The Corner

A Little Perspective

Some have remarked at the unusually harsh rhetoric accorded to the Israelis over the Jerusalem issue, especially the assumed American loss of face. Perhaps. But this administration has been embarrassed quite a lot, whether Putin’s snub of the missiles-for-Iran-help deal, the pathetic outreach video et al. to the obnoxious Ahmadinejad, Chavez’s various antics, and the more subtle Chinese putdowns. In each of these cases, American outrage seemed muted in comparison to what was accorded the Israelis—after all, a democracy thinking of building houses in Jerusalem is not quite like autocracies annexing Tibet, absorbing parts of Ossetia, sending agents into Columbia, or building a nuke on the sly. Instead, the American pique I think is intended to signal a rather sizable change in our foreign policy. Whereas in the past we argued with the Israelis privately, and put pressure on them through diplomatic channels, now we have joined the chorus of its public critics. And when the United States echoes the popular chorus of Europe, or even mimics the invective of the Arab world, there simply is no other power around to stop what will soon become a piling-on party. The message is out—say or do what you please about Israel, and it will more likely now resonate with the U.S. I wish this administration had at least said something as curt to the Syrians or Iranians for their past support for chronic infiltrations across their borders into Iraq to kill American soldiers, rather than pondering whether to build apartment buildings in Jerusalem endangers American soldiers. Whether Israel and the Palestinians, or the British again in the Falklands, or the Columbians, or the Hondurans, or the Poles and Czechs, there is no particular advantage in being a pro-American democratic ally; attention and outreach instead come from being our antithesis.

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Case for Trump.

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