Home/Daniel Larison/Israel Americanised, America Israelised: Both Are Faring Poorly

Israel Americanised, America Israelised: Both Are Faring Poorly

 I was talking today with a former U.S. diplomat and a Washington “insider” who made the following comment: “I’m beginning to suspect that the Israeli military has been ‘Americanized.’ They seem to repeating our mistakes in Iraq. Very discouraging for them and for us.” This is coming from someone who is a critic of the Bush administration’s policies and has been opposed to the Israeli response in Lebanon. My guess is that the Bushies and the neocons are hysterical. After all, much of what the neocons have been pushing for has been the “Israelization” of Americnan foreign policy and national security, in a sense that the Americans should adopt the tough Israeli methods in dealing with global threats, especially vis-a-vis the Arabs who supposedly “only understand force.” The problem is that both in Iraq and Lebanon (now and earlier) and in the West Bank/Gaza this approach has proved to be a total failure in terms of policy (forget for a moment about moral dilemmas).


Indeed, as I suggested in an earlier post, it’s all looking more and more not like 1967 (the historical analogy being that Nasrallah will end up as a loser like Nasser) and more like 1973 when although the Sadat and the Egyptians were defeated in military terms, the perception was that they triumphed over Israel. This is the result of the “game of expectations,” when one side does better than expected. ~Leon Hadar

It is easy to say so now, but does it not seem clear that the parallel moves of the Americanisation of Israel’s military and the Israelisation of our policies were doomed from the start?  Air superiority is very good to have in its proper role, but it is never going to change fundamental political realities, much less transform a political culture.  Viewing American policy in the Near East as a matter of demonstrating resolve through force to cajole “the Arab mind” into obeisance (and to “drain the swamp” as Israel has always succeeded in doing, viz. Hamas, Hizbullah, etc.) is a recipe for perpetual war that cannot serve the American interest.  Unhinged people who think a border war in the Near East is manifestation of a global war for the entire West have imbibed the idea that we are in a war for our very survival, as if the sea into which the Arabs are always supposed to be wanting to push Israel were the Pacific and not the Mediterranean.  The confusion of the interests and methods appropriate to each nation and its needs has resulted in failure and calamity for both.  Perhaps distinct nations with their own particular needs and goals should adapt themselves to operate in distinct and sometimes divergent ways; the convergence of our technical expertise and their perspective has been largely unsuccessful in securing the interests of either country.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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