2 readers online now  |  69 million page views

US conservatives have changed; but not necessarily because of Israel

Reader comment on item: Republicans and Democrats Look at the Arab-Israeli Conflict
in response to reader comment: Divergence Started With Oslo Failures

Submitted by Michael S, Jan 14, 2017 at 10:49

Hi, Dave

When did the Titanic start to go down? When it started to list? or when it struck the iceberg? Nine years before the Berlin Wall fell, Solidarity became a free trade union in Communist Poland. Five years before the Soviet Union collapsed, the Chernobyl reactor melted down and the USSR had to call upon the US, their enemy, to send nuclear experts over to help rescue them from disaster.

You are correct, in saying that US opinion towards Israel began a radical divergence about the time of the Oslo accords. This was related to the fall of the Soviet Union, though, and attendant events such as the Solidarity strike, Chernobyl and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Many factors converged in those days; but it may be that conservative interest in Israel was an emotional transfer for conservative Americans, who, with the collapse of the Soviets, were suddenly without an enemy.

The Arabs have been conducting terrorist activities against Israel, ever since 1947 and before that; but we did not pay much attention to them as a country. We had bigger fish to fry: Around the same time that US President Truman gave his crucial support for Israeli independence, the Cold War was breaking out in earnest. In the run-up to the Six Day War in Israel in 1967, the Israelis were pleading with US President Johnson to intervene to help them; but he couldn't do it: He couldn't, because he was so tied up, fighting Russian surrogates in Vietnam. During the Yom Kippur War in late 1973, American conservatives were busy venting their anger at President Nixon, for having lost in Vietnam.

Our troops had laid down their lives, fighting in Asia while our presumed "allies" in Europe were stabbing us in the back and doing commerce with our enemies. The last thing on their minds was the Middle East -- until President Carter allowed the Iranian Shah to be overthrown by an Islamic Messiah; then he let them march our embassy staff, blindfolded, through the streets of Tehran without being able to help them. That drew our attention to the Middle East; but it also reinforced our sense of frustration at now being a "loser" power that could no longer look after its interests abroad. Vietnam was still very, very, very much on our minds; and the wound was just getting deeper. US conservatives did not begin sympathizing with Israel then, because we were too preoccupied feeling sorry for ourselves.

I see lots of references to the "fall of the Berlin Wall", as a defining moment in history. I also see the "fall of the Soviet Union" referenced a lot. In fact, both those events went largely unnoticed in the US at the time. Even our intelligence community was completely taken aback by these events, and could not understand their significance. Somehow, it began so seep into conservative minds, though, that we had actually BEAT THE RUSSIANS, who had out-witted us in Vietnam. Our awakening was complete, therefore, when Pres. George H. W. Bush sent half a million US troops to the Middle East, to give Sadaam Hussein a black eye. We did it! We fought a Vietnam-scale war against Muslim enemies, and supposedly knocked the socks off of them!

Now our minds were clear, to focus on other problems and other enemies. Conservatives began identifying with Israel, as the victim of perennial bullying by the Russians, Chinese, Iranians and everyone else who had given US guff in the preceding thirty years. Conservatives started moving in this direction. Meanwhile, the Left, who learned nothing from the collapse of Communism, likewise learned nothing from what was happening in the Middle East. To this day, they are clueless; which is why their attitudes toward Israel have not changed significantly in 50 years.

Submitting....

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Comment on this item

Mark my comment as a response to US conservatives have changed; but not necessarily because of Israel by Michael S

Email me if someone replies to my comment

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

See recent outstanding comments.

Follow Daniel Pipes

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List
eXTReMe Tracker

All materials by Daniel Pipes on this site: © 1968-2021 Daniel Pipes. daniel.pipes@gmail.com and @DanielPipes

Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum.Daniel J. Pipes

(The MEF is a publicly supported, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. Tax-ID 23-774-9796, approved Apr. 27, 1998.

For more information, view our IRS letter of determination.)