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Signed on ice; not carved in stone

The Middle East is burning. The façade of the Arab Spring has long since fallen away, and it has become apparent that this is simply another round of the type of turmoil that has long defined the region.

“We have not experienced an Arab Spring or a March to Democracy or a Facebook Revolution,” former Israeli Ambassador Yoram Ettinger told Israel Today. “What we have experienced is typical, endemic intra-Arab violence in our region.”

Alan Baker, a former Israeli diplomat who worked on the peace treaties with Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians, concurred: “I laugh when I hear ‘Arab Spring’ because I think it’s wishful thinking on the part of the Europeans. There’s no such thing as an Arab Spring. It’s a tragic Arab Winter.”

Ettinger says Western leaders need to learn the lessons from current events: “The riots in Tunisia and in Egypt, the ongoing tribal war in Libya, and the civil war in Syria all shed light on the reality of the Middle East, which for the past 1,400 years has consisted of unpredictability, violent intolerance, instability, unreliability and fragmentation.”

So the regime changes across the region don’t signal a transformation to democracy. “Any new arrangement in the Arab countries will be subjected to the above tenets of the Middle East,” Ettinger continued. “In other words, any arrangement by definition would be provisional. Agreements in the Middle East are signed in ice, not carved in stone.”

Even the moderate and relatively stable Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan will not be immune. “Jordan has already been impacted by the surge of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, will be affected by the civil war in Syria and has felt the effects of the fragmentation of Iraq, which is becoming an Iranian outpost,” Ettinger said. “The Hashemite Kingdom will be swept away. The only question is when, not whether.”

In the midst of all of this, Israel has emerged as an island of stability. Yet Israel is still singled out as the source of the region’s troubles and the one that must make concessions to restore calm.

“How can President Obama and the Europeans come along and say to the Israelis, ‘Oh, ignore what’s happening all around you. You have to show more willingness to compromise with the Palestinians!’” asked a bewildered Baker. “Why? Why do we have to do this? If the whole area is crumbling, why do we have to place ourselves in a riskier situation?”

Ettinger argued that it’s time for the international community to stop zeroing-in on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. “Those gullible observers or policy makers who refer to the Arab-Israeli conflict as the Middle East conflict should reassess because it has never been the main conflict,” he noted. “Over the past two years, none of the seismic events from the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf have had any relevance to the Palestinian issue.”

Baker says Israel cannot safely sign a peace agreement in this atmosphere without substantial Western guarantees, but it’s still an enormous risk. “If after 34 years the peace treaty that has been the most stable element of Arab-Israeli peace in the Middle East is being destabilized by the Egyptian leadership, what hope would anybody have of achieving genuine, lasting agreements with the Syrians or the Lebanese or the Palestinians?” he wondered.

Ettinger agrees: “If the Arabs have so easily and violently violated domestic and regional agreements among themselves, can anybody reasonably expect them to handle agreements with the Jewish state in a more peaceful manner?”

Therefore, the safest bet for Israel is to hold on to vital territorial assets. “Logically speaking, the more unpredictable, the higher the security threshold,” stated Ettinger. “And a higher security threshold underlies the importance of Israel maintaining control of the strategically important mountains of Judea and Samaria.”


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Congress – the co-equal and systematic ally of Israel

Presidents propose and Congress disposes

On September 23, 2021, the US House of Representatives voted 420:9 to replenish the Israeli-developed defensive “Iron Dome” missiles, which are increasingly manufactured – and eventually exported – by the US defense company Raytheon, that benefits from the battle-tested “Israeli laboratory.”

The overwhelming vote reflects Congressional realization that the “Iron Dome”:

*Enhances Israel’s posture of deterrence, which is critical to the survival of all pro-US Arab regimes and minimization of regional instability;
*Reduces the need for full-scale Israeli wars on Palestinian and Islamic terrorism;
*Provides an alternative to Israeli military ground-operations against Palestinian terrorists, which would entail substantial Israeli and Palestinian fatalities;
*Represents joint US-Israel interests, militarily and technologically, in the face of mutual threats (e.g., Islamic terrorism) and mutual challenges (e.g., developing world-class, game-changing technologies).

*Constitutes another example of the systematic support by Congress of enhanced US-Israel cooperation.

The decisive role played by Congress in the replenishment of the “Iron Dome” underscores the cardinal rule of the US political system: The President proposes, but Congress disposes.

The involvement of Senators and House Representatives in foreign policy and national security-related issues has surged since the Vietnam War, Watergate and Iran Gate scandals, the dismantling of the USSR (which transformed the world from a bi-polar to a multi-polar) and rapidly-expanding globalization.

In fact, former Secretary of State, Jim Baker, complained about the growing congressional assertiveness in the area of foreign policy: “You can’t conduct foreign policy with 535 Secretaries of State….”  Former Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney, criticized Congress for micromanaging the defense budget: dictating how much to spend on particular weapons, imposing detailed requirements and programmatic restrictions, venturing into policy-setting and requesting that the Department of Defense submits mountains of reports.

Congressional muscles 

The US Congress is the most powerful legislature in the world, and it has demonstrated its co-equal, co-determining muscle in the areas of foreign and defense policies on many occasions, such as:

*Imposing sanctions against foreign countries in defiance of Presidents Clinton, Obama and Trump (e.g., Egypt – 2012, Iran – 1996-97 and 2013, Russia – 2017);
*Non-ratification of the 2015 JCPOA, which enabled withdrawal by the US;
*The 2009 non-closure of the Guantanamo Detention Camp was led by Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (NV-D), in defiance of President Obama.
*The 2009 non-confirmation of Charles Freeman to the Director of National Intelligence was led by Senator Chuck Schumer (NY-D);
*The 1999 non-ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in defiance of President Clinton and the international community;
*The unprecedented expansion of US-Israel strategic cooperation took place despite stiff opposition by President Bush and Secretary of State Baker;
*The Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act overrode President Reagan’s veto;
*The 1984 Boland Amendment aborted President Reagan’s financial and military aid to anti-Communist elements in Nicaragua;
*The 1983 blocking of President Reagan’s attempted coup against the Surinam pro-Soviet regime;
*The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act mandated congressional authorization of surveillance of persons and organizations, which may threaten national security;
*The 1975/76 Tunney (CA-D) and Clark Amendments stopped financial and military covert support of the opposition to the pro-Soviet regime in Angola;
*The 1973 Church-Case Amendment ended funding of military involvement in Southeast Asia;
*The 1973 War Powers Act overrode President Nixon’s veto;
*The Jackson-Vanik Amendment preconditioned aid to Moscow upon free immigration.

Congress empowered by the Constitution

As documented in the aforementioned paragraphs, one is advised to note that while Congress is preoccupied with District and State issues, it has the power to both propose and dispose in the areas of foreign and defense policies.

The US Constitution aspires for a limited government and a non-monarchical president, and therefore does not limit Congress to overseeing the budget. It provides the Senate and the House of Representatives with the power to act on strategic issues and policy-setting.

The Constitution accords Congress ”the power of the purse,” oversight of government operations, ratification of treaties, confirmation of key appointments, declaration of war, funding of military operations and cooperation with foreign entities, creation and elimination of government agencies, imposing sanctions on foreign governments, etc.

In other words, the President is the “commander in-chief” within constraints, which are set by Congress.


The post-1967 turning point of US-Israel cooperation

Israeli benefits to the US taxpayer exceed US foreign aid to Israel

Iran - A Clear And Present Danger To The USA

Exposing the myth of the Arab demographic time bomb