Foreign Policy Realists Shouldn’t Be Hostile to Israel

The recently departed administration of Barack Obama was characterized by the president’s open admiration of the “realism” of the foreign policy of the Presidency of George H. W. Bush, and Obama’s continuous and strong antagonism towards the State of Israel. The two ideas often go together, because the conventional wisdom has long asserted that an American leader who practices the doctrine of “realism” should attempt to reverse the (generally) strong U.S. friendship and support for Israel. This is because such “realists” have long believed that American backing for Israel is a net negative for the U.S., because it antagonizes the Arab and/or Muslim World, and other nations.

As a correlation, these realists frequently argue that if the U.S. were to reverse that support — or appear more “even-handed” — the U.S. would automatically garner more popularity with the world.

But is this conventional wisdom correct? Would a true realist automatically attempt to distance the U.S. from Israel? And would such a change be a successful strategy for the U.S.?