The End of U.S.-Israel Strategic Cooperation?

September 7, 2012 9:44 am 4 comments

Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey. Photo: wiki commons.

“I don’t want to be complicit if they (Israelis) choose to do it (attack Iran’s nuclear program),” said Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey.

News flash, General Dempsey: You are complicit in the way that counts; you are trapped: the Iranian leadership does not care what we say — or what we do — about our military relations with Israel. The Iranian leadership needs the U.S. as its adversary and will not allow you deniability. If there is a strike on Iran, they will need for it to have been the U.S. – will need, General Dempsey, for it to have been you.

It is unlikely, General, that you spoke on your own hook as you are still wearing your stars. The last General who spoke to journalists out of turn and out of the country was Stanley McChrystal – and he lasted only as long as it took to arrive in the Oval Office. Your Commander in Chief appears to have used you to hammer another nail in the coffin of a relationship that had, until he got here, been remarkably productive for more than 30 years.

Since the Reagan administration, US-Israel military relations have generally been buffered from US-Israel political relations. They were not always smooth, but the military establishments were largely left to determine their interests together and separately. The late Caspar Weinberger was not enamored of Israel (certainly he was not enamored of the late Prime Minister Begin nor of the 1982 war in Lebanon), but the designation and early growth of “US-Israel Strategic Cooperation,” and the designation of Israel for Major Non-NATO Ally status came in those years. The Sixth Fleet came to Israel and the Haifa USO was built then to handle the enthusiastic crowds of American sailors and Marines.

Israel had the first wartime operational drones in 1982. The war that Weinberger opposed was a catalyst for U.S. thinking about remotely piloted vehicles. I took a small group of retired American military officers (including the former head of DIA, the former commander of US Air Forces Europe and the former commander of NATO’s Southern Command) to Israel in September 1982 so they could put their hands on the drones that emerged from an Israeli model-airplane-flying club. The officers compared it to the US Army’s then-unsuccessful drone program and the rest is history. U.S. conceived and built drones carry the weight of the Afghan war, but they also carry the history of 1982.

The First Gulf War complicated the relationship when President Bush (41) built a broad Arab coalition to rescue Kuwait. Israel withstood Saddam’s rocket barrage without retaliation because that was what the U.S. wanted, setting into motion deterrence difficulties for Israel that played out later as its closer neighbors acquired and used rockets and missiles. But it also set in motion Israel’s rapid quest for missile defense capabilities, which became an area of close U.S.-Israel cooperation.

After 9/11, Americans instinctively understood that we had been hammered by something with which the Israelis were familiar. “We Are All Israelis Now” was the headline in a major American paper. The Israelis “opened their closets” to help the U.S. deal with Islamic terrorism, urban warfare and counter-terror operations. Israel taught members of the U.S. Army to train bomb-sniffing dogs. While the work was going on, Israel loaned IDF dogs to the Americans – Hebrew-commanded dogs were in Baghdad.

As the U.S. has become more adept in the ways of Middle East ground warfare, it is the Americans who have technology, tips and training to share with Israel.

“Complicity” is the wrong word for a relationship between countries that was grounded in the most fundamental agreement on democratic governance, civil liberties, minority rights, rule of law, and what constituted the enemy – at least until now.

General Dempsey meant Iran, but there is more than a divergence on Iran going on here. There has been a determined shift of emphasis in the current administration. President Obama has elected to focus on how and where the U.S. might find partners in the Arab/Muslim world – not itself a bad thing, but dangerous if it means a) eroding the definition of an ally to mean anyone with any set of political/religious/strategic beliefs that does not involve killing Americans outright; and b) throwing the Jews down the well (to channel Borat).

President Obama’s Cairo Speech showed only a superficial understanding of the Jewish relationship with the Land of Israel. He called Israel’s independence a response to the Holocaust and not the establishment of the third Jewish Commonwealth after a 1,900-year interregnum. So doing, he fed into the Arab complaint that Israel was foisted on the region by guilty Europeans rather than as a legitimate and permanent part of the region.

He dispatched NASA administrator (and retired Marine LTG) Charles Bolden to find space exploration partners in the Muslim world (visual evidence of his discomfort can be seen here and in the video posted below). The administration accepted the 2010 Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty Review that singled out Israel for condemnation – despite public statements that it would never do that. The U.S. rejoined the UN Human Rights Commission and the UN Alliance of Civilizations, an openly anti-Israel body that claimed in 2006 that global tensions were driven primarily by the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and referred to the September 11th attacks as resulting from “a perception among Muslim societies of unjust aggression stemming from the West.”

