Lindsey Graham wants a bilateral defense treaty with Israel

A hypothetical Q: if it were ever to get far enough in the long process, would two-thirds of the Senate vote to ratify it?  Some of the background:

‘Lindsey Graham’s Blank Check. Why a Defense Agreement With Israel Would Be a Disaster for Americans’, Philip Giraldi, August 22, 2019

Giraldi writes that Graham had first publicly advocated for such a pact at the Republican Jewish Coalition in April of 2019, times of israel :

“Graham said at the annual meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas Saturday that it’s time for the US to declare to the world how important its relationship is with Israel.

The pact would show the international community that “an attack against Israel would be considered an attack against the United States,” he said.

The Republican said America should tell Israel’s enemies that if they seek “to destroy the one and only Jewish state, you have to come through us to get them.”

The Senator suggested the Republican-controlled US Senate would vote in a month or so to formally recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and force Democrats to go on the record on the issue.

Trump recognized Israel’s de facto annexation of the Golan Heights last month, making the US the first country to do so.

The move came days after Graham told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he would lobby Trump for recognition while on a tour of the plateau.”

Back to Giraldi:

“In his most recent foray, Graham announced late in July that he is seeking bipartisan support for providing “blank check” assurances to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and is hoping to be able to push a complete defense treaty through the Senate by next year.

In making his several announcements on the subject, Graham has been acting as a front man for both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and also for The Jewish Institute for the National Security of America (JINSA), which wrote the basic document that is being used to promote the treaty and then enlisted Graham to obtain congressional support.

Speaking to the press on a JINSA conference call, Graham said the proposed agreement would be a treaty that would protect Israel in case of an attack that constituted an “existential threat”. Citing Iran as an example, Graham said the pact would be an attempt to deter hostile neighbors like the Iranians who might use weapons of mass destruction against Israel.

JINSA director of foreign policy Jonathan Ruhe added that “An Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear program would not activate this pact, but a major Iranian retaliation might. – An Israeli unilateral attack is not what the treaty covers, but rather massive Iranian retaliation is what we are addressing.”

He posits that the reason Israel has long declined to enter into a bilateral agreement with the US is that it might limit the nation’s aggressions and incursions, but this joint project would offer wouldn’t limit Netenyahu’s ‘options’, but I’m not so sure about this:

“And, even though the treaty is reciprocal, there is no chance that Israel will ever be called upon to do anything to defend the United States, so it is as one-sided as most arrangements with the Jewish state tend to be.”

He further notes that an official Senate ratified treaty would be much harder for succeeding administrations to scrap, than agreements like the JCPOA.  His (bolded) link re: Graham’s have sought bipartisan support for a defense treaty in July goes to:

A US-Israeli Defense Treaty? A Noble Idea, But Neither Desirable nor Practical, July 29, 2019, israelnews.com, prez and vice-prez of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, some of which might come with many cellars of salt, but:

“This is not the first time that the idea of a US-Israel defense pact has been broached.  House Resolution 700 in 2006 called for ever-closer relations between Israel and NATO, ultimately leading to full membership in the Alliance. Such gestures should be appreciated for the noble sentiment they express. But from an Israeli perspective a defense treaty with the US is not desirable; it might create more problems than it would solve.

A defense treaty entails a commitment to take military action in the case of aggression against one of the parties. Yet Israel has declared for decades that it does not want American soldiers to endanger their lives for Israel’s security. Jerusalem has adopted the famous Churchillian dictum “Give us the tools and we shall finish the job.” (Churchill did not necessarily mean this; he did not hide his delight when the US came into WWII.  But Israel does mean it). This principle, which is enshrined in Israel’s national security thinking, has been an important component in Israel’s popularity in the US. It is also an element of the unwritten but powerful understanding between Israel and American Jewry, alongside American Jewry’s commitment to help Israel secure American material and diplomatic support.” [snip]

“Israel wants to be independent. Any defense treaty would curtail its freedom of action. Noteworthy, the European members of the NATO alliance, which is headed by the US, need permission to deploy their forces from the headquarters of the alliance in Brussels. During the Cold War no German plane could fly without approval from Brussels. Israel could not tolerate such restraints. It must use force almost without respite in accordance with its own calculations. Israel’s rationale might not be always acceptable in the US. Moreover, such frequent use of force could become a burden for the US, if Israel is its formal ally.” [snip]

“Another problem arises from Washington’s firm preference that all its allies must ratify international treaties that deal with arms control. Yet Israel is reluctant to sign such treaties because their verification mechanisms are far from perfect. The way the international community, including the US, has dealt with the quest for nuclear weapons by North Korea and Iran, is totally unsatisfactory from an Israeli point of view. For this, and a multiplicity of other reasons, Israel has been reluctant to join the NPT, and has reached discreet understandings with consecutive US administrations on this question. There is a real danger that an open debate on a defense treaty would bring into focus tensions on this issue that have been dormant for generations.

