When Major Power Interests Attack

I’m probably going to regret saying this, but this, from Nikolas Gvosdev’s brief post about China’s growing irritation with North Korea, brought another strategic relationship to mind: “How Beijing may reorder its strategic priorities based on how Pyongyang’s actions affect its key interests is fascinating.” Of course, I’m talking about the U.S. and Israel. (Let the wild rumpus and angry e-mails begin!)

It might have had something to do with having just read Laura Rozen’s revealing piece on how deadly serious the Obama administration is about Israel freezing its West Bank settlements. There’s also this Le Monde interview with Justin Vaisse (via Art Goldhammer).

I’d thought of the Obama line was essentially a return to the classic U.S. position of no compromise on Israeli security concerns coupled with serious pressure for necessary concessions. The lack of a meaningful Palestinian government limits the possibilities for the former, meaning the latter get emphasized.

But as Laura Rozen makes clear, the classic U.S. position included a variety of loopholes and unspoken indulgences that the Obama administration, in conjunction with Congress, seems to have eliminated. I’d speculated that the divergence between U.S. and Israeli strategic calculations would lead to a weakening of Israel’s political leverage in Washington, especially regarding congressional support, back in April. If Rozen’s article is indeed reflective of the backstage discussions, that seems to already be the case.