The U.S. declined to support Canada’s traditional, once-a-decade bid for a Security Council seat. Canada, an outspoken supporter of Israel, lost to Portugal, a stalwart representative of EU ambivalence. The U.S. voted against the infamous “Goldstone Report,” but declined to use its influence to encourage others to do the same. Israel’s housing policy was debated by some of Israel’s fiercest critics in the Security Council before the US exercised its veto, and the U.S. drove a Security Council “compromise” that allowed Israel to be criticized along with Syria. The administration heaped emergency aid on Gaza – an allocation of $27 million in its earliest days in office and another $400 million in 2010 – aside from the $100 million+ given to the Palestinian Authority, including $115 million this year over the protestations of Congress.

Despite the demand for a “total settlement freeze” that forced the Palestinian Authority to harden its negotiating position, a vision for a “two-state solution” beginning with the 1967 lines and working backward, and a nasty comment about Prime Minister Netanyahu that was supposed to be off-camera, the Obama administration continues to proclaim itself Israel’s friend and ally – citing increases in military assistance; the X-Band Radar; Israel’s “qualitative military edge”; and missile defense.

Mark 2012, however, as the year the Obama administration took its most overt steps yet to tell the Arab and Muslim world that the U.S. was severable from Israel. The NATO-related air rescue operation Anatolian Eagle was canceled because Turkey would not let Israel participate. The administration then touted the bilateral missile defense exercise Austere Challenge as bigger and better — and more meaningful – until they canceled it in April, with more than a suggestion that it might give Iran the idea that the U.S. and Israel could use it as cover for an attack (an early sign of the “complicity” argument to follow). In May, the Administration went ahead with Eager Lion 2012, a Special Operations exercise with 19 Arab and Muslim countries, including Egypt, Lebanon and Pakistan. The tactics and training of Special Operations is an important component of Israel’s “qualitative military edge.” How much of what the U.S. and Israel developed over the years was shared with countries overtly hostile to Israel? Israel was not invited to the May NATO confab, although 13 NATO “partner nations” were invited to discuss terrorism. Two other US-organized and led multilateral counterterrorism confabs excluded Israel as well. When Turkey objected to the sharing of intelligence information with Israel, Secretary of Defense Panetta said no NATO radar intelligence would be shared “outside of NATO.” NATO Secretary General Rasmussen rushed to assure the Turks of the same thing.

Finally, the administration announced that Austere Challenge would be reconstituted as the biggest and best missile defense exercise yet. Until this week, when it announced that the exercise would be scaled back – way, way back – so Iran would not think it was cover for a U.S.-Israel attack.

This is where General Dempsey comes in – he is the President’s emissary to reassure the Iranians that the U.S. will have nothing to do with an attack on them; that they are safe from us. And he is the President’s emissary to tell the Arab and Muslim world that the relationship with Israel is expendable. Too bad he doesn’t understand that we are not safe from the Iranians and that dumping Israel will not make Islamist and Islamist-leaning countries — from Turkey to Egypt to Pakistan to Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan — our friends.

The United States is trading a long-standing, mutually beneficial security relationship for relations that will be less solid (is anything less solid than the US-Egypt relationship AFTER we’ve spend $1.5 billion on it annually since the early 1980s and welcomed its Muslim Brotherhood revolution?); less technologically advantageous to the U.S. (the technology relationship with the Arab/Muslim world flows only one way); and less protective of minority and civil rights (as the Egyptians discover we have no leverage).

General Dempsey is the fall guy for an administration that increasingly holds Israel in contempt before Arab and Muslim countries — which increasingly hold us in contempt.

4 Comments

  • Fredric M. London

    Mike from Tampa: Israel has never been WELCOME in any US wars. Whether or not it would agree to participate is superfluous, because the cost to the US in Muslim goodwill would be far greater than the Israeli bodies offered for sacrifice.

    Don’t give me NATO, you moron. NATO was set up to protect the west from communism. Whatever threat communism posed, no longer exists. NATO is, therefore, only partially relevant today. As for Turkey, please explain (if you can) how, other than as a NATO partner, Turkey benefits the US in any way.

    You would throw Israel to the wolves. But, other than the joy of seeing Jews murdered en masse again, the results would not help the US in the Muslim world, because Muslim extremists are supremacists, and want the western world converted to Sharia Islam. They would appreciate Israel being gone, but it is only a drop in their bucket of blood.

