Serving a purpose, but for how long?
It actually wasn’t until Israel’s 1967 victory over its Arab enemies that public support for the small Zionist nation among the American people grew. The U.S. public was caught up in Vietnam, and Israel’s fast, decisive and stunning victory over its neighbors won many supporters in both the American public sphere and government, who hoped that any mention of war abroad in a positive light could help the American spirit for war at home. In addition to this however, the U.S. realized that by arming Israel it could alleviate pressure in the Mediterranean and allow Turkey to establish itself.
Simply put, the United States has always found a balance (or comfortable contradiction) in its alliances. Establishing close ties with democratic countries is ideologically sound, but we are no strangers to getting into bed with whatever ugly dictator may help keep security and maintain American interests abroad. The U.S. established close ties with Israel because it served a purpose, and although things were easier back then, Israel continues to serve a purpose as a close American ally.
Economically and scientifically, Israel is thriving. It has a few blotches on its human rights record amongst the West Bank settlements and Palestinian family relocation and reunification from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank, but for the most part, this is a government that has consistently backed equal rights and access of Palestinians to Israel education and housing, despite the odd discriminatory cases that continue to arise.
Which brings us to Iran, arguably the most contentious issue in Middle East policy today. Iran’s constant rhetoric, comparing Israel to “a cancer that must be cut out” and its insistence on not recognizing Israel as a country, should no doubt concern every Israeli and American. However, the issue of attacking Iran is a severe one that must be the absolute last resort that America should take.
The United States’ policy on the Middle East must embrace the changes made in the Arab Spring but also remain cautious about escalating tensions in the region, especially when it comes to Iran. Most notably, the brash rhetoric dished out by both the White House and the leading GOP candidates only serves to strengthen the Iranian regime’s fears. Countries that repeatedly defy international norms, such as Iran, feed off talk of war. Their constant obsession with developing nuclear weapons comes directly from the threat that countries like the U.S. and other former “imperialists” pose to their existence.
Iran’s obsession with getting a nuclear weapon must be delayed at all costs. Israeli and U.S. attacks should be quiet and extremely clandestine. Israel’s twitchy fingers over the preemptive strike button threaten to derail the potential tumultuous change that is sweeping across the Middle East. A U.S.-backed Israeli preemptive strike on Iran would only serve to rally the Iranian people around their psychotic leader. Better yet to slowly impede Iran’s process, and as the sanctions continue to starve the government of valuable revenue, the people’s support for a regime that is already divided could wane to the point of self-determined regime change, which of course is the ideal solution to the Iran problem.
Economic, cultural, diplomatic and military relations with Israel are both important and beneficial for America from both an ideological and realist perspective. Supporting a democratic regime with a strong record in homosexual and gender-related issues is a sign that the U.S. will consistently support and aid the growth of progressive and advanced governments. But above all rhetoric and ideological partnerships, the U.S. must analyze policy through a strategic lens, and most importantly with a keen understanding of what is currently going on in the region. The Middle East is undergoing radical change before our very eyes, and Washington should realize just how devastating a war with Iran would be