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Why a Defense Agreement With Israel Would Be a Disaster for Pindos
Philip Giraldi, Strategic Culture, Aug 21 2019

Two world wars began because of unconditional pledges made by one country to come to assistance of another. On Jul 5 1914, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany pledged his country’s complete support for whatever response Austria-Hungary would choose to make against Serbia after the Jun 28 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria by a Serbian nationalist during an official visit to Sarajevo, Bosnia. This fatal error went down in history as Germany’s carte blanche assurance to Austria that led directly to WW1. In Sep 1939, WW2 began when Great Britain and France came to the assistance of Poland after the German Army invaded, fulfilling a “guarantee” made in March of that year. What was a regional war, and one that might have been resolved through diplomacy, became global. One would think that after such commitments were assessed by historians as the immediate causes of two world wars, no one would ever consider going down that road again. But that would be reckoning without Republican Senator Lindsey Graham who has been calling for a “defense treaty” with Israel since last April. In his most recent foray, Graham announced late in July that he is seeking bipartisan support for providing “blank check” assurances to Netanyahu and is hoping to be able to push a complete defense treaty through the Senate by next year. In making his several announcements on the subject, Graham has been acting as a front man for both Netanyahu and also for JINSA, which wrote the basic document that is being used to promote the treaty and then enlisted Graham to obtain congressional support. Speaking to the press on a JINSA conference call, Graham said the proposed agreement would be a treaty that would protect Israel in case of an attack that constituted an “existential threat”. Citing Iran as an example, Graham said the pact would be an attempt to deter hostile neighbors like the Iranians who might use weapons of mass destruction against Israel. JINSA President Michael Makovsky elaborated on this, saying:

A mutual defense pact has a value in not only deterring, but might also mitigate a retaliatory strike by an adversary of Israel, so it might mitigate an Iranian response (to an attack on its nuclear facilities).

JINSA director of foreign policy Jonathan Ruhe added:

An Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear program would not activate this pact, but a major Iranian retaliation might. An Israeli unilateral attack is not what the treaty covers, but rather massive Iranian retaliation is what we are addressing.

Israel has long been reluctant to enter into any actual treaty arrangement with Pindostan because it might limit its options and restrain its aggressive pattern of military incursions. In that regard this proposal is particularly dangerous, as it effectively permits Israel to be interventionist with a guarantee that Faschingstein will not seek to limit Netanyahu’s “options,” and even though the treaty is reciprocal, there is no chance that Israel will ever be called upon to do anything to defend Pindostan, so it is as one-sided as most arrangements with the Jewish state tend to be. As the agreement between the two countries would be a treaty ratified by the Senate, it would be much more difficult to scrap by subsequent administrations than was the JCPoA. And clearly the statements by Graham, Makovsky and Ruhe reveal this treaty would serve as a green light for an Israeli attack on Iran, while also serving as a red light to Tehran vis-à-vis an ironclad Pindo commitment to “defend” Israel that would serve to discourage any serious Iranian retaliation. Given that dynamic, the treaty would be little more than a one-way security guarantee from Faschingstein to Jerusalem.

Furthermore, in outlining what circumstances would trigger Pindo intervention on Israel’s behalf, the document cites, inter alia, “the threat or use of WMDs.” It also allows Netanyahu to call for assistance after defining as threatening any incident or development “that gives rise to an urgent request from the Government of Israel.” It appears then that Netanyahu could demand that Pindostan attack Iran should he only perceive a threat, however vague that threat might in reality be. Netanyahu has been claiming Iran is “three to five years” and “possibly weeks” away from a nuclear weapons capability since 1992 and pushing Faschingstein to attack Iran, so he obviously would welcome such a treaty for strategic reasons as well as to shore up his upcoming re-election bid. Trump, with whom Graham has discussed how the agreement would work, has a similar interest in appearing strong for Israel to help his own campaign in 2020. It is worth noting that in 2010 Netanyahu ordered the IOF to prepare to strike Iran, but Israel’s security chiefs refused: Gabi Ashkenazi, the head of the IDF, and Meir Dagan, the head of the Mossad at the time, believed that Netanyahu and Barak were trying to “steal a war” and the order was not carried out. The attacks were also rejected by two ministers, Moshe Yaalon and Yuval Steinitz, which left Netanyahu without the necessary majority to proceed. Ashkenazi claimed in a 2012 interview about the episode that he was convinced that an attack would be have been a major strategic mistake. Meir Dagan said in 2012, after leaving his role as Mossad chief, that a strike would be “a stupid thing” as the entire region would undoubtedly be destabilized, requiring repeated Israeli and Pindo interventions.

And there are other issues arising from a “defense treaty.” Defense means just that and treaties are generally designed to protect a country within its own borders. Israel has no defined borders as it is both expansionistic and illegally occupying Palestinian land, so the United States would in effect be obligated to defend space that Israel defines as its own. That could mean almost anything. Israel is currently bombing Syria almost daily even though it is not at war with Damascus. If Syria were to strike back and Graham’s treaty were in place, Washington would technically be obligated to come to Israel’s assistance. A similar situation prevails with Lebanon and there are also reports that Israel is bombing alleged Iranian supply lines in Iraq, where Pindostan has 5,000 troops stationed. The real problem is that the Trump administration is obsessed with regime change in Iran, but it has so far been unable to provoke Iran into starting a conflict. Graham’s proposed treaty just might be part of a White House plan to end-run Congress and public opinion by enabling Israel to start the desired war, whereupon Pindostan would quickly follow in to “defend Israel,” obliged by treaty to do so. What could possibly go wrong? The correct answer is “everything.”

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