Lee Smith's Tablet column this week focuses on Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., who argues interestingly that Turkey's seeming abandonment of its alliance with the United States means that Israel is even more of an indispensable ally to Washington than it was before:

Indeed, among other things, the Mavi Marmara incident revealed that the Turks are not the friends of Washington that they once were, leaving only Israel as capable, and willing, to stand by the United States as a reliable ally in the Middle East. "The U.S. can leave Vietnam confident that North Vietnamese tanks are not going to roll through U.S. cities," said Oren. "But with the Middle East you're not going anywhere because it will follow you--to Times Square, to the airspace over Detroit. Israel is described as the U.S.'s aircraft carrier in the Middle East. If the U.S. had an Israel in the Persian Gulf it might not have had to land troops in Iraq twice over the last two decades. Israel is the indispensable nation."

There are bones to pick with this analysis, of course, but it is quite obviously true that the Eastern Mediterranean has not demanded the sort of large-scale American interventions we've seen in the Gulf over the past twenty years. And to raise one further, incendiary, point: No American soldiers have died in the defense of Israel (or Egypt), while a tragic number of American soldiers have died in the defense of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.