The American Stake in Israel
THE place of Israel in the evolution of American foreign policy since 1945 is a cautionary tale for all who study the art, or practice it, and for all who must live with American foreign policy as citizens, as allies, or as adversaries. It is the perfect case history through which to observe the development of our foreign policy since Truman. Every factor shaping our policy during this period has been at work with regard to Israel: the influence of strategic interests, and the ways in which our perception of those interests has changed in response to the changing character of Soviet policy, the Sino-Soviet split, and the decline of the European political and military presence in the world beyond Europe; the influence of our isolationist tradition, and of isolationist, anti-imperialist, and anti-colonialist attitudes, which continue to have a tenacious grip on our minds and feelings even though the experience on which they rest has become obsolete; our reluctant recognition of our security interest in the fate of Europe (and Japan), and our resistance to involvement in the vast and turbulent world beyond those narrow perimeters; the influence of moral conviction, sympathy, and democratic principle; the influence of international law on international politics, and vice versa, the unresolved question of the place of the United Nations charter in our foreign policy, and the extent to which our policy is or should be committed to the rules of the charter against the international use of force; and, finally, the influence of the most important and most neglected category among the causes of history, that of the so-called “irrational factors,” which include stupidity, pride, accident, misperceptions of reality, psychological defense mechanisms for screening out unpleasant realities, failures of nerve, feelings of guilt, and paralysis of the instinct for self-preservation. Perhaps I should add the death wish itself.
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