Israel's Role in the Middle East Has Become Critically Important for the U.S.

(Foreign Policy) John Hannah - Israel's recent emergence as one of the world's most powerful industrial democracies has never been more important to the U.S. And the value to U.S. interests of Israel's world-class military, intelligence prowess, and cutting-edge science and technology sector is only likely to grow in the future. Even as the U.S. seeks to reduce its burdens in the Middle East, it still has important interests that need defending. It wants to contain Iranian aggression, combat Islamist terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, deter the outbreak of major war, and ensure Israel's security. Logic dictates that doing all that with less U.S. involvement means someone else will have to step up to help fill the void. That puts a premium on reliable local allies that have both the will and the capability not just to defend themselves without the U.S. riding to the rescue but also to act effectively on their own. It's patently obvious that only one country comes close to meeting those criteria today: Israel. Israel has, by an order of magnitude, the most powerful and operationally effective military in the Middle East. Its intelligence services rank among the world's best. It's a technological superpower with leading research and development capabilities in priority national security areas for the U.S., including cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, unmanned systems, missile defense, space, and anti-terrorism. Israel's assessment of the most serious threats to Middle East security is nearly identical to Washington's. And its government and population are unwaveringly pro-American. Since at least 2017, Israel has been the only power in the world conducting regular military operations to push back successfully against Iranian forces and their expansionist designs. Iran's goal of replicating in Syria the same level of military power and threat that it built in Lebanon through Hizbullah has been almost completely thwarted by a sustained campaign of discreet Israeli military attacks and intelligence activities - all without triggering a larger war. To jeopardize such a strategic asset on the altar of a Palestinian conflict that has dragged on chronically for decades, with no resolution in sight and the issue's relative geopolitical significance in steep decline, would be a huge unforced error. The writer, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, served as national security advisor to former Vice President Dick Cheney.

2019-12-12 00:00:00

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