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A Narrow U.S.-Israel Defense Pact: Addressing Criticism

In July our project, under the leadership of former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Adm. (ret.) James Stavridis, issued a report making the strategic case for a U.S.-Israel mutual defense pact and providing draft text of a treaty similar to – but more narrowly defined than – existing U.S. arrangements with 50 countries on five continents.

Shortly afterward, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the idea with President Donald Trump, who tweeted his interest and intention to discuss such an agreement at their next bilateral meeting.

Since then various objections to a pact have been raised, and we believe it now constructive to advance the policy conversation by elaborating the most salient counterarguments.

Specifically, we address six concerns: first, that it might hinder either country’s strategic freedom of action; second, that it may require Israel to assist U.S. military operations beyond the Middle East; third, that such a pact would be superfluous, given already high levels of bilateral security cooperation; fourth, that it would impose unwelcome standards for military interoperability; fifth, that it would force each ally to reveal plans and capabilities with respect to nuclear weapons; and finally, that Israel’s unsettled borders would complicate a U.S. security guarantee.

We hope this follow-on report will generate support for a narrow defense treaty which would advance vital U.S. interests throughout the Middle East and help prevent or mitigate an extraordinary conflict that could threaten Israel’s strategic and economic viability.

Click here to read the report.

U.S.-Israel Security Policy Project Chairman

ADM James Stavridis, USN (ret.)
Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander and former Commander of U.S. European Command

U.S.-Israel Security Policy Project Members

Gen Charles “Chuck” Wald, USAF (ret.)
Former Deputy Commander of U.S. European Command

LTG John Gardner, USA (ret.)
Former Deputy Commander of U.S. European Command

Lt Gen Henry Obering, USAF (ret.)
Former Director of U.S. Missile Defense Agency