Don’t use anything more lethal than paintball guns

Washington Post:

The Obama administration said Wednesday that it had warned Israel’s government repeatedly to use “caution and restraint” with half a dozen aid boats bound for the Gaza Strip before Israeli commandos raided the flotilla this week in an operation that killed nine people.

“We communicated with Israel through multiple channels many times regarding the flotilla,” P.J. Crowley, a State Department spokesman, said in a statement issued in response to a question from The Washington Post. “We emphasized caution and restraint given the anticipated presence of civilians, including American citizens.”

“Don’t use anything more lethal than paintball guns,” the Israelis were warned. “Think how bad it would look if you accidentally shot some Nobel laureates or members of the European Parliament among the humanitarian peace activists on board.”

OK, I made the last part up. But doesn’t it seem that the US is micro-managing Israeli policy more than ever lately?  And not for the better, if you believe, for example, that pressure from the incoming Obama Administration aborted Operation Cast Lead before the final push that would have overthrown Hamas. Or if you think that forbidding Jewish building in Jerusalem is bad for Israel’s sovereignty in its capital. Or if you worry about a radar installation on Israeli soil that is supposed to protect Israel, but which Israelis are forbidden to enter.

Obama Administration officials and advisors are starting to say that close relations with Israel are a liability to US policy.

Well, guess what? It appears that the reverse is true.

Remember when the Bush I Administration told Israel to hold still while Saddam Hussein dropped his Scuds on Tel Aviv? Today we have the ‘red light’ against an attack on the Iranian nuclear facilities (possibly such an attack would be impractical, but a red light nevertheless).

Here is my idea for how the US could promote peace in the Mideast: simply get out of the way and let Israel defend itself. Israel is not expansionist. There’s no downside except that the Arabs and Iran will dislike the US. But they do that already.

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2 Responses to “Don’t use anything more lethal than paintball guns”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    This piece makes an important, interesting, and rarely discussed point. The U.S. has often in the past, and it seems is even more often under the Obama Administration impeding Israel in its pursuit of its security needs. There have been many times in the past when Israel was able to disregard the U.S. and pursue its own needs. The Iraqi reactor operation in 1981 is a prominent example of this. The whittling away of support on the international political level is also part of this , for it increases the over- dependency on the U.S. and its U.N. veto.
    The answer to this I suppose is in drawing the line, and in certain things going it alone even if it makes U.S. Government support.

  2. Robman says:

    We’ve never had a genuinely pro-Israel president, with only a couple of partial exceptions for brief periods.

    From everything I’ve read, Johnson was very pro-Israel at heart. Whatever his other faults may have been, he was very much in Israel’s corner. Still, this didn’t get Israel a bilateral defense treaty with the U.S.

    Nixon was, operationally, very pro-Israel, but only within the context of Cold War Realpolitik. At a personal level, he was a garden-variety anti-Semite, for sure (anti a lot of things besides), but he was clear-eyed enough to see Israel as a vital ally in the face of the Soviets. Can anyone today imagine the Yom Kippur War airlift? Under Nixon, Israel not only got that, but the latest available U.S. weapons besides, without hesitation. Those were the days. But still, no treaty commitment…..

    Since those times, the closest we’ve come to a genuine bona-fide alliance was the nine months after 9-11…until Saudi Prince (now King) Abdullah showed up at Crawford Ranch, and bullied Bush (Mr. Tough Guy) into promising a Palestinian state. Well, it was nice while it lasted, and even that produced no bilateral treaty.

    During Reagan’s first term, while Al Haig was SecState, a bilateral defense treaty almost happened. But then it was scuttled when Israel invaded Lebanon in ’82…(and that was after Reagan briefly embargoed Israel after the Osirak raid). Al Haig was forced to resign for suggesting that Israel’s actions in Lebanon were justified. Kind of reminds me of Donald Rumsfeld that way…a true friend of Israel that wound up getting marginalized.

    Why do I keep bringing up billateral treaties? Because even South Korea gets that much, plus 23,000 U.S. troops to help defend them in the bargain. What do we get back? Great big trade surpluses run against us, and we can’t even sell our beef there!

    I figure that when the U.S. is willing to stand by Israel in the light of day – i.e., IN WRITING, AS IN A TREATY – then maybe she can call herself a true friend of Israel in objective terms, not just relative terms (as in, a crummy friend overall, but better than anybody else all the same).

    Obama is by far the worst, of course. The rest were more or less trying to strike a balance between U.S. interests with oil-producing Arab countries, and supporting a fellow liberal democratic first-world ally. Obama is the first who is really actively aligning U.S. policy with thuggish dictatorships/monarchies against a fellow liberal democratic state. This may not be treason by the letter of the law, but in spirit, it is treasonous to everything this country is supposed to stand for, not that Obama and the pack of loons, vile cowards, and anti-Semites he surrounds himself with give a fiddler’s fart about any of that corny bunk.

    Two years, eight months to go…..

    Still, I expect that if we get through this awful time, in 2013, we could very well look forward to the most pro-Israel president ever. That will certainly be true in the case of Palin or Huckabee, but watch out for the Ron Paul fellow. I suspect he’s Saudia’s “insurance policy” against improved U.S.-Israeli relations if their bet on Obama goes sour.