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09 July 2008

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Spider Rider

"By its actions, Israel is unlikely to find a different patron, yet absent such patronage would rapidly descend into insignificance."

Given the investment, though, (and I agree, there are significant problems), what is the return on investment, in terms of US strategic position in the middle east?

And if we look upon it as a whole, in terms of the enterprise, does it make good business and military, strategic sense to still invest in Israel?

We virtualy have no military presence in the Middle East, (except for Iraq, such as it is), does Israel function as a de facto Middle East US outpost?

And I mean no disrespect to Israel, and I do understand our problems with the Israeli government, but Israel does allow the US to establish presence.

I have been following the British/Russian dust up over the last few years, and Britain, apparently, for many reasons see Russia as a threat, both in terms of oil, and corruption, (not to mention the murder of the Russian spy in London, ostensibly approved of by Putin).

So how do we view Russia, and therefore how do we view Russia as a player in the Middle East? Russia has Iran as an established ally.

How do we protect US strategic interests, then, given the mess in Iraq?

I do not believe Putin is a friend of US oil, of multinational oil.

TomB

Andy:

Great post. Great great post. Sober, deep, relentlessly fair; you name it. Don't know that I disagree with anything you've said or that anyone could.

Not that it's any flaw in same given what you consciously limited your remarks too however, I just think it might fairly be observed that of course it's pretty exclusively limited to Israel's security vis a vis its military matters, true? And as "military matters" are of course just another way of describing "war matters," to paraphrase Clausewitz then they are just another way of saying "political matters" too.

So even if one can have unbounded sympathy for Israel's military situation, or admiration for how well it's handled same, that's clearly rather stilted and not nearly comprehensive enough I think. I.e., there's still the question of how it has handled its security situation via its handling of its *other* (non-military) political affairs.

And how has it handled those other "non-military" aspects? Even though I think it's horrifically unfair to the arabs, just for the sake of argument—or even just as a practical need to draw the line somewhere—I suspect the world would be essentially willing to forget whatever Israel did or didn't do prior to 1967. In the first place I doubt any country was ever founded that didn't do so over the backs of someone else. And besides that 1967 really was the beginning of the modern era the Middle East lives in today, right?

So what has been Israel's non-military political "strategy" since 1967 as regards its security?

As I said in an earlier post, it seems to me impossible not to conclude that it's simply been an utterly conscious, deliberate, sustained and programmatic policy of expansion. And indeed I don't think this is something that even merits argument. You don't accidently take someone else's land. Nor do you do it mistakenly. And Israel itself has openly declared that it has the absolute right to be doing what it has because, unlike every other country in the world, it reads the Geneva accords in a way that says it can take that land.

So Israel itself has done nothing but affirm that you bet, it is taking that land and believes it has the right to do so and indeed take even more.

But how sensible has this been for its security situation? I.e., the other, non-military aspect of its handling of its security situation?

Seems to me one can argue that it's been exactly that which has *caused* the need for Israel to put so much emphasis of its military affairs. In fact it seems to me it's almost impossible to deny that Israel has absolutely *consciously* accepted antagonizing its arab neighbors and thereby having to preponderantly (if not overwhelmingly) rely on being what can only be called a military state. One that has overwhelmingly if not *exclusively* staked its security reliance on same, no?

Now that's fine, that's been Israel's clear deliberate choice, but when that choice turns out to have been questionable I don't know what one says. Sympathy for its people? Sure. But stupid hurts, as does greed and zealotry and etc. And no matter how one feels about it I don't think its unreasonable for us to decline to expend our blood and treasure to pull its chestnuts out of the fire it so deliberately and consciously and even ravenously placed them in. (Especially after we ourselves had warned them not to ever since Day One.)

Moreover, as I noted before, it is *still* continuing its colonization project even as its militarization choice is appearing ever more unbalanced and dangerous.

And as regards its nukes and its refusal to push for or agree to a nuke-free Middle East without those conditions you mention, I would further note as follows: Even accepting, as I think one probably must, that Israel initially nuked-up as an ... existential guarantee of its survival, we're talking about the "now" aren't we?

