I’m watching Chris Matthews and he’s reminding me that Sarah Palin repeatedly said that in her Charlie Gibson interview that it would be inappropriate for an American President to “second-guess” Israeli policy vis-à-vis Iran or, it seems, any other actor in the region. I assume this won’t play a big role in the campaign because, in political terms, I guess you can never be too pro-Israel.
But it’s worth being clear: This doesn’t make any sense at all.
Israel and the United States are separate countries. It’s conceivable that Israel would do something to advance its interests that’s bad for the United States. It’s also conceivable that Israel would do something to advance its interests that’s immoral. And of course it’s conceivable that Israel would do something that’s simply a mistake and likely to backfire. The President of the United States needs to make independent judgments about the merits of Israeli policy and respond accordingly. It makes sense, of course, to show some deference to Israeli politicians’ ideas about what Israel needs to do, but extending infinite deference is absurd — no country extends absolute deference to American policy decisions and no country should extend that kind of deference. Palin was, I suppose, doing what someone who probably hasn’t dealt with these issues before needs to do to try to get certified as kosher, but her statements reflect some very troubling underlying ideas and, if implemented, would represent an enormous abdication of responsibility.