March 22, 2014

Three Videos: Ryan Dawson - Iraq 11 years after the 2nd invasion + 2014 National Summit - Reassessing US Israel special relationship + John Mearsheimer on America Unhinged

"Nevertheless, The Israel Lobby contains a fundamental analytic truth that is undeniable: the US and Israel, like most states, have some different interests that inevitably push up against any enduring special relationship, especially because their security situations are so vastly different. To start with, the US is a continent-size country protected by oceans, while Israel is a small country half a world away, surrounded by enemy states. Because the geographical situations of the US and Israel are so dissimilar, their geopolitical interests can never completely overlap in the way that Israel’s most fervent supporters contend. (Iran’s nuclear program is a far more acute threat to Israel than it is to the US.) “The fact that Israel is a democracy is important,” Mearsheimer tells me. “But it is not sufficient to justify the terms of the special relationship. We should treat Israel as a normal country, like we treat Britain or Japan.” 

What particularly exasperates Mearsheimer and Walt is the lack of conditionality in the special relationship. They admit that making American support for Israel “more conditional would not remove all sources of friction” between Arab countries and the US; nor do they deny “the presence of genuine anti-Semitism in various Arab countries”. But they cannot condone a situation in which the US has, over the decades, given Israel more than $US180 billion in economic and military assistance, “the bulk of it comprising direct grants rather than loans”, and yet can barely achieve modest negotiating goals such as getting Israel to stop expanding West Bank settlements for 90 days, let alone dismantle them, even though the Palestinians have been willing at times to make major concessions. (And the US has been willing to throw in major sweeteners in the form of advanced military hardware.) Mearsheimer and Walt repeatedly say in their book that they believe the US should militarily defend Israel if it is in mortal danger, but that the Israelis must be much more cooperative in light of all the aid they get. But, as they also argue, the reason the Israelis are not more co-operative is that in the final analysis, they don’t have to be – which, in turn, is because of the pro-Israel lobby. Thus, in the spirit of Huntington, the authors distil a complicated situation down to a single, powerful cause. I see nothing wrong or illegitimate about this core argument. And no amount of nitpicking by their critics of The Israel Lobby’s 100 pages of endnotes can detract from it. I say this as someone who is a veteran of the Israel Defence Forces and who supported the Iraq War (a position I have come to deeply regret). Say what you will about The Israel Lobby, but as Justine Rosenthal – who is a former editor of The National Interest, a leading foreign-policy journal, and is now with Newsweek – told me, “It changed the debate on Israel, even if it did not change the policy”." - Robert D Kaplan, Financial Review, February 2012.

Video Title: Iraq 11 years after the 2nd invasion. Source: Ry Dawson. Date Published: March 20, 2014.

Video Title: 2014 National Summit - Reassessing US Israel special relationship. Source: AnalistReview. Date Published: March 12, 2014. Description:
"One speaker put it this way: "The 'Special Relationship' isn't working! We want it instead to be a "normal" relationship between the U.S. and Israel. We believe that will serve better the "national interests of both countries."

Video Title: John Mearsheimer on America Unhinged. Source: Center for the National Interest. Date Published: January 28, 2014.