The United States and the State of Israel: a Critical Examination of U.S.-Israel Relations Since 1981

Date of Graduation

Spring 1995


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

William Van Cleave


This thesis is a critical examination of U.S.-Israeli relations since 1981 with specific focus on the period from 1989 to the present. The United States and Israel are friends and allies who share a multitude of coinciding interests, including vital interests; yet their relations are often strained. However, despite these recurring periods of turmoil, U.S.-Israeli relations have often been referred to as the "special relationship". This special relationship stems from the shared values, ideals, and struggles experienced by our common democratic systems and way of life. In strategic and geopolitical terms the U.S.-Israeli special relationship has stemmed from the fact that Israel is the most important, stable and dependable ally the United States has in the Middle East. Israel, independent and self-reliant from U.S. security guarantees, is a priceless strategic ally that is vital to U.S. national interests in the Middle East. However, unfortunately, it is in the role of the strategic ally that the U.S.-Israeli special relationship has suffered the most. The United States has from time to time, with growing regularity, been willing to jeopardize the special relationship and Israel's security in return for secondary and less substantial goals in the Middle East, including the chimaera of peace. The policies of the Bush, Clinton and Rabin administrations have demonstrated a willingness to risk Israeli security in the pursuit of amorphous Arab-Israeli peace. The danger of these policies is that through the concession of territory, Israel will lose its self-reliance for defense and security and become dependent upon U.S. security guarantees for its survival. Once this happens, Israel will digress from a strategically vital asset into a risky liability and the U.S.-Israeli special relationship will have come to an end.

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Charles A Dittmer