Carronade The Yankee Sailor Carronade

The Sea is a choosy mistress. She takes the men that come to her and weighs them and measures them. The ones she adores, she keeps; the ones she hates, she destroys. The rest she casts back to land. I count myself among the adored, for I am Her willing Captive.

I've relocated to a new Yankee Sailor.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Israel and NATO Membership

The ever-vexing Middle East peace process has caused the old saw of Israeli membership in NATO to bubble to the surface again. This idea has been kicking around for at least half a century and has died several quiet deaths over the years. Israel was invited to join the founding talks in 1949, though they declined to attend, and following the Yom Kippur War Israel actually petitioned for membership. The request at the time was such a hot potato that the members of the alliance went so far as to refuse to even comment on the application, much less debate its merits.

Ron Asmus is currently beating the drum loudest, with articles in the Washinton Post and Policy Review over the last year, though others have weighed in. And, while extending NATO's Article 5 protection for collective self defense appears to be a panacea for Israel's security for some, many (this Sailor included) have doubts.

True, the ties between NATO and Israel are already strengthening. In addition to growing military and economic ties with NATO member Turkey, Israel has had expanding involvement with the larger NATO apparatus, including two joint military exercises in 2005. One focused on submarine rescue responses and the other, much more significant exercise focused on mine countermeasures. Indeed, Israel appears to be evaluating the implications and testing the waters for another application in the future. It's also worth noting that Israel's enemies in the Middle East are worried about the implications as well.

In the end, all of this is probably hot air in the near term. First, Israel must resolve its borders disputes before they're even eligible for membership. Second, Israel must overcome the perception in Europe that they're a racist state and a threat to international security. What's the bottom line? Don't hold your breath.

Hat tip to the Salamander, open posted in Mudville.