WASHINGTON - The United States elections
won't change much as far as Israel's
relations with Washington are concerned, a former advisor on Middle East
affairs to six secretaries of state asserts.
may not be the best US president for Israel, Dr. Aaron Miller says, but he is definitely pro-Israel. Mitt Romney
will not offer any real change, he claims.
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Having spent 24 years in the State Department, Miller has witnessed countless high-stakes meetings between US presidents and Israeli leaders. A fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Miller has written four books, the most recent of which discussed US efforts to negotiate peace between Israel and the Arabs.
Miller claims that even should Romney be elected president, he would adopt the traditional US foreign policy stance and will not risk antagonizing the Arab world by moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. As president, Miller claims, Romney will no longer need to pander to anyone, so such a move would not be in his interest.
Netanyahu and Ahmadinejad. 'Romney won't green-light strike' (Photo: AP)
A day before the two candidates face-off on foreign policy in the third and last presidential debate, Miller tried to put things in perspective.
"Too many Democrats want to pretend that Barack Obama is the most pro-Israel president in American history. And too many Republicans want to believe that Mitt Romney is Israel's salvation and will rescue the Jews from the clutches of a sitting president," he says.
"There's no sense at all that Romney has any better ideas on Iran or certainly the peace process than Obama."
Asked how Romney would handle the Iranian threat, Miller says that the Republican candidate is unlikely to give Israel the green-light to attack Iran in one year's time nor is he likely to order a US offensive in the country.
'Obama is not an enemy of Israel' (Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom, GPO)
According to Miller, Romney will reconsider any plan to attack Iran once his military advisors explain to him the consequences of such an operation, including its effect on Afghanistan. The last thing a new president wants to see is stock markets plummet and oil price soar, he says.
According to Miller, there's only one country in the world that believes that an attack on Iran is necessary – Israel.
Miller will concede however that Romney is likely to have a better personal relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu than Obama.
Like Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., Romney has an emotional attachment to Israel, Miller says. His instinct will therefore be to give Israel the benefit of the doubt.
"Obama wasn't raised on the Paul Newman Exodus movie trope in which the Israelis were the brave cowboys and the Arabs were the hostile Indians. His penchant for nuance, complexity, and detachment drives him to avoid seeing matters in black and white.
"His inability to connect emotionally as Clinton and Bush did may make it harder for him to get there in the first place."
"Obama clearly doesn't like Netanyahu's bravado or what he believes is his callous disregard for American interests. In this regard, Obama probably fits somewhere between Carter and Bush Sr. when it comes to how frustrated they were with the Israelis.
But Obama is not an enemy of the state of Israel."
Miller further believes that the incumbent president will not get back at Netanyahu is and when he is reelected. According to Miller, a US president locks horns with Israel for one reason only and that is if he believes he can achieve something in the process.
As far as Miller is concerned the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is dead and as long as it is, it will not be a subject of any power struggle between the US and Israel.
Miller also does not foresee any additional crisis between Obama and Netanyahu "unless the Israeli prime minister does something insane to undermine American interests" which he believes is highly unlikely.