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John J. Mearsheimer & Stephen M. Walt (2006) The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy

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This report was attcked by the falcon in the US administration and made a big polimic…just read it

THE ISRAEL LOBBY AND U.S.FOREIGN POLICY

1. Some readers will find this analysis disturbing, but the facts recounted here are not in serious dispute among scholars. Indeed, our account relies heavily on the work of Israeli scholars and journalists, who deserve great credit for shedding light on these issues. We also rely on evidence provided by respected Israeli and international human rights organizations. Similarly, our claims about the Lobby’s impact rely on testimony from the Lobby’s own members, as well as testimony from politicians who have worked with them. Readers may reject our conclusions, of course, but the evidence on which they rest is not controversial.

 

THE GREAT BENEFACTOR

Since the October War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support dwarfing the amounts provided to any other state. It has been the largest annual recipient of direct U.S. economic and military assistance since 1976 and the largest total recipient since World War II. Total direct U.S. aid to Israel amounts to well over $140 billion in 2003 dollars.2 Israel receives about $3 billion in direct foreign assistance each year, which is roughly one‐fifth of America’s foreign aid budget. In per capita terms, the United States gives each Israeli a direct subsidy worth about $500 per year.3 This largesse is especially striking when one realizes that Israel is now a wealthy industrial state with a per capita incomeroughly equal to South Korea or Spain.4

Israel also gets other special deals from Washington.5 Other aid recipients get their money in quarterly installments, but Israel receives its entire appropriation at the beginning of each fiscal year and thus earns extra interest. Most recipients of American military assistance are required to spend all of it in the United States, but Israel can use roughly twenty‐five percent of its aid allotment to subsidize its own defense industry. Israel is the only recipient that does not have to account for how the aid is spent, an exemption that makes it virtually impossible to prevent the money from being used for purposes the United States opposes, like building settlements in the West Bank.

Moreover, the United States has provided Israel with nearly $3 billion to develop weapons systems like the Lavi aircraft that the Pentagon did not want or need, while giving Israel access to top‐drawer U.S. weaponry like Blackhawk helicopters and F‐16 jets. Finally, the United States gives Israel access to intelligence that it denies its NATO allies and has turned a blind eye towards Israels acquisition of nuclear weapons.6

2. In addition, Washington provides Israel with consistent diplomatic support. Since 1982, the United States has vetoed 32 United Nations Security Council resolutions that were critical of Israel, a number greater than the combined total of vetoes cast by all the other Security Council members.7 It also blocks Arab states’ efforts to put Israel’s nuclear arsenal on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s agenda.8

The United States also comes to Israel’s rescue in wartime and takes its side when negotiating peace. The Nixon Administration re‐supplied Israel during the October War and protected Israel from the threat of Soviet intervention. Washington was deeply involved in the negotiations that ended that war as well as the lengthy “step‐by‐step” process that followed, just as it played a key role in the negotiations that preceded and followed the 1993 Oslo Accords.9 There were occasional frictions between U.S. and Israeli officials in both cases, but the United States coordinated its positions closely with Israel and consistently backed the Israeli approach to the negotitions. Indeed, one American participant at Camp David (2000) later said, “far too often, we functioned . . . as Israel’s lawyer.”10

As discussed below, Washington has given Israel wide latitude in dealing with the occupied territories (the West Bank and Gaza Strip), even when its actions were at odds with stated U.S. policy. Moreover, the Bush Administration’s ambitious strategy to transform the Middle East—beginning with the invasion of Iraq—is at least partly intended to improve Israel’s strategic situation. Apart from wartime alliances, it is hard to think of another instance where one country has provided another with a similar level of material and diplomaticsupport for such an extended period. America’s support for Israel is, in short, unique.

This extraordinary generosity might be understandable if Israel were a vital strategic asset or if there were a compelling mora case for sustained U.S. backing. But neither rationale is convincing.

A STRATEGIC LIABILITY

According to the American‐Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) website, “the United States and Israel have formed a unique partnership to meet the growing strategic threats in the Middle East . . . . This cooperative effort provides significant benefits for both the United States and Israel.”11 This claim is an article of faith among Israel’s supporters and is routinely invoked by Israeli politicians and pro‐Israel Americans.

3.Israel may have been a strategic asset during the Cold War.12 By serving as America’s proxy after the Six Day War (1967), Israel helped contain Soviet expansion in the region and inflicted humiliating defeats on Soviet clients like Egypt and Syria. Israel occasionally helped protect other U.S. allies (like Jordan’s King Hussein) and its military prowess forced Moscow to spend more backing its losing clients. Israel also gave the United States useful intelligence about Soviet capabilities.

Israel’s strategic value during this period should not be overstated, however.13 Backing Israel was not cheap, and it complicated America’s relations with the Arab world. For example, the U.S. decision to give Israel $2.2 billion in emergency military aid during the October War triggered an OPEC oil embargo that inflicted considerable damage o Western economies. Moreover, Israel’s military could not protect U.S. interests in the region. For example, the United States could not rely on Israel when the Iranian Revolution in 1979 raised concerns about the security of Persian Glf oil supplies, and had to create its own “Rapid Deployment Force” instead.

Even if Israel was a strategic asset during the Cold War, the first Gulf War (1990‐91) revealed that Israel was becoming a strategic burden. The United States could not use Israeli bases during the war without rupturing the anti‐Iraq coalition, and it had to divert resources (e.g., Patriot missile batteries) to keep Tel Aviv from doing anything that might fracture the alliance against Saddam. History repeated itself in 2003: although Israel was eager for the United States to attack Saddam, President Bush could not ask it to help without triggering Arab opposition. So Israel stayed on the sidelines again.14

Beginning in the 1990s, and especially after 9/11, U.S. support for Israel has been justified by the claim that both states are threatened by terrorist groups originating in the Arabor Muslim world, and by a set of “rogue states” that back these groups and seek WMD. This rationale implies that Washington should give Israel a free hand in dealing with the Palestinians and not press Israel t make concessions until all Palestinian terrorists are imprisoned or dead. It also implies that the United States should go after countries like the Islamic Republic of Iran, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and Bashar al‐Assad’s Syria. Israel is thus seen as a crucial ally in the war on terror, because its enemies are America’s enemies.

This new rationale seems persuasive, but Israel is in fact a liability in the war on terror and the broader effort to deal with rogue states.

4.To begin with, “terrorism” is a tactic employed by a wide array of political groups; it is not a single unified adversary. The terrorist organizations that threaten Israel (e.g., Hamas or Hezbollah) do not threaten the United States, except when it intervenes against them (as in Lebanon in 1982). Moreover, Palestinian terrorism is not random violence directed against Israel or “the West”; it is largely a response to Israel’s prolonged campaign to colonize the West Bank and Gaza Strip. :

 

Israel Policy

To read the full study go to

http://ia360636.us.archive.org/2/ite…eignPolicy.pdf

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