While U.S. recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights bolsters the national security of the Jewish state, it also yields major strategic benefits for the United States.
Thus, U.S. President Trump’s endorsement of Israeli sovereignty over the strategically commanding Golan Heights, which may be reinforced by a congressional resolution, highlights the synergy between the national security of America and Israel. It underlines the mutually beneficial, two-way-street strategic coordination and cooperation between the two allies.
This endorsement enhances the posture of deterrence of Israel—a systematic, unwavering, effective beachhead of the United States in the Middle East—and therefore extends the strategic hand of America, without the need to deploy additional U.S. forces to the region.
In fact, Israel’s upgraded strategic profile has been a most effective U.S. force-multiplier in the Middle East.
For example, in 1970, pro-Soviet Syria invaded pro-US Jordan, aiming to topple the Hashemite regime and trigger an anti-American ripple effect into the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf. It could have toppled the pro-U.S. oil-producing regimes in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman, granting the USSR a global bonanza and dealing a major blow to the economy and national security of the United States (when it was heavily dependent upon Persian Gulf oil), during the Vietnam quagmire, which precluded a dispatch of American troops to Jordan.
President Richard Nixon called Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, who reinforced Israel’s military presence on the Golan Heights—the joint frontier between Israel, Syria and Jordan—delivering a clear warning to Damascus, which is located 37 miles from the Golan Heights. Israel’s posture of deterrence triggered a swift rollback of the Syrian invasion (within 48 hours), with no exchange of fire between the two military forces.
Thus, in 1970, Israel’s control of the Golan Heights, with no need for U.S. military involvement, minimized regional violence and instability; secured the survival of key pro-U.S. Arab regimes; prevented a major anti-U.S. domino-effect in the Middle East with its drastic financial and military consequences; and spared the globe a potential super-powers confrontation.
In 2019, the control of the Golan Heights enables Israel to play a key role in constraining Iran’s expansion into Syria and Lebanon, restraining the flow of lava emitted by the potential Syrian volcano, securing Jordan’s Hashemite regime and removing the anti-U.S. machetes from the throats of every pro-American regime.
In 2019, the potential contribution by Israel’s control of the Golan Heights to vital U.S. interests, is bolstered against the backdrop of the following Middle East reality: Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and the megalomaniacal Ayatollahs, who consider the United States their major hurdle on the way to regional and global domination; the 14-centuries-old Middle East unpredictability, intolerance and violence; the Arab Tsunami (erroneously branded as the “Arab Spring”), which erupted in 2010 and is still raging; the historical role played by Damascus in fomenting intra-Arab and intra-Muslim confrontations, narcoterrorism (facilitating supply of heroine to inner cities in America) and anti-U.S. international terrorism (e.g., Pan Am 103, the U.S. embassy and U.S. Marine headquarters in Beirut); the operation of a multitude of Islamic terrorist organizations in Syria; and the systematic alignment of Syria with enemies and adversaries of the United States (e.g., the USSR, Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela).
In 2019, the Israeli “life-insurance agent” is increasingly more critical for the survival of Jordan’s pro-U.S. Hashemite regime, which is more vulnerable than it was in 1970. Israel’s posture of deterrence has been enhanced in value in view of the Iranian ayatollahs’ entrenchment in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon; the potentially explosive 1.5 million Syrian refugees in northern Syria; the Palestinian majority in Jordan and its subversive track record; the high domestic profile of the subversive, terroristic Muslim Brotherhood; and the intensifying fragmentation among Jordan’s Bedouin tribes, some of which consider the Hashemite family “carpetbaggers” from the Arabian Peninsula.
Israel’s retreat from the Golan Heights would have severely eroded Israel’s posture of deterrence, transforming the Jewish state from a national-security producer/asset (for the United States) to a national-security consumer/liability. This would have generated a tailwind to rogue Arab/Muslim regimes, taxing vital U.S. national security interests, bringing Islamic terrorism closer to American shores, and rewarding enemies and adversaries of the United States.
On June 29, 1967, the late Gen. Earl Wheeler, then the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, handed President Lyndon Johnson a map of Israel’s minimal security requirements, which included the Golan Heights and the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria. He was aware that Israel’s sovereignty on the Golan Heights secures Israel’s survival, while advancing vital U.S. interests in the tectonic Middle East.
Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative. This was originally published at “The Ettinger Report.”