Lindsey Graham wants a bilateral defense treaty with Israel

A hypothetical Q: if it were ever to get far enough in the long process, would two-thirds of the Senate vote to ratify it?  Some of the background:

‘Lindsey Graham’s Blank Check. Why a Defense Agreement With Israel Would Be a Disaster for Americans’, Philip Giraldi, August 22, 2019

Giraldi writes that Graham had first publicly advocated for such a pact at the Republican Jewish Coalition in April of 2019, times of israel :

“Graham said at the annual meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas Saturday that it’s time for the US to declare to the world how important its relationship is with Israel.
The pact would show the international community that “an attack against Israel would be considered an attack against the United States,” he said.

The Republican said America should tell Israel’s enemies that if they seek “to destroy the one and only Jewish state, you have to come through us to get them.”

The Senator suggested the Republican-controlled US Senate would vote in a month or so to formally recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and force Democrats to go on the record on the issue.

Trump recognized Israel’s de facto annexation of the Golan Heights last month, making the US the first country to do so.

The move came days after Graham told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he would lobby Trump for recognition while on a tour of the plateau.”

Back to Giraldi:

“In his most recent foray, Graham announced late in July that he is seeking bipartisan support for providing “blank check” assurances to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and is hoping to be able to push a complete defense treaty through the Senate by next year.

In making his several announcements on the subject, Graham has been acting as a front man for both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and also for The Jewish Institute for the National Security of America (JINSA), which wrote the basic document that is being used to promote the treaty and then enlisted Graham to obtain congressional support.

Speaking to the press on a JINSA conference call, Graham said the proposed agreement would be a treaty that would protect Israel in case of an attack that constituted an “existential threat”. Citing Iran as an example, Graham said the pact would be an attempt to deter hostile neighbors like the Iranians who might use weapons of mass destruction against Israel.

JINSA director of foreign policy Jonathan Ruhe added that “An Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear program would not activate this pact, but a major Iranian retaliation might. – An Israeli unilateral attack is not what the treaty covers, but rather massive Iranian retaliation is what we are addressing.”

He posits that the reason Israel has long declined to enter into a bilateral agreement with the US is that it might limit the nation’s aggressions and incursions, but this joint project would offer wouldn’t limit Netenyahu’s ‘options’, but I’m not so sure about this:

“And, even though the treaty is reciprocal, there is no chance that Israel will ever be called upon to do anything to defend the United States, so it is as one-sided as most arrangements with the Jewish state tend to be.”

He further notes that an official Senate ratified treaty would be much harder for succeeding administrations to scrap, than agreements like the JCPOA.  His (bolded) link re: Graham’s have sought bipartisan support for a defense treaty in July goes to:

A US-Israeli Defense Treaty? A Noble Idea, But Neither Desirable nor Practical, July 29, 2019,, prez and vice-prez of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, some of which might come with many cellars of salt, but:

“This is not the first time that the idea of a US-Israel defense pact has been broached.  House Resolution 700 in 2006 called for ever-closer relations between Israel and NATO, ultimately leading to full membership in the Alliance. Such gestures should be appreciated for the noble sentiment they express. But from an Israeli perspective a defense treaty with the US is not desirable; it might create more problems than it would solve.

A defense treaty entails a commitment to take military action in the case of aggression against one of the parties. Yet Israel has declared for decades that it does not want American soldiers to endanger their lives for Israel’s security. Jerusalem has adopted the famous Churchillian dictum “Give us the tools and we shall finish the job.” (Churchill did not necessarily mean this; he did not hide his delight when the US came into WWII.  But Israel does mean it). This principle, which is enshrined in Israel’s national security thinking, has been an important component in Israel’s popularity in the US. It is also an element of the unwritten but powerful understanding between Israel and American Jewry, alongside American Jewry’s commitment to help Israel secure American material and diplomatic support.” [snip]

“Israel wants to be independent. Any defense treaty would curtail its freedom of action. Noteworthy, the European members of the NATO alliance, which is headed by the US, need permission to deploy their forces from the headquarters of the alliance in Brussels. During the Cold War no German plane could fly without approval from Brussels. Israel could not tolerate such restraints. It must use force almost without respite in accordance with its own calculations. Israel’s rationale might not be always acceptable in the US. Moreover, such frequent use of force could become a burden for the US, if Israel is its formal ally.” [snip]

