Spy Game: Who’s Playing Whom?

Another American citizen arrested on “suspicion of passing classified defence information to Israel during the 1980s, according to the justice department.” (Aljazeera.net).

This story far from surprising me, has yet again revived the old torturous question about who’s playing whom? who’s getting the upper hand in this supposedly “special relationship” between Israel and the US?

Many have read the paper by Mearsheimer and Walt who asked “why has the United States been willing to set aside its own security in order to advance the interests of another state? One might assume that the bond between the two countries is based on shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives. [H]owever, neither of those explanations can account for the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the United States provides to Israel.”

The courageous authors, who have been subjected to ad hominem attacks and an unprecedented campaign of character assassination have succeeded in breaking the taboo surrounding the intricate links between both America and Israel.

They argued that one of the reasons “to question Israel’s strategic value [to the U.S.] is that it does not act like a loyal ally.”

Israeli officials frequently ignore U.S. requests and renege on promises made to top U.S. leaders (including past pledges to halt settlement construction and to refrain from “targeted assassinations” of Palestinian leaders). Moreover, Israel has provided sensitive U.S. military technology to potential U.S. rivals like China, in what the U.S. State Department Inspector‐General called “a systematic and growing pattern of unauthorized transfers.” According to the U.S. General Accounting Office, Israel also “conducts the most aggressive espionage operations against the U.S. of any ally.” In addition to the case of Jonathan Pollard, who gave Israel large quantities of classified material in the early 1980s (which Israel reportedly passed onto the Soviet Union to gain more exit visas for Soviet Jews), a controversy erupted in 2004 when it was revealed that a key Pentagon official (Larry Franklin) had passed classified information to an Israeli diplomat, allegedly aided by two AIPAC officials. Israel is hardly the only country that spies on the United States, but its willingness to spy on its principal patron casts further doubt on its strategic value.

Of course there are those, like Chomsky, who argue that Israel is America’s cop on the beat in the region. In other words it is (benevolently) doing America’s dirty work in the ME, working as a client-state and providing the U.S. of all kind of subterfuges it needs, even to the detriment of Israel’s own security. Hum…? But why would they have to spy on their protectors then? I agree with Mearsheimer-Walt on this one.

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