Saturday, August 25, 2007

Two cheers for isolationism

Its election time in America (almost) and soon the candidates will be appealing for Jewish voters by promising that they will give more money to Israel than their competitors.

But I wonder whether Israel is really better off with U.S. aid. It seems to me that maybe, just maybe, Israel would be better off with an isolationist U.S. government, one that ignored both Israel and its enemies.

Here's why:

1. In the past, the major benefit of U.S. military aid has been that it helps Israel defend against conventional attacks by Arab governments. But such a war has not taken place for 34 years. Today, Israel's major problem is terrorists who can't be stopped by tanks and similar U.S.-supplied weaponry. So the benefits of U.S. support are not what they used to be.

2. On the other hand, the costs of U.S. support are greater than in the past - especially (ironically enough) from the standpoint of Israeli hawks. He who pays the piper calls the tune- and all that foreign aid gives the U.S. some influence, I would guess, over Israeli policy. The major cost of U.S. support is the risk that the U.S. will try to pressure Israel into making nice with the Arabs. For example - in the absence of U.S. "support", would Israel have let Arafat die a natural death? And if not, would Israel be better off if it had terminated Arafat 20 years ago?

Your thoughts?

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