The Case for Small Government

A Libertarian Perspective on Economic and Social Policy

March 26, 2006

U.S. Support of Israel

In a recent paper that has generated enormous controversy, John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt examine U.S. support of Israel. The authors, professors at the University of Chicago and Harvard University, respectively, make two main points. The first is that the “Israel Lobby” has pushed the U.S. toward more or less unquestioning support of Israel. The second is that this support harms U.S. interests and should be curtailed or eliminated.

The claim that the Israel Lobby yields outsized influence is hard to assess. Without question various individuals and groups advocate strenuously for U.S. support of Israel. The U.S. electorate is broadly supportive of Israel, however, so the apparent influence of the Lobby is perhaps a reflection of this general perspective, rather than an independent factor.

The claim that support of Israel harms the U.S. is the more fundamental issue, however.

In my view the authors are correct on this claim, and I would go even further. It was a mistake for the U.S. to help create Israel in 1948, and it is a mistake for the U.S. to provide financial or military support now. The creation of Israel endorsed the notion of a sectarian state, and it generated the virtually unresolvable problem of displaced Palestinians. Ongoing U.S. support of Israel produces bitter resentment in the Middle East and likely generates far more terrorism than it prevents. Against these negatives, any benefit to the U.S. from support of Israel is hard to discern.

Israel now exists, so the question of whether it should have been created is moot. But continuing U.S. support is not a given. It is time for open discussion of this issue. The Mearsheimer and Walt paper is an excellent start.

16 Comments:

At 7:57 PM, Anonymous Jason said...

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At 9:48 PM, Blogger LP Mike Sylvester said...

I tend to think we should support Isreal to a point. I think we should support them with military technology and some aid.

We currently give them WAY WAY too much.

We need to stop giving BILLIONS of dollars out in foreign aid every year...

Mike Sylvester

 
At 6:47 AM, Anonymous KAS said...

A very courageous statement. As someone whose family was displaced and dispossed in Palestine in 1948, I can only wonder what would have happened if the two communities had been allowed to live and work together. I believe a powerhouse would have emerged. But perhaps that is a utopian view. I do know that, with minor exceptions, the Muslim, Christian and Jewish communities lived together in harmony throughout the Arab world. To my knowledge, all the pogroms happened in the West as of course did the Shoa.

As surprising as it might seem, and in total contradiction of my previously stated utopian view, in some ways I disagree with the premise that the creation of a "Jewish" state was not needed. I have to remind you that, at the end of the day, no one has ever stood up for the Jews through centuries of persecution. Certainly, the US did not pre-1945 and cannot be counted on to do so in the future. I believe that in the unlikely event that we see radical campaign funding reforms in this country combined with the elimination of the electoral college, support for Israel could well dissipate. The core remaining supporters with real weight would be the fundamentalist Christian right,and the Jewish people don't need friends like that.

The Israeli Lobby in the US has certainly done its job. However, by representing the extreme zionist aspirations, I believe that it has done the US, the average Israeli, and two generations of Arabs a total disfavor.

 
At 12:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this posting. I can now see that you are not a source to be trusted, you ignore:

1) Israel is the only functioning democracy in the region
2) Israel built something out of nothing, economically speaking, making the Arab residents of Israel the most free and well off of any Arab state
3) Jews had been living in this area for millenia, a separate Palestian state has been consistently rejected by Arabs in favor of militarism, each attack on Israel was initiated by the other side

Montaigne said, "I embrace the man who disagrees with me. He is educating me." But, here, I find willful omission of critical facts.

 
At 7:40 AM, Blogger Bob Schubring said...

To Anonymous:
You left out the fact that the Dead Sea contains the most concentrated natural source of lithium salts in the world.