Moreover, a defense treaty that could be read as extending American nuclear deterrence to the Israeli theater may also be perceived, rightly or wrongly, as an alternative to preventive action when it comes to Iran’s bid for the bomb. Past administrations, including President Obama’s, repeatedly asserted that they would not make do with “containment” of Iran (i.e., the deterring of Iran) on the military nuclear question; even if the JCPOA ultimately was meant to prepare the ground for such a policy down the road. Should the US commit to offer Israel a nuclear “umbrella”, this would in practice open the question of whether either country is still truly committed to the principle of preventing Iran, at all costs, from achieving a nuclear arsenal.”

I poked about a bit for Israel being asked to join NATO, and found this eye-blinking hasbara at the globalist:

‘Israel in NATO? Will Israel soon lead the way in a Middle Eastern partnership with NATO?’, Christoph Bertram, March 25, 2005

“That is what two influential authors, Ron Asmus and Bruce Jackson, have recently argued in the journal “Policy Review,” They even envision the possibility of Israel’s eventual membership in NATO.

The first reaction is one of surprise. But then surprise gives way to second thoughts: why not? And under what conditions?

On the abstract level, the idea has much to recommend it. Israel is an established Western democracy, more so than any of the countries currently considered for closer relations in what used to be the Atlantic Alliance.

Israel’s security is a clear Western interest. If ever the country were attacked and faced defeat, many — if not all — NATO members would come to its aid.” [snip]

“Moreover, as NATO is reaching out anyway to develop a closer network of relations with the countries of the “Wider Middle East,” it cannot possibly bypass Israel.

The added sense of security for Israel that might grow out of the prospect of NATO membership might help its citizens to be more accommodating to the emerging Palestinian state.”

Mitchell Plitnik doesn’t mince his words: ‘Lindsey Graham Is Sponsoring a US-Israeli Defense Treaty That Would Shield Israel From Consequences of Striking Iran, Trump presents a golden opportunity for an agreement that any other President would reject’, Aug. 5, 2019, checkpoint asia (and lobelog.com)

“Iran would correctly see the United States as taking a big step toward setting up an Israeli attack on its territory”

Editor’s note: The idea is that should the US come under an attack that represented an “existential threat” Israel would be there to defend it. Nah, just kidding. The calculation is that Trump presents a golden opportunity for an agreement that any other President would reject. One that would be useful to Israel in acquiring US intelligence and shielding it from the bulk of Iran’s retaliation should Israel decide to strike its nuclear facilities.” [snip]

“Although Graham has had a hot-and-cold relationship with the mercurial president, in recent months he has largely remained in Trump’s good graces by duly fawning over him, and has gained access to Trump’s ear as a result. 

Graham is also very connected in Israel, where his staunch support for every Israeli policy and action—the more draconian, the better—has made him many friends in the government of Benjamin Netanyahu. All of this comes together to make Graham the perfect salesman for JINSA’s proposed agreement. And Graham seems like a very eager helper.

Speaking on a JINSA conference call Tuesday, Graham said the proposed agreement would be a treaty that would protect Israel in case of an attack that constituted an “existential threat” that was more than Israel could confidently handle. [Has there been any talk how it would benefit the US?] An “existential threat” is defined as the use of weapons of mass destruction, a surprisingly overwhelming attack, an attack that threatens to cut off Israel’s air or sea communication and travel, an attack that threatens to alter the balance of power in the region against Israel, or any other incident “that gives rise to an urgent request from the Government of Israel.”

While that’s a fairly broad definition, it is intended to exclude the sorts of attacks from militant groups or even other countries that Israel has always been able to handle. Indeed, Graham and JINSA president Michael Makovsky both stressed that the treaty was designed to be a deterrent and would not apply to the sorts of rocket attacks Israel is equipped to deal with from Hezbollah, Hamas, and similar groups.” [snip]

“The treaty commits the U.S. to choose from a range of responses, a feature which will also make the idea more palatable for Trump. This could be anything from sharing intelligence, issuing threatening statements, censure, sanctions, sending additional arms and supplies to Israel, providing air or sea support, or anything up to and including actual military action.

