The main idea is to demonstrate, using historical narrative, that despite consistent treatment of Israel by every administration as nuisance that prevents better relations with resources and population rich Muslim world, US-Israel relations somehow tend to be good and close due either to large number of Jews among politically active Americans, or geopolitical expediency during Cold War, or some other unpredictable benefits to America from these relations. Another significant consideration is that in reality Arab kings and dictators most of all concerned with their own survival and ready cooperate with everybody including Israel and devil if this is what needed to assure it. This survival concern actually invalidates all traditional concerns of American elite about Arab’s being less inclined to cooperate with USA if America maintain close relations with Israel. This issue just is not that relevant for their main concern.
L The Evolution of U.S. Policy Toward Israel
This chapter is about Truman and his administration attitude to Middle East. Generally it was combination of sympathy with hostility typical for all future attitudes. On one hand Truman felt for Jews so much that he extended recognition to Israel. However not so much that to sell them weapons to defend themselves, keeping embargo and even threatening to forbid individual Americans to provide supplies to Israel at their own expense. Even so, it was too much for the State department that was strongly against formal recognition, leave alone any help. Israel was saved by Stalin’s order to Czechoslovakia to supply weapons. It seems to be that at this point only Cold war consideration of allowing Israel to become Stalin’s outpost on Middle East somewhat cooled anti-Semitism of American diplomatic and national security elite.
- The Eisenhower Administration and the Pursuit of Arab Allies
With the threat of pushing Israel into Soviet camp left behind, Eisenhower administration moved strongly to Arab side interfering on behalf Egypt when British, French, and Israel invaded Suez after canal’s nationalization. As usual Arabs paid with ingratitude by establishing close military and political relations with Soviet camp.
- The Kennedy Administration: Breaking Taboos and Pursuing a New Balance.
Despite generally continuing pro-Arab policies and even providing huge economic help to Egypt, Kennedy administration also extended links to Israel and even sold advanced weapons, albeit without much enthusiasm and trying to use these sales to stop Israel’s nuclear program. Overall Kennedy administration was much more attentive to American Jewish community because their support for Democratic Party was very important during election and seeing support of Israel as benefit to this community.
- Lyndon Baines Johnson: Emotional Ties but Constrained by Vietnam
Even more positive relations become during Johnson administration mainly because Johnson believed that Israel is an asset in Cold War games. However American support did not extended to such length as to enforce previous treaties and promises that Straits of Tiran remain open for Israel. Johnson administration also worked very hard to prevent Israel from attacking first at minimum delaying Israel action. However at this point Israel started to be more and more like an ally albeit not equal, poorly treated, but reliable because it had nowhere else to go.
- Nixon and Ford: Dysfunction, War, and Interim Agreements
As usual American administration started by trying to accommodate Arabs and as usual it failed. However logic of Cold War in which Arabs tended to support Soviets forced Nixon administration to support Israel. This support nevertheless was quite limited, so for example for the first days of 1973 war there was no American supplies to Israel for the first few day and only when it become clear that Israel could lose, US brought in massive shipments of weapons and ammunition dwarfing Soviet effort. As always this support was supplanted with strong pressure on Israel to agree to cease-fire when it start winning. However US responded strongly when Soviet Union threatened direct intervention, demonstrating once again that Israel survival is supported by US, while Israel’s winning not that much.
- The Carter Presidency: The Pursuit of Peace and Constant Tension with Israel
Carter’s administration was the most anti-Semitic until recently. Carter strongly supported Palestinians seemingly believing that their human rights include killing Jews and pushing them out of Arab lands. Carter even tried to sabotage Egypt-Israel separate peace by inserting Palestinian question in negation, but eventually he not only accepted it, but also was instrumental in achieving agreement. Somehow author links Carter’s attitude to his guilt for not participating in civil rights movement that he tried to suppress by supporting Palestinians, but it does not sound as something meaningful.
- The Reagan Administration and the Policy of Duality
Generally supportive to Israel Regan administration was as usual much more inclined to listen to Arab’s concerns legitimate or not than to Israel’s. Hence rebuke for attack against Iraqi nuclear program, rejection of Israel concerns about providing high tech military equipment to Saudis and such. It is an interesting fact that one of the strongest anti-Israel voices in administration was half-Jewish Weinberger. Overall Reagan administration managed to keep good relations with Arabs and support Israel security needs at the same time, the feat considered impossible by many within and without administration.
- George H. W. Bush and Israel: Discord and Responsiveness
Contrary to Reagan Bush had no good feelings to Israel and typically for American elite of his generation was slightly anti-Semitic with trace of contempt to these pushing Jews. It showed in his attitude to multiple Jewish issues especially during Gulf war when Bush applied pressure to prevent Israel retaliation against direct attacks by Saddam. It also was on display when Bush used loan guaranties for resettlement of Soviet Jews in Israel to put pressure to stop settlements. Author characterizes this period as “substance was good, the tone was difficult, and the readiness to disagree in public clear”.
