Michael Scheuer, a former CIA analyst who claims he lost his job because of his anti-Israel views, went on the C-SPAN morning talk show “Washington Journal” on Jan. 4 and said Israel has no “worth” to the United States.
Scheuer, who blames the Israel lobby for losing his position with the Jamestown Foundation, essentially thinks this country should not be an ally of Israel.
“Whether we want to be involved in fighting Israel’s wars in the future is something that Americans should be able to talk about,” he said on the C-SPAN program. “They may vote yes. They may want to see their kids killed in Iraq or Yemen or somewhere else to defend Israel. But the question is, we need to talk about it. Ultimately Israel is a country that is of no particular worth to the United States.”
Instead of getting angry, let’s hold our horses for a moment and proceed on the argument that he’s right. If Israel has no worth to the United States, then which nations do?
We can assume those are nations that have or do something the United States needs.
Iran is one example. Here’s a country that has approximately 136 billion barrels of oil reserves, the third largest in the world. We need oil to run our cars and heat our homes — pretty basic stuff. So we can overlook the fact that Iran violently subjugates its people and threatens Israel and much of the world with its nuclear program.
(In fact, much of the world’s known oil reserves are in parts of the world that are either politically unstable, hostile to the United States, or produce the most committed jihadists.)
How about Russia? It’s a strategically important power that forced the United States to rethink deploying a defensive weapons system in Eastern Europe in return for its help in checking Iran on its nuclear aspirations. Apparently, Russia is ready and willing to do the right thing — for a price.
China is the new global economic power — the world’s factory so to speak; and the holders of much of our debt. So we definitely must be nice to them. The fact that its people can’t even vote for its leaders and that it occupies an entire nation — Tibet — against its will are just minor inconveniences.
Of course, the reality is Israel does have value. It is a major science and business power. It is a leader in stem cell research. It is on the cutting edge of solar technology. It has built some of the most advanced commercial and spy satellites known.
And it is the only real and secure democracy in the Middle East, which means a U.S. Navy commander can make a port call in Haifa without fear that some jihadist will steer a bomb-filled boat at his hull. (Remember the U.S.S. Cole’s 2000 visit to Yemen?)
It would be a tragic world, though, if the only countries the United States cared about were those that have something to sell us. Where then would that leave much of the Third World, whose people live in desperate poverty with little hope of rising above it.
So when Michael Scheuer says Israel is essentially worthless, rather than take him seriously, as C-SPAN apparently did, perhaps his own motives for making such extreme statements should be examined. Can you say hidden agenda?
(Lee Chottiner, executive editor of The Jewish Chronicle, can be reached at email@example.com or 412-687-1005. This column will be posted at The Chronicle blog, Yinz/Yidz.)