According to Graham, the treaty would be an attempt to deter bad actors who might use weapons of mass destruction against Israel. “One of the chief audiences would be Iran,” he added, in an obvious understatement.

Clearly, the primary purpose of this treaty is to pave the way for an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, should they decide to pursue that action. It’s not clear whether the threat of U.S. involvement would really deter Iranian retaliation in such an event, but there is a good chance that it would at least encourage Iran to launch a more limited retaliatory strike.

The treaty would also commit the United States to sharing with Israel any applicable intelligence that is cleared to be shared with the “Five Eyes Alliance,” a security alliance between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. Israel works with Five Eyes and is already informally granted access to some of the group’s intelligence, but this would create a formal requirement for the United States to share any information deemed relevant to Israel’s security—a decidedly vague standard—with the Israeli intelligence community.”

Of course we don’t know who the next Amerikan President will be (I hear there’s an election coming up sometime), nor how long the process to send Lindsey’s Treaty language through all the necessary the channels might take, not the final (if any) language (hell’s bells, I can’t even find the language on his own Senate website)…but I’d sure think that AIPAC and CUFI would be crackin’ their lobbyin’ whips in support of it.

But again, the hypothetical Q: do you think 2/3 of the Senators would vote for it?  How many would abstain or just not show up?

@LindseyGrahamSC Aug 20
It’s time to provide MORE assistance to Israel for their missile defense program. Why? Because Iran has provided thousand more missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon and openly supports Hamas in Gaza.

@LindseyGrahamSC Aug 20
The threats from Iran -- to our close friend and ally Israel -- are only growing. Iran has already broken enrichment conditions regarding their nuclear program. The Iranians are a bad actor in the region, sowing discord at every turn.

(cross-posted from Café Babylon)

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Alligator Ed's picture

Your persuasive, thorough and otherwise detailed essay might be reduced to the lowest common denominator. Such is a task perfectly suited to my limited imagination. Yessir, when the Gazanians (who used to be known as Palestinians when there was a West Bank Arab enclave) throw a rock, the carefully crafted agreement between El Trumpo and Bibi will DEMAND that we, the USians, invade Gaza for the sake of the poor Israelis who don't want to expend their bullets.

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wendy davis's picture

@Alligator Ed

isn't all that ad absurdum, my spiny friend...but israel says they can handle all that, lindsey says we just need to sell em more missiles. meanwhile. the idf is bombin' the crap outta every theatre in play (to them), esp. with drone warfare: no muss, no fuss, just some incidental bug splat like, yanno, wedding guests is all.

RT.com has plenty of counter threats to israel up this week. smart money's sayin' it's cuz bibi hasn't been able to form a government yet, and danny gantz (former IDF general) is waitin' in the wings might even be worse, if that's possible. fuck zionist israel, anyway.

any guesses if anything close to this treaty would be ratified by a hypothetical senate?

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wendy davis's picture

@Alligator Ed

abby martin's new film: Gaza Fights For Freedom

this came by way of mint press news, and it's a way to pay to watch the whole documentary; it may cost $5.99? i don't know how such things work, myself: (it's actually on vimeo.)

just the trailer leaves one speechless.

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snoopydawg's picture

Iran has already broken enrichment conditions regarding their nuclear program

Since Trump pulled out of the treaty Iran is under no obligation to adhere to any conditions the US sets for them. Nope this country doesn't get to have it both ways. Either there is an agreement or there is not. Just more fear mongering to cover Bibi's butt for when he sets the world afire when he attacks on false pretenses.

The rest of the world should be asking themselves if they want to help bring around nuclear Armageddon for Bibi and if he is worth it.

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In a free country civil liberties are not only for certain groups.
So this is how liberty dies . . . with thunderous applause.
The donor class doesn’t want it, and Americans elect the bribed. So suck it up.

wendy davis's picture

@snoopydawg

against hope that if and when they did dial up enrichment practically incrementally...that the T administration might see the light and end the killing sanctions?

pretty kewl that FM javad zarif had shown up at the g-7, though i never heard how any of that went. but once he left he's been touring to try to shore up compliance with the JCPOA.

japan, malaysia, beijing, sweden...

but this my be straight to your point, although a bit dated:

zarif reminds me so much of FM lavrov: a true diplomat seeking peace, but answers with strength of purpose.