- The Clinton Administration and Israel: Strategic Partners for Peace
The Clinton administration got deeply involved in Israel conflict with Arabs on the side of leftist peace movement, which was widely supported by leftist American Jews affiliated with Democratic Party. This resulted in Oslo agreement when terrorist PLO was recognized as legitimate player and received territory of West Bank and Gaza in exchange for feel good mainly meaningless declarations. The fact these declarations were meaningless was obvious from the beginning due to deep reluctance of PLO even to repeat these declaration in Arabic, leave alone to live up to them. Despite campaign of terror against Jews unleashed by PLO as soon as its leaders felt entrenched enough in newly acquired territories that lead to higher number of Jewish “victims of peace” than number of Jewish victims of all previous wars, Clinton administration and Israeli left kept pushing for final negotiated solution all the way until Arafat firmly rejected it at Camp David. The final political result of Clinton’s effort was practical destruction of Israeli peaceful left in polls from which they still did not recover 20 years later.
- Bush 41: Terror, Partnership, and Bureaucratic Divisions
Contrary to his father Bush junior, being evangelical, was much more sympathetic to Israel, which did not prevented his administration from knee jerk reaction to support Arab demands and consistently demand Israel to go extra ten miles in each negotiation. After 9/11 attack it even come to the point when blaming Israel for Arab terror generated forceful rebuke from Sharon, who stated that Israel would not accept fate of Czechoslovakia in 1938. This demonstrated that there is only so much that Israel would sacrifice for peace and it does not include national suicide. As usual when White House was somewhat more sympathetic to Israel it was compensated by increase in anti-Israel feelings and actions from the State department.
- Obama and Israel: Support for Security, Little Chemistry, and Constant
The final administration reviewed in the book – Obama’s is given all conceivable and some inconceivable benefits of doubt, but even if author was important part of this administration, he admits that friction with Israel were guaranteed by Obama’s priorities and attitudes that include deep sympathy to Muslim world and determination to free it from Western influence. Interestingly enough the author does not deny Obama’s sympathy, but claims that security cooperation was increased and quite significantly under Obama. Author also allocates lots of space to internal dynamics of pro and anti Israel struggle of factions within administration claiming that steadily deteriorating relations due mainly to change of advisers. Contrary to previous administrations White House under Obama and State Department traditionally populated by Muslim sympathizers are now clearly on the same page and work hand in glove to advance the agenda of suppressing and eventually eliminating Israel.
- Lessons from the Past and Implications for the Future
Author restates here his believes that whatever differences exist between USA and Israel, they will be dealt with in mutually accepted way and relations will remain strong as far as eye can see, especially after author’s expected rejection of Obama pro-Islamic approach by the next administration of either party. However author demonstrates that he is not that sure about this “doomed to succeed” thing by giving such recommendations as investing in education of American minorities about Israel, stressing non-partisan character of Israel related issues, and such. Paradoxically, it seems that at least some reason to expect improvement in US-Israel relations is turmoil at Middle East where different shades of Islamic supremacist movement continue savage war against each other, old-fashioned Middle East kingdoms, leftover secular dictatorships, and Western world. Within this bloody mess USA will have to keep its good relations with Israel because there is nobody else there with stable democratic system, civilized western oriented population, and military/intelligence capability to provide reliable support to American interests in the region.
MY TAKE ON IT:
This long history of American – Israel relations is pretty interesting and contains some new information that I was not familiar with before. Unfortunately nearly all of this information is pretty consistently indicates that these relations always were complex and difficult mainly because American politicians in power normally look at Israel as unwanted ally useful only due to some temporary reasons either internal or external with lots of negatives quite deleterious to this usefulness. I am not that optimistic about inevitability of success in these relations. With Muslim population in US growing, leftists including many American Jews becoming increasingly anti-Semitic, memory of Holocaust becoming more and more distant, and general tendency of humanity to blame Jews for everything, there is only one hope for Israel: to become so rich and technologically powerful that it could stand alone without support from outside either economic or political or military. Such support was historically provided by Soviets in 1948, France from 1950s until late 1960s, USA from 1970s until recently, but it seems to be no other place for similar support to come in the future. Certainly Israel is trying to prepare for abandonment by USA and works hard to establish strong relationship with China and India, but I would not bet on success in this endeavor. Therefore logically the achievement by Israel of ability to survive on its own is becoming paramount. The alternative to Israel’s survival self-sufficiency economically and military even against the whole world is annihilation. On other hand if survivability reliably achieved, Israel could be treated as equal partner if it can provide what others need. However I also have hope that not only USA, but the whole Western world will recognize that it has no choice but either fight and win its currently barely recognized war against movement for Islamic Supremacy or parish. I believe that eventually when presented with choice either convert to Islam, die, or fight seriously, the West will start fighting to win and winning would mean to bring Islamic world to civilization so Muslims would not only tolerate, but consider it normal and unremarkable that elsewhere in Muslim countries individuals will freely select what religion if any to belong to and Church or Hindu Temple or Atheist club or even synagogue would function in Mecca without any harassment whatsoever.