Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ambassador Oren: Israel - America's ultimate ally; Valuable benefits of US-Israel relationship

In the May/June issue of Foreign Policy magazine, Israel’s ambassador to Washington Michael Oren writes an essay aimed at debunking US foreign policy wonks who claim Israel is a US liability, arguing instead that Israel is America’s “partner par excellence.”

“What is the definition of an American ally?” Oren asks at the outset of his piece entitled “The Ultimate Ally.
"On an ideological level, an ally is a country that shares America's values, reflects its founding spirit, and resonates with its people's beliefs. Tactically, an ally stands with the United States through multiple conflicts and promotes its global vision...."
"An ally enhances American intelligence and defense capabilities, and provides ports and training for U.S. forces. Its army is formidable and unequivocally loyal to its democratic government. An ally helps secure America's borders and assists in saving American lives on and off the battlefield. And an ally stimulates the U.S. economy through trade, technological innovation, and job creation."
"Israel is the only Middle Eastern state never to oppose America on major international issues. Its fundamental interests, like its values, are America's. For the price of annual military aid equaling roughly half the cost of one Zumwalt-class destroyer, the United States helps maintain the military might of one of the few nations actively contributing to America's defense. It reinforces the only country capable of deterring Hamas and Hezbollah and impeding the spread of Iranian hegemony."
Among Oren’s key points are the following:

• The pilgrims who arrived at Plymouth Rock considered themselves founders of a “New Israel,” and a spiritual sympathy for restoring Jews to their ancestral homeland influenced America’s leaders from the founding fathers, through Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson to Harry Truman.

• Israel is a democracy that cherishes the same values enshrined in the US Constitution – free speech and assembly, respect for individual rights, an independent judiciary – and this has created another level of affinity with the US. Withstanding pressures that have crushed many liberal societies, Israel is one of only a handful of states that has never experienced an interruption in democratic rule.

• Israel has always sided with the United States on major global issues, and in times of danger responded to US needs, such as intervening to save Jordan from Syrian invasion in 1970, and not retaliating to Scud missile attacks from Iraq in 1991 when asked not to do so by president George H.W. Bush.

• Israel’s location on the eastern Mediterranean littoral means the US can minimize its military development in this strategically vital area.

• Israel-US intelligence cooperation is vast, with the two countries’ intelligence agencies trading valuable information, analyses and operational experience in counterterrorism and counter-proliferation.

• Israeli technology – from a kibbutz factory in the Galilee that provides armor for US military vehicles to a coagulating bandage created in Jerusalem and distributed widely among the US military – saves US lives.

Oren concludes the Article by stating:
"These benefits of the U.S.-Israel relationship are of incalculable value to the United States, far outweighing any price. Americans know that Israelis have always stood by them, ready to share technology, intelligence, and innovation -- ready to aid them in conflict and to make the painful sacrifices for peace. Israel may be one of a handful of countries that fully fits the definition of ally, but its willingness to support the United States unwaveringly makes it the partner par excellence, America's ultimate ally".