Introduction to Print Issue Six:
The Centrality of the United States to Global Affairs

by December 2022

Amid the ongoing war in Ukraine and new tensions in the Middle East, observers often look to how the United States responds to these and other challenges. In this sixth print issue, JST publisher Ahmed Charai reminds us of the abiding resilience of American democracy and its centrality to resolving global conflicts. Dov Zakheim, JST’s board chair and columnist, describes the role of the Middle East in the new US National Security Strategy. At the JST’s December gathering in Washington, General James Jones provided an overview of American foreign policy with stories from his own career in military and foreign policy. 

Several pieces in this issue add to the understanding of Israel. The once and future prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is profiled by JST columnist (and former Member of Knesset) Ksenia Svetlova. Israeli journalist Tal Lev-Ram maps out the priorities facing the incoming military chief of staff, General Hertzi Halevi. The strategic and tactical factors behind Israel’s ambiguous Ukraine policy are explained by Pnina Shuker and Daniel Rakov.

Israeli political leaders met this fall with JST publisher Ahmed Charai and provided a preview of future challenges, as we report. Arie Krampf, describing how Netanyahu’s economic reform led to a more independent foreign policy, sees an (unwritten) Netanyahu Doctrine. Former Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami offers Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a lesson for what happens when ideology is allowed to prevail over pragmatism. 

We also address the future of Israel’s regional relations. Israel’s former National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat recommends actions to consolidate and expand the Abraham Accords. Former US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro takes a step further, applying the regional integration model of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to the Middle East. In his piece, Gidon Bromberg links this quest for regional integration with the urgent need for cooperative policies on water and the environment. Editor-in-Chief Eran Lerman analyzes the pros and cons of the maritime border understanding between Lebanon and Israel that will unlock further offshore natural gas exploitation.

Preventing Iran from obtaining a military nuclear capability is an overriding priority, but Haaretz columnist Amir Oren warns of the dangers of a singular focus. He recalls the Israeli intelligence community’s campaign to prevent German engineers from helping Nasser’s Egypt build missiles in the 1960s, which came at the expense of dealing with other threats. A potentially significant threat of a very different nature is discussed by David Bernstein who sees woke ideology as a danger to the future of the US–Israel relationship.

Looking further afield, Turkey expert Alan Makovsky explains the political and economic dynamics in that country as both President Tayyip Recep Erdoğan and his rivals position themselves toward the “hinge elections” of early 2023. Veteran US diplomat Laird Treiber affirms Africa’s growing importance in the post-pandemic era and details effective African initiatives on COVID-19 vaccines and in the fields of mobile communications and energy markets—a note of optimism in turbulent times.

Returning to the theme of US centrality, Robert Silverman writes about the continuing need for an American capacity to help post-conflict countries (including Ukraine in the future) rebuild national institutions, often called “nation building.” We must learn from past experiences, as Ron Neumann, Charles Ray and Jim Jeffrey remind us in “Lessons We Should have Learned from Vietnam.”   

Eran Lerman
Col. (ret.) Dr. Eran Lerman is a former senior intelligence officer. He served as Israel’s deputy national security adviser (2009–2015), and prior to that as director, AJC Israel and ME office (2001–2009). He is currently the vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security and a lecturer at Shalem College. @EranLerman
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