BigMo’s Blog

Politics and Economics in Israel

Is America’s de facto Alliance with Israel over?

In the early 1960s, then US President John F. Kennedy sold Israel its first modern, American-made weapon system. The Hawk anti-aircraft missiles were a defensive system, so Kennedy could credibly argue that he was restoring the balance of power among the players in the region. So it began.

Right up to the Six Day War, Israel had a marriage of convenience with France. France badly needed allies in its failing attempt to hold onto its overseas empire. It was slowly stripped of the Suez Canal, then Algeria (with Indochina falling in between, although that had little to do with Israel). Rather, the relationship with Israel was one way of punishing Arab nationalists for humiliating France.

After the Six Day War, America realized that there was a democratic, West-leaning country with a superb military in a strategic location. Add some domestic support from a coalition of Jewish Americans, Christian Conservatives and WWII vets who saw the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps first hand and, presto chango: Allies!

Fast forward 40 years.  America has won the Cold War – indeed with steadfast support from Israel in the UN, and at times, in places where Americans would have stood out and been noticed.  Israel “field-tested” numerous American wepaons system and made them better, increasing the appeal of American technology to countries sitting on the ideological fence.  Israeli technology created much of how the Internet works – an Internet that was the central nervous system of the telecommunications revolution of the last twenty years.

However, the USSR is gone.  AWACS, F15s and Smart bombs are of limited use against a sniper hiding in a mosque or a young man willing to strap 20 pounds of TNT to his chest.  Technology has diffused around the globe.  And the current Administration in Washington, D.C., is re-calibrating its relationship with Israel.

An Israel that is at odds with its Arab neighbors who supply America with its oil.  An Israel that finds the same difficulty fighting the sniper and the young suicide bomber with its American-made weapons.  An Israel whose technological prowess now routinely butts heads with American corporate interests.  An Israel, which though part of the liberal democratic tradition, looks increasingly Jewish and increasingly different from America – regardless of how “American” Israelis want to be.

June 29, 2009 - Posted by | Israel, Middle East |

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