With the soon coming elections, it’s expected that both candidates will be taking a so-called ‘pleasing’ route until November 7th. Not ruffling the waters, avoiding shaking the pot, and by all means being cautious as to what they say. It wouldn’t be a stretch to think that they spend just as much time deciphering what not to say as they do actually writing their scripts. That is why it came as a surprise when I came across the headlines exclaiming US Troops have landed in Israel. Sending troops overseas is not the typical way to make friends before a major election.
However, after further reading, it was apparent that this was a mere road trip for our troops. The Austere Challenge 2012 has sent over 1,000 American soldiers to Israel where they will be participating in a joint missile-defense exercise over the next three weeks. With the ever-prominent tensions between Israel and Iran over their nuclear program, first instinct would be to believe that these drills are in preparation for an unclear future with an unpredictable ending. In contrast, this trip was said to have been planned for the past two years. Computer simulations paired with live-fire exercises were said to not have been the result of the current state of restlessness.
Even though the generals in charge of the drill have made statements that no particular message should be relayed by this international meeting, without a doubt some have been established. The most prominent message that has been transmitted has come to be the simple and vital fact that these two countries are holding this joint training mission. Relations between Israel and the United States have been put on a pedestal during the current presidential campaign.
Just within the borders of the United States, Republicans have questioned Obama’s commitment to Israel’s security. They have gained the support of Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been on the fence about repairing his severed relations with President Obama. Netanyahu looked to the Obama administration to draw a ‘red line’ for Iran’s nuclear program, and when they did not deliver, their support shifted red. Even with these evolving relationships, the Austere Challenge has confirmed that foreign relations between Israel and the United States are still functioning.
So with this confirmed bond, I wonder how this will play a part in the campaigns of the hopeful presidents. Will Obama use this mission as a positive that demonstrates his ability to keep relations with Israel on good terms, or will Romney highlight that more of our troops are being sent overseas? On a bigger scale, will Iran see this joint operation as a precursor to action against their nuclear program?
These questions will be answered in time, but while the moment is here today, I believe citizens need to reflect upon what this country truly wants our foreign relations to look like. It is easy to say that we want to be in control but out of sight, but the effectiveness and longevity of that plan is minimal. Either way one thing is for sure, the next president is going to be forced to make decisions that are going to have repercussions for all citizens, parties and countries involved. Let’s just hope that the next four years see a rebuilding of foreign relations, rather than trying to continue to build upon the tangled web we have woven.