But something has changed. The 9/11 attack revealed that, as Podhoretz writes, "we Americans are in the same boat as the