“Another problem arises from Washington’s firm preference that all its allies must ratify international treaties that deal with arms control. Yet Israel is reluctant to sign such treaties because their verification mechanisms are far from perfect. The way the international community, including the US, has dealt with the quest for nuclear weapons by North Korea and Iran, is totally unsatisfactory from an Israeli point of view. For this, and a multiplicity of other reasons, Israel has been reluctant to join the NPT, and has reached discreet understandings with consecutive US administrations on this question. There is a real danger that an open debate on a defense treaty would bring into focus tensions on this issue that have been dormant for generations.

Moreover, a defense treaty that could be read as extending American nuclear deterrence to the Israeli theater may also be perceived, rightly or wrongly, as an alternative to preventive action when it comes to Iran’s bid for the bomb. Past administrations, including President Obama’s, repeatedly asserted that they would not make do with “containment” of Iran (i.e., the deterring of Iran) on the military nuclear question; even if the JCPOA ultimately was meant to prepare the ground for such a policy down the road. Should the US commit to offer Israel a nuclear “umbrella”, this would in practice open the question of whether either country is still truly committed to the principle of preventing Iran, at all costs, from achieving a nuclear arsenal.”

I poked about a bit for Israel being asked to join NATO, and found this eye-blinking hasbara at the globalist:

‘Israel in NATO? Will Israel soon lead the way in a Middle Eastern partnership with NATO?’, Christoph Bertram, March 25, 2005

“That is what two influential authors, Ron Asmus and Bruce Jackson, have recently argued in the journal “Policy Review,” They even envision the possibility of Israel’s eventual membership in NATO.

The first reaction is one of surprise. But then surprise gives way to second thoughts: why not? And under what conditions?

On the abstract level, the idea has much to recommend it. Israel is an established Western democracy, more so than any of the countries currently considered for closer relations in what used to be the Atlantic Alliance.

Israel’s security is a clear Western interest. If ever the country were attacked and faced defeat, many — if not all — NATO members would come to its aid.” [snip]

“Moreover, as NATO is reaching out anyway to develop a closer network of relations with the countries of the “Wider Middle East,” it cannot possibly bypass Israel.

The added sense of security for Israel that might grow out of the prospect of NATO membership might help its citizens to be more accommodating to the emerging Palestinian state.”

Mitchell Plitnik doesn’t mince his words: ‘Lindsey Graham Is Sponsoring a US-Israeli Defense Treaty That Would Shield Israel From Consequences of Striking Iran, Trump presents a golden opportunity for an agreement that any other President would reject’, Aug. 5, 2019, checkpoint asia (and

“Iran would correctly see the United States as taking a big step toward setting up an Israeli attack on its territory”

Editor’s note: The idea is that should the US come under an attack that represented an “existential threat” Israel would be there to defend it. Nah, just kidding. The calculation is that Trump presents a golden opportunity for an agreement that any other President would reject. One that would be useful to Israel in acquiring US intelligence and shielding it from the bulk of Iran’s retaliation should Israel decide to strike its nuclear facilities.” [snip]

“Although Graham has had a hot-and-cold relationship with the mercurial president, in recent months he has largely remained in Trump’s good graces by duly fawning over him, and has gained access to Trump’s ear as a result. 

Graham is also very connected in Israel, where his staunch support for every Israeli policy and action—the more draconian, the better—has made him many friends in the government of Benjamin Netanyahu. All of this comes together to make Graham the perfect salesman for JINSA’s proposed agreement. And Graham seems like a very eager helper.

Speaking on a JINSA conference call Tuesday, Graham said the proposed agreement would be a treaty that would protect Israel in case of an attack that constituted an “existential threat” that was more than Israel could confidently handle. [Has there been any talk how it would benefit the US?] An “existential threat” is defined as the use of weapons of mass destruction, a surprisingly overwhelming attack, an attack that threatens to cut off Israel’s air or sea communication and travel, an attack that threatens to alter the balance of power in the region against Israel, or any other incident “that gives rise to an urgent request from the Government of Israel.”

