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A Useless ‘Alliance’ with Israel

The U.S. is not "saving" anything with this arrangement, but rather is frittering even more resources away on a state that doesn't need it.
obama bibi oval office
President Barack Obama talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in the Oval Office Monday, May 18, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza. This official White House photograph is being made available for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way or used in materials, advertisements, products, or promotions that in any way suggest approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Yair Lapid made a risible claim in his article touting the virtues of the U.S.-Israel “alliance”:

A recent Harvard University study found that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will cost the U.S. taxpayer $4 trillion to $6 trillion. The MoU with Israel is merely a fraction of that. A strong and secure Israel significantly reduces the risk that the United States will need to be involved in another war in the Middle East [bold mine-DL], which would be not only financially costly but also claim the lives of American soldiers.

This may be the oddest defense of U.S. financial and military support for Israel I have ever seen. The U.S. has been engaged in hostilities in the region for almost all of the last fifteen years, and support for Israel has actually increased during the same period. Israel’s “strength and security” appear to do absolutely nothing to keep the U.S. out of wars in the region (it’s not clear why they would), and so the U.S. ends up paying the costs of the wars it fights in the region and pays to subsidize the defense of a wealthy client that contributes little or nothing to U.S. security.

Prior to the establishment of the close relationship with Israel, the U.S. was never directly involved in any wars in the region. The U.S. is not “saving” anything with this arrangement, but rather is frittering even more resources away on a state that doesn’t need it. Insofar as our policies in the region are shaped by what our hawks think is necessary to keep Israel secure, the relationship has contributed to the over-militarization of our foreign policy in the region, the waging of unnecessary wars, and it has made the U.S. more likely to take sides in regional conflicts. That starts with our one-sided approach to the conflict with the Palestinians, but is obviously not limited to that. Because the U.S. is implicated in Israel’s own policies toward its neighbors and subjects, the U.S. bears additional costs in the form of resentment and hostility generated by reflexively backing whatever Israel does. Those costs might begin to be balanced out if the U.S. could rely on Israel to support its other policies in the region, but the interests of the two states diverge too often for that to happen with any regularity. The reality is that our two states aren’t allies and never have been, and it would ultimately be better for both to acknowledge that and act accordingly.