The U.S. and Israel, Clouds on the Horizon

It would be stupid to deny that, in many aspects, Barack Obama differs not only from Republican candidate John McCain, but from all of the other leaders of his own party. The young Democratic candidate represents a rupture not, evidently with the American bipartisan consensus, but certainly with nearly a decade of neoconservatism, which has proven to be a catastrophe not only for the people of the world, but also for the United States. There is, however, a political subject, and not an unimportant one, on which Obama does not move a millimeter away from the position of his adversaries. Total and unconditional support of Israel.

I do not share the opinion of those who see in the hysterical pro-Israeli declarations of Obama only electoral opportunism, even though there is no doubt that he adds a measure of it to attract the funds and votes of the pro-Israeli electorate.

The whole of the political class in the United States supports Israel because it shares the same vision of the importance of the Middle East for American interests: primarily oil, the instability of this region where the totalitarian regimes represent the rule and democracy the exception, and the necessity to maintain a permanent military presence capable of responding to any form of questioning these interests by a popular movement or a local regime. This role has been developing since the middle of the sixties and it is this – and not the effectiveness of a so-called Jewish lobby – which explains the colossal military and financial support for the Hebrew state.

Concerning the strategic alliance between Washington and Tel-Aviv, there is no divergence between Republicans and Democrats, between McCain and Obama. However, the frame of this strategic alliance will be brought into question after the next elections, if Obama is elected. In effect, with the depart of George Bush and the block of neoconservatives and evangelists who still surround him for a few months, the United States will change their foreign policy, which showed to produce a memorable fiasco in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. As of now, negotiations proceed with Damascus, which remains officially for Washington a rogue state and the central pillar of the axis of evil. The strategy of the preventive global war has failed. The Baker-Hamilton report has clearly explained this to the current administration. If, as his former advisors say, George Bush has tossed this report out, he has been accommodated by the State Department and, a new phenomenon, by a part of the pentagon and staff.

Within a year, American policy in the Middle East will know important changes, and the State of Israel will have to readjust their strategy. This is likely to pose a problem for part of the military establishment, which more than ever wants to make a demonstration of the deterrent capacity of the reconstituted Israeli army, called into question by the Lebanese resistance in 2006. There will be a stronger reaction if the next elections see a victory by Benjamin Netanyahu, the most extreme of neoconservatives. In other words, if the ballot boxes bring Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu simultaneously to power, the Israeli-American strategic relations will know certain bad weather.

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