Fri, June 10, 2011 | Rubin Reports | By Barry Rubin
How Can An American Ally Dare to Disagree With Obama? How Can It Afford Not to Do So!
In an article in The New Yorker, Hendrik Hertzberg launched an all-out ridicule attack on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Here’s the line that caught my eye:
“The Prime Minister sounded more like a Fox News ‘contributor’ than like the leader of an ally dependent on the United States for its survival.”
The second part of this sentence includes a number of interesting points. First and foremost it signals the total transformation of the left-wing into everything that liberals used to hate about the right-wing. It is full of arrogant, condescending contempt toward another people, a people who are fighting for their lives on a daily basis and have been doing so for decades.
It can be summarized as: Shut up and do what Obama tells you to do.
Is Israel “dependent on the United States for its survival.”? It’s an interesting question that has arguments on both sides. I would say, however, that Israel has survived precisely because it has never acted as if it were dependent on the United States for its survival. One of the points Netanyahu made in his speech to Congress is that Israel was not asking for American troops. It fights its own battles.
Woe to those who, especially today, are dependent on the United States for their survival! Where is South Vietnam? Where is the Iranian monarchy, or Husni Mubarak who is now on trial for his life in Egypt? Do you think that the Saudis or South Koreans or Colombians feel secure in their dependence on the current U.S. government?
I could also produce a long list of times when the United States did not fulfill promises or commitments made to Israel. And this has happened almost as many times in the last 2.5 years as in the preceding three decades combined.
OK, a few examples from history:
— When Israel withdrew from the Sinai in 1957, the U.S. government gave it a security guarantee that it would intervene if Egypt closed the Gulf of Eilat to Israeli shipping. In 1967, Egypt did so and the U.S. government did nothing.
— In 1991, when Iraq was firing missiles at Israel, the U.S. government told Israel that if it did not retaliate that the United States would reward it after the war. It didn’t.
— When Israel made large concessions and took great risks in 1993 by signing the “Oslo accords,” the U.S. government guaranteed the agreement. After 2000, when the PA routinely violated the accords and walked away from talks, the U.S. government took no real action in favor of Israel or against the PA.
— In 2006, when Israel agreed to a ceasefire with Hizballah in Lebanon, the U.S. government pledged the “security guarantee” that it would ensure that Hizballah didn’t return to southern Lebanon and would block the smuggling of arms to that group from Syria. Today, Hizballah is back in southern Lebanon and has more weapons than ever before. The U.S. government did zero.
— Obama has already compiled a long list in his own right: refusing to confirm his predecessor’s promise that Israel could keep settlement blocs in a peace agreement with the Palestinians; praising Israel’s ten-month freeze of construction on West Bank settlements, then attacking Israel because it continued construction — as had been agreed with the United States — in Jerusalem; promising toget Arab state concessions in exchange for the freeze and then failing to do so; and lots more.
I’m certainly not saying that Israel doesn’t have a huge amount to be grateful for regarding U.S. support and aid over the years, nor am I ignoring the continuing military cooperation with the Obama Administration (including suppot for missile defense). I’m merely explaining why Israel and Israelis don’t want to be dependent on the U.S. government for its survival.
But let’s look at it another way: These are very bad times for countries that are dependent on the United States for their survival. You don’t need to talk about Israel, how about Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait? How about Afghanistan and Iraq? How about South Korea? How about Lithuania, Latvia, and all the other countries born from the disintegrating Soviet Union and the Soviet bloc? How about Colombia and Peru and all the other non-radical governments in South and Central America?
Hey, how about the Palestinian Authority that keeps throwing pies in Obama’s face. It is far more of an “ally dependent on the United States for its survival” than is Israel.
In the Obama era, more than one American ally has seen, and they all worry about seeing, what the underside of a bus looks like.
When you see people who know nothing and understand nothing of your situation and the dangers you face nonetheless arrogantly playing with your lives it tends to make one a bit concerned.
And you know what? The incredibly positive reception Netanyahu received in the U.S. Congress from both Democrats and Republicans show that a lot of American leaders, and Americans, agree with him.
About the author,
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and a featured columnist at PajamasMedia http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/ His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is http://www.gloria-center.org. His PajamaMedia columns are mirrored and other articles available at http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com/.