Benjamin Netanyahu: 'We're fighting America's war'
'This is pure military politics. That’s how I’ve always heard it discussed among US military and national security people.'
“Israel is fighting America’s war.”
—Benjamin Netanyahu to Mark Levin, November 2023
“I think it’s about time we stop apologizing for our support for Israel. There is no apology to be made. None. It is the best $3 billion investment we make. Were there not an Israel, the United States of America would have to invent an Israel to protect her interest in the region; the United States would have to go out and invent an Israel.”
—Senator Joe Biden, 1986
“The US is not supporting Israel at all. It rejects the majority of Israelis. It supports the Israeli military, not the Israeli society.”
—Michael Hudson, below
It’s common to dismiss statements like the one above by the Israeli Prime Minister — “We are fighting America’s war” — as a propagandistic attempt to loop the US into its own war against the Palestinians and Hamas.
It’s also common to think that the US government’s support of Israel is caused by religious or cultural affinity, or a desire to redress the Holocaust, or more cynically, manipulation of our ruling elites by Israel’s well-financed lobbying arm, AIPAC.
It’s far more likely that the US stands by Israel’s war for much the same reason President Carter stood by the bloody Indonesian ruler Suharto and his massacre in East Timor — both Israel and Indonesia are anchor nations in America’s Great Game of domination.
Looked at from this perspective, our government’s unwavering support for Israel and all its deeds is not surprising at all, not the least inexplicable. It’s in fact so ordinary for American geopolitical planning as to almost not need mentioning.
Except it does. Because this is Israel.
Here to explain all that are economist Michael Hudson and journalist Ben Norton. I offer their views for your consideration.
‘Full spectrum dominance’
First, they discuss US goals in its own Great Game, control of the Middle East, starting with a comment made by Senator Joe Biden in 1986 (all emphasis mine):
BIDEN/VIDEO: If we look at the Middle East, I think it’s about time we stop, those of us who support, as most of us do, Israel in this body, for apologizing for our support for Israel.
There is no apology to be made. None. It is the best $3 billion investment we make.
Were there not an Israel, the United States of America would have to invent an Israel to protect her interest in the region; the United States would have to go out and invent an Israel. […]
BEN NORTON: First of all, it goes without saying that the so-called Middle East, or a better term is West Asia, has some of the world’s largest reserves of oil and gas, and the entire economic infrastructure all around the world relies on fossil fuels.
We are gradually moving toward new energy sources, but fossil fuels are still absolutely critical to the entire global economy. And Washington’s goal has been to make sure that it can maintain steady prices in the global oil and gas markets.
But this is about something much bigger than just oil and gas. The U.S. military’s stated policy since the 1990s, since the end of the Cold War and the overthrow of the Soviet Union, is that the United States has tried to maintain control over every region of the world.
This was stated very clearly by the U.S. National Security Council in 1992 in the so-called Wolfowitz Doctrine. The U.S. National Security Council wrote:
[The United States’] goal is to preclude any hostile power from dominating a region critical to our interests, and also thereby to strengthen the barriers against the reemergence of a global threat to the interests of the U.S. and our allies. These regions include Europe, East Asia, the Middle East/Persian Gulf, and Latin America. Consolidated, nondemocratic control of the resources of such a critical region could generate a significant threat to our security.
Then, in 2004, the U.S. government published its National Military Strategy, in which Washington stressed that its goal was “Full Spectrum Dominance – the ability to control any situation or defeat any adversary across the range of military operations”.
The US ‘twin pillar’ strategy of regional control
Once seen in this light, nothing here should surprise you. We saw this dynamic play out in Iraq and Afghanistan, two places the US tried to establish a military presence. That both attempts failed is immaterial.
Israel, according to Norton and Hudson, is simply another surrogate US military base in the oil-rich Near East, one of its two “twin pillars” of control.
[NORTON:] Now, historically, when it came to the Middle East, the U.S. relied on a so-called “twin pillar” strategy. The west pillar was Saudi Arabia, and the east pillar was Iran. And until the 1979 revolution in Iran, the country was governed by a dictator, a shah, the monarch, who was backed by the United States and served U.S. interests in the region.
However, with the 1979 revolution, the U.S. lost one of the pillars of its twin pillar strategy, and Israel became increasingly important for the United States to maintain control over this crucially strategic region.
It’s not just the massive oil reserves and gas reserves in the region; it’s not just the fact that many of the world’s top oil and gas producers are located in West Asia. It’s also the fact that some of the most important trading routes on Earth also go through this region. […]
Historically, the United States has tried to dominate this region in order to maintain control not only of energy supplies, but also to ensure these global trade routes that the entire globalized neoliberal economic system is built on.
‘Israel is a landed aircraft in the Near East’
Hudson picks up the thread from Britain’s Balfour Declaration, which he interprets as a former super-power’s attempt to similarly control the region and to the same end, fossil fuel. The US inherited that goal when it inherited, well, the world, thanks to its victory in World War II and the use to which that victory was put.
MICHAEL HUDSON: Israel is a landed aircraft carrier in the Near East. Israel is the takeoff point for America to control the Near East…
The United States has always viewed Israel as just our foreign military base… When England first passed the act saying that there should be an Israel, the Balfour Declaration, it was because Britain wanted to control the Near East and its oil supplies…
And then after that, of course, when Truman came in, the military immediately saw that America was replacing England as the chief of the Near East…
What we’re really seeing is, having fought Russia to the last Ukrainian, and threatening to fight Iran to the last Israeli, the United States is trying to send arms to Taiwan to say, wouldn’t you like to fight to the last Taiwanese against China?
And that’s really the U.S. strategy all over the world; it’s trying to fuel other countries to fight wars for its own control.
‘This is pure military politics’
Note this telling point about why the US supports Netanyahu specifically. Hudson argues that Netanyahu is not a flaw in the US plan, but a feature:
If American strategy is based on energy in the Near East, then Israel is only a means to this end. It’s not the end itself. And that’s why the United States needed to have an aggressive Israeli government. [...]
So you keep talking about America’s support of Israel. It’s not supporting Israel at all. It rejects the majority of Israelis. It supports the Israeli military, not the Israeli society or the culture, have nothing to do with Judaism at all. This is pure military politics, and that’s how I’ve always heard it discussed among the military and national security people.
My thoughts: Hudson is right. What else explains Biden's almost slavish support of Israel's conduct of war, and in fact, its constant historical mistreatment of all Palestinians?
Despite the fact that Netanyahu would happily see (and manipulate) Donald Trump into office, this Democratic administration, like all those before it, fully supports his policies, despite its toothless and cosmetic complaints. If you look at Israel as a pawn in America’s Great Game, it’s easy to see why: our military posture demands it.