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so it formally precludes Israel attacking USA armed forces and conducting espionage against the USA as they've done in the past? Since we're going to be such good buddies, they need to act like one too.

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wendy davis's picture

@MichaelSF

what the prez and vice-prez of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security are sellin'?

'we are sooooo Churchillian; this is enshrined in our DNA!' i loved the hasbara nato dude glowing and glurging about Israeli democracy© and how Nato membership might help its citizens to be more accommodating to the emerging Palestinian state, because Nato members are all about peace, goodwill, and not resource gabbing, regime change, and new cold wars everywhere.

iirc, colombia and ecuador are 'almost Nato', since...the arch villain nicolas maduro must be regime-changed. Africom, oh, my. creating cia/special ops chaos from which they can save sub-saharan african nations, install amerikan-friendly puppets to steal everything that they can grab, maybe esp. precious minerals and rare earths.

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wendy davis's picture

and i'm almost sorry i'd mentioned the power of aipac and cufi over possible Senate votes. but i'd clicked into mintpress news, knowing that they're rather on the ball over issues, hoping to find any text of this accursed treaty.

what i'd found instead was 'Rogues’ Gallery: A Sober Look at the “Progressive” Democratic Presidential Candidates’, Unless someone new enters the race or one of the existing candidates is stricken on the road to Damascus, there will be no genuinely progressive foreign policy offered by either of the two major political parties in the 2020 presidential election’, Ken Freeland, minpressnews.com, august 26, 2019

“Tulsi Gabbard: Islamophobe on a mission?

Then comes much-heralded Tulsi Gabbard. I admit having once been smitten by her seeming earnestness in opposing U.S. wars — until that is, she slavishly voted in favor of the anti-BDS resolution (HR 246), whereupon I took a deeper dive into her record. The scales soon fell from my eyes, though not unaccompanied by a few rueful tears. Tulsi, I discovered to my horror, is most likely a hawk in dove’s clothing. This is not to suggest that she is dishonest — a bit disingenuous, maybe, but not dishonest — no, far from it! She flatly says what she believes. And what exactly does she say?

Well, first of all, she says she is an ardent supporter of Israel. Anyone with any doubt about this should watch her stomach-churning speech at the Christians United for Israel conference in 2015. Were she nominated, Trump might find himself with a serious competitor for his deep-pocketed Zionist patrons!" with this video.

he's contrasted bernie sanders w/ tulsi gabbard, but there were several things he either doesn't know, or hadn't mentioned. there's a gabbard on (or at) aipac video as well, but i hadn't had the heart to click into it.

good night to you all; dream of a better world if you can.

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Big Al's picture

@wendy davis Nothing can change, they're knee deep in the final stages of their "New World Order", and it's ingrained in the system to try to beat off any competitors for the top spot. She holds the same views about Russia as Sanders, haven't seen much from her on China. And of course the big one, a hawk for the war OF terror. The problem is if she does become a legitimate contender in 2024 as her supporters want, and if she did win, it would just prove what others are saying now, she's a CFR project.

As for Graham, what a despicable creature he is, carrying water for AIPAC. This will be very telling on some dems.

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wendy davis's picture

@Big Al

whole piece seems worth reading. my fingers did the walking re: gabbard on china and i found: Tulsi Gabbard Warns Rising Tensions With Russia, China 'Bringing Us Closer to the Risk of Nuclear Catastrophe', newsweek.com, 5/9/19, so there's that, fwiw in its obviousness.

but oh, my yes: the war OF terror covers a lot of ground, doesn't it? and which nation in its exportation of Democracy™ created those self-same terr'ists by occupying their lands and setting up puppet governments please to the western imperium?

global competition, global cooperation, dayum. when i'd first heard of global warming a few decades ago, i wrote this grand letter to the editor listing the ways it could lead to...global cooperation. what.a.silly.woman.i.am.

guess we'll see if Lindsey's treaty grows legs, and what shakes out with Senators if it does.

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Big Al's picture

@wendy davis but I got the drift. She really plays up her aloha, I'm a military hero bullshit while sucking up to Israel. I'd agree with the assessment of Freeland on that, and if that's the case, game over. That's worse than Obama.

