Monday, February 26, 2007

The cost of Israel

Americans really have a difficult time getting their heads around the cost of Israel. Americans are people of the book. anti-Americanism in the Middle East is nearly entirely built from first and second order anti-Zionism.

First order in that anti-Americanism is fueled by the spectacle of America starving Palestinians because they didn't vote to accept Israel's right to exist - which in the Middle East means Israel's right to deny justice to the refugees and by Rice claiming Israel's bombing civilians are birth pangs for something good.

Second order in that anti-Americanism is fueled by US support for some of the most vicious dictatorships on Earth. Why would the US not support democratic movements in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan? Because democratic governments in those states would not accept Israel's right to deny what their populations see as justice to the Palestinian refugees. (By the way, the myth of a pro-US silent majority in Iran is belied by polls that say most Iranian agree that Israel is not a legitimate state and that Iran should be a major regional power.)

Other than Israel the US does not have any major dispute with any Middle East power or population. The United States does not like the idea of women being forced to wear veils, but female genital mutilation in other places has never risen to the level of geo-strategic competition. The dispute that sets the West against the Middle East has one and only one source: Israel.

Cheney could have a pro-US government in Iraq in twenty seconds, but he would have to abandon Israel. The US abandoning Israel would leave the Saudis and even Bin Laden with no compunction against hosting US troops.

As it is, a stable pro-US government in Iraq or anywhere in the Middle East with even a hint of democracy is impossible regardless of the amount of force applied because and only because of the US relationship with Israel.

Interestingly, it does not seem to be the case that Americans acknowledge the cost of Israel and believe it is worth it. Americans seem to block from their minds the idea that Israel is as expensive to US interests as it is.


Binh said...

A U.S. general once said Israel was worth "five CIAs." The people at the top are certainly getting their (or rather, our) money's worth. It's the only totally reliable pro-U.S. government in the region - all the other pro-U.S. (monarchies) balk at publicly supporting invasions, wars, etc.

Arnold Evans said...

The nations the Israel spies on for the US are nations that would not be hostile to the US if not for Israel.

To claim Israel has positive value, you have to skip the part where support for Israel turns countries against the US, but then give Israel credit for its assistance against countries that other than Israel have no major conflict with the United States.

If it was not for Israel, the reliable pro-US governments in the region would probably be Saudi Arabia and Iran. That is a very bad trade for the US.