America and Israel

The Atlantic recently asked a group of foreign-policy authorities about current and future U.S. support for Israel
Over the next decade, how do you think U.S. support for Israel will change?
68% It will stay about the same

“I think U.S. support is likely to remain more or less the same rhetorically. However, as our power and influence in the region bleed away, Israel will not find our support as reassuring as in the past.”

“Virtually across the political spectrum, U.S. politicians and the public support Israel strongly, giving a steadiness to U.S. policy. The ongoing struggle against Islamic extremism will also help align U.S. policy with that of Israel.”

“Actually, I think it will begin to diminish, but not immediately. The rate of change will depend heavily on individual U.S. presidents.”

“For the next two years it will stay the same; after that, it will depend on who is next elected President. A Democratic President may be able to lessen support slightly. We need to be seen once again as an honest broker and enforce restrictions concerning the use of U.S.-supplied military aid.”

30% It will decrease significantly

“It will decline relatively. There simply is no policy alternative to greater engagement (and I don’t mean more invasions) with the Arab world. As such, those ties will grow and expand from their present all-time low. So Israel, while remaining important, will be relatively less so.”

“What I have in mind is not a reduction in support for Israel below historic levels but a move back to, or more pronounced emphasis on, the ‘honest broker’ model. Strong support for Israel would continue as an unassailable U.S. policy but would be balanced by a restored reputation for being able to grasp the grievances of the other side and a stronger push for compromise in the interest of peace in the context of a two-state solution.”

“U.S. power will diminish globally and in the Middle East. As that occurs, we will be forced to be more critical and strategic in our relations with Israel in order to advance the broad spectrum of our interests. Today’s almost unquestioning support is not sustainable.”

“While nothing will—or should—change America’s unquestioned support for Israel’s existence and security within its own borders, there is growing appreciation that Washington’s uncritical support of unwise Israeli policies in recent years not only hurts Israel, but also America’s own vital interests. In the coming years, we will likely see a more critical attitude towards Israel emanating from Washington—one that will enable the U.S. to re-assert its crucial mediating role in trying to resolve the conflict between Israel, the Palestinians, and the Arab world.”

3% It will increase significantly

“American support for Israel will grow in the years ahead because the threats to Israel are increasing as the likelihood of a nuclear-armed Iran continues to grow and the radicalization of the Middle East continues. The question is less the narrow issue of support for Israel as such than whether the U.S. can develop and pursue an effective strategy that contains and over time diminishes those threats—out of our own national interest.”

“It will weaken slightly as the demographics of the U.S. change, but not significantly result in a change in basic U.S. policy.”

Other comments:

“Asking about the overall level of support for Israel is the wrong question. The right question is about the nature of that support—whether it is uncritical or not, what it identifies as the precise nature of U.S. and Israeli common interests. The U.S. has a strong interest in seeing a strong and prosperous Israel at peace with its neighbors in the region. But it does not necessarily have an interest in supporting every policy that a particular Israeli government adopts in pursuit of that goal.”

PARTICIPANTS (39): Ronald Asmus, Samuel Berger, Daniel Blumenthal, Stephen Bosworth, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Daniel Byman, Warren Christopher, Eliot Cohen, Ivo Daalder, James Dobbins, Lawrence Eagleburger, Douglas Feith, Jay Garner, Leslie Gelb, Marc Grossman, John Hamre, Gary Hart, Bruce Hoffman, John Hulsman, Robert Hunter, Tony Judt, Robert Kagan, David Kay, Andrew Krepinevich, Charles Kupchan, John Lehman, James Lindsay, Edward Luttwak, John McLaughlin, William Nash, Joseph Nye, Charles Pascual, Thomas Pickering, Kenneth Pollack, Joseph Ralston, Susan Rice, Wendy Sherman, Ann Marie Slaughter, James Steinberg.

Not all participants answered all questions.

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