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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

January 29, 2003

American foreign policy (Ted Belman)

In my recent posts, Es vet du gournisht helfen and The greatness of George W Bush, I pointed out that for the last fifty years, American policy was to have its cake and eat it too. On the one hand it committed itself to Israel’s military superiority and survival. On the other hand, it always forced Israel to disgorge its gains in war and to make concessions to the Arabs in the hopes of ending the conflict and earning the good will of the Arabs.

The US postures as an honest broker but the Arabs don’t buy it. The Arabs complain that America is too pro Israel and demand that it be even handed. In other words, that America leans more on Israel for concessions regardless of the merits of the respective claims.

For fifty years, this policy has been in place, with diminishing returns. Arab anti-Americanism is growing.

A few years ago the neo cons started to question this policy and suggested a different one was needed. One, where America abandoned the pretence of an honest broker and of evenhandedness and where they clearly sided with Israel. Such a policy would, they argued, dash any hopes the Arabs had of getting America’s help in destroying Israel and would as a result force the Arabs to accept Israel.

The War on Terror required America to be more decisive. Bush now demanded that the Arabs choose sides. For the last year the US administration struggled with what to do with Israel. Should Israel be forced to make compromises in order to get the Arabs to really join the War on Terror. The Arabs wanted, as the price for cooperating, America to force a solution on Israel not to its liking. Thus America had to decide whether to solve Bagdad or Jerusalem first. That decision obviously has been made.

America is no longer attempting to maintain the status quo because it is no longer acceptable to it. It attacked Afghanistan and will soon attack Iraq. In prosecuting the war, America will see to it that regimes that support terror be changed either from without or within.

I am hopeful that sacrificing Israel will not be part of its war plans. If the Road Map doesn’t get off the ground, we’ll know the answer.