The Strategic Imperative of U.S.-Israel Cooperation

America’s support for Israel’s ongoing war of national survival against an Iranian terror network dedicated to its destruction has become an increasingly divisive topic, from university campuses to the corridors of Washington. Faltering U.S. backing for Israel, one of our strongest allies, is extremely dangerous for both U.S. and Israeli national security. That is why we joined with more than 95 other retired U.S. generals and admirals to sign a Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) letter urging the United States to continue its unwavering support of Israel.

The benefits of a strong U.S.-Israel partnership (beyond national security) are too many and too valuable to lose. Our respective goals, interests, and values are aligned, both in the current conflict and more broadly going forward; they can be better realized through cooperation than discord. While as allies we may disagree, how and where those disagreements are expressed matters because our adversaries and other allies alike are watching.

Israel is fighting for its very existence in an unprecedented multifront conflict. It is defending itself against a genocidal terrorist threat that, on October 7, perpetrated the greatest loss of innocent Jewish life since the Holocaust. Meanwhile, Iran’s other regional proxies, from Yemen to Lebanon – the very same entities attacking U.S. troops – and even Iran itself have been attacking Israel.

While Israel is fighting by itself, it is not for itself alone. For its security and ours, Israel must emerge victorious. And that victory requires and must be seen to have been made possible by, U.S. assistance.

If Israel does not decisively eliminate Hamas’s military capabilities, Tehran will only grow emboldened to launch more devastating attacks against the Jewish state in the future. And if Israel fails in this objective because the United States denied it critical weapons, U.S. global prestige and trustworthiness will crumble.

The repercussions for the Middle East will be as dire as they will be immediate. It would spell the end of U.S.-led efforts to usher in an historic regional peace and security architecture—built on the Abraham Accords and dependent still on Israel-Saudi normalization. We glimpsed this future Middle East and the promise it holds on April 13, when Arab states joined in the defense of Israel through the organizing function of U.S. Central Command. But this better future could slip away if U.S. Arab partners determine that Washington is fickle while Tehran is stronger and likely to continue supporting its terrorist proxies.

But the damage would not be limited to the Middle East. Just as Israel is a regional outpost of western civilization and values, Iran is a spearhead for Russian and Chinese interests. A victory for Iran-backed Hamas would only strengthen the Tehran-Moscow-Beijing axis. Any vacillation in U.S. support for Israel will be acutely felt by our European and Pacific allies who depend on U.S. security guarantees to help keep Russian and Chinese threats at bay.

Israel’s contributions to U.S. security are not limited to winning the current war waged against it by Iran’s terrorist network. Israel’s military and intelligence routinely help protect U.S. troops and citizens. Its military technologies help defend our European allies against Russian threats. Its innovative economy gives rise to cutting-edge technologies that will be crucial to winning the geopolitical competition against our 21st century adversaries.

In short, when America stands alongside Israel, we both emerge stronger, and peace becomes possible. But when we allow disagreements to divide us, it is the forces of extremism and violence that triumph.

For 76 years—from minutes after the Jewish state’s founding—the U.S.-Israel friendship has benefited both our peoples. And so, it should continue. We urge all Americans to stand by our close friend and partner.

Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, USAF (ret.) was Supreme Allied Commander Europe and Commander of U.S. European Command. VADM John Bird, USN (ret.) was Commander of U.S. 7th Fleet. Both are signees to the Jewish Institute for National Secuirty of America’s open letter on U.S.-Israel relations.

Originally published in RealClearDefense.