While that’s a fairly broad definition, it is intended to exclude the sorts of attacks from militant groups or even other countries that Israel has always been able to handle. Indeed, Graham and JINSA president Michael Makovsky both stressed that the treaty was designed to be a deterrent and would not apply to the sorts of rocket attacks Israel is equipped to deal with from Hezbollah, Hamas, and similar groups.” [snip]

“The treaty commits the U.S. to choose from a range of responses, a feature which will also make the idea more palatable for Trump. This could be anything from sharing intelligence, issuing threatening statements, censure, sanctions, sending additional arms and supplies to Israel, providing air or sea support, or anything up to and including actual military action.

According to Graham, the treaty would be an attempt to deter bad actors who might use weapons of mass destruction against Israel. “One of the chief audiences would be Iran,” he added, in an obvious understatement.

Clearly, the primary purpose of this treaty is to pave the way for an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, should they decide to pursue that action. It’s not clear whether the threat of U.S. involvement would really deter Iranian retaliation in such an event, but there is a good chance that it would at least encourage Iran to launch a more limited retaliatory strike.

The treaty would also commit the United States to sharing with Israel any applicable intelligence that is cleared to be shared with the “Five Eyes Alliance,” a security alliance between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. Israel works with Five Eyes and is already informally granted access to some of the group’s intelligence, but this would create a formal requirement for the United States to share any information deemed relevant to Israel’s security—a decidedly vague standard—with the Israeli intelligence community.”

Of course we don’t know who the next Amerikan President will be (I hear there’s an election coming up sometime), nor how long the process to send Lindsey’s Treaty language through all the necessary the channels might take, not the final (if any) language (hell’s bells, I can’t even find the language on his own Senate website)…but I’d sure think that AIPAC and CUFI would be crackin’ their lobbyin’ whips in support of it.

But again, the hypothetical Q: do you think 2/3 of the Senators would vote for it?  How many would abstain or just not show up?

@LindseyGrahamSC Aug 20

It’s time to provide MORE assistance to Israel for their missile defense program. Why? Because Iran has provided thousand more missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon and openly supports Hamas in Gaza.

@LindseyGrahamSC Aug 20
The threats from Iran — to our close friend and ally Israel — are only growing. Iran has already broken enrichment conditions regarding their nuclear program. The Iranians are a bad actor in the region, sowing discord at every turn.

(cross-posted at

One response to “Lindsey Graham wants a bilateral defense treaty with Israel

  1. in a way i wished i hadn’t even mentioned the ginormous power of aipac and cufi being able to whip senators into voting for this treaty…if it grows legs. i’d clicked into mintpress news and had found:

    ‘Rogues’ Gallery: A Sober Look at the “Progressive” Democratic Presidential Candidates’, Unless someone new enters the race or one of the existing candidates is stricken on the road to Damascus, there will be no genuinely progressive foreign policy offered by either of the two major political parties in the 2020 presidential election’, Ken Freeland,, august 26, 2019 (one squib)

    “Tulsi Gabbard: Islamophobe on a mission?

    Then comes much-heralded Tulsi Gabbard. I admit having once been smitten by her seeming earnestness in opposing U.S. wars — until that is, she slavishly voted in favor of the anti-BDS resolution (HR 246), whereupon I took a deeper dive into her record. The scales soon fell from my eyes, though not unaccompanied by a few rueful tears. Tulsi, I discovered to my horror, is most likely a hawk in dove’s clothing. This is not to suggest that she is dishonest — a bit disingenuous, maybe, but not dishonest — no, far from it! She flatly says what she believes. And what exactly does she say?

    [she also glorifies her being ‘a walk in the war on ‘terror”.]

    Well, first of all, she says she is an ardent supporter of Israel. Anyone with any doubt about this should watch her stomach-churning speech at the Christians United for Israel conference in 2015. Were she nominated, Trump might find himself with a serious competitor for his deep-pocketed Zionist patrons!

    i’d thought i’d known her, but watching this was a whole ‘nother bridge too far, as was her interview about ‘torture and presidential ticking time-bombs’.

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