And what is that situation now? Israel is obviously is in no danger of conventional-war destruction given its overwhelming conventional power. So given what it itself has proclaimed that it's very survival is in "existential" threat from others' nukes, well, what's the only conclusion from its position refusing a condition-less, nuke-free Middle East?

Certainly it can't be that it wants to hang on to its nukes to prevent its "existential" nuke destruction. If so it would embrace that proposal. Instead it seems to me the only remaining conclusion possible is that it refuses such an idea only because it wants to be the *sole* party in the region who can existentially threaten others.

And indeed isn't that clearly what it is evidencing otherwise such as its bombing of Osirak, it's recent bombing of the Syrian facility, and its declaration that it will never allow Iran to have nukes?

I just don't see any other logic to it. And as for the condition it has supposedly placed on going nuke-free—that other nations recognize it—well....

How would mere recognition of Israel give it any real security that it wouldn't be attacked by that recognizer in the future? Plus it seems to me to be nothing more than an open tongue-in-cheek proposal given that Israel—very possibly uniquely amongst all the countries of the world—refuses to define and declare its own borders.

So how in the world can anyone be reasonably expected to recognize someone else who refuses to define itself? Someone else who, indeed, wants to reserve the right to someday pehraps even declare that they own a chunk of your territory?

And now that the Palestinian Authority at least has agreed to recognize Israel, I've noticed a new demand with a very interesting shift in it. Now Israel is freshly saying that "we demand you recognize us as as *jewish* state."

So what does *this* mean? A recognition that Israel can in the future expel even its own arab citizens in Israel proper? A recognition that in any areas agreed upon in the future that will go to Israel that it can expel any and all arabs there?

So no matter how much sympathy one can have for Israel's seemingly ever-more precarious security situation, I just don't know what one can do. Given Israel's *own* declaration that it would not abide by any such thing, can anyone even say with any confidence whatsoever that if we were to declare today our guarantee of the security of Israel proper and absolutely 100% of its current settlements in the occupied territories that Israel would abjure from occupying and settling even *more* land?

Even if you're the most sympathetic person in the world towards Israel, what do you do in such a situation?

All I can think of is that maybe all this talk of definition points a way towards a solution for the U.S. Simply ask that Israel define itself. It's borders and its nature and what that means. (It has no constitution I don't think.)

I.e.,tell me who and what you are and I'll tell you how much I support you. That doesn't seem unfair to Israel, does it?

Cheers,

Gary

Mr. Lang:

I take issue with your post's statement that "Israel is a country which was established to foster the interests of a particular ethno-religious group over all others. In that way Israel and Pakistan have much in common"

I doubt you have been to Israel because if you went, you would notice that there are mosques, christian churches, even the Bahai world headqaurters everywhere in Israel. There is complete freedom of religion in Israel and that is a fact. Contrast that with Pakistan-Christians, Hindus and Jews are not allowed to worship in Pakistan and most have left the country in fear of their lives.

Moreover, in contrast to the common canard (to which you appear to subscribe) that Israel only allows jews to become citizens, 25 percent of Israeli citizens are non-jews. The non-muslim citizenship of Pakistan in less than 2%.

Although skillfully camouflaged, your post conveys an occult double standard and perhaps willful ignorance.

Patrick Lang

Gary, or whoever you are

You are such a funny man that I decided to publish your drivel and let the sharks eat you.

Ah, the carefully worded accusation of anti-semitism... I have worked in and on the Middle East for 35 odd years. You might have checked my CV. I was the head of US/Israeli military intelligence liaison for eight years and have been in Israel something like 20 times, most recently in March.

You must be a Christian Zionist. The Jewish ones are much more sophisticated.

Read up on Zionism. The specific purpose of the Zionist project is to create a national homeland for the JEWS. At least that's what Herzl wanted. If that is not the purpose for which Israel exists then why won't they accept the idea of a bi-national state with the Palestinians?

I never said you can't practise other religions in Israel. You did that. So, you are a practioner of the Ted Kennedy school of rhetoric. In that school of maneuver, the trick is to misquote your opponent and then comment on the misquote.

Pakistan was similarly founded to foster the interests of Indian Muslims. Learn a little history or maybe they don't teach that in high school any longer. pl

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