Dore Gold: Understanding the U.S.-Israel Alliance

An Israeli Response to the Walt-Mearsheimer Claim


• Contrary to the assertions of Professors Stephen Walt of Harvard University and John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, who claim that no compelling strategic argument can explain American support for Israel, which they argue has been promoted by “the unmatched power of the Israel lobby,” the two countries have, in fact, developed strong strategic ties over the years that have evolved into a unique alliance.

• As early as December 27, 1962, President John F. Kennedy told Israeli Foreign Minister Golda Meir: “The United States has a special relationship with Israel in the Middle East really comparable only to what it has with Britain over a wide range of world affairs.” During the Cold War, the U.S. and Israel had a joint strategic interest in defeating the aggression of Soviet-backed rogue states in the Middle East. This began when Nasser’s Egypt intervened in the Arabian Peninsula in 1962, through Yemen, and in 1970 when Syria invaded Jordan.

• In 1981, Israel destroyed the nuclear reactor of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, severely reducing Iraqi military strength. Ten years later, after a U.S.-led coalition had to liberate Kuwait following Iraq’s occupation of that oil-producing mini-state, Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney in October 1991 thanked Israel for its “bold and dramatic action” a decade earlier.

• Presently, U.S.-Israeli defense ties have grown even tighter. Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee on March 15, 2007, USEUCOM commander General Bantz J. Craddock stated that Israel was America’s “closest ally” in the Middle East and that it “consistently and directly” supported U.S. interests. This professional evaluation of the U.S.-Israel relationship flies in the face of Walt and Mearsheimer’s assertion that Israel is a “strategic burden” that does not serve the American national interest.

• Because many elements of this strategic relationship are kept secret – particularly in the intelligence field – it is difficult for academics and pundits to assess the true value of U.S.-Israel ties. Nonetheless, General George F. Keegan, a retired U.S. Air Force intelligence chief, disclosed in 1986 that he could not have obtained the same intelligence that he received from Israel if he had “five CIAs.” During his interview, at which time the Cold War was still raging, he added: “The ability of the U.S. Air Force in particular, and the Army in general, to defend whatever position it has in NATO owes more to the Israeli intelligence input than it does to any single source of intelligence.”

August 23, 2007 | 6 Comments »

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  1. The main part of Dore Gold’s article gives greater insight in to the depth and value of the strategic alliance America has with Israel. The last portion of his article however, not summarized in the lead post delves into the Saudi lobby and America’s oil dependence.

    That is worth a read.

    Ask About the Saudi Lobby and U.S. Dependence on Middle East Oil

    Does Israel have supporters in the U.S. that back a strong relationship between the two countries? Clearly, networks of such support exist, as they do for U.S. ties with Britain, Greece, Turkey, and India. There are also states like Saudi Arabia that have tried to tilt U.S. policy using a vast array of powerful PR firms, former diplomats, and well-connected officials. The results of those efforts have America still overly dependent on Middle Eastern oil with few energy alternatives. Given the ultimate destination of those petrodollars in recent years (the global propagation of Islamic extremism and terrorism), a serious investigation of those lobbying efforts appears to be far more appropriate than focusing on relations between the U.S. and Israel.

    Indeed, Saudi Arabia is really in conflict with vital U.S. interests. Bush administration officials admit privately that of an estimated 60 to 80 foreign fighters who enter Iraq each month to fight U.S. and coalition forces, roughly half come from Saudi Arabia.28 In August 2003, Undersecretary of State Richard Armitage admitted that funds from private Saudi charities were funding insurgents in Iraq.29 Senior officials hint that such connections continue to this day. There is a striking irony in the way that Walt and Mearsheimer complain about the influence of pro-Israel groups in Washington, and yet both academics were prepared to appear at the National Press Club in August 2006, at the invitation of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an organization that has received financial support from Saudi and other foreign benefactors abroad and lobbies on behalf of various Middle Eastern causes throughout the United States.30

    Some Saudi benefactors still have very problematic connections. One of the largest Saudi charities, the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), had two branches in Indonesia and the Philippines which were designated by the U.S. Treasury Department on August 3, 2006, as entities that were “bankrolling [the] Al Qaida network.”31 IIRO was not a private charity nor an NGO, but was part of the Muslim World League, that had official Saudi governmental involvement. Today, massive U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia are being proposed in Washington while the U.S. Treasury Department is complaining that the Saudis are “not holding people responsible for sending money abroad for jihad.”32 Walt and Mearsheimer did not probe Saudi influence in Washington the way they went after pro-Israel lobbying.

    Those who question the U.S.-Israel relationship at this time seem to overlook changes in the global threat environment that have radically altered U.S. national security interests. During the last century, the main threats to the continental U.S. came from the European continent (World War I, World War II, and the Cold War). After 1945, Americans came to accept the long-term deployment of U.S. forces in Germany and the rest of Europe as necessary for assuring the future stability of the continent and serving the American interest in containing the spread of Soviet power.

    Yet in the last two decades, Americans are finding that the strategic focal point of their military activism is increasingly in the Middle East, particularly with the pacification of Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union (the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, notwithstanding). This shift from Europe to the Middle East is understandable given the fact that the main global threats to American security – al-Qaeda terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction as well as missile delivery systems – now emanate from the Middle East region.

