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19 July 2012
Wag the Dog Arrives at Last

By Phil Giraldi

Few commentators have taken note of the truly significant shift in the Israel-United States relationship. To be sure, Israel has for many years been able to control many aspects of Washington’s policy in the Middle East while simultaneously drawing on the US taxpayer to sustain its military predominance. But even as recently as 2003, when the United States invaded Iraq in part because Israeli interests called for such action, Tel Aviv was not able to bring about a war without marshaling additional arguments. Tel Aviv arguably enabled the Iraq war in that the Israeli Lobby had the power to stop it, but there were also other elements to include George W. Bush’s seeking revenge for the alleged assassination plot against his father, the fact that Iraq is a major oil producing country and the war would “pay for itself,” and the totally false claim that Iraq had somehow been involved in 9/11. Israel alone, acting in its own interests, could not force America to go to war. George W. Bush, for all his faults, would not have gone to war solely for Israel and it has even been reported that he was strong enough to block a subsequent Israeli bid to attack Iran.

Fast forward four years. I would argue that all of that has now changed due to the complete acceptance by Washington elites and the media that Israel’s enemies are also the enemies of the United States. Washington has absolutely no compelling national interest in bringing about regime change in Syria or in going to war against Iran, quite the contrary. But Israel and its US lobby support the removal of Assad because it will reduce Syria to a collection of feuding ethnicities and will therefore be no threat to Israel, so the White House obligingly does the heavy lifting by supporting the rebels. The flood of terrified refugees that civil war will produce will flow elsewhere, towards Turkey and Lebanon, not to Israel. Iran likewise is no threat to the United States but is a regional adversary of Israel while both CIA and Mossad even agree that Tehran has no nuclear weapons program.

So the question becomes, can Israel force the United States to intervene militarily in both countries in spite of the fact that there is no reason to do so and the “blowback” and other consequences of both actions might be extremely damaging? It would be essentially a reversal of the classic client state relationship in that the client is in this case compelling the patron to do something on its behalf with the United States becoming in effect the vassal of Israel. It is clear that Mitt Romney will do Israel’s bidding and it is also true that President Barack Obama has painted himself into a corner on Iran in particular and might well agree to an attack on both countries due to political pressure from the Israel Lobby. This would be the pinnacle of success for Israel as it will no longer have to do its own fighting and can let Washington shoulder that responsibility for it. One might call it the complete Israelization of US foreign and defense policy.

Philip Giraldi is the executive director of the Council for the National Interest and a recognized authority on international security and counterterrorism issues.

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