Natural Allies

Josh Marshall notes Joe Lieberman fishing for Jewish votes on behalf of John McCain in Florida:

‘’The Democratic Party, I believe, respectfully, has left the strongest roots of its foreign policy and national security,’’ Lieberman said, adding that McCain “has always believed that Israel is our natural ally, from the beginning of its modern existence to this day in the war against Islamic extremists and terrorists.’’

Now I assume that most practical Democratic Party politicians are going to want to deny that there’s any real difference between the parties here. But I think Lieberman’s probably correct to see a disagreement here between people with the Lieberman/McCain worldview and sensible people. As Lieberman/McCain see it, Israel has long been the subject of terrorist attacks perpetrated by Muslims. Then, on September 11, 2001 the United States was hit by Muslim terrorists. Ergo, the US and Israel are allies in a common war against a common threat.

On a different, more accurate account, while there are unquestionably some points of ideological similarity between Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda these should all be seen as separate entities with discrete agendas. It’s a huge mistake to, for example, assume that every Hamas militant or supporter shares anything resembling the grandiose overall al-Qaeda vision. Hamas and Hezbollah both arise in the context of concrete national conflicts and thus have different textures and aims from al-Qaeda (and, for that matter, from each other). The effort to run all these groups together has been a useful way for Israeli politicians to try to secure US support for their policies, and has been politically expedient for many American politicians, but it’s ultimately founded on serious analytical errors and, as such, doesn’t lead either Israel or the United States to adopt smart policies that serves our respective countries respective interests.