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Posted by on May 6, 2009 in War | 12 comments

Obama to out Israel on Nukes?

We’ve been around this particular block too many times for me to get my hopes up, but the Washington Times is claiming a scoop, saying that President Obama may be ready to bring discussions of the secret everyone already knows to light.

President Obama’s efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons threaten to expose and derail a 40-year-old secret U.S. agreement to shield Israel’s nuclear weapons from international scrutiny, former and current U.S. and Israeli officials and nuclear specialists say.

The issue will likely come to a head when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Mr. Obama on May 18 in Washington. Mr. Netanyahu is expected to seek assurances from Mr. Obama that he will uphold the U.S. commitment and will not trade Israeli nuclear concessions for Iranian ones.

You can see some of the usual suspects going absolutely ballistic over at Israel Matzav, but I first saw the story at Hot Air. Ed Morrissey and I manage to remain friends while rarely if ever agreeing on matters of foregin policy, and Israeli-American relations is one of those issues where we couldn’t be further apart. His take on the story seems to remain the usual U.S. position of double standards and an unfailing reflex to claim that anything Israel does can be justified.

The position of Israel in the Middle East is unique. They are not just simply another nation among many. They had been the one successful continuous democracy in that region, save Turkey, and quite obviously surrounded by nations explicitly threatening to annihilate them. Israel had to develop a deterrent that would keep a nation of 5 million people alive among 100 million enemies.

This is, of course, the standard pablum we hear on each of the rare occasions when the forbidden subject of Israel’s “Born in the U.S.A.” nuke programs come up in conversation. It’s worth remembering, though, that North Korea seems to think that they are in a pretty “unique position” and are surrounded by enemies as well. In fact, they indoctrinate all of their citizens with that belief pretty much from birth. And today they’ve bought themselves a lot more respect on the international stage than they used to have, eh?

But let us cut to the chase. These double standards are nothing new, and it’s a classic case of the United States, in its role as a superpower, picking the winners and losers around the globe and rigging the rules to allow us to do so. Andrew Sullivan takes a good look at this question and demonstrates some bold thinking.

Maybe I’m missing something here. I’m not versed in the history of this. But it begins to look once again as if Israel is privileged not as normal allies are privileged, but as a very special case which has the right to have nukes, while demanding none of its neighbors does, and that we cannot even say it has such a capacity; that it has the right to launch wars and threaten wars against its neighbors, but its neighbors have no right to do the same, and so on. It doesn’t seem healthy to me – for the US or for Israel.

Disarmament and limiting the spread of nuclear weapons is certainly a worthwhile ambition. But let’s at least be honest enough to stop pretending that we’re a neutral broker in the process and stop dancing around a bunch of lies that the entire world caught on to decades ago. You couldn’t find five goat-herders in the most remote sections of New Zealand who don’t know that Israel has nukes, and they know damned well where they got the technology, too.