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Old 12-02-2011, 05:52 PM
ledocs ledocs is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: France, Earth
Posts: 1,165
Default Re: Values Added: The Whirligig of Time (Glenn Loury & Walter Russell Mead)

Mead appears to make a crucial point here.

Both the military and the economic aid that the United States offers, Mearsheimer and Walt tell us, can be substantially reduced or even eliminated without undermining Israel's security. But they do not carry this point through to its logical conclusion: if U.S. aid is of relatively limited value to Israel, then threats to trim or withhold that aid will have relatively little impact on Israel's behavior.
Mead is correct. M&W cannot have it both ways. The military aid is either important or it is not. But I think the answer would be that what is crucially important to Israel is the moral support of the US, i.e. it’s a “soft power” question. The military aid may be largely symbolic, at this point. Mearsheimer makes this point, as I have made it, in an address he gave to a Palestinian audience on April 29, 2010.

The bottom line is that Israel will not be able to maintain itself as an apartheid state over the long term, because it will not be able to depend on the American Jewish community to defend its loathsome policies toward the Palestinians. And without that protection, Israel is doomed, because public opinion in the West will turn decisively against Israel, as it turns itself into a full-fledged apartheid state.
Mead believes that favorable public opinion in the West is not essential to Israel’s survival, as he states in the review.

Mearsheimer and Walt also significantly underestimate the importance of the U.S.-Israeli alliance to the United States. If Israel determined that U.S. foreign policy was shifting in a hostile direction, it would have the option of diversifying its great-power base of support. Given Israel's overwhelming military position in the Middle East, and its ability to provide a new partner with advanced U.S. weapons and intelligence information, China, Russia, and India might find an alliance with Israel well worth the cost in popularity points across the Arab world. Israel has changed partners before: it won the 1948-49 war with weapons from the Soviet bloc, partnered with France and the United Kingdom in 1956, and considered France (the source of Israel's nuclear technology) its most important ally in 1967. This potential shift is of major concern to the United States. One of the key U.S. objectives in the Middle East since World War II has been to prevent any other outside power from gaining a strategic foothold there. Alliances between other great powers and Israel -- the dominant military power in the world's most vital and crisis-ridden region -- could create major problems for U.S. foreign policy and significantly reduce the United States' ability to advance the Middle East peace process. Accordingly, maintaining the United States' relationship with Israel while managing its costs is the real challenge for U.S. policy in the Middle East.
Mead’s overall point in the review seems to be that the US has almost no leverage over Israel. David rules Goliath. He agrees with W&M that the economic/military contribution of the US to Israel is no longer at all crucial to Israel, and Israel does not need the moral cover of the US government, or of its Jewish community. It can turn elsewhere.

I don’t see how the views of W&M and those of Mead can be reconciled, just as regards the amount of leverage the US can exert on Israel. US diplomatic support of Israel, and the related special relationship between the US Jewish community and Israel, are either crucial to Israel’s survival, or they are not. If, on the one hand, Israel becomes more and more an apartheid state, and if it then were to turn to China and/or India, with no Jewish populations, as its primary source(s) of diplomatic and military support in the world, it seems to me that the implications for Israeli society are quite dire. It does not seem feasible to me. I think there would be a mass emigration of the more secular Israelis to Western countries or the Western hemisphere generally.

What do you think Mead means when he says,

One of the key U.S. objectives in the Middle East since World War II has been to prevent any other outside power from gaining a strategic foothold there. Alliances between other great powers and Israel -- the dominant military power in the world's most vital and crisis-ridden region -- could create major problems for U.S. foreign policy…
Why is the Middle East the world’s “most vital region?” Is it because of oil, or because of something else? What advantages would accrue to China or India in allying with Israel? Why would China or India do that? Are they worried about the growing military power of the now-nuclear Iran and they’re going to use Israel as a proxy, just as the US might? This whole line of thought sounds like it’s a serious objection to W&M, who have, by hypothesis, overestimated the leverage the US could conceivably exert on Israel, not realizing that Israel has other potential great-power suitors, but I do wonder if it makes any sense whatever.

Mead had already tipped his hand with regard to Mearsheimer and anti-Semitism on his blog (September 23, 2011);


I think it is very peculiar for Mead to be focusing on this blurb for the Atzmon book when Mearsheimer laid out so clearly in this speech of April 29, 2010, for all the world to hear, a speech that I find quite persuasive, what his thoughts are about the future of Israel-Palestine.


So I really do need to take a complete break from this discussion for about a week.

Last edited by ledocs; 12-02-2011 at 11:31 PM..
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