“Israel has repeated – rather than learnt from – US errors in Vietnam. Israel deludes itself that it would resemble the US in the potential Vietnam-like Mideast syndrome. In fact, Israel would resemble South Vietnam. While the PLO has consistently implemented the VietCong tactics of terror-of-attrition, Israel has increasingly responded in a South Vietnam-like manner. I am concerned that if Israel persists in its current counter-terrorist tactics, it may unfortunately end up like South Vietnam!” (Retired Army General, W. Moore, in a recent conversation in Washington, DC).
The former country of South Vietnam is rapidly disappearing from the collective memory of the US, other than during memorial ceremonies for the fallen American GIs. Americans do not respect losers, even if they used to be allies of the US. Americans respect winners. American movies feature heroes who are determined winners, witty and glamorous, rather than restrained punching-bags or honest losers. Starring in “High Noon”, Gary Cooper was the ultimate American hero, the fastest, the most accurate and the most honest gun in the West. The legendary Doc Halliday was pitied by Americans as long as he was drunk and could not shoot straight. However, he won much acclaim upon overcoming the bottle and fear, gunning down his enemies.
Israel’s strategic image and posture of deterrence have been significantly undermined since the 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords. Americans prefer the heroes of the 1967 Six Day War, the 1976 Entebe Rescue and the 1981 bombing of the Ozirak nuclear reactor in Baghdad, over those who try to sooth Hizballah, PLO, Syria and Egypt. The most substantial expansion of the US-Israel strategic cooperation took place during the Shamir Administration, in spite of the deep policy disagreement, but due to the respect for Prime
Minister Shamir’s credibility, tenacity and willingness to undertake non-popular security measures. On a rainy day, the US would be better off with a tough – rather than with a vacillating – ally. Thus, during Shamir’s term Israel was upgraded to the role of Major Non-NATO Ally, the most comprehensive bilateral strategic agreement was concluded (during the height of the first Intifada!), and an unprecedented number of collaborative defense projects were launched in the areas of R&D, operation, logistics and industry.
Israel’s image in Washington DC still benefits from its pre-Oslo “High Noon” image. According to a public opinion poll, conducted following the September 11, 2001 WTC and Pentagon terrorism for the Hudson Institute, 92% of Americans endorse full cooperation between the US and Israel in combating terrorism. Only 20% thought that US support of Israel was the cause for anti-US terrorism. Moreover, according to an October 2001 Chicago Sun-Times poll only 13% view Arafat favorably and 62%:15% believe that the Arabs seek
In order to improve personal and national security – which has deteriorated to its lowest ebb – Israel MUST rid itself of the potential-Vietnam-like-quagmire, and reassert its pre-Oslo self. Thus, Israel should adopt the current US counter-terrorist policy: No negotiation with harborers of terrorism, but rather the devastation of their operational, logistic, political, ideological and financial infrastructure.
While Foggy Bottom would be very critical of Israel, the majority of the American public and Congress would be supportive.