How the Republican Party Came to Be Pro-Israel

Support for Israel is nowadays a bedrock principle for Republican politicians, but it was not ever thus. Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, for instance, both sought to move away from what they saw as their respective predecessors’ excessive favoritism toward the Jewish state. Identifying the presidency of Ronald Reagan as the decisive turning point, Tevi Troy traces the evolution of Republican attitudes:

[By the late 1970s, a] confluence of forces [was] remaking the Republican party. The growing evangelical support for Israel had its greatest impact in the South, fast becoming the GOP’s stronghold. And it coincided with Ronald Reagan’s eloquence in support of the Jewish state.

Reagan did not see eye to eye with the Israelis on every issue; he approved the sale of AWACS radar planes to Saudi Arabia in 1981, criticized the 1981 attack on Iraq’s reactor at Osirak, and was not supportive of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982. But Reagan spoke and thought of Israel in a manner new to American presidents. He saw that Israel was a strategic asset to the United States in the struggle against totalitarianism. Reagan recognized the alignment not only of interests but foundational Judeo-Christian beliefs: “Israel represents the one stable democracy sharing values with us in that part of the world,” he said.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Dwight D. Eisenhower, Israel & Zionism, Republicans, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, US-Israel relations

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy