For the past several decades, and especially since the Six-Day War in 1967, the centrepiece of US Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel.The combination of unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread ‘democracy’ throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardised not only US security but that of much of the rest of the world.
as Israel’s lawyer.’ Finally, the Bush administration’s ambition to transform the Middle East is at least partly aimed at improving Israel’s strategic situation.
This extraordinary generosity might be understandable if Israel were a vital strategic asset or if there were a compelling moral case for US backing. One might argue that Israel was an asset during the Cold War.
For example, the decision to give $2.2 billion in emergency military aid during the October War triggered an Opec oil embargo that inflicted considerable damage on Western economies.
For all that, Israel’s armed forces were not in a position to protect US interests in the region.
One might assume that the bond between the two countries was based on shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives, but neither explanation can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the US provides.
Instead, the thrust of US policy in the region derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby’.
The US could not use Israeli bases without rupturing the anti-Iraq coalition, and had to divert resources (e.g.
Patriot missile batteries) to prevent Tel Aviv doing anything that might harm the alliance against Saddam Hussein.
Israel is thus seen as a crucial ally in the war on terror, because its enemies are America’s enemies.
In fact, Israel is a liability in the war on terror and the broader effort to deal with rogue states.‘Terrorism’ is not a single adversary, but a tactic employed by a wide array of political groups.