In 1948, nuclear fusion was only a theory, eventually proved by Dr. Edward Teller when he constructed and detonated the world's first thermonuclear weapon. To make thermonuclear weapons, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission required lithium of high purity, in quantity, to convert by neutron bombardment into the rare isotope tritium...and got it from Israel's Dead Sea Bromine Group. Each of our 20,000 functioning nuclear weapons and all of the many more that have been dismantled for long-term storage, was built with Dead Sea lithium. But first, there had to be a Dead Sea Bromine Group, and a political entity in which to operate it...hence, Israel was carved off from the British Empire and converted into a secular state for both Jews and their descendents who had abandoned Judaism as a belief system, thereby sanctioning the Nazi position that Jews are a race and not a group of people with a common religion.

Curiously, Yasser Arafat never permitted a terrorist attack on the factories of the Dead Sea Bromine Group. Also very curiously, the Palestine Liberation Organization became heavily involved in the trafficking of heroin from the Middle East to the U.S. through France. Only rather recently has it emerged that France had granted Arafat free rein to pass PLO couriers through French customs, in return for a guarantee that terrorists would never attack France.

Might the U.S. have made a similar deal with Yasser Arafat, to let heroin slip into the country in exchange for no terrorist attacks on the Dead Sea Bromine Group's factories?

Of course, were I as rude or as paranoid as you, I would consider you guilty of hiding these facts for some ulterior motive. Being somewhat rational, I instead assume you did not mention these important facts for a more mundane reason: You, like the typical Hamas, Likud, or Republican voter, simply never knew these things existed.

The first casualty of war is the truth. In the Cold War, the truth stayed out of circulation for four decades. Getting the truth back in circulation will bring many surprises...not the least of which is that much wasteful U.S. spending was done for the ulterior motive of concealing an important military or intelligence initiative as a spendaholic porkbarrel giveaway.

 
At 8:00 PM, Blogger Ronald Rutherford said...

Dr. Jeffrey Alan Miron:

So far I have not been impressed with your blog, as I was hoping for more economic analysis and less politics.

And now to
Throw(ing) the Jews Under the Bus
seems a bit off the mark. When people talk about displaced people, I always think back to the Kurds, and the many other peoples of the world. Who is demanding that these peoples have a homeland? Why should Israel sufer for the sins of Jordan, Egypt, etc? Why not the Arabs relocate the Palestinians and create a homeland in Iran... As an opposite response to the President of Iran's statements.

 
At 2:45 PM, Anonymous KAS said...

I am not quite sure what Ronald Rutherford is saying about "Throwing the Jews under the bus".

Whatever he means, my belief is that at some point the music has to stop and when everybody sits down, there has to be a chair for everyone.

What would propose as a solution to these problems if by some vagary of nature we all got amnesia and were simultaneously imbued with a strong sense of humanity?

 
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At 3:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In last few months USA vetoed two UN resolutions against Isreal.US government still supports Israel.
The first resolution demanded cease fire and second one denounced Israeli assults and killing of palestinians.
Both of these resolutions were wise and right. How a democratic government can act again wisdom and justice?
The US supporting of Israel do not related to democracy.This supporting is same as toppling legitimate Dr. Mosadegh government in Iran or US coopration with dictators.
This supports rooted in pursuing US interests even those interests are against democratic values: Wisdom and justice.

 
At 8:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You the States get your best from Israel.
Since the nuclear energy power developed by jewish scientist to current professors in main American top Universities. Most of american inventions, patents and innovations are jewish ones.
Since the arabs are brainless people dominated by british people (like most of secular american productive sectors and investements), that terrorism is not caused by Israel but British managed.
Let Israel as tiny as 20.000 km2 peaceful and identifies your own weakness as country, you America.
Roy

 
At 5:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Israel is not a democratic state, but one that used violence and terrorism to enter into this world, and its likely that violence and terrorism will finish Israel over the coming decades.

I wish that the people of Palestine could live in peace and all religions could function in harmony without the segregation and confiscation of land by Jews at the detriment of their Arab and Christian neighbors.

Israel should be erased, and replaced by a truly secular government, Iran and Saudia Arabia also should be replaced however that is another conversation.

 
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