In a brief Q & A with a journalist and broadcaster from New York a question was presented to me over the latest announcement by Israel on its disputed settlement projects in east Jerusalem that not only made Vice President Joe Biden look bad upon his arrival to Israel last week, but more importantly, and in a larger regional context, has made America’s status in the Middle East appear weak, uneven handed and ultimately incapacitated to resolve situations diplomatically.
And so the question that was presented was this,
The Israelis believe that the United States is dictating what it, as a sovereign nation, may or may not do, and, it feels that the U.S. military is pressuring the White House to bring Israel into line because of concerns raised by Arab states. If that’s true it raises all kinds of questions about the militaries influence over US foreign policy?
As an expert in Middle East affairs I’d value your opinion on this question.
My answer was the following.
It’s not about the US military influencing the White House at all. It’s about the US military realizing that after 9 years of bloodshed in Iraq and Afghanistan and the death of thousands of US soldiers and the killing of tens of thousands of innocent civilians it has failed to achieve its mission which is to stabilize two wars.
The truth of the matter is that the US military wants out but they can’t leave for two reasons. A) If they leave the Middle East now the Islamists from both Sunni and Shia camps lead by Saudi Arabia and Iran will create havoc in the region. And B) any premature departure will compromise American interests in the region which means all the investment made to secure the flow of oil and gas and to open up new markets for American goods and services will be lost.
Therefore, to minimize the complexity of this asymmetrical combat situation for its troops, the US military aims to avoid escalated hostility on the ground while at the same time giving US diplomats time to resolve other key issues in the region such as the situation with regards to Iran’s nuclear program.
The Middle East is entering into one of its most tumultuous periods in history and Prime Minister Netanyahu is playing a dangerous game when he fails to see the relationship between Israel’s interest and that of the United States. I think the message from the White House to the Prime Minister was clear, America also has its own interest in the region beyond Israel.