Monday, September 24, 2007

The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy


America is about to enter a presidential election year. Although the outcome is of course impossible to predict at this stage, certain features of the campaign are easy to foresee. The candidates will inevitably differ on various domestic issues-health care, abortion, gay marriage, taxes, education, immigration — and spirited debates are certain to erupt on a host of foreign policy questions as well. What course of action should the United States pursue in Iraq? What is the best response to the crisis in Darfur, Iran's nuclear ambitions, Russia's hostility to NATO, and China's rising power? How should the United States address global warming, combat terrorism, and reverse the erosion of its international image? On these and many other issues, we can confidently expect lively disagreements among the various candidates.

Yet on one subject, we can be equally confident that the candidates will speak with one voice. In 2008, as in previous election years, serious candidates for the highest office in
the land will go to considerable lengths to express their deep personal commitment to one
foreign country — Israel-as well as their determination to maintain unyielding U.S. support
for the Jewish state. Each candidate will emphasize that he or she fully appreciates the
multitude of threats facing Israel and make it clear that, if elected, the United States will
remain firmly committed to defending Israel's interests under any and all circumstances.
None of the candidates is likely to criticize Israel in any significant way or suggest that
the United States ought to pursue a more evenhanded policy in the region. Any who do
will probably fall by the wayside.

This observation is hardly a bold prediction, because presidential aspirants were already proclaiming their support for Israel in early 2007. The process began in January, when four potential candidates spoke to Israel's annual Herzliya Conference on security issues. As Joshua Mitnick reported in Jewish Week, they were "seemingly competing to see who can be most strident in defense of the Jewish State."

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