Israel, realistically, does not fall into the category of a life-and-death national interest. It is, at most, a national emotional interest, and therein is the problem. In the past 30 years, and especially during the post-Cold War Clinton regime, our definition of national interest has expanded to include a lengthy list of nice-to-have but unessential ephemera, which are at the moment costing us lives and treasure. Forcing Iraq and Afghanistan to reserve parliamentary seats for women and efforts to install democracy abroad at bayonet point are just two instances of our bipartisan governing elites’ inability to differentiate national-security from national-emotional interests.
Most Americans, including myself, probably hope that Israel eventually proves itself a viable, prosperous, non-theocratic, nuclear-armed state. But it is not remotely imaginable that Israel is a national-security interest of the United States that requires the U.S. government to unquestioningly endorse, fund, and arm all Israeli actions and thereby earn the same enmity Israel earns from a billion-plus Muslims.