July 9, 2010

Israel's Nukes Harm US National Interests

by John Mearsheimer

. . . Israel's supporters in the United States go to enormous lengths to make the argument that there's no difference between Israel's interests and America's interests. Because once you open the possibility that the two countries have different interests, then they're forced to choose, in a very public fashion. And, of course, they'll invariably choose Israel's interests over America's interests and that is not something that they want to have happen in public. This is why they've gone to great lengths to create this situation where it looks like Obama and Netanyahu have patched up all their differences, to the extent that there are differences they'll be handled behind closed doors because they don't want those differences out in the open.

But, of course, as we all know no two countries have the same interests.

This has nothing to do with Israel, or the United States. It's just the way international politics works. There are going to be cases where it's in Israel's interest to do certain things, and not in America's interest to allow Israel to do those things. And there is no issue I believe where that is clearer than the nuclear issue. As I made clear in my opening set of remarks, I do believe it was in Israel's interest to develop nuclear weapons. By the way, I think it's in Iran's interest today to develop nuclear weapons. If I was president Ahmadinejad's national security advisor, and he asked me what to do, I would tell him to acquire a nuclear deterrent. Is that in America's interest?

Absolutely not.

Iran and the United States have different interests. No two states have the same interests. I believe it was in Israel's interest to acquire nuclear weapons. I'm hardly surprised at all of the activities the Israelis engaged in, that Grant so eloquently described, that's the way states behave in the international system, and they go to great lengths to disguise their behavior.

But it was not then in America's interest for Israel to acquire nuclear weapons and it is not in our interest now for Israel to have nuclear weapons. This is why, as Grant described, President Kennedy went to great lengths to prevent Israel from acquiring nuclear weapons and to get them to join the NPT. And president Johnson a very, very interesting figure on this whole subject of US-Israeli relations president Johnson may have been willing to give Israel a green light, or an orange light, however you want to characterize it but as we can see from Grant's comments and from reading the literature on this that down below all sorts of people were protesting. All sorts of people in the national security establishment wanted to go to great lengths to stop Israel from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Because again it wasn't in our interest.

And the two best examples that show how it's not in our national interest are what happened during the 1973 war. During that conflict, the Israelis looked like they were in dire straits for the first few days. And they wanted the United States to immediately resupply them. The Nixon administration said "no" because the Nixon administration judged quite correctly that once the Israelis recovered from the initial surprise that they would do very well. And therefore the US government did not what to give the Israelis at that point more arms. The Israelis then threatened to pull the nuclear weapons out, and began talking about using nuclear weapons. That, not surprisingly, spooked the Americans who immediately began resupplying the Israelis even though they did not what to do that.

That's a form of nuclear coercion.

From Israel's point of view this was smart policy from our point of view it was not good. The second example is what's been going on with regards to nuclear proliferation. It's quite clear, and you see this from the recent review conference, that the fact that Israel has nuclear weapons again we're not fooling anybody with this opaque rhetoric the fact that Israel has nuclear weapons is making it very difficult for the United States to stem the tide on proliferation and to move to a nuclear free Middle East. So again, it's just not in our interest and it would have been much better if from our point of view we could have prevented Israel from acquiring nuclear weapons. . . .


[Transcript of John J. Mearsheimer's remarks at the IRmep conference at the International Spy Museum "Israel's Nuclear Arsenal: Espionage, Opacity and Future" Washington, DC, July 7, 2010. Watch the video, listen to remarks from the panelists:

Jeffrey Blankfort reviews US positioning toward the NPT review conference call for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons. He recounts first hand experiences with an ADL/Apartheid South Africa intelligence agent targeting US activists.

Grant F. Smith explores how collaborating in Israeli "strategic ambiguity" undermines rule of law and governance in the United States. He reviews the NUMEC nuclear diversion case and a new Senate attempt to exonerate those involved.

Sasha-Polakow Suransky reviews Apartheid South African sales of yellow-cake uranium to Israel's military establishment and argues that AIPAC contributed to US policymaking.

John J. Mearsheimer discusses why Israel acquired a nuclear arsenal and the dangers it presents to US interests.

Grant Smith, "How US Weapons Grade Uranium Was Diverted to Israel,", May 10, 2010

Anthony DiMaggio, "Threatening World Order: US and Israel Quietly Announce Plans to Reconstitute Their Nuclear Stockpiles,", July 10, 2010

[The IAEA's 151 members voted in September 2009 to have the agency review Israel's program as part of an effort to create a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East.

Israel declined to cooperate with IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano's inquiry--Jonathan Tirone, "UN Atomic Agency Curtails Probe of Israel's Nuclear Capability,", September 3, 2010]

[The question, mostly directed to employees of the clandestine service branch, was: Which are the best allies among friendly spy services, in terms of liaison with the CIA, and which are the worst? In other words, who acts like, well, friends?

"Israel came in dead last,"--Jeff Stein, "Israeli spies wooing U.S. Muslims, sources say,", September 2, 2010]

William Pfaff, "Nuclear Armament Still Our Central Issue,", October 5, 2010

Sam Husseini, "The Absurd US Stance on Israel's Nukes: A Video Sampling of Denial,", May 24, 2011

Israel Shamir, "What Really Happened in the 'Yom Kippur' War,", February 22, 2012

[A German shipyard has already built three submarines for Israel, and three more are planned. Now SPIEGEL has learned that Israel is arming the submarines with nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. The German government has known about Israel's nuclear weapons program for decades, despite its official denials.--"Israel Deploys Nuclear Weapons on German-Built Submarines,", June 3, 2012]

The Israeli/Jewish Lobby, August 21, 2012

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