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A Realist Look at U.S.-Israel Relations:

Here is a brief, interesting "realist" look at U.S.-Israel relations. The key paragraph:

The patron-client relationship forged during the 1960s grew largely out of Washington's desire to manage the Arab-Israeli conflict more effectively in order to protect American national interests. Washington feared that an existentially threatened, but militarily potent, Israel might act in ways that could harm American access to oil, facilitate further Soviet penetration of the Middle East, and even embroil the United States in a regional war. At the core of this patron-client relationship sat a "security-for-autonomy" bargain. Washington would provide Jerusalem with security assistance in the form of arms, money, and diplomatic backing, thereby greatly enhancing America's commitment to the Jewish state's survival. In exchange, Washington would demand that Jerusalem surrender a significant amount of its autonomy in the realm of foreign policy decision making. The United States, in other words, sought influence over Israel's foreign policy in order to channel it in directions consistent with the protection of American national interests. Contrary to the belief of many opponents of the American- Israeli patron-client relationship, Washington has never given Jerusalem a "blank check." The Jewish state has consistently had to pay a considerable price for American arms, money, and diplomatic backing.

Articles like this make it hard to take seriously Mearsheimer and Walt's claim that they abandoned their standard realist outlook on international relations with regard to the U.S.-Israel relationship because there was no way to fit the square peg of this relationship into the round hole of realist theory.

One thing that is almost entirely neglected in the relevant literature, including in the article linked above, is the role of AIPAC in creating a closer patron-client relationship between the U.S. and Israel. Contrary to the critics who see AIPAC as a font of "dual loyalty," AIPAC has always vigorously tried to improve U.S.-Israel relations in the American national interest, both because its American constituency demands this emphasis, and even more so because it's a lot easier to sell Congress on aid to Israel in pursuit of American national interest than on moral grounds. As AIPAC has grown increasingly influential, the U.S.-Israel relationship has grown closer; Israel has seen some real benefits from this, but, by becoming so reliant on U.S. military and diplomatic assistance, Israel has also come under increased U.S. "control," to the extent that Israel rarely undertakes any significant military or diplomatic initiative without U.S. permission. Perhaps, as the article under discussion suggests, this would have occurred in any event, because it is in both countries' best interest. But while the role of AIPAC in increasing U.S. aid to Israel has received plenty of attention, its role in helping assure that Israel is also under the U.S.'s thumb is virtually ignored.

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