Israel Is Here to Stay

(RealClearWorld) Aaron David Miller - Having worked the Israel issue for half a dozen secretaries of state, I'm more convinced than ever that Israel is here to stay. The region in which Israel lives is melting down at a rate no one would have anticipated. Yet if any states disappear, these may be on the Arab side. A good part of the Arab world, including many of Israel's traditional adversaries, have gone offline. The region's three non-Arab states - Israel, Turkey, and Iran - are probably the most highly functioning polities in the region. All are domestically stable, have tremendous economic power, and are capable of projecting their power in the region. Of the three, Israel by far has the best balance of military, economic, and technological prowess and brain power. By any significant standard - GDP per capita; educational assets; share of Nobel prizes; even the global happiness index - Israel leads the region, and much of the rest of the world, by wide margins. Compare the situation Israel faces in 2016 with any other period since the founding of the state 68 years ago, and there is little doubt the country is stronger, more secure, and holds a more pronounced qualitative military edge than it ever has. Furthermore, with the exception of Iran, its traditional adversaries are weaker and are falling further behind. The situation, of course, is far from perfect. Israelis face a rash of attacks by Palestinians, as well as more substantial threats from Hizbullah, Hamas, and ISIS wannabes in Sinai. But these aren't existential security threats to the state, and Iran's putative quest for a nuclear weapon has been constrained for now. Functional cooperation with Jordan, improving ties with Turkey, close relations with Egypt, and an emerging alignment of interests with Saudi Arabia against Iran, all suggest a certain lessening of the Arab state allergy to Israel. In a region with not a single Arab democracy, a rising Iran, and threats from transnational jihadists, Washington will almost certainly continue to look to Israel as an ally in the region. Indeed, the threat of significant terror attacks on domestic soil from a Middle East in meltdown will provide the best set of talking points for the continuation of the U.S.-Israel special relationship. Israel is a highly functional state that has powerful agency, extraordinary human resources, a demonstrated capacity to deal with its security challenges, and neighbors who seem to be growing weaker, not stronger. The writer, a vice president at the Woodrow Wilson Center, served as a Middle East negotiator, analyst and adviser in Republican and Democratic administrations.

2016-04-13 00:00:00

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