Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Limits to Israeli influence over the United States

The New York Times has produced an article describes the repeated cancellations of Israeli/Chinese arms deals that has diminished China's perception of Israel as a country that can influence the United States:
How much they value the relationship with the United States was underscored in 2000, when under American pressure Israel canceled a $1 billion arms deal, years in the making, to sell China an advanced airborne tracking system. Even though Israel later agreed to pay a $350 million penalty, the diplomatic damage was immense — and then compounded in 2005, when Washington blocked another Israeli arms deal with Beijing involving drone aircraft.

“After that, the Chinese realized the Jewish lobby does not control the White House and they started to treat us like a younger brother of the United States,” said Yitzhak Shichor, a professor of Asian Studies at Haifa University. “We have been cut down to size. We may make a lot of noise, but we’re the size of a medium-sized Chinese city.”
In an assessment echoed by several other government-affiliated academics, Yin Gang, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Society Sciences in Beijing, said its interests in the Arab world would continue to drive Beijing’s foreign policy. “China will try to achieve a basic balance in the Middle East but Israel cannot give China much help on the international political stage,” he said. “The truth is, it is just a very small country.”
The truth is that US Middle East policy is bizarrely contorted in favor of Israel. But the US military, which plays the ultimate role in the United States as the custodian of US strategic interests, is willing and able, when it chooses, to counteract pro-Israel influence on US political decision-making.

One thing this indicates is that the US military likely signed off on both the recent sanctions resolution against Iran, and more broadly on an increase in hostility in the face of more vigorous US efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. This can only indicate a US calculation that Afghanistan descending to the intolerable situation of Iraq in 2006 and early 2007 can be prevented in the face of the actions Iran may be expected to take after the resolution.

Is the military right? Is the military taking a gamble whose results we will see over the coming months, but whose consequences even in the worst case can be managed before going out of control?

Either way, this article reminds us that the present resurgence of hostility between the United States and Iran is not only caused by pro-Israel factions in the US government.

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