A reminder of the words of the first American president, George Washington, in his Farewell Address:
“The Nation, which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest …
A passionate attachment of one Nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite Nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest, in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification.
It leads also to concessions to the favorite Nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the Nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained; and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens, (who devote themselves to the favorite nation,) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation,” – George Washington, in his Farewell Address.
And now, Barack Obama, as he arrives in Israel:
“So as I begin this visit, let me say as clearly as I can –the United States of America stands with the State of Israel because it is in our fundamental national security interest to stand with Israel. It makes us both stronger. It makes us both more prosperous. And it makes the world a better place. That’s why the United States was the very first nation to recognize the State of Israel 65 years ago. That’s why the Star of David and the Stars and Stripes fly together today. And that is why I’m confident in declaring that our alliance is eternal, it is forever – lanetzach.”
The concept of an “eternal”, and “unbreakable” alliance with any other single country is a statement George Washington would have regarded as deeply corrosive of foreign policy and domestic governance. To declare it in the language of the foreign country has even deeper resonance. It is now the governing principle of both political parties – and the primary reason we may once again be headed to war with unforeseeable consequences in the Middle East.
If anyone ever believed Obama was able to change that, or that any president can change that, they have been taught an important lesson. We’ve come a long, long way from George Washington’s vision of America. We have defined another, decades-old country half way across the world as integral to our own.
(Photo: President Barack Obama is greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during an official welcoming ceremony on his arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport on March, 20, 2013 near Tel Aviv, Israel. By Marc Israel Sellem-Pool/Getty Images.)