Them Today, Us Tomorrow

Our country sure has been going through some good times lately. Between our booming economy that has largely weathered the pandemic and new friendships with our Arab neighbors, our nation has been doing good. With the continued support of our American ally, worrying about where the aid we need to support our military is not a problem. It is almost too good to be true, right?

Unfortunately, The good times do not roll on forever. In fact, they stopped rolling quite some time ago. America as we know it is officially in retreat, and as we have witnessed over the past couple of months, our enemies are well aware of it.

Vladimir Putin did not casually wake up a few months ago and decide to invade Ukraine because his coffee machine broke, making him cranky. He read the signs and knew that America forty years ago, which stood up for democracy and its allies, is not America today, retreating from its position of global influence. Contrary to what some government officials want us to believe, Putin is a calculated and exceptionally clever head of state. He bet that the United States would largely abandon its Ukranian ally and tell them to fend for themselves. To a large extent, it seems like his bet paid off. Beyond economic sanctions and limited shipments of military hardware, the United States has turned around and walked away from Ukraine. Rather than stand up for its values and its friends globally, the United States is now little more than that drunk guy screaming in the football stadium supporting his favorite team: Little more than shouting and screaming words of support.

This brings up the following question: Why should Israel be concerned by this abandonment?

The answer is depressingly simple: Ukraine and Israel have one massive thing in common: We are far too reliant on the United States. We count on the U.S for military and economic aid to balance out the odds against the enemies we face. With Ukraine, that enemy is Russia. With us, that enemy is Iran. Those who do not believe that Iran is watching this unfold and planning its next moves based on America’s disastrous foreign policy are, as we say in Israel, “Living in a fantasy.” Much like Putin, the Iranians are patient and calculated. Like a pack of wolves, they watch their prey, testing its defenses from a safe distance before they pounce in for the kill. The problem for Israel? WE are that “prey.” Today, it is Russia and Ukraine. What’s to say that tomorrow it won’t be Israel and Iran? Is our country ready to go it alone without American support if and when we are forced to take military action to stop their nuclear weapons program? How will we support ourselves when the Democrats attack us for warmongering, and the Republicans just want to isolate themselves from any problems their allies have?

Our agreement under which the United States provides us with nearly four billion dollars in annual defense aid expires in 2026, between now and then is four years. It is imperative during these four years that our primary domestic policy goal be to eliminate or at least vastly reduce our reliance on the United States and outside influences as a whole. We must extensively expand our domestic defense industries and work to make our economy less dependent on the United States. We must begin preparing for the possibility that any new agreement will become more conditional and demand concessions that will severely hamper our ability to protect ourselves against our enemies, assuming such an agreement is even offered. Isolationist voices from the right and antisemitic progressive voices from the left are becoming increasingly mainstream. Sooner than later, they will leap to being accepted as legitimate policy rather than fringe beliefs. How Israel manages to cope with this new reality depends on how much effort is made to reduce our reliance on foreign powers, or at the least, on a single foreign power.

The good times are over. We are in for challenging times over the coming years. However, whether or not we enter those years prepared is still within our control. We have the tools needed to increase our global independence with a booming high-tech industry, an increasingly competitive defense industry, and an ironclad resolve within our society to thrive in a region where violence and despair are too common. All we need to do now is use them the right way.

About the Author
Benjamin Jaffe currently lives in Jerusalem and is a nursing student at Machon Lev College.
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