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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Some sage advice to Israel from a foreign policy expert

I'll give you all a few hours to figure out without using Google who said this (and for extra credit when and in what context). But it's a great piece of advice that the Israeli government would do well to adopt (Hat Tip: Sunlight).
Israel is dependent on the US as no other country is on a friendly power. Increasingly, Washington is the sole capital to stand by Israel in international forums. We are its exclusive military supplier, its only military ally (though no formal obligation exists)... It takes a special brand of heroism to turn total dependence into defiance, to insist on support as a matter of right rather than as a favor; to turn every American deviation from an Israeli cabinet consensus into a betrayal to be punished rather than a disagreement to be negotiated. And yet Israel's obstinacy, maddening as it can be, serves the purposes of both our countries best. A subservient client would soon face an accumulation of ever-growing pressures. It would tempt Israel's neighbors to escalate their demands. It would saddle us with opprobrium for every deadlock.... Our relationship with Israel is exhilarating and frustrating, ennobled by the devotion and faith that contain a lesson for an age of cynicism; exasperating because the interests of a superpower and of a regional ministate are not always easy to reconcile, and are on occasion unbridgeable. Israel affects our decisions through inspiration, persistence, and a judicious, not always subtle or discreet influence on our domestic policy."
Go to it.


Will got it right - it was Henry Kissinger on page 483 of his memoir Years of Upheaval. The quote is actually cited on page 231 of Yehuda Avner's The Prime Ministers (which is why Sunlight got a hat tip - she sent me the book). Avner cited Kissinger to prove that Menachem Begin was correct when (as opposition leader) he argued with (Prime Minister) Golda Meir during the run-up to the Yom Kippur War that Israel did not have to submit to American edicts. Reading that was just one of many deja vu moments I have had while reading the book. It's astounding how little has changed in the last 40 years.

At the time, Avner was a speech writer and liaison to the foreign media for Golda Meir. But he admits in the introduction that he admired Begin far more than any of the other Prime Ministers whom he served.



At 5:09 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

You found a transcript? Is this what he said? Will Dore Gold be meeting with him? Carl, you need to be working for your govt and organizing these things!

At 5:51 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Henry Kissinger.
Have a nice day!

At 6:08 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

In view of the current 'actions' Could it be connected to 'reducing the seize of Israel'?

At 1:17 AM, Blogger Sunlight said...

Aha! Well, Sunlight didn't give you that book... but some others... so it is an unearned hat tip. However, that Prime Ministers book sounds really good. I think I'll read it.

Re things changing over the years, Winston Churchill's wrote a treasure of a book, River War, regarding Sudan in 1899 (note: before modern Israel was formed). And myself having lived in Morocco while they were kicking out the French, etc. with throatslitting of sleepers, I've come to the conclusion that Israel is being subjected to the neighborhood's standard way of dealing with unpopular people. The issue with Israel is that Israel is demanding a waiver and, for that matter, holding a mirror up to the neighbors, letting them see what their behavior really makes them look like (shame).


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