In the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz today, NYU Professor Tony Judt argues that the publication of the now-famous essay on the Israel lobby may signal a real change in American foreign policy, away from our “umbilical” relationship to Israel.
The fact is that the disastrous Iraq invasion and its aftermath are beginning to engineer a sea-change in foreign policy debate here in the U.S. It is becoming clear to prominent thinkers across the political spectrum – from erstwhile neo-conservative interventionists like Francis Fukuyama to hard-nosed realists like Mearsheimer – that in recent years the United States has suffered a catastrophic loss of international political influence and an unprecedented degradation of its moral image. The country’s foreign undertakings have been self-defeating and even irrational. There is going to be a long job of repair ahead, above all in Washington’s dealings with economically and strategically vital communities and regions from the Middle East to Southeast Asia. And this reconstruction of the country’s foreign image and influence cannot hope to succeed while U.S. foreign policy is tied by an umbilical cord to the needs and interests (if that is what they are) of one small Middle Eastern country of very little relevance to America’s long-term concerns – a country that is, in the words of the Mearsheimer/Walt essay, a strategic burden: “A liability in the war on terror and the broader effort to deal with rogue states.”
That essay is thus a straw in the wind – an indication of the likely direction of future domestic debate here in the U.S. about the country’s peculiar ties to Israel.