Foreign Policy Blogs

America Recalibrates Its Israeli Alliance

The following is an excerpt from Atlantic Council Senior Fellow and fellow of the Foreign Policy Association Sarwar Kashmeri. Read the complete article here.


Photo by Amos Ben Gershom Israeli Government Press Office via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned home without receiving an American endorsement for an Israeli attack on Iran. Neither did he find much support for the Israeli government’s assertion that the window to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons is about to slam shut. In fact, the U.S. military and intelligence community did not budge from its unified conclusion that Iran has not yet decided to manufacture a nuclear weapon.

Netanyahu came to town with both guns blazing. He gathered the powerful forces of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC, and the hawkish elements of the U.S. Congress around his argument. That he still could not pressure the United States to see the Middle East through his optics, in spite of all this firepower, and during an American presidential election campaign, makes his failure a notable development. And a remarkable success story for the Obama administration.

But even more important than the refusal to open the door to a potential attack by Israel on Iran was a strategic development that has not yet received the illumination it deserves: President Obama’s recalibration of the alliance between the United States and its closest ally in the Middle East.

President Obama has firmly let it be known that whatever may have been the overt or hidden understandings between Israel and the United States in the past, going forward this alliance will follow the rules America follows with any other close ally. Translation: If you attack Iran on your own Mr. Netanyahu, do not count on the United States joining you in your action.

If my analysis of President Obama’s recalibration is correct, the alliance with Israel has just been quietly reset.