Home/Daniel Larison/The Danger of Passionate Attachments and Inveterate Antipathies

The Danger of Passionate Attachments and Inveterate Antipathies

Andrew Bacevich warns against passionate attachments to other countries. Here he wonders how long the U.S.-Israel relationship in its current form will last:

Will love alone sustain US support for Israel? Perhaps. But a lover who gives without getting may eventually tire of such an arrangement. When love dies, watch out.

I would hope that the U.S. would tire of all its one-sided relationships with clients and other dependents, but it has become so ingrained and habitual that it seems unlikely to happen on its own. In this case, support for a “special” relationship with Israel is also fueled by the other thing Washington warned against, namely “permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations.” As long as many Americans make the mistake of believing that Israel’s enemies are our enemies, they will continue to make the mistake of imagining that Israel is a reliable “ally” that we ought to support. Even though the close relationship with them is one of the causes of hostility to America in the region, that same hostility is used as an excuse to bind the U.S. ever more closely to a client state it doesn’t need. Even if the passionate attachment to the client were to weaken at some point, the antipathies against many of its neighbors might keep it going for a long time. That is why Washington was very wise in warning against both kinds of intense sentiments, because both drive Americans to take sides in quarrels that have nothing to do with us and only make the U.S. less secure.

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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