  • Mike From Tampa

    This article is a litany of whiny snot. The US has many interests outside Israel. Turkey is a more important ally than Israel because it is in NATO.

    Please note that US has had many wars and Israel has never fought in any of the wars….NEVER

    • Turkey is also easily inn range of Iran’s Shahab-3 missiles soon to be tipped with nuclear warheads. They are on their own.

    • Ahh… not quite

      The Israelis — when they were still called Palestinians (and the Arabs were called, well Arabs) — fought in WWI AND WWII.

      They did not however, participate in the bombing and dismantlement of Yugoslavia or Libya — which is to their credit

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews The Media, Israel, and Anti-Semitism (REVIEW)

    The Media, Israel, and Anti-Semitism (REVIEW)

    Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed from A-Z by Lee Bender and Jerome Verlin (Pavilion Press, Philadelphia, Pa. 2013) Sophocles said, “What people believe prevails over truth,” Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed from A-Z is ideal for the arm chair reader who would like a basic grasp of the terms used in the mainstream media’s presentation of the Arab-Israeli situation as is reported today. This is a book whose time has come. This is a book where the reader gains a [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs William Shatner’s One Man Show Keeps Him in the Limelight (INTERVIEW)

    William Shatner’s One Man Show Keeps Him in the Limelight (INTERVIEW)

    JNS.org – On Thursday, audiences around the country can feel what it is like to be William Shatner, the Jewish actor best known for his portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk on “Star Trek.” Shatner’s one-man show “Shatner’s World”—which was on Broadway and toured Canada, Australia, and the United States—will be presented in nearly 700 movie theaters nationwide for one night only on April 24. Sponsored by Fathom Events and Priceline.com (for whom Shatner has famously served as a pitchman), [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews The Origins of Palestinian Refugee Relief Efforts (REVIEW)

    The Origins of Palestinian Refugee Relief Efforts (REVIEW)

    Romirowsky and Joffe’s book Religion, Politics and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief is an important volume for those interested in truly understanding the origins of the Palestinian refugee issue. Utilizing a treasure trove of newly released documents, the authors link UNRWA’s (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine) origins to the Quakers/American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). For those readers who thought they knew most of the Middle East story, Romirowsky and Joffe’s version provides another twist. The authors meticulously [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    The Israel National soccer team could be facing a World Cup ban, and other soccer sanctions, unless it alleviates travel restrictions and increases field access for Palestinian players and coaches. The head of the Palestinian Football Association is pushing for international soccer’s governing body, the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), to issue a ban on Israel competing internationally, claiming Israel’s restrictive travel for Palestinians is equivalent to a form of oppression. “It’s not only the athletes,” Jibril Rajoub explains. [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    JNS.org – While the national debate on “Obamacare” rages on past the recent March 31 sign-up deadline, bestselling Jewish author Dr. Joel Fuhrman says the “current disease care model of what we call ‘health care’ cannot possibly be sustained.” “There is simply not enough money available to support a system in which the lion’s share of expenditures is devoted to acute care, with virtually nothing being spent on preventive medicine, i.e. health care,” Fuhrman says in an interview. “To make [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    JNS.org – “This is how I want to be—without fear. Independent. I want to be like a bird. I want to spread my wings.” So reads part of the description beneath one of the 30 paintings on display until the end of May at the ZOA House in Tel Aviv. The collection represents the first-ever art exhibit of its kind: an exhibit created entirely by Israelis in treatment for eating disorders. Dubbed “Tears of Color,” based on one of the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    JNS.org – Rachel Ament noticed that she and her friends often shared humorous anecdotes that were typically variations on a theme: overprotective, worrying Jewish moms who smothered them with love. That included Ament’s own mother. “My mom is probably every Jewish stereotype scrunched into one,” the Washington, DC, resident tells JNS.org. “At the root of all these stereotypical, worrying, overprotective moms, is love.” A social media writer for Capital One, as well as a freelance writer, Ament decided about three years [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    Kosher Lust, by Shmuley Boteach (Gefen Publishing House, 2014). You really do want to find something positive to say about Shmuley Boteach. He is a phenomenon; very bright, an articulate bundle of energy and self-promotion. Anyone who has the chutzpah to describe himself as “America’s Rabbi” deserves ten out of ten for effort. I believe that along with most Chabad alumni, official and unofficial, he does a lot of good and is a sort of national treasure. In this world [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.