Obama’s Anti-Israel Strategy
Supporters of Obama, unhappy with polls showing that the Israeli public overwhelmingly views him as hostile and fearing this might reduce his solid lock on the American Jewish vote, have been advancing a new thesis. According to this argument, there is a dichotomy between the political and military policies of the Obama administration. Supposedly Obama, where it “counts,” on issues of military aid, is more receptive than the Bush administration to Israel’s needs.
This is false on both counts. There is, and can be, no meaningful division between political and military support. If Obama succeeds in squeezing Israel back to the indefensible borders of 1949, no amount of military hardware will avail her. The Obama administration clearly understands the indivisible tie between political and military policy—it is using its military aid as a carrot to induce Israel to take “risks for peace,” i.e. to implement the two state dissolution of Israel. Moreover, the military aid the U.S. provides has an additional political aim. The aid is heavily weighted toward defense, with much of it intended to constrain Israel’s ability to act, above all in relation to Iran.
All indications are that the U.S. has resigned itself to a nuclear Iran and its chief effort now is to prevent Israel from attacking Iranian nuclear installations. In this issue William Mehlman analyzes Obama’s cancellation of the Raptor in this light. The Obama administration makes much of the installation of the U.S. X-Band Radar in Israel and the November Juniper Cobra joint exercises as proof of its support for Israel, yet both can be seen as ways to prevent Israeli action against Iran. Shoshana Bryen, senior director for security policy for JINSA (the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs) notes that both are defensive in nature and would come into play in case of an Iranian attack but neither goes to the real question which is how to prevent an attack on Israel in the first place.
True the U.S. army is doubling the value of emergency military equipment it stockpiles on Israeli soil, equipment the U.S. says Israel can use in event of a “military emergency.” But as Bryen points out, the kicker is determining what constitutes “a military emergency” and how Israel obtains permission to use what is stored.
The Obama administration, in practice, is also abandoning the long-standing U.S. commitment to maintain Israel’s qualitative edge in relation to the combined Arab states. Even if Israel were permitted to buy whatever arms it wanted, it does not have the resources to match the large-scale current U.S. sales of sophisticated weapons to Egypt and Saudi Arabia. And it cannot buy what it wants. Bryen notes the problem that arose when Israel sought to buy additional Apache Longbow attack helicopters. It had used them in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, an operation of which the Obama administration disapproved. The administration has blocked sale of the helicopters on the grounds they would threaten Palestinian civilians in Gaza—while approving their sale to Egypt.
In Middle East Forum, Steven Rosen, formerly foreign policy director of AIPAC, claims that the administration is more closely aligned with Israel than generally recognized. His “evidence” is ludicrous: that Obama has become tougher in his criticism of Iran and that he has changed the “pitch” if “not the words” in his demand for a complete settlement freeze. On the contrary. Even now Obama is courting Syria, openy calling for a “comprehensive peace,” i.e. feeding the Golan to Syria presumably in exchange for Assad’s reducing his support for terrorists targeting Americans.
Obama is pursuing a coordinated political and military strategy aimed at shrinking Israel and taking away the freedom of action upon which her survival depends. His motto might be summed up: Let them have whatever is needed to fight behind the stockade and nothing that can be used beyond it.