of combat deaths for young Americans in an already stretched U.S. military.

The president would win that argument, but first he would have to demonstrate the fortitude to take it forcefully and deftly to the American people.

Such a political victory in turn would transform U.S. relations with Israel. The conventional wisdom in Washington is that interest-group politics, and particularly ethnic-group politics, drive events. That’s often true, but not when a national consensus emerges that runs counter to the parochial interests of particular groups. As Woodrow Wilson once wrote, “If [the president] rightly interpret the national thought and boldly insist upon it, he is irresistible.”

The tail has been wagging the dog for decades with Israel’s interests winning out over the interests of the U.S.. This has included direct manipulation of the U.S. political process.

We have seen in recent years an Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who sought to outmaneuver the U.S. president by mustering political sentiment against him through speeches to the U.S. Congress and to the AIPAC lobbying group. But that’s possible only if pro-Israel Americans can make the case that America’s interests and Israel’s are always identical, and thus any president who isn’t in sync with Israel’s national leadership is perforce on the wrong side of domestic politics. Of course the interests of any two nations are never always identical. And if the president successfully can convince the American people that the two nations’ interests not only can diverge but have, then the balance of influence in the relationship will change in America’s favor. And Netanyahu would have to ponder carefully whether he wants another shot at taking on the U.S. president on his own turf. That’s assuming that the diplomatic chastisement represented by the new U.S. diplomacy hasn’t led to the collapse of his government in the meantime.

Merry makes thinks that it would be easy for Obama to make the point that Israeli attack would not be in the interest of the U.S., the world or even Israel as it would certainly destabalize the entire Middle East and crash the World economy.

Via Scott McConnell at The American Conservative who had this to say:

Merry has taken the Iran debate to an entirely new level. Heretofore realists have generally been content to make the case in foreign policy terms, hoping that the baleful consequences of an Iran war–whether initiated by Israel or Washington–would speak for themselves. But too often foreign policy specialists think the logic of their reasoning alone is persuasive. It’s not. Merry grapples with the politics of taking on the Iran war hawks: not only would a president who allowed a war to start be whipsawed by the consequences, to the detriment of anything else he hoped to achieve; but the American people are ready to listen arguments about why a war with Iran is contrary and damaging to American interests. It’s a bold idea, put forth at a time when not a single sitting U.S. Senator has been willing to adopt this line in public. But I think Merry is right in believing a forceful President has enough ammunition to win such a battle. And he can’t avoid it, even if he wanted to.

It’s long past the time we should realize that what Israel perceives in it’s best interest  is not always in the best interests of the United States.  Israel is a client state not an ally and we should no longer let the tail wag the dog.

Update:

Hart Williams had an post on the right wing gaming of memeorandum.  Well the Robert W. Merry article referenced above showed up for one or two cycles, about 10 minutes each, and then disappeared in spite of the fact there were five responses including this one and the one from The American Conservative.  This is nothing new, I have had problems with the site for years. Hart:

ExplanationMemeorandum is entirely machine-generated, based on cross-linking.

I have to wonder if the “machine” is slanted right.

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