Freeman vs. Satloff: A Debate to Remember

Article excerpt

The Nixon Center in Washington, DC was the scene of a rare debate, on July 20, about whether Israel is really a strategic asset or a strategic liability for the United States. Gen. Charles G. Boyd, a Nixon Center fellow, moderated the debate on a subject which he described as often discussed privately but rarely in public. [After days of waiting, the Nixon Center finally permitted the Washington Report to attend the debate, held in a small conference room with a few select audience members.] Ambassador Charles Freeman, Jr., former U.S. envoy to Saudi Arabia and China and now chairman of Projects International, and Dr. Robert Satloff, executive director of the AIPAC-spinoff Washington Institute for Near East Policy, had quite different views on the topic.

Dr. Satloff called the special U.S.-Israeli relationship "a strategic bonanza for the U.S.: not just an asset, but a downright bargain." We "share ways of governing, ways of ordering society, ways of viewing the role of liberty and individual rights, and ways to defend those ideals," he emphasized.

According to Satloff, Israel is on the front line, facing many of the same threats Americans face. He listed military advantages that Israel brings to the U.S., including storing American war reserves in Israel and sharing "effective counterterrorism and counterinsurgency tactics," which he said have played an important role in America's fight in Iraq. "Israel's intelligence, its technology, lessons learned from its own experience in counterterrorism and asymmetric warfare, have saved American lives," Satloff contended. "Our relationship with Israel is not just good for Israel, it's good for America," Satloff concluded. "What we really need in the Middle East are more Israels...strong, democratic, reliable, pro-American allies. …