Iran Crisis Should Prompt Rethinking of U.S.-Israeli Ties
The recent concurrence of several events should bring a loud call for an examination of the U.S.-Israeli relationship.
The most notable of these was the Obama-Netanyahu discussion of the threatened development of a nuclear device by Iran.
That discussion ended with two reaffirmations.
First was the reaffirmation by Israel of its intent to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iranian facilities whenever, in its judgment, such a strike was necessary.
Second was the reaffirmation by Obama of the U.S. position that, while military action was still “on the table,” the sanctions being imposed on Iran should be allowed to work in inducing Iran to forgo development of a nuclear capability. Obama added, however, that should Israel attack Iran, it had this country’s “back.”
At the heart of the Iranian issue are two questions — what are Iran’s nuclear weapons intentions, and at what stage are its weapon development capabilities? On this issue, three items have recently been the subject of media coverage. The former head of the Israeli secret service stated in several interviews that he did not believe the Iranians were close to developing a nuclear weapon and did not support an Israeli strike.
Reportedly, neither did the Obama administration believe that, even if Iran’s intention were to join the nuclear club, it was close to possessing a nuclear weapon capability. Also, reportedly, this position was shared by U.S. intelligence agency personnel.
Finally, it was reported that DOD had conducted a classified “war game” to assess what would be the likelihood and consequences of a regional war growing out of an attack on Iranian facilities. According to The New York Times, the commander of all U.S. forces in the Middle East and Southwest Asia “told his aides that an Israeli first strike would likely have dire consequences across the region and for U.S. forces there.”
The Times also reported that American officials were stating privately that “they believed Israel would probably give the United States little or no warning” of their decision to attack. As to the effectiveness of such an attack, it was estimated to set back Iran’s nuclear program by only one year, and only two more years if the U.S. joined in an attack.
In light of these assessments of Iranian intentions and risks, it seems fair to ask: Why is the U.S. willing not only to accept unilateral action by Israel but “have its back” in that action?
The answer to that question is obvious — the political pressure to support Israel without question that is generated by the American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC) in league with evangelical premillennialist Christian action committees.
The creation of Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory has been denounced as illegal by each of the last nine presidents of the United States. There are now more than 300,000 Israelis living in such settlements.
Over the past 50 years, Israel has received from the U.S. more than $100 billion in grants and billions more in loan guarantees. It is currently receiving $3 billion annually to be used only for military purposes. Israel has recently concluded an agreement to purchase three advanced German submarines with nuclear missile launch capabilities. One could reasonably assume they are being purchased with U.S.-originated dollars.
Given the vast financial and unstinting international political support this country has given Israel, at what point might we reasonably say “enough is enough” — while what it proposes to do may be in its national interest, it is not in our national interest, and we will take whatever actions are necessary to protect our interests including termination of financial assistance to Israel.
Our government takes many actions for what are plainly “political” reasons. The monies flowing from AIPAC to our political parties and to a host of politicians goes far in explaining why both the Congress and the administration yield to its entreaties.
It does not explain yielding to the premillennial-Christian interests. That amounts to formulating a foreign policy driven, in part, by biblical interpretations of the Old and New Testaments. Acknowledging the depth and sincerity of the adherents to premillennialism, biblical interpretations should remain in the realm of religion and apart from national policy-making.
I am neither anti-Semitic nor anti-Christian — I am ardently dedicated to the view that this nation should strive to act in its own interests and avoid or foreclose actions that are not in its interest.
J. Thomas Tidd is a retired attorney living in Pinehurst.
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