Dec. 3, 2015
- A Successful Middle East Strategy Requires Debunking False Assumptions – Dennis Ross
Israel stands in stark contrast to the rest of the Middle East, and continues to be a natural partner for the U.S. It is not just that Israel is the only democracy in the region. It is that Israel is the only country whose institutions and rule of law – with elections where the loser accepts the outcome – permit it to cope with its problems.
The Eisenhower, Nixon, Carter, Bush 41 and Obama administrations all distanced from Israel, expecting Arab responsiveness. None responded favorably to our distancing. The assumption that cooperation with Israel would cost us with the Arabs was just as off-base. We have consistently misread the priorities of Arab leaders. It is not Israel; it is instead their security and survival against threats from regional rivals that they are preoccupied with. Given that, they will never make their relationship with the U.S. dependent on America’s relationship with Israel.
Moreover, most Arab leaders don’t see the Palestinian conflict as fundamentally affecting their security. They know that it historically has resonated with their publics, but today it tends to take a backseat to other conflicts – the Syrian civil war and the threats from Islamic State and Iran.
Ironically, today most of the Arab Sunni states see Israel as a bulwark against both the Iranians and Islamic State, and the scope of what Israel is now doing with a number of Arab states on security is unprecedented. Amb. Dennis Ross is a fellow and counselor at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (U.S. News)