In 2012, Dr. Lamont Colucci was approached by U.S. News and World Report to write a weekly column on foreign policy and national security. This is under the aegis of World Report – Insights, perspectives, and commentary on foreign affairs. View the article on USNews.com
While the world watched the leaders of the great powers dress in glorified Mao haute couture in Beijing this week, Russian heavy armor has re-entered Ukraine and American Middle East policy is in chaos. American grand strategy in the Middle East used to be predicated on an alliance with Iran, Turkey and Israel as the basic foundation. Iran was swept away from this equation in 1979 and now poses the single greatest threat to American interests and those of Israel. The American relationship with Turkey see-saws between tolerance and severity, with both sides sharing plenty of blame for shortsightedness. This leaves the United States with a single steadfast ally in the region: Israel.
Israel, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, faces a daily threat to her existence by a combination of Islamic extremists, the Iranian state terror network and their proxies, as well as the spillover of the chaos in Lebanon and Syria. Naturally, nothing is as great a threat as that posed by the Iranian nuclear weapons program. Netanyahu, who was one of the few who recognized the rising threat from Islamic extremism as early as 1986, when he wrote his book “Fighting Terrorism,” and whose brother died in the famous raid on Entebbe, has been a steadfast ally of the United States. He encapsulated this feeling when he said in 2011, “And by the way, a piece of news, Israel is the one country in which everyone is pro-American, opposition and coalition alike. And I represent the entire people of Israel who say, ‘Thank you, America.’ And we’re friends of America, and we’re the only reliable allies of America in the Middle East.”
This is what makes the Obama administration’s attitude toward Israel so mystifying, made worse by the infamous “chickens&*#” comment made against Netanyahu by a “senior member of the administration.” The rising animus against Israel for the past five years stems primarily from the view in the Obama administration that Israel is the primary hindrance to peace with the Palestinians and rapprochement with Iran. There are many who contend that the Obama administration seeks continued distance from Israel, wishes to stop shielding Israel in anti-Israeli actions in international organizations and has failed to hold Hamas and Fatah’s feet to the fire over their support of terrorism and corruption.
The United States has been a partner with the state of Israel from the beginning. Former President George W. Bush turned away from the policy of accommodating Palestinian terrorists in an effort to promote democratic Palestinian forces. There is no other way of dealing with the crisis. There must be a permanent and continuous policy for the support of Israel. Terrorists groups like Hamas and Hezbollah and states like Iran and Syria must be put on notice that an attack on Israel will be treated as an attack on American interests.
It is the fad by many in American academia and the media to condemn Israel and to preach moral equivalence. However, the basic question that needs to be asked is this: What is the alternative to Israel? No other nation in the region is as democratic, competent and stable. There is no other intelligence service in the region that can be trusted, no other military and no other government equal to that of Israel. Realists who seriously analyze American interests without reference to religion, civilization or culture would find it impossible to find another substitute. Liberals, who seriously consider issues of justice, human rights and democracy, have even further to go to find such an alternative.
What of the Palestinian question? Any support of Palestinian aspirations must be predicated on peace with Israel, recognition of Israel and the development of Palestinian democracy and civil society. Objective analysts have known for years that the Arab states do not care about the fate of the Palestinians, other than to serve the interests of propaganda and domestic consumption against Israel. In the end, the Iranian nuclear question will not be resolved until there is a change of government away from the number one state sponsors of terrorism in the world. The Palestinian issue cannot be solved without democracy in its entirety, not just elections. Liberals, realists and conservatives should recognize together that American grand strategy is best served when there is a vibrant democratic civil society for both Israelis and Palestinians.