ANDREW BACEVICH – On Loving Another Country

Say what you will about Israeli political leaders, you can always count on them for one thing: They will do whatever they believe necessary to ensure the security and wellbeing of the Jewish State.

The same cannot be said of American political leaders, notably so when it comes to US-Israeli relations. There, the interests of the United States routinely take a back seat to other considerations. Chief among those considerations is domestic politics.

“I love Israel.” So declared Donald Trump while campaigning for the presidency. A candidate professing to love Poland or Canada might meet with raised eyebrows. Yet especially during presidential election years, over-the-top expressions of regard for Israel have become de rigueur. Like promising to take care of vets and protect social security, it’s what you do to raise money, reassure key constituencies, and ultimately win votes.

Of course, love is a sentiment at odds with cold calculation. A lover is in some senses a captive, susceptible to being deceived or manipulated, especially when love is not reciprocal. For that reason, as George Washington wrote when warning against the danger of “passionate attachment,” such sentiments should have no place in statecraft.

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