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The American Interest

July 6, 2016 | By: Martin Kramer

Over the last decade, as the United States has reconsidered its role in the world and its place in the Middle East, academics and ideologues alike have turned their attention to America’s relationship with Israel and the power of an “Israel lobby.” Many American Christians and Jews are eager for a closer alliance between the United States and Israel because of the principles and values that the two nations share. But what if one were to mute the theological and cultural harmonies that ring between Israel and America, and look instead at geopolitics alone? Adopting a strategic point of view defined by power and deterrence, Shalem College president and Middle Eastern scholar Martin Kramer asks if the alliance serves the global interests of the United States. In this 2006 article, Kramer explains that America’s support for Israel is justified by considerations of its own self-interest—interests which continue to be served by today’s close relationship between the two states.

American support for Israel—again, the illusion of its unconditionality—has compelled Israel’s Arab neighbors to join the pax Americana or at least acquiesce in it. I would expect realists, of all people, to appreciate the success of this policy. After all, the United States manages the pax Americana in the eastern Mediterranean from offshore, out of the line of sight. Is this not precisely where realists think the United States should stand? A true realist, I would think, would recoil from any policy shift that might threaten to undermine this structure. . . .

For Israel to remain a strategic asset, it must also win on the battlefield. If Israel’s power and prowess are ever cast into doubt, it will not only undercut Israel’s deterrence vis-à-vis its hostile neighbors. It will undermine Israel’s value to the United States as the dependable stabilizer of the Levant.

Read the whole essay in Azure.

More about: America, Israel, and the Middle East  • The American Jewish Experience  • Zionism  

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