GDISC Preview: The Future of US-Israel Security Cooperation

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The consequences of the Arab Spring are unfolding not only in the Arab states of the MIddle East, but in the state of Israel as well. This panel will examine how these consequences are effecting the security relationship between Israel and her closest ally, the United States. Despite having shared values and democratic systems, some analysts question whether these two countries continue to share the same national security interests as in the past. Yet, in the aftermath of the Arab Spring and the growing Iranian threat, others argue that these two countries are now closer than ever.

In real terms, US-Israel security cooperation is indeed more robust than ever. At a speech to AIPAC on March 4th, Vice President Biden remarked that “I don’t know any time … when there has been as many meetings, as much coordination, between our intelligence services and our military.” The Iron Dome, Arrow, and David’s Sling missile defense systems are some of the more tangible results of this concrete relationship. Despite these tangible results, some allege that the relationship is changing. A recent report by the Gatestone Institute alleges that thisstrategic partnership has devolved into a patron-client relationship that is entirely defensive in nature.

Two challenges stand paramount in the course of US-Israel security cooperation. The deepening conflict in Syria and the Iranian nuclear weapons threat have raised the specter of Israeli and American military intervention in those two nations. As Biden stated, Iran’s “acquisition of a nuclear weapon not only would present an existential threat to Israel, it would present a threat to our allies and our partners — and to the United States” and the United States and Israel have a “shared strategic commitment” to “prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.” Despite the remarks, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama have had very public disagreements on the viability and effectiveness of a military strike, leading to questions about the strength of US-Israel security cooperation. With regard to Syria, Biden remarked that “the United States and Israel have a shared interest in Syria.” Israel’s January 2013 strikes, relations to Persian Gulf and European allies, and the possibility of a proxy conflict with Iran all complicate US-Israel cooperation on the Syrian conflict.

With our distinguished panelists, we will examine the history of US-Israel security cooperation, the Syrian and Iranian challenges, and attempt to answer the greater question on the future of US-Israel security cooperation. By doing so, attendees will further understand our overall conference theme, “Looking Ahead: Future National Security Challenges.” The panel should be an exciting and informative experience; the panelists have impressive backgrounds and a diversity of opinions on this crucial relationship.

– Nathaniel Oppenheimer