The US/Israel Relationship May Change Soon

Published at 10:22 on 16 March 2024

In other words, it may change from unqualified support to conditional support. (It will not change any more, at least not at first. Sorry. This is like turning a large ship; big changes in course happen slowly.)

Israel is pressing ahead with plans for an offensive in Rafah, despite being warned not to, and despite criticism from previously uncritical figures in the USA.

Why do something that is likely to be a blunder, even when viewed in purely self-interested terms? What I call cognitive shorthand. In planning the next day’s activities, one does not spend much time pondering if the sun will rise and set, and when it is likely to. It is taken as a given that this will happen, and at almost exactly the same times it did today. Mental energy is to be spent pondering the variables that are actually variables, and taking the constants as givens.

For the entire time that I have had any degree of political awareness, since approximately my early teen years, the USA has supported Israel no matter what. It has been taken as virtually mandatory that all officeholders profess their unwavering support for Israel.

This has always struck me as odd, given that also for the entire time I have been aware of politics, Israel has been colonizing land seized in warfare, in contravention of international law. That almost never got criticized by any US figure with any degree of political power, and if any such individual did make the criticism, it was usually very weak and qualified, and there was almost always blowback for making the criticism. The blowback often ended in apology and a proclamation of unwavering support for Israel. Departures from this norm were taken as departures from respectable, mainstream politics.

Given that level of decades-long support, it was natural for Israelis to engage in cognitive shorthand, and take it as a given. And for decades, this worked perfectly. Israel would do whatever it wanted, and the USA would publicly back Israel. If you are a small country, it is great to have that sort of power, particularly if you have larger, hostile neighbours.

Old habits can die hard, and it seems that the Netanyahu regime is failing to revisit its cognitive shorthand, despite all the recent evidence that some assumed constants have now become variables. Maybe they are focusing on the weakness in Schumer’s latest speech, instead of the more significant fact that he made the speech at all.

It won’t be the first time a regime’s hubris ends up costing it, and it won’t be the last time, either.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.