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Pence, Israel, and the U.S. Role as “Honest Broker”

It is false to claim that the U.S. can overtly take sides in the conflict while still "dealing honestly" with all sides.

Mike Pence is giving the rest of the 2016 field a run for their money in shameless “pro-Israel” pandering:

America should not aspire to be an “honest broker” in the Middle East, but rather communicate to the world that while it wants an honest and fair solution to the conflict, “we are on the side of Israel,” Indiana Governor and possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate Mike Pence said in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

In other words, Pence believes that the U.S. should be completely biased in favor of one side in the conflict, which all but guarantees that an “honest and fair solution” becomes impossible. He isn’t really interested in an “honest and fair solution,” but he does want to make sure that the U.S. is perceived as being on Israel’s side. It’s not as if there was likely to be any confusion on this score. Of course, it is false to claim that the U.S. can overtly take sides in the conflict while still “dealing honestly” with all sides. Overwhelming bias in favor of one side precludes fair dealing with the other. Nothing could be more dishonest than to assert that the U.S. can back Israel to the hilt while still dealing honestly with the other side in the conflict. That much has been clear for more than a decade at least.

I suppose Pence should get some credit for acknowledging publicly what most hawkish candidates only imply, namely that they want U.S. to be as one-sided in this conflict as possible. Pence’s statements are nonetheless remarkable for a couple of reasons. First, he openly rejects the idea that the U.S. should even be trying to be seen as an “honest broker.” Obviously, the U.S. hasn’t filled that role for decades if it ever did, but it used to be expected for leading members of both parties to pretend that this was the appropriate role for the U.S. in the conflict. Pence makes no pretense that the U.S. should act as a mediator, but instead urges the U.S. to be an advocate for one side to the detriment of the other. He is also putting himself completely at odds with the vast majority of Americans that think that the U.S. shouldn’t be taking sides in the conflict. But then what would we expect from someone who repeats the risible claim that Israel is “our most cherished ally”? We can’t expect impartiality from someone that has such a strong passionate attachment, but that should make us question his judgment when it comes to U.S. foreign policy.



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