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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

U.S. to Defend Israel?Key question never answered.



Several questions asked in the third presidential debate were never clearly answered. One of the most vital concerns Israel: What exactly is the U.S. commitment to that country?  It's a question that an American president may suddenly be confronted with, some chaotic night at three A.M.

The reporter moderating the debate attempted to get an answer.

BOB SCHIEFFER: “Red lines, Israel and Iran. Would either of you —Would either of you be willing to declare that an attack on Israel is an attack on the United States, which of course is the same promise that we give to our close allies like Japan?
And if you made such a declaration, would not that deter Iran? It’s certainly deterred the Soviet Union for a long, long time when we made that — when we made that promise to our allies.

[[Good question…a request to clarify what has been a very intimate but imprecise relationship--challenging an American president --or future president--to make a stark commitment to Israel on his own accord, without seeking the consent of the Senate or Congress. Which, who knows, one chaotic night at three in the morning, he might be called upon to do.]

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, Israel is a true friend. It is our greatest ally in the region. And if Israel is attacked, America will stand with Israel.
I’ve made that clear throughout my presidency. And —

[Just a minute, he didn’t really answer…but the moderator was there:]

MR. SCHIEFFER: So you’re saying we’ve already made that declaration?

[Good question, but dodged again:]

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I will stand with Israel if they are attacked.

[Unasked question: What does  “stand by” mean, Mr. President? Cheer from the sidelines? Send emergency arms, dispatch rockets to shoot down incoming missiles, as was done in past crises by the U.S? 
But Obama went on.]

OBAMA: And this is the reason why, working with Israel, we have created the strongest military and intelligence cooperation between our two countries in history. In fact, this week we’ll be carrying out the largest military exercise with Israel in history, this very week.

[Unasked Question: Does that mean, Mr. President, that American armed forces would become directly involved if Israel were attacked?…if say, its perimeter defenses were overwhelmed?  If the Arabs or Iranians were marching on Tel Aviv?
If not, what is the point of carrying out the “largest military exercises in history” with Israel? Exercising for what?”]

[Next to a question about economic sanctions against Iran…]

OBAMA: …the reason we did this is because a nuclear Iran is a threat to our national security and it’s threat to Israel’s national security. We cannot afford to have a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region of the world.

[Unasked question: Nuclear arms race? Hasn’t Israel had nuclear weapons for decades now, Mr. President? ]
[And now to Romney on Israel:]

MR. ROMNEY: Well, first of all, I — I want to underscore the — the same point the president made, which is that if I’m president of the United States, when I’m president of the United States, we will stand with Israel. And — and if Israel is attacked, we have their back, not just diplomatically, not just culturally, but militarily.  

[Unanswered Question: Uh, again, what does that mean, Governor? Would you commit boots on the ground? Cruise missiles? Destroyers? Under what circumstances?]

[Then, when the subject of Egypt’s shaky new government came up]

OBAMA: They [the Egyptians] have to abide by their treaty with Israel. That is a red line for us, because not only is Israel’s security at stake, but our security is at stake if that unravels.

[Mr. President, could you explain why America’s security is dependent on a treaty between Egypt and Israel?]

[If these question weren’t asked during the debate, did any one hear them raised afterwards-- by any of the army of pundits?]



1 comment:

  1. According to Ray McGovern, there is no US/Israel mutual defense treaty, and there is no treaty because the Israelis do not want one. However American Presidents have gone to great lengths to make people believe we have such a treaty. But when pressed they are very careful to avoid saying directly that we have no legal obligation to defend Israel if Israel is attacked. We have only the personal promises of a number of American presidents.

    "Now, our government … On inauguration day 2005 Dick Cheney found it necessary to say that Iran was a terrible threat, the top of the list of threats to us. That it should not get a nuclear weapon. And that the Israelis just might go ahead and take that capability out and let the rest of us pick up the pieces.

    He said that in such a way as to indicate that that would be fine with him, it’s a possibility, and why not? Since then, the president in the US has time after time talked about “our ally Israel.” That “our ally Israel” deserves our support, and if “our ally Israel” is attacked, we will automatically spring to its aid under our defense treaty.

    Now, Americans who might be reading this, listen up, as we used to say in the Army. There is no treaty of mutual defense between the US and Israel. That’s a lie. It’s a misrepresentation; juridically speaking Israel is not our ally.

    I’ve often been interested in that. When I started out as an analyst I wondered, why is there no treaty? And I concluded, very understandably, that this was a mark of US prudence. Why would we want to tick off the Arabs even more than we already have? Why would we want to be juridically obliged to engage in hostilities in the Middle East?

    But guess what? That wasn’t the case at all. In 1967 after the first Arab/Israeli War, we offered Israel a mutual defense treaty with the rationale that perhaps this would give the Arabs pause from attacking Israel again, and give us a certain leverage over the Israelis. And guess what? The Israelis said, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

    I was surprised to hear that. I asked the people who were involved in this, who happen to be involved in Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, including one person who was actually in the process of making this overture to Israel. I said, “Why did they turn it down?” He said, “Ray, mutual defense treaties require clearly defined international boundaries. And the Israelis, after they took the occupied territories in ’67 and ’73, didn’t want any part of clearly defined international boundaries. And also, the Israelis really like to be able to do what they want to do. If they want to attack Iraq and take out the Osirak nuclear reactor as they did in 1981, they don’t want to have to ask Washington, they just want to do it. So they didn’t want to be inhibited by any of the normally accepted norms of behavior. If you have a mutual defense treaty, you usually tell the other partner what you’re going to do, if you are going to invade or bomb another country.”

    So what’s the upshot of all of this? There is no mutual defense treaty between Israel and the US. But why does the president say there is? Well, I don’t know why he says there is. General Scowcroft, his father’s National Security Advisor, told us, “Sharon just has him wrapped around his little finger.” He had our president “mesmerized,” according to Scowcroft."

    http://dahrjamail.net/interview-with-ray-mcgovern-part-2

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