This is getting dangerous.
Embassy attacks in Baghdad. Targeted killings of top Iranian militia generals. Threats of war, and counter-threats. Widespread riots destabilizing both Iraq and Iran. Implications of President Trump’s “Deal of the Century” peace plan, and the backlash against it.
Oh, the events themselves aren’t unusually dangerous; but the reactions by the Democrats’ top presidential candidates and party leadership are. The Democrats’ evident political priorities and leftward shift should scare American voters concerned with Mideast policy, particularly regarding the welfare of Israel and its U.S. relationship. So far, those voters have yet to show sufficient levels of alarm.
For context, rewind a few months to President Trump’s decision to reposition US troops away from one volatile Turkey-Syria border area, widely (and not unfairly) criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike as an abandonment of America’s Syrian-Kurdish allies. Democrats and Democrat-leaning pundits in the U.S. and Israel, however, took their criticism curiously further, accusing President Trump of endangering Israel with his controversial move. Presidential candidate Senator Amy Klobuchar, for example, charged in response: “Think about our other allies, Israel, what do they think now — ‘Donald Trump is not true to our allies’.” Popular Israeli Democrat-leaning pundits pre-accused Trump of inevitable betrayal, one drawing this “unequivocal” conclusion: “Trump has become unreliable for Israel. He can no longer be trusted.” This was “not just a knife in the Kurds’ backs but also a knife in [Israelis’] backs.”
This, of course, is preposterous. Not to downplay the potential humanitarian repercussions of redeployment, but Israel is no rag-tag Kurdish militia, sharing little with America beyond some limited military goals. Israel is a major U.S ally, incalculably valuable to America in terms of sharing intelligence, weapons development, technology and military tactics. Both countries share strategic interests and commitments to political, national and human rights: it is no coincidence that enemies of one are invariably enemies of both. Thus, warnings of a wholesale Trump administration abandonment of Israel appear cynical or hysterical.
Yet, the warnings are not irrelevant. It is healthy for voters sensitive to Israel’s security and American alliance to be ever-vigilant about candidates who could lead an American turnabout and abandonment of Israel: those who promise to cut military aid, or who threaten and pressure Israel for adopting policies not to their liking; or who would restore and expand the Obama-administration policy of ensuring “daylight” between these currently-closest of allies. But does anyone honestly see such threats emanating from the Trump administration?