The outgoing U.S. ambassador to Israel, James Cunningham, offers the Jerusalem Post a litany of ways in which we’ve been at Israel’s beck and call. Problems with U.S.-Israel relations? Nah. Nothing that a few hundred million bucks and 20 F-16s can’t fix (that was the failed bribe price for the settlement freeze).
Cunningham says: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:”
…This administration has made a really concerted effort to support Israel in its needs across a spectrum of things, to support its security posture in the region and make sure that it has both the technology and equipment it needs to provide for itself.
Missile defense is a big one [example], where we have done both operational and developmental things.
Operationally there was a very large exercise a couple years ago, the echoes of which are still going through the system in terms of how the US and Israel would cooperate in various scenarios.
And technologically we have an array of programs we are working on together, from short-range to medium- and higher-range missile threats.
The extra money we contributed to Iron Dome – $205 million – to help top up that program, to get it fielded and deployed as rapidly as possible, and which recently proved its worth.
The italicized remarks are quite interesting because one of the most apparent ways in which the militaries of the two countries might cooperate is in an attack on Iran. The question many are asking is that if Israel does attack Iran, how would the U.S. react. Would it strenuously object as Eisenhower did during the 1956 Gaza crisis? Or would it support the war as Bush did during the 2006 Lebanon war?
We’re going through a particularly dispiriting time in U.S.-Israel relations. At the beginning of his term, peace activists had high hopes that Obama would develop a strategy that cajoled or pressured the parties into peace negotiations and a final settlement. When that hope died, the administration went into recovery mode in which it seems to have done everything in its power on behalf of Israel, and backed away from anything the least bit contentious. We are in a very dark time in the bilateral relationship as Cunningham’s fawning statement points out. There is nowhere to go but down. It seems it’s only a matter of time before the next war; and only a question of which front it will arise from (Syria, Iran, Gaza).
For Israel, like Sparta, war is the only language it understands. And while Sparta was a great power of its day, it too eventually fell by the wayside. Israel should take a lesson from this. No matter how well the Iron Dome or Arrow works it cannot stop thousands of rockets fired simultaneously over a short period of time from multiple possible countries of origin. It is no substitute for a genuine political or diplomatic engagement.