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Obama Went to Israel to Uphold Vital American Interests

 
 
Reply Tue 26 Mar, 2013 09:11 am
Why Did Obama Go to Israel?
The visit underscores the nation's role as a key ally in upholding vital American interests in a Mideast region beset with turmoil.

By Michael Oren, Los Angeles Times, March 19, 2013

Editor's Note: This article appeared just before President Obama's trip to the Middle East last week.

President Obama is visiting Israel this week, the first foreign trip of his second term. Some commentators have criticized the tour as a diversion from the president's intention to pivot toward the Asia-Pacific region. Why go to Israel now, they ask, and anger the Arabs at a time of rising Middle Eastern turmoil? Others claim that the trip is merely a maneuver designed to achieve some memorable photo-ops rather than to advance crucial American interests.

Indeed, the president could have traveled farther east and to a less controversial country. But the fact remains that the United States is economically, militarily and strategically engaged in the Middle East. And Israel, a nation of only 8 million and the size of New Jersey, keeps chaos from completely engulfing the area.

Consider Egypt. Under its peace treaty with Israel, Egypt receives U.S. aid that prevents its economy from collapse and preserves American influence in Cairo. Peace with Israel also means that Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood cannot give free rein to its offshoot, the terrorist organization Hamas. In fact, the need to preserve peace with Israel has persuaded Egyptian leaders to play a constructive role in stopping Hamas rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. Even so, jihadist forces have killed Egyptians in Sinai and fired rockets at Jordan. Without Israel, those forces would spread unchecked as far north as Lebanon.

And Lebanon is dominated by another terrorist organization, Hezbollah. That group is armed with 70,000 rockets, has murdered civilians abroad and aided the Bashar Assad regime's slaughtering of tens of thousands of Syrians. But Israel has effectively deterred Hezbollah, confining its regional influence and blocking its stated vision of creating "a greater Islamic republic governed by … Iran." Syria, for its part, long dreamed of annexing Lebanon but refrained for fear of Israeli intervention. If not for Israel, Lebanon as we know it might not even exist.

Syria also had designs on Jordan. In 1970, when Syria threatened to invade the country, Israel mobilized its army in Jordan's defense. Today, as the burden of Syrian refugees renders the Hashemite kingdom vulnerable to domestic upheaval and sectarian violence in neighboring Iraq, Jordan's enemies know that Israel stands beside it. And Jordan stands with Israel and the United States in the search for peace. Just last summer, nearly 20 years after Jordan signed its own treaty with Israel, King Abdullah II hosted an effort to resume direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Regrettably, the Palestinian Authority walked away.

That is the same Palestinian Authority established with Israel and the United States by the 1993 Oslo agreement and which both countries hope will be a partner in reaching a solution of two states for two peoples. The Palestinians cite Israel's settlements as a reason for not negotiating, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assured Congress in 2011 that "in any peace agreement … some settlements will end up beyond Israel's borders."

Until then, the Palestinian Authority remains extensively dependent on the Jewish state. Israel facilitates international trade for the Palestinians, supplies them with water and electricity, and furnishes thousands of jobs. In spite of the authority's attempt to reconcile with Hamas leaders dedicated to Israel's destruction, Israeli and Palestinian security forces cooperate in the West Bank. But after Israeli forces withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Hamas swiftly overthrew the authority and its police there and created a terrorist enclave. Without Israel, the West Bank, too, could be overtaken by terrorists.

Hamas and other terrorist groups are backed by Iran, which is pursuing military nuclear capabilities. Israel was the first country to expose the Iranian nuclear program. Armed with nuclear bombs, we warned, Iran could commandeer the vast oil sources of the Persian Gulf, provide terrorists with devastating weapons and compel other Middle Eastern states to acquire similar capabilities. Unstable states would amass nuclear arsenals. Our warnings, amplified by our insistence on the right to defend ourselves, spurred the international community to act. Without Israel, Iran would have long ago become a nuclear power.

Iran regularly threatens "to wipe Israel off the map." So what would that map look like without the Jewish state? It would show a Middle East fragmented by raging civil conflicts, overrun by terrorists and primed to explode with the deadliest weapons. That is a map with little room for pro-Western governments or a strategic American presence.

Fortunately, the United States has an asset in the Middle East that is economically and politically stable, militarily robust, fiercely democratic and deeply appreciative of American aid. With defense cuts looming and its troops leaving the region, the United States can be confident that there remains one country capable of defending itself by itself and upholding vital American interests. "In a region of shifting alliances, Israel is America's unwavering ally," Prime Minister Netanyahu told Congress. "Israel has always been pro-American. Israel will always be pro-American." That is why Obama is going to Israel.

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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 1,331 • Replies: 4
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Advocate
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Mar, 2013 12:58 pm
@Advocate,
Should anyone tell you that the USA doesn't get a good return for the money invested in Israel, refer this excellent article to the person.
Frank Apisa
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Mar, 2013 01:37 pm
@Advocate,
Quote:
Indeed, the president could have traveled farther east and to a less controversial country. But the fact remains that the United States is economically, militarily and strategically engaged in the Middle East. And Israel, a nation of only 8 million and the size of New Jersey, keeps chaos from completely engulfing the area.


This is a gratuitous, self-serving comment, Advocate...and has no basis in reality.

The Middle East was a relatively peaceful place before the creation of the State of Israel.

The state of Israel does not keep chaos from engulfing the area...the existence of the state of Israel is a huge part of the reason the area is in chaos. And the lack of even-handedness on the part of the United States in the area does not help either.

I do not know how to solve the problems confronting that area...but supposing that something beneficial accrues for the interests of the United States from Israel being here...is fantasy.
Advocate
 
  1  
Reply Tue 26 Mar, 2013 02:18 pm
@Frank Apisa,
It seems as though you didn't read the piece. The article goes into some detail on how Israel has kept the area from going to pieces.

You say that before Israel came into being, the ME was peaceful. First, the facts don't show that. Moreover, that is like saying that the Ottoman Empire and the British mandate kept the peace.

The anti-Israel folks are always ready to quibble the truth to oblivion.
Frank Apisa
 
  2  
Reply Tue 26 Mar, 2013 02:23 pm
@Advocate,
Quote:
Re: Frank Apisa (Post 5287942)
It seems as though you didn't read the piece. The article goes into some detail on how Israel has kept the area from going to pieces.


Because the article says that is so...does not make it so.

There was relative peace and reasonable co-existence before the state of Israel came into existence there...and after it did come into existence there...everything fell apart.

It is dreaming to think otherwise.

Quote:
You say that before Israel came into being, the ME was peaceful. First, the facts don't show that. Moreover, that is like saying that the Ottoman Empire and the British mandate kept the peace.


I said it was RELATIVELY peaceful....and it was. It was a hell of a lot more peaceful for centuries than was Europe. And before Israel came into existence there...the Jews and Arabs got along much better than they do today.


Quote:
The anti-Israel folks are always ready to quibble the truth to oblivion.


I wouldn't know about that...I am not anti-Israel.
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