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wendy davis's picture

@Big Al

that i hadn't added all of the pieces together into a whole: her anti-bds vote (or was it her bill?), her friendship with the fascist modi, her having been a signatory to ro khanna's letter to pompeo criminalizing the maduro 'regime' with dastardly lies, then urging no more sanctions, no regime change, aren't we adorable?... and yet i was still shocked watching her 'devoted to israel' talk at CUFI.

i'd added a lot more to my last 'fascist modi' post for posterity in comments, but this was a two-fer to me, and yes, you'd twigged to the import more quickly than i, but it was here that i learned that dore is the empathy-deprived cretin that i'd long suspected (poor woman didn't even know what a 'caste' is) "case"?:

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@wendy davis I have said all along that she is not a pacifist but a militarist. You don't volunteer for the military if you are a pacifist and anti-war.

She is John Kerry 2.0. Ready and ripe for the swiftboating if there is even the remotest chance she is not under the thumb of the MIC. Somebody will be saying she let soldiers die on the battlefield or some other shit.

Classic attack. Attack what you think is your strength and decimate you with it. Then the rest is easy.

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wendy davis's picture

@davidgmillsatty

called a pacifist, but i have heard her called the only anti-war candidate for prez', and of course mike gravel was far more anti-war than she...but he's toast.

but her fans most often glorify her military experience, with references to 'veterans for peace', and tra la la. but yes to the likelihood of being swift-boated *if she's not*, etc. but i was just reminded of page of former presidents and their 'state of emergency declarations' before 2104, which was only part-way thru obomba's reign, and i'd added 'who'd outsourced torture (by whistle-stops, and right on the pages of the cia/NYT!), assassinated ter'rist at least one US citizen by drone, many more in his 'deck of cards', i forget what all.

so now i'm pinging: has gabbard 'evolved' from this (from a video, so it's an approximation): 'i haven't read the torture report yet, but presidents in ticking time-bomb situations might need to okay that'. or maybe she'd said as prez she would.... i remember at the time, dr. jeffrey kaye, who's spent a few decades exposing torture...was blown away, and well he might have been. (pinned tweet)

oh, and a tip for the commenting software: you might have put in the subject line: 'ive said all along', then press enter after the @wendy davis to continue. you likely already know that each time one edits a comment, it adds more @ whomevers.

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I would think more of our Congress thinks Israel has a right to exist than they think the USA does. In private, I bet half would admit to being secessionists. But they have a problem. They need to keep the union together so that the MIC can defend Israel's right to exist. Lindsey just wants to be the new Lincoln and will do anything to ensure that Israel remains an emancipated apartheid democracy.

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wendy davis's picture

@davidgmillsatty

amigo! that's some truly awesome pro-zionist construction! lindsey as the new lincoln: what a mind-picture that creates. and of course, the duopolist ruling class has been making sure that amerika is an apartheid nation as well, not altogether based on culture, but class and dissidence to being enslaved by the further commodification of nature, corporate power, nationalism, and the ever-burgeoning police state, although the Tweeter-in-chief's sure been doubling down on it all.

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wendy davis's picture

between miz gabbard's contribution, so i'd gone to opensecrets.org. it's a confusing mish-mash with loads of tabs to check, although she's raised as much or more than lindsey has for this cycle. miz gabbard didn't have any contributions from "defense" contractors, where graham had some from boeing, iirc. interestingly enough, the 'geography' tab shows most of her contributors are from CA and texas, zero in HI, if i'm reading it right.

but i later remembered i'd seen something close to 'news about gabbard's PAC troubles', and i went back and found this from Jan. 2019:

Lengthy history with PACs follows Tulsi Gabbard into 2020, Raymond Arke, January 14, 2019, opensecrets.org

“In 2016, the amount of PAC money she received grew to more than $465,000. Again, business PACS made up the majority of her PAC money, this time over 55 percent. One of the largest contributing sectors was the defense industry. While Gabbard has gained a following for her anti-interventionist stances, yet, her 2016 campaign was given $63,500 from the defense sector. In fact, the campaign received donations of $10,000 from the Boeing Corporation PAC and from Lockheed Martin’s PAC, two of the biggest names in the military-industrial complex.Gillibrand’s Off the Sidelines PAC donated another $10,000 in 2016 as well.

In 2017, leading up to her successful reelection campaign, Gabbard announced she would no longer take PAC money. After receiving over $400,000 in PAC money in her previous two reelection cycles, in 2018 her campaign only took in just over $37,000, almost all of which came from labor associations and trade unions.”

to quote mr. spock: 'fascinating'. ; )

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wendy davis's picture

and tonight's closing song will be:

sorry, bob, but the neighborhood bully is zionist israel aided by amerika the beautiful. wish i could have found a more andante version, but there it is.... ; )

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