The above is a presentation at the National Summit to Reassess the U.S.-Israel “Special Relationship” on March 7, 2014 at the National Press Club.
Dr. Geoffrey Wawro is Professor of History and Director of the Military History Center at the University of North Texas in the Dallas Metroplex. Wawro’s book Quicksand is a history of American involvement in the Middle East. Quicksand is in the ListMuse Best 100 History Books of All Time list.
In the following audio, Jeff Blankfort interviews Prof. Geoffrey Wawro, author of Quicksand: America’s Pursuit of Power in the Middle East, (Penguin, 2010) with a focus on US support for Israel, the pro-Israel lobby and whether Israel is a strategic asset or liability.
Military historian Geoffrey Wawro has made a valuable new contribution to the scholarship on the US relationship with the Arab/Muslim world. Quicksand: America’s Pursuit of Power in the Middle East is a must read. (I’ll be reviewing it for MondoWeiss shortly.) Wawro makes extensive use of British and American archival sources to show what would be obvious to any serious student of the subject: with few exceptions, US leaders have always seen Israel as a strategic liability but short term domestic electoral imperatives — aka, the lobby — have forced policy makers into uncritical support of the Zionist entity against their better judgment. (Patrick Tyler reaches the same conclusion in his superb A World of Trouble) The costs of this relationship have been staggering. Though it is common for critics to point out the nearly $140 billion that the United States has given Israel in direct aid, the late Harvard economist Thomas Stauffer placed the real costs of US alliance with Israel at over $1.6 trillion between 1973-2002 alone! But the costs to the US economy have been even bigger. Between 1985-2008, the US-Israel Free Trade Agreement — which was opposed by nearly all major US corporations as well as the AFL-CIO, but backed by AIPAC — has resulted in a trade deficit of over $70 billion. Equally big losses have been incurred by the energy sector. Despite the opposition of big business and big oil, the US congress passed the Iran Libya Sanctions Act in 1996 which excluded US businesses from the lucrative Iranian and Libyan energy sectors. The sanctions against Iran still remain in place. As Juan Cole has shown in Engaging the Muslim World, in the 1990s, even Cheney complained about AIPAC’s role in perpetuating the sanctions against Iraq which were keeping US businesses out of the Iraqi energy market. Thanks to the neoconsrvative war, in 2009 US companies emerged as the major losers in Iraq after all the major contracts were sweeped up by Norwegian, Russian, Chinese and French companies.