We need to learn from history. Once upon a time (nearly forty years but not so long ago, really) American foreign policy was being stymied, on every issue and continent, by a duplicitous Soviet Union, Confounded by the Vietnam War, President Richard Nixon and his foreign policy czar, Henry Kissinger, faced not so much crises that threatened America as murky messes that wouldn’t yield to unilateral resolution. Soviet partnership was needed but at best absent.
As proponents of 19th century real politik (studied by Nixon and taught by Kissinger),each harbored an almost opera boffo view of himself as, respectively, emperor and imperial wizard. They were born to create grand, geopolitical designs that would impose order on the world’s conflicts, and they knew it from within their cores. Always.
At the same time, there was China, unrecognized and largely ignored on the world stage, and confined to rattling around within its cage built by Mao. Yet China was neither devoid of ambition nor unaware of its possibilities. Indeed, it was confident its potential would be uncorked if the circumstances of its isolation were to change.
The details of the Nixon/Kissinger grand “China Opening” needn’t be recited here. None of the various motives and objectives of the parties are particularly relevant to this discussion except for one which, as it happened, was achieved and served the purposes of both the U.S. and China: each gained a vital option where none had previously existed. Advertisement
For example, China’s reliance on Russia and Eastern Europe (particularly as to trade) was supplanted by the American market and marketplace, while U.S. frustration with Soviet-supported obstacles and stagnation now could be outflanked with Chinese acquiescence.
So, how does the forgoing history serve present purposes? The answer is simple. Israel needs, perhaps desperately, an alternative to its support from the U.S. The Obama administration has quickly become not only a hindrance to long established Israeli policies, but possibly even a danger to Israel itself. That some saw it coming earlier than others – while still others even now deny the hitherto unthinkable prospect of betrayal – matters not.
Obama’s record is now clear enough. Despite occasional and sclerotic White House or State Department formulations that no longer ring true, the Israeli government would be criminally irresponsible to delude itself about U.S. support on anyissue.
Nothing should be viewed as sacred when it comes to the U.S.-Israel relationship because, whether by design or stupidity, nothing at this time is.
That is why, if possible, Israel ought follow Nixon’s lead and join China in a strategic partnership for both countries’ benefit. Israel needs a China option to offset the worst that can be expected from the Obamans – and the “worst” is conceivably everything.
China, of course, has no need for an Israeli option. It can, however, benefit substantially from expanded trade and joint ventures with Israel, especially in areas of advanced technology affecting agriculture, information management, aerospace development and even space exploration.
Whatever it takes to overcome China’s reluctance to upset its relations and trade with Iran and the Arab world, that is what Israel must now do. It always could have used another friend. Today it must hedge its security with an alternative friend. It’s time for Israel to follow Nixon.Arnold S. Mazur