Sunday, June 5, 2011

Yoram Ettinger/ The Mutually Bottom-Up US-Israel Relations

(Yoram Ettinger-.theettingerreport).The enthusiastic reception – by Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, doves and hawks - to Prime Minister Netanyahu's May 24, 2011 speech before a joint session of the US Congress reflected the unique relationship between the United States and Israel. The ties between the US and Israel resemble a triple-braided cord, which is not easily broken, consisting of shared values and mutually-beneficial economic and security interests.

The US affinity towards the Jewish State is exceptional in the international relations arena. It is based upon a bottom-up structure, deriving its potency from the American people more than from American politicians.

Most Americans identify the Jewish State with cardinal US domestic values – not just with foreign policy – that reflect the Judeo-Christian roots of American democracy, liberty, morality, justice and the federalist system. Such sentiments have produced systemic and solid support for Jewish sovereignty in Zion, dating back to the 17th century Pilgrims and the 18th century American Founding Fathers. These sentiments are currently echoed by the representatives of the American people in the legislatures of the 50 states and in the US House of Representatives and Senate in Washington, DC. While American presidents play a critical role in shaping US-Israel relations, the American people and their representatives set the foundations, direction and tone, as well as the content of the bilateral relations, sometimes overruling or redirecting White House policies.

The 390 year old infrastructure of shared values between the US and the vision of a Jewish State – since the sermons of William Bradford on the "Mayflower" in 1620AD - has been buttressed in recent years by Israel's significant contribution to US national security in the face of mutual threats and in the pursuit of joint interests. In addition, Israeli cutting-edge technologies have stimulated the US economy. Moreover, Israel's role as the only reliable and capable Middle Eastern ally of the US is highlighted by the recent seismic developments destabilizing every Arab country.

Unlike European Parliamentarians, US legislators did not hold their breath, expecting Netanyahu to announce further concessions to the Palestinians. In fact, the vast majority of US legislators – just like their constituents – do not trust the Palestinians.

Netanyahu should not have focused on the Palestinian issue, and certainly should not have offered further concessions. He should have focused on the larger context of US-Israel relations, which benefits America on the federal, state and district levels. He should have proposed specific job-creating, export-increasing and security-enhancing bilateral programs, similar to the mutually-beneficial existing programs. He should have offered the US expanded access to the ports of Haifa and Ashdod, and to dramatically enlarge and diversify the prepositioning of American military systems in Israel, for use by the US upon regional emergencies.

The larger context of the US-Israel relationship extends beyond the foundations of shared-values and transcends the Arab-Israeli conflict. It leverages Israel's unique capabilities in order to advance both regional and global American interests. It is not a one-way-street relationship - with the US giving and Israel receiving; it is a mutually-beneficial two-way-street.

In September 2007, Israel demolished a nuclear plant in Syria, dealing a blow to the anti-Western Syria-Iran-North Korea axis, while upgrading the posture of deterrence and the joint interests of the US and Israel.

The upheaval in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, Syria and other Arab countries highlight Israel's unique qualities as an ally of the US. The 2011 turmoil has removed "the Middle East screensaver," exposing the real Arab Street: No “Arab Spring,” but the exacerbation of tribal-ethnic-religious-geographic-ideological rivalries, animosities, splits and power struggles; the intensification of domestic and intra-Arab fragmentation; the escalation of intolerance, violence and hate-culture; the absence of stability and the deepening of uncertainty, which exposes the tenuous nature of Arab regimes and their agreements and alliances; the ruthless submission of democracy-seeking elements and the perpetuation of atrocious tyrannies.

Egypt - a beneficiary of billions of dollars and state of the art US military systems – maintains close ties with North Korea, Russia and China, agitates the Horn of Africa and Sudan, consistently votes against the US in the UN, collaborates with Hamas' smuggling of missiles and explosives into Gaza and institutionalizes hate-education.

Iran had access to the most advanced US military systems when the Shah was at the helm. However, the Shah was toppled, and Iran was transformed from a staunch US ally into the most anti-US regime in the world.

Libya granted the US, in 1954, the use of Wheelus Air Base, which became the largest US Air Force base outside the USA. In 1969, Colonel Qaddafi overthrew King Idris and Wheelus serviced the Soviet Air Force. Libya became a terrorist state, responsible for the murder of 270 people during the 1988 PanAm-103 bombing, as well as for the 1986 LaBelle Discotheque bombing.

Iraq was pro-Western until the1958 anti-Western coup. Saddam Hussein – who ruled Iraq since 1979 - gained the confidence of the US and benefitted from a shared-intelligence agreement, the transfer of sensitive dual-use American technologies and $5BN loan guarantees until his 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The US evacuation of Iraq could trigger a volcanic-like eruption, which could consume Iraq itself, as well as neighboring countries.

Saudi Arabia depends on the US for its survival in the face of lethal regional threats. The 1991 and 2003 US Gulf Wars were largely induced by the concern for a Saddam takeover of Saudi Arabia. However, Riyad bankrolls the operations of anti-US Islamic organizations in the US and anti-US Islamic terrorists worldwide.

Israel's strategic added-value is underlined by the gathering conventional and non-conventional Arab storms, by the increasing vulnerability of pro-US Arab regimes, by the intensified threats of Islamic terrorism and Iran's nuclearization, by the deepening penetration of the Arab Middle East by Russia and China, by the recent erosion of the US posture of deterrence and by the expected US evacuation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Israel's reliability, capability, credibility, stability, democracy and unconditional alliance with the USA are anomalous in the Middle East.

US-Israel cooperation, in defiance of mutual threats, should not be undermined by US-Israel disagreements over the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian issue. Recent Arab havoc has reaffirmed that the Palestinian issue has never been the root cause of Middle East turbulence or the crown jewel of Arab policy-making. In fact, regional turbulence is unrelated to the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Palestinian issue, Israel's policies or Israel's existence.