Sunday, August 13, 2006

Peace in our time - some perspective

An Op-Ed from Haaretz no less?

Israel has been cautious in Lebanon, fearing not only for the lives of its soldiers, but also that an overly aggressive military campaign will alienate world opinion and force its hand diplomatically at the UN. However, Israeli leaders ought to worry more about a different scenario, one in which American policymakers, analyzing the Israel Defense Forces' failure to defeat Hezbollah after 30 days effort, lose their faith in Israel's ability to "get the job done" on issues of shared strategic interest.

Should the IDF lose its aura of invincibility in American eyes, Israel's perceived value as an ally could decline sharply. This reassessment in Washington, when combined with a continuing and even heightened determination by Arab states and jihadists to destroy Israel, would be catastrophic for its security.


The fact that the United States has spent major diplomatic capital providing Israel with an unprecedented window of opportunity to deal with Hezbollah, facing down both its European allies and the Arab League, and complicating efforts to launch multilateral sanctions against Iran, makes matters even worse.

This is especially true when U.S. domestic political developments are taken into account. In the past, Israel could depend upon a basic consensus among both Republicans and Democrats that it was a valuable, indeed indispensable, ally that occupied the moral high ground. The political sands, however, are shifting. Anti-Israeli sentiments are rife among Democrats - 59 percent want the U.S. to be more "evenhanded" in the Middle East - some of whom appear to be convinced that the Bush administration's deposition of Saddam Hussein was masterminded by "neo-conservatives" in Israel's interest.

Senator Joseph Lieberman's August 8 loss in the Connecticut primary, and the evident triumph of the Democrats' neo-McGovernite wing, signal trouble ahead.

I have no idea how accurate the authors' assesment might be, but it certainly is food for thought.
Underlying all this is an undercurrent I can't quite put my finger on. However, no one, most certainly not Hezbollah/Iran/Syria, is likely to see this ceasefire as victory for Israeli/U.S. interests.

I'm not foolish enough to judge events before they're played out, and there's little doubt that things are going on in 'backrooms' around the world that might change everything overnight, but the hard fact is that perceptions can become a sort of reality.

Read more at Israel must win


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