Blogs: Paul Pillar

A Worthwhile Project for Europe: Israeli-Palestinian Peace

Brexit and the Transnational Triumph of Ignorance

Why Bibi and Vlad Get Along

Paul Pillar

The current Israeli and Russian governments also can see commonality in dealing with unhappy and restive Muslim populations in territories they control. Anna Borshchevskaya of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy notes that trouble in the breakaway republic of Chechnya began “originally as a secular separatist movement that grew increasingly radical Islamist in nature in no small part due to Moscow's heavy-handed policies and egregious human rights abuses.” Substitute “Israel” for “Moscow” and this statement would apply as well to unrest in the Palestinian territories. Both governments like to label all such unrest as “terrorism,” and Putin has explicitly compared the Russian and Israeli situations in such terms.

The interests have been sufficiently common for the relationship to develop in recent years with cooperation on matters of national security and high politics. Netanyahu and Putin now have a secure hot line between their offices. Israel has sold advanced military technology to Russia, specifically in the form of surveillance drones—one of which was shot down over Ukraine. Israel has declined to criticize Russian policies regarding either Chechnya or Ukraine. It abstained on a United Nations resolution condemning Russia's seizure of Crimea—even though votes on some other General Assembly resolutions have been among the rare instances of any return favor from Israel for all the United States does on its behalf, including casting lonely Security Council vetoes.

Calculations regarding each country's posture toward the United States have helped to shape the Israeli-Russian relationship. Boshchevskaya observes that Putin cares about “sticking a finger in the eye of the West and, more broadly, weakening the West” and that “for Netanyahu, in the context of strained relations with President Obama it is especially important to create a better understanding with Putin.” In other words, the Russian and Israeli leaders share an interest in jointly sticking a finger in the eye of the United States.

This sort of situation, in which two states team up to frustrate and oppose a third, is one instance of exercising what realists would call a balance of power. It is such a realist explanation, more so than analyses of body language or leadership styles, that tell us why meetings between Netanyahu and an un-slouching Putin seem to go so well. 

Image: Netanyahu and Putin. Kremlin photo.

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The Foreign Consequences of Trump's Racism

Paul Pillar

The current Israeli and Russian governments also can see commonality in dealing with unhappy and restive Muslim populations in territories they control. Anna Borshchevskaya of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy notes that trouble in the breakaway republic of Chechnya began “originally as a secular separatist movement that grew increasingly radical Islamist in nature in no small part due to Moscow's heavy-handed policies and egregious human rights abuses.” Substitute “Israel” for “Moscow” and this statement would apply as well to unrest in the Palestinian territories. Both governments like to label all such unrest as “terrorism,” and Putin has explicitly compared the Russian and Israeli situations in such terms.

The interests have been sufficiently common for the relationship to develop in recent years with cooperation on matters of national security and high politics. Netanyahu and Putin now have a secure hot line between their offices. Israel has sold advanced military technology to Russia, specifically in the form of surveillance drones—one of which was shot down over Ukraine. Israel has declined to criticize Russian policies regarding either Chechnya or Ukraine. It abstained on a United Nations resolution condemning Russia's seizure of Crimea—even though votes on some other General Assembly resolutions have been among the rare instances of any return favor from Israel for all the United States does on its behalf, including casting lonely Security Council vetoes.

Calculations regarding each country's posture toward the United States have helped to shape the Israeli-Russian relationship. Boshchevskaya observes that Putin cares about “sticking a finger in the eye of the West and, more broadly, weakening the West” and that “for Netanyahu, in the context of strained relations with President Obama it is especially important to create a better understanding with Putin.” In other words, the Russian and Israeli leaders share an interest in jointly sticking a finger in the eye of the United States.

This sort of situation, in which two states team up to frustrate and oppose a third, is one instance of exercising what realists would call a balance of power. It is such a realist explanation, more so than analyses of body language or leadership styles, that tell us why meetings between Netanyahu and an un-slouching Putin seem to go so well. 

Image: Netanyahu and Putin. Kremlin photo.

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Unhelpfully Familiar Responses to the Orlando Shooting

Paul Pillar

The current Israeli and Russian governments also can see commonality in dealing with unhappy and restive Muslim populations in territories they control. Anna Borshchevskaya of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy notes that trouble in the breakaway republic of Chechnya began “originally as a secular separatist movement that grew increasingly radical Islamist in nature in no small part due to Moscow's heavy-handed policies and egregious human rights abuses.” Substitute “Israel” for “Moscow” and this statement would apply as well to unrest in the Palestinian territories. Both governments like to label all such unrest as “terrorism,” and Putin has explicitly compared the Russian and Israeli situations in such terms.

The interests have been sufficiently common for the relationship to develop in recent years with cooperation on matters of national security and high politics. Netanyahu and Putin now have a secure hot line between their offices. Israel has sold advanced military technology to Russia, specifically in the form of surveillance drones—one of which was shot down over Ukraine. Israel has declined to criticize Russian policies regarding either Chechnya or Ukraine. It abstained on a United Nations resolution condemning Russia's seizure of Crimea—even though votes on some other General Assembly resolutions have been among the rare instances of any return favor from Israel for all the United States does on its behalf, including casting lonely Security Council vetoes.

Calculations regarding each country's posture toward the United States have helped to shape the Israeli-Russian relationship. Boshchevskaya observes that Putin cares about “sticking a finger in the eye of the West and, more broadly, weakening the West” and that “for Netanyahu, in the context of strained relations with President Obama it is especially important to create a better understanding with Putin.” In other words, the Russian and Israeli leaders share an interest in jointly sticking a finger in the eye of the United States.

This sort of situation, in which two states team up to frustrate and oppose a third, is one instance of exercising what realists would call a balance of power. It is such a realist explanation, more so than analyses of body language or leadership styles, that tell us why meetings between Netanyahu and an un-slouching Putin seem to go so well. 

Image: Netanyahu and Putin. Kremlin photo.

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