How Israel Helped Win the Cold War

Oct. 20 2020

When Harry Truman announced that he was inclined to recognize the fledgling Jewish state, George C. Marshall and other eminent foreign-policy advisers urged him not to, arguing that the new country would be a severe liability to American interests—a way of thinking that persists to this day. But, to the contrary, Israel has proved itself time and again to be an invaluable ally. Joshua Muravchik describes some of its important contributions to fighting the cold war:

In 1966, the Mossad’s Operation Diamond, as it was called, was crowned with success after three years of work. The “diamond” in a question was a late version of the MiG21, the mainstay of the Soviet air force. An Iraqi air-force pilot, suborned by the Mossad, took off in one from his airbase and landed in Israel, where Israeli and American experts could scrutinize every inch.

More important still than [such] operational coups was the ongoing sharing of intelligence, which Israeli agents were adept at gathering. Major General George F. Keegan, the head of intelligence for the U.S. Air Force in the 1970s, put it [thus], “The ability of the U.S. Air Force in particular, and the Army in general, to defend whatever position it has in NATO owes more to Israeli intelligence input than it does to any other single source of intelligence.” . . . He added: “I could not have procured [such] intelligence with five CIAs.”

Intelligence was not the most important Israeli contribution to Western defenses. . . . Israel’s strength turned George Marshall’s 1947 fear of alienating the Arab world on its head. Unable to best Israel, Egypt and to varying degrees most of the other Arab [states] grew disillusioned with Soviet patronage. They began to look instead to the United States.

And then there was the way Israeli strength boosted Western morale, and that of anti-Communists in the East:

Israel’s victories in 1967 and 1973 over foes who were mostly Soviet clients provided a psychological counterpoint to America’s consternation in Vietnam. . . . In Poland, “thousands of Poles placed candles in their windows to commemorate the Israeli victories, not so much for love of Israel but because the Arabs were sponsored by the Soviets,” according to R.J. Crampton, a British scholar of the region.

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More about: Cold War, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy, US-Israel relations


In Prospective Negotiations with Iran, the U.S. Has the Upper Hand. President-Elect Biden Is Determined Not to Use It

In a recent interview with a writer for the New York Times, Joe Biden expressed his willingness to reenter the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran (formally known as the JCPOA) without new preconditions. Noah Rothman comments:

[S]ome observers believe Biden has provided himself with an escape hatch. Biden reiterated his insistence that there could only be a new deal so long as “Iran returns to strict compliance.” [But if] Iranian compliance were a real sticking point, Biden might have dwelled on—or even mentioned in passing—the kind of inspections regime that would verify such a thing. But he did not.

[Under the terms of the deal], Iran provided inspectors access to declared nuclear sites but not military sites where illicit activities were likeliest to occur. A subsequent agreement allowed inspectors to access suspected sites but only with at least 24-days-notice—enough to dispose of the evidence of small-scale work on components related to a bomb. But functionally, that 24-day timeline could be reset by Iran, which could stretch the delays out for weeks—ample time to deceive inspectors.

The JCPOA was never designed to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear-nation status. It was only aimed at dragging that process out while reshuffling the region’s geopolitical deck in Iran’s favor and ultimately providing a patina of legitimacy to Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Any talk about exhuming and reanimating this agreement that glosses over its weak verification regime suggests that the Biden administration, like the Obama administration, will settle for any deal—even a bad one.

Such an approach seems particularly shortsighted when the Islamic Republic has been pushed onto the defensive, reeling from economic woes, the devastating effects of the coronavirus, and a series of assassinations. Rather than press America’s advantage, when “Iran is on the ropes,” writes Rothman, Biden “is committed to negotiating from a position of weakness.”

Read more at Commentary

More about: Iran, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy