There is an argument that America should simply stay out of the Middle East; that our foreign entanglements are a burden…financially, militarily, socially, geopolitically. It is a tempting one to embrace because of our current financial and political woes.
In a perfect world that would be reasonable. The Middle East is a nasty and brutal part of the world, with ancient animosities that bubble up constantly and engulf everyone around them. So why not simply stay out of it and defend the most narrowly defined American interests: trade routes and our citizens.
But that argument fails all but the most cursory examination. Oil is the lifeblood of the world, and even if America were to be energy independent, its trading partners aren’t. Without a powerful presence in the region, it would be difficult to protect those routes and people. And of course the 800 pound keffiya-clad terrorist in the room doesn’t particularly care whether we are engaged or not…the creation of a worldwide caliphate is the goal of Islam (militant or not), and they have been pursuing that goal for a very long time. Pushing back against them, however hamhandedly, is in our long-term national interest.
But this argument also has a subtext, and that is the obvious antipathy toward Israel and Jews. It is difficult to take the isolationist philosophy seriously when it is trotted out only when the topic is support for Israel.
But the argument also fails in the context of protecting American citizens. Israel is the tip of the Western spear wielded against Islam’s expansionist war, and its credo is clear that Israel is only the first domino to fall. So withdrawing support for Israel would merely hasten Islam’s march on America. And let us not ignore the fact that our military association with Israel is a two-way street. We get intelligence, military technology, a secure place to base war materiel, and a stout and loyal ally.
Oh…and Israel is the only free country in the region. Perhaps support for such a country pays dividends in the fight against encroaching totalitarianism. Of course, we also support despotic dictators and countries whose behavior is an affront to freedom. But that is the world we live in. Consistency demands that if we withdraw from the region, we also withdraw our support for all of the bad actors in that region. At that point Israel would be far more able to defend itself on its own against its local enemies, although much of the world would be in the dark and cold, because Iran, Russia, China and a host of other nations would rush into the void and promptly throw the world into even more chaos than it currently endures.
Positing a minimally engaged America, and then suggesting that our support for Israel is misguided is simply thinly veiled anti-Semitism. We have allies throughout the world…should we abandon them? South Korea? Japan? Taiwan?