Saturday, October 9, 2010

George Ball said it 33 years ago

George Ball was Undersecretary of State in the Johnson administration of the mid 1960's. He had good sense, proven by his early appreciation of the futility of the Vietnam War.

Concerning Israel, he wrote two articles for Foreign Policy Magazine - "How to Save Israel from Itself" in 1977 and "The Coming Crisis in Israeli-American Relations" in 1979. Unfortunately, neither article is available for free online, so I went to the library and read them. My conclusion? Nothing has changed about American impotence in over 30 years. The proof is in the following excerpts from the two articles. I have used boldface to emphasize certain points. I hope you will agree this is frightening - because it has allowed a bad situation to get even worse.

"Over the last 30 years (1948 to 1978) American-Israeli relations have evolved to the point where Israel is more dependent on the United States than ever, and yet feels itself free to take hard-line positions at variance with American views without fear of anything worse than verbal admonition from Washington. The result is to encourage Israeli positions and actions that cannot be in the long-term interest of Isreal itself and to deprive the United States in practice of freedom of diplomatic action on issues that deeply affect its national interest...

The settlements policy discredits any Israeli claim to an ultimate peace, confirming the deep - and probably well founded - suspicions of Israel's Arab neighbors that at least substantial elements of the Israeli government have expansionist ambitions. It is a major impediment to the attainment of peace, and we must categorically insist that it be stopped. So long as we continue our subsidy while Israel flouts our futile protests, we not only support illegality, but look both impotent and absurd.

(Ball calls for an imposed solution, then says) America's indispensable role is to provide the political leaders on both sides of the need to make politically unpalatable decisions, by furnishing them the escape route of yielding reluctantly under the relentless pressure of outside forces. This means our President must take the political heat from powerful and articulate pro-Israeli groups. It means that as a nation we must be prepared to accept abuse and blame from both sides, permitting local politicians to save their own skins by attacking American arrogance and imperialism.

...the wishful assumption of many Israelis that, if Israel can only continue to occupy her post-1967 boundaries long enough, the Arabs will weary of their opposition and the world will accept as a fait accompli is quite illusory, even assuming that American taxpayers will continue, year after year, to provide aid to Israel at anything like its present level - an assumption that should by no means be taken for granted. (not only did we keep paying, we added more!!!)

So long as there is no part of Palestine that the Palestinians can call their own and to which they can, in principle, return - even though few might choose to stay there - so long, in other words, as they are denied the possibility of building their own nation in that part of old Palestine represented by the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, terrorism and excessive rhetoric are inevitable.

(after mention of a friend telling him Israelis are entitled to paranoia, Ball says) No matter how much we may sympathize with what my friend calls "Israeli paranoia," how far dare we let it determine American policy? How far, in other words, should we go to subsidize a policy shaped to accommodate understandable Israeli compulsions which do not accord with the best interests - as we see it - either of Israel or the United States, but are a threat to world peace?

If America should permit Israel to continue to reject inflexibly any suggestion of a return to earlier boundaries and the creation of a Palestinian state and to refuse even to negotiate about Jerusalem, we would be acquiescing in a policy hazardous not only for Israel but for America and the rest of the world. That would not be responsible conduct for a great power."
All of this written over 30 years ago!

note: Jimmy Carter considered Ball for Secretary of State but decided not to choose him because the Israel lobby would oppose it - from page 167 of The Israel Lobby by Mearsheimer and Walt

1 comment:

  1. To be fair, 9-11 altered much American perception. The Second Lebanon War, called a joint US Israel war by some because Israeli jets were fueled with American supplied petrol, was approved by the Bush Administration. The Iraq war with its blossoming of suicide bombing also happened. Ball wrote under American immunity, and that immunity, perceptionally, no longer exists. One must advocate withdrawal even under acknowledged risks. I do not think the neocons have lost much ground, and I do not think they may be fought without acknowledging that terrorist attacks will likely happen, at least for a while. 9-11 altered the apparent reach of terrorism. Vietnam fell, but, save for Cold War enthusiasts, Americans were not affected. Our failure to stand independently from Israel (although Clinton tried for a while) has trapped us. Obama made no public mention of the Gaza campaign; there is no evidence that the US would have acted at all save for the flotilla deaths this year. We not only condemn Hamas, we condemn people not Hamas who speak of--not for--Hamas. Is this not like condemning a doctor who speaks of cancer?

    "Suicide bombing" is a controled phrase. As long as this is so, suicide bombers have an advantage. The greatest weakness in the Jewish Left is its failure to address such attacks. This silence becomes charge against them by the "never agains." I suspect a plurality if not majority of people everywhere are willing, if pressed, to see others die far off if their own lives remain calm. Why should these listen to the left right now?