Monday, August 04, 2014

Whatever Bibi wants

Given that both Obama and Netanyahu have repeatedly felt the need to rebut claims of antagonism between their respective administrations, there's something peculiar about the way Israel is deliberately tweaking the nose of its patron.

Netanyahu's more-or-less open contempt for John Kerry is one thing.  And clearly, Netanyahu can't have been delighted that the US felt compelled to criticise the attack on an UNRWA school - particularly since the IDF has shown today that it intends to continue such attacks.

But when Israel breaks a 'humanitarian' ceasefire which it has just negotiated at the behest of the US, then lies about Hamas breaking the ceasefire, and then Bibi says to the US, "Don't ever second second-guess me again," there's something up.  When Israel point blank refuses to send negotiators to ceasefire talks, there's something up.  And when it does all this while trying to get more money out of the US, depending on Congressional Democrats to get the job done, something is up.

The question is, does this betoken a a tactical argument between the US centre and the Israeli hard right, or the first signs of a more fundamental strategic rift?  Does the New York Times, of all papers, wagging a finger at Israel suggest that there are elements of the US ruling class which are sick of having to cope with the gratuitously antagonistic, adventurist style of successive Israeli governments?  The fact that neoconservative pundits in the US are wild with delight about the situation indicates that they think this nothing more than an embarrassment for Obama.  But it's hard to believe a Republican administration wouldn't also be a little vexed with the Israeli client.  

My off-the-cuff reading is that, had the 'Arab Spring' radicalised and spread more effectively, had the Egyptian revolution not been eventually cannibalised by the military, there would be the possibility of a realignment that would knock Israel off its regional perch and thus reduce its functionality as a regional ally for the United States.  Such a scenario is still not impossible as an eventuality, of course.  But right now, with the forces of reaction prevailing and Israel still on top, Israeli planners evidently feel that this is not a good time for their sponsors to drop them, and that they have a unique strategic window of opportunity to do whatever they think they have to, and also prove that the US will not drop them in it no matter how insolent they are.