    Still, many analysts are perplexed by the rising military importance of the Middle East for the U.S., and hence try to find alternative explanations. The 2003 Iraq War has made this confusion all the more acute, driving some pundits to conclude, falsely, that the only plausible explanation for the U.S. decision to remove Saddam Hussein was because of Israel. Indeed, The Economist suggested on March 17, 2007, that “The Iraq debacle has produced a fierce backlash” affecting the standing of groups supportive of Israel in Washington. This leads to the assertion that the Bush administration launched the Iraq War in response to insidious behind-the-scenes lobbying efforts made by pro-Israel organizations in Washington. No such efforts were in fact undertaken.

    Walt and Mearsheimer have joined the chorus of those blaming Israel and its supporters for the decision to launch the Iraq War: “Pressure from Israel and the lobby was not the only factor behind the decision to attack Iraq in March 2003, but it was critical. Some Americans believe that this was a war for oil, but there is hardly any direct evidence to support this claim. Instead, the war was motivated in good part by a desire to make Israel more secure [emphasis added].”33

    Bob Woodward of the Washington Post has written one of the most thorough journalistic accounts of the Iraq War. He describes a “top secret” Bush administration memo entitled “Iraq: Goals, Objectives and Strategy,” which specifically states that one “key goal” was “to minimize disruption in international oil markets.” Woodward details a conversation between Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, and President Bush in which Bandar seeks to get Bush to finish off the historic step begun by his father in 1991, by getting rid of Saddam. A letter from Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah was delivered at the same meeting with the same request.34

    Moreover, Richard A. Clarke, a subsequent Bush administration critic who was exposed to internal White House thinking about the Iraq War until March 2003, has concluded that most of the rationales for the decision to go to war reflected “a concern with the long-term stability of the House of Saud.”35 This Saudi angle has not been probed at all in public discourse. Blaming Israel for the Iraq War is easy and perhaps satisfies a need by some to explain away one of the most difficult military engagements that the U.S. has ever undertaken in its history, but it does not stand up to any rigorous standards of evidence that would be expected in the academic world.

  2. \\\you are totally right! Ted is off base! THEY ARE KILLING JEWs~!The Arabs have22 countries 22 countries 22 countries etc! Despute that!!!!!!!!!!!!!THEY ARE EVIl!

  3. For 2 reasons Ted

    America has the power. it is by far the greatest power on earth. As gil White says what it wants it tends to get one way or another

    Second…what I tried to say is that Israel for historical reasons has worked itself into total dependemnce on this Imperialism,ie US. That is the problem. Herzl did not have a choice. But things change.

    Now US is placing Palestine state 12 miles from is Tel Aviv.

    A fascist state just there. That sums up US today.

    Does US have now relationship with Islam, rathetr than Jews of Israel.

    that has to be answered.

    The Serbs thopught also they were secure. The US is very very6 danhgerous.

    My problem with above and Gold is that he is not moving with the times and the new situation, needs of situation.

    I am writing siomething on this, will let you know.

    What are Feiglin and Betanyahu doing. Are they really awake?

    Ted on Imperialism…Only one dog on top of the dunghill, got it!

  4. Felix

    I can’t for the world of me figure out why you are fixated on Imperialism. All big powers want to control as much of the world as they can and they resist each other’s imperialism. How can it be otherwise.

    Now for the article.

    Dore stresses the military and intelligence cooperation but in doing so he ignores the political pressure the US has applied to Israel. The US wants to have it both ways. It believes it can have Israel as an asset and at the same time reduce it as a liability. Thus the US forces Israel to give back land to the Arabs rather than rewards israel by supporting its claims to keeping the Westbank or at least to maintaining its defense.

    But I presently believe that the US will not force Israel to withdraw from the Westbank while the ME is in such turmoil and the US is in decline. The US is more dependant on Israel than ever.

  5. Ted

    Thanks for posting this.

    In my opinion there is nothing special about this relationship.

    I see it from exactly the opposite to these reactionary professors. the relationship is one of master and slave, and the US is the master, that is the way the US elite want it, and is the way they are determined it will be.

    Dore Gold does not understand this because as I understand him he is part of this Israeli elite which goes back to the very founders of the state.

    Herzl was a great man. He saw the danger to the Jews very early, much earlier than anybody else. But being a bourgeois politician he could only envisage Israel coming into being not through mass revolutionary struggle but through the help of the Major Imperialist Powers and even with the help of the Ottomans,. How crazy was that’

    But time passes. herzl was a national revolutionary, and with time all things change.

    There now is in the leadership of Israel an elite which is dependent for its own special privileged position on the assistance of Imperialism.

    They are helped in this way of thinking by the betrayal of the Jews carried out by the leaders of the Left starting with Marx, going through Luxenbourg, and ending in the brute Joseph Stalin.

    I will leave it there. I have covered this already in remarks on Trotsky’s key years 1933 to 1940.

    Note that when Gold talks about this betrayal, ie of Stalin, he is labelling it not as stalinism.

    Gold thus is a spokesman here for the most reactionary forms of American Imperialism.

    Gold is joined to the hip with American Imperialism.

    let him. My focus now is on Feiglin and netanyahu.

    Gold must be challenged. I challenge him to speak up on the issue of Leon Trotsky 1933 to 1940 and the great achievements he made.

    And if he cannot read up on this and comment then he should be thoroughly exposed as the pro Imperialist that he is.

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