A new report argues that Israel is an underappreciated strategic asset to the United States.
According to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy – as expressed in their latest report, Israel: A Strategic Asset for the United States – the U.S.-Israel relationship is not a one-way street at all.
Its authors argue that Americans – starting with its top administrative officials – should start acknowledging that Israel is a strategic asset for the U.S. They say the U.S.-Israeli relationship “stands equally on an underappreciated third leg: common national interests and collaborative action to advance those interests.”
One of the authors is Robert Blackwill, who used to be deputy national security adviser for strategic planning and presidential envoy to Iraq, and is currently a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Blackwill said Tuesday that – contrary to popular opinion - the U.S.-Israel relationship in no way weakens United States’ standing in the Arab world.
“Since 1973, we haven’t identified any instances in the Arab world in which the U.S. paid a price for its relationship with Israel,” said Blackwill.
“American diplomats, of course, hear much condemnation of U.S.-Israel relations, but when Arab governments act, they act on the basis of their national interests and we can’t find examples of concrete tangible actions of the Arab governments against the U.S. because of its relations with Israel.”
“Would Saudi Arabia’s relationship with Washington be different if relations between Washington and Israel went into decline? Would they lower the price of oil? Would it view American democracy promotion in the Middle East more favorably? Would it regard US Afghanistan policy more positively? Our criterion in this report was to check how the Arab government act; not what they say,” said Blackwill.
When asked by Haaretz whether they see the recent vote approving Palestinian membership at UNESCO as an unfavorable result of the U.S.-Israel relationship, both Blackman and co-author Walter Slocombe exclaimed, “No!”
“The optic that we look though is the U.S. national interest, and this vote did not have a substantial influence on [that],” Blackwill said. “We are trying to make a very long-term argument. We want the debate to be on the long-term proposition, not what happened last week or last month,” he added.
They admitted their argument is not widely accepted at the U.S. government, not to mention in academic circles.
Blackmill said Tuesday that the topic of the U.S.-Israel relationship is “very emotional” for a lot of people. So far U.S. administrations have not been willing to make the strategic advantage part of the argument in support of U.S. Israeli relations, he said, adding that “It’s hard to change the embedded views of the bureaucracy.”