Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
One of America’s preeminent conservative politicians told The Jerusalem Post Sunday that the people of the United States support an aggressive, pro-Israel foreign policy even if its administration does not.
“Our system in the United States, even though it’s a delayed golf swing, has to be responsive to where the people are,” said Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, a 12-year veteran of the job with an extensive background in intelligence. “And the people in the United States want a more proactive foreign policy.”
“Although this administration is obviously in charge from a foreign policy point of view,” he said in an interview at the Post’s office that Israelis should “not misjudge where the American people are based on this administration.”
He stressed that the security interests of the US often align with Israel’s, citing in particular threats from Islamic State to carry out terrorist attacks on American soil.
“I take them at their word,” he said.
“This is dangerous. [Islamic State] is a threat to the existence of Israel and a threat to the existence of the United States.”
He mentioned Iran as another shared opponent of United States and Israeli security interests.
“Iran and ISIS [Islamic State] both present a clear and present danger to the continued existence of Israel and the United States,” said Dewhurst, “And that is why it’s imperative that Iran not have deployable nuclear weapons, and that we work with Israel and support Israel to make sure that does not occur.”
But Dewhurst, a veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence division of the US Air Force, gave a sunny appraisal of the Israeli security apparatus.
Since arriving in the country on Thursday, he said he had met with several Israeli officials he befriended during his intelligence career. On Friday night, he celebrated Shabbat with a group of retired IDF and Mossad personnel – and found himself impressed by what he hear and saw.
“Your Mossad is extremely professional, your Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) is extremely professional, your military intelligence is very professional,” he said. “So I would be optimistic.”
He likened Israel’s security situation, and in particular the onus of sharing borders with terrorist organizations, to his state’s task in stemming the flow of drugs and weapons across a 1,200-mile border with Mexico.
“We’re using some of the same technology that you all are using on our borders, except that we don’t have the funds to go ahead and build the walls,” he said, referring to the security barrier erected during the second intifada.
Dewhurst also spoke briefly about the drastic dip in petroleum prices that has taken place in the past few months, drawing on his experience as an entrepreneur in the energy business. He predicted low oil prices would be propelled forward because of a lack of trust and unity in OPEC.
“My own view is that this will last well into probably 2016, because I don’t see, from a geopolitical perspective, Saudi Arabia changing their mind and getting comfortable with the fact that other members of OPEC will not cheat,” he said.
Primarily, though, Dewhurst said the main thrust of his Israel tour – his first time in the country – was to learn from Israel’s security and military apparatus.
“It’s interesting to me that those regimes, which are anti-Israel, are in the process of crumbling, and Israel is growing stronger,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that from my perspective you don’t have a lot of challenges, which you do.”
A lifelong member of AIPAC who has “bought millions of dollars worth of Israeli national bonds,” he said his purpose in the country was not necessarily to meet with politicians but rather to learn about the dynamic of Israeli society and its people.
“I’m focused on understanding where Israel is today,” he said. “What is the foundation of Israel’s growth and strength economically? What’s the forecast for your continued strong economy in the future? What can the United States do to be a better friend and supporter to Israel?”