60 Second Expert: The Divergence of America and Israel

According to Meir Dagan, director of Mossad, “Israel is turning from an asset to the United States to a burden.” Though an alignment of interests between the United States and Israel existed from the 1960s to the end of the Cold War, the two countries’ strategic interests no longer coincide. This is clear from U.S. reactions to the Turkish flotilla incident, which indicate a major shift in American grand strategy in the region.

Though Israel defeated some of the Soviet Union’s primary allies in the Middle East during the 1967 Six-Day War, the Gulf War and the subsequent “internationalization” of Arab oil devalued America’s alliance with Israel, particularly because it strained ties with stupendously wealthy Arab petro-regimes. Furthermore, though Israel was previously seen as a bulwark against radical Islamic groups, the threat posed by these groups has proven to be overblown.

In reality, Israel offers limited value in the most important areas of the U.S. foreign policy agenda: stabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally, given the ongoing expansion of Iran’s power in the Middle East, Turkey will likely become a more instrumental U.S. ally, as it is capable of balancing Iran’s inevitable influence among Iraq’s Shiite majority.

Given long-term U.S. strategic interests in the Middle East, especially with regard to Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Israel can no longer be allowed to act as it pleases under an American umbrella. If the United States is to maintain its preeminence in the region, it will have to negotiate multiple nodes of power in the Middle East, and acknowledge a more diffuse strategic balance held by Turkey, Iran, Israel, and the Arabs.

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