Friday, September 07, 2007

Israel Is Not "a Normal State"

The Associated Press reports that "[t]he Syrian government charged Thursday that Israeli aircraft dropped 'munitions' inside Syria" (Albert Aji, "Syria Says It Shot at Israeli Aircraft," 6 September 2007). Worse,
The route reportedly flown by the Israeli planes, east from the Mediterranean deep into northern Syria, would have taken the craft to Syria's closest point to Iran, separated only by Iraq's Kurdish region. (emphasis added, Aji, 6 September 2007)
On the same day, in a New York Times book review that takes issue with The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, William Grimes boldly declares that Israel is not "a normal state":
“It is time,” Mr. Mearsheimer and Mr. Walt write, “for the United States to treat Israel not as a special case but as a normal state, and to deal with it much as it deals with any other country.” But it’s not. And America won’t. That’s realism.(emphasis added, "A Prosecutorial Brief Against Israel and Its Supporters," 6 September 2007)
Certainly, no state in this day and age could do what Israel just did and think that it could get away with it. But if Israel isn't "a normal state," why is that? Because of the power of the Israel lobby? I don't think so.

Israel is not "a normal state" because the United States of America isn't. Those who think that Israel is a "strategic burden" for Washington tend to think that, instead of backing Israel, Washington could and should ally itself with Iran and the predominantly Arab states. After all, they have oil whereas Israel doesn't. But Washington, unlike a "normal state," does not have allies, nor does it want any. Only states with roughly equal powers can be allies, and no state other than China and Russia, which Washington keeps at arm's length, is equal to the USA. What Washington has, instead, are junior partners (like European states), client states (like many states in the global South, especially much of the Middle East, and also Japan), and special forces (Israel). Come to think of it, "normal states," i.e., states governed by power elites whose domestic and foreign policy are independent of Washington's, are exceptions rather than the rule today: Iran, as well as Cuba and Venezuela, is one of the most significant exceptions.

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