17 June 2014

A Popular Myth Debunked

19 Sivan 5774

One of the most popular cultural myths around today says that Israel could not exist without America. Some people go so far as to claim that the United States achieved its great power just so that it could support Israel. To hear many Jews as well as gentiles talk, you'd think that America and Israel had been arm-in-arm from the very beginning. Historical facts disprove this popular, but erroneous misconception. Furthermore, America represents the single greatest threat to Israel today. Please familiarize yourself with the facts so that you can debunk this myth wherever it arises.

Excerpted from The Geopolitics of Israel: Biblical and Modern 

...From its founding until the Camp David Accords re-established the Sinai as a buffer with Egypt, Israel's strategic problem was this: So long as Egypt was in the Sinai, Israel's national security requirements outstripped its military capabilities. It could not simultaneously field an army, maintain its civilian economy and produce all the weapons and supplies needed for war. Israel had to align itself with great powers who saw an opportunity to pursue other interests by arming Israel.

Israel's first patron was the Soviet Union -- through Czechoslovakia -- which supplied weapons before and after 1948 in the hopes of using Israel to gain a foothold in the eastern Mediterranean. Israel, aware of the risks of losing autonomy, also moved into a relationship with a declining great power that was fighting to retain its empire: France. Struggling to hold onto Algeria and in constant tension with Arabs, France saw Israel as a natural ally. And apart from the operation against Suez in 1956, Israel saw in France a patron that was not in a position to reduce Israeli autonomy. However, with the end of the Algerian war and the realignment of France in the Arab world, Israel became a liability to France and, after 1967, Israel lost French patronage.

Israel did not become a serious ally of the Americans until after 1967. Such an alliance was in the American interest. The United States had, as a strategic imperative, the goal of keeping the Soviet navy out of the Mediterranean or, at least, blocking its unfettered access. That meant that Turkey, controlling the Bosporus, had to be kept in the American bloc. Syria and Iraq shifted policies in the late 1950s and by the mid-1960s had been armed by the Soviets. This made Turkey's position precarious: If the Soviets pressed from the north while Syria and Iraq pressed from the south, the outcome would be uncertain, to say the least, and the global balance of power was at stake.

The United States used Iran to divert Iraq's attention. Israel was equally useful in diverting Syria's attention. So long as Israel threatened Syria from the south, it could not divert its forces to the north. That helped secure Turkey at a relatively low cost in aid and risk. By aligning itself with the interests of a great power, Israel lost some of its room for maneuver: For example, in 1973, it was limited by the United States in what it could do to Egypt. But those limitations aside, it remained autonomous internally and generally free to pursue its strategic interests.

The end of hostilities with Egypt, guaranteed by the Sinai buffer zone, created a new era for Israel. Egypt was restored to its traditional position, Jordan was a marginal power on the east bank, Lebanon was in its normal, unstable mode, and only Syria was a threat. However, it was a threat that Israel could easily deal with. Syria by itself could not threaten the survival of Israel.

Following Camp David (an ironic name), Israel was in its Davidic model, in a somewhat modified sense. Its survival was not at stake. Its problems -- the domination of a large, hostile population and managing events in the northern Levant -- were subcritical (meaning that, though these were not easy tasks, they did not represent fundamental threats to national survival, so long as Israel retained national unity). When unified, Israel has never been threatened by its neighbors. Geography dictates against it.

Israel's danger will come only if a great power seeks to dominate the Mediterranean Basin or to occupy the region between Afghanistan and the Mediterranean. In the short period since the fall of the Soviet Union, this has been impossible. There has been no great power with the appetite and the will for such an adventure. But 15 years is not even a generation, and Israel must measure its history in centuries.

It is the nature of the international system to seek balance. The primary reality of the world today is the overwhelming power of the United States. The United States makes few demands on Israel that matter. However, it is the nature of things that the United States threatens the interests of other great powers who, individually weak, will try to form coalitions against it. Inevitably, such coalitions will arise. That will be the next point of danger for Israel.

In the event of a global rivalry, the United States might place onerous requirements on Israel. Alternatively, great powers might move into the Jordan River valley or ally with Syria, move into Lebanon or ally with Israel. The historical attraction of the eastern shore of the Mediterranean would focus the attention of such a power and lead to attempts to assert control over the Mediterranean or create a secure Middle Eastern empire. In either event, or some of the others discussed, it would create a circumstance in which Israel might face a Babylonian catastrophe or be forced into some variation of Persian or Roman subjugation.

Israel's danger is not a Palestinian rising. Palestinian agitation is an irritant that Israel can manage so long as it does not undermine Israeli unity. Whether it is managed by domination or by granting the Palestinians a vassal state matters little. Nor can Israel be threatened by its neighbors. Even a unified attack by Syria and Egypt would fail, for the reasons discussed. Israel's real threat, as can be seen in history, lies in the event of internal division and/or a great power, coveting Israel's geographical position, marshaling force that is beyond its capacity to resist. Even that can be managed if Israel has a patron whose interests involve denying the coast to another power.

Israel's reality is this. It is a small country, yet must manage threats arising far outside of its region. It can survive only if it maneuvers with great powers commanding enormously greater resources. Israel cannot match the resources and, therefore, it must be constantly clever. There are periods when it is relatively safe because of great power alignments, but its normal condition is one of global unease. No nation can be clever forever, and Israel's history shows that some form of subordination is inevitable. Indeed, it is to a very limited extent subordinate to the United States now.

For Israel, the retention of a Davidic independence is difficult. Israel's strategy must be to manage its subordination effectively by dealing with its patron cleverly, as it did with Persia. But cleverness is not a geopolitical concept. It is not permanent, and it is not assured. And that is the perpetual crisis of Jerusalem.

(The Geopolitics of Israel: Biblical and Modern is republished with permission of Stratfor.)

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Begin with how the Jews were turned away from America during the Holocaust. How they had decided at the Bermuda Conference with Europe that we would not accept Jews onto our shores. It was a conscious decision.

Anonymous said...

At last this obvious truth is being brought out. Never understood how orthodox and learned Jews should not understand this, as our Torah is constantly warning us of relying on any nation, person, leaader, etc. This is probably the greatest of our sins collectively. There's even a connection to the sin of the spies; that they could have even intimated that (& after all the miracles) that the children of Israel could not overcome the inhabitants of the Land. How much does G-D have to prove that He Alone rules and when we lose faith in Him, it is inexcusable. When secular Jews cannot understand, that is understandable, but not when learned and G-D fearing Jews think the same.

Devash said...

Anonymous 1, or what about how they treated the passengers on the St Louis which was turned away from Cuba and sent back to Germany. The Coast Guard was sent out to keep the ship far enough from shore so that any Jew thinking about jumping ship would be unable to swim to their hallowed shores.

But, we don't have to go back that far into history. All we really need to do is look at the events of this past year.

Anonymous 2, I understand that people are being asked to sign an online petition asking the US to help bring back the kidnapped boys and the Chief Rabbi reportedly asked the Pope to get involved. Why do we put our trust in our enemies above that of HKB"H? It's an enigma.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter what this guy from Stratfor says, 'We have Hashem' and His Promise to us. We are almost there and may the geulah arrive with rachamim.

Devash said...

AMEN!

Anonymous said...

Maybe Stratfor should read Yechezkel 38:8-12...As Rav Kahane zt"l hy"d said,-"there is no third exile"

Devash said...

Of course, their analysis is skewed, because they leave out the God-factor, but the historical facts as they present them are correct.

We know the right ending for the story because we've read The Book!