Does Israel Actually Control Its Own Fate?

By Jeffrey Goldberg

Goldblog reader Stuart Abrams writes, in reference to the Daniel Gordis piece in Commentary that also caught the attention of Jim Fallows:

Gordis' piece is seriously flawed and it reflects a misconception, perhaps even a delusion, that underlies the belief that Israel's survival currently rests entirely within its own control.
 
Israel enjoys massive military superiority in the Middle East because the United States finds it in its interest to guarantee such superiority to Israel.  Assume that a Pat Buchanan-type became President of the United States (ed. note -- do I have to?), an assumption that may not be so far-fetched since I strongly suspect that many of the Tea Partiers are closeted, or perhaps not so closeted, conservative antisemites out of the old Liberty League/John Birch Society/Joseph Sobran mold.  Such a President could well decide to make massive cut-backs in US military aid to Israel.  Further assume a radical takeover of Egypt - again hardly a far-fetched assumption - which results in the rejection of the Camp David accords.  Israel is now back in the position it was in prior to '67, but without any major outside supporter such as the United States has been, Israel would be forced to rely only upon its nuclear arsenal for its survival.  Is that realistic?  Does Israel really control its survival?
 
Israel's survival ultimately depends upon its ability to deal with the world as it really is, not as Israelis wish it to be.  This requires not only military strength, but diplomatic creativity and flexibility and most important of all, the opening up of economic relationships with the rest of the Middle East.  Israel has demonstrated little propensity for the latter strategies.  It may well be the case that a nuclear Iran may be the only thing that will force Israel to live in the real world, which, as James Fallows cogently argues, is the world in which the rest of us have been living for many decades.
 

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/10/does-israel-actually-control-its-own-fate/64263/