The former head of Israel’s Mossad, Efraim Halevy, has some harsh words about American foreign policy in the cover story of the June issue of The Atlantic. The story, by journalist David Samuels, is a fascinating, in-depth exploration of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s ambitious effort to straighten up the mess that is the Middle East.
Halevy gives the writer a withering take on the administration’s democratization program:
“I used to deal with Condi when I was head of Mossad and she was national-security adviser, and I had a great respect for her, and admiration,” Halevy says. “I still do. But I think that in her role of secretary of state, things are not going too well. The main problem is that Condi Rice was never an expert on the Middle East. That’s not her area of expertise. And therefore, she has to rely on others. And the others in this case is a lawyer who is an ideologue” — meaning Elliott Abrams — “who believes that you can promote a certain ideology anywhere and everywhere around the world if you think it’s the right ideology. And you really don’t have to know very much about the basic facts in the region that you’re dealing with, because you have to tailor the region to your ideology.”
The former foreign-intelligence chief also criticizes understandings between Jerusalem and the Bush administration that prevent Israel from taking military or diplomatic action without first consulting Washington:
“Israel today will not do anything, take no initiative whatsoever,” Halevy says, “unless the United States approves it. It was never that way before.”
He suggests that previous diplomatic breakthroughs with Israel’s neighbors occurred because of contacts and negotiations that the United States was sometimes not even privy to until they neared completion.
“Insemination is an act of two, not of three,” he finally says. “As a result of what happened in 2003 and 2004, the natural act of insemination between Israel and its neighbors is no longer possible.”
Alas, the full article can only be accessed online by Atlantic subscribers, but anyone can read this interesting Q&A with the author. (Samuels had previously penned a great article for The Atlantic on the ruinous legacy of Yasser Arafat.)