Thursday, March 22, 2007

Israel As a Strategic Liability


By Harry F. Clark

March 2007


The present catastrophic partnership of the United States and Israel in the Middle East is the opposite of conditions that existed during Israel’s founding, sixty years ago. The US foreign policy establishment opposed sponsorship of a Jewish state during the military and diplomatic struggle over Palestine after World War II. The State Department expected the US to inherit a position of leadership in the region, based on decades of good will, antipathy toward the British and French empires and qualified sympathy for the nationalism of their subaltern peoples. The region was valued for its oil reserves and communications links, including the Suez Canal, and was to be secured behind the "northern tier" of Greece, Turkey and Iran, where the Cold War began in 1945-6.

Zionism was opposed because it antagonized the Arabs, and US support for a Jewish state after the war was due to the nascent Israel lobby, which overwhelmed the government’s diplomatic and military expertise. This complemented the Zionist struggle against British rule in Palestine, which ended in the conquest of most of Palestine and exile of 750,000 Arab Palestinians, and introduced a force more inimical to Arab interests than British imperialism. Once Israel was established, US diplomats and strategists accepted it and acknowledged its military prowess, but kept it at a distance, limiting arms sales and excluding it from military alliances. The US feared political instability and radicalism from the desperate plight of the Palestinian refugees, the precarious Arab-Israeli armistice, and the rising force of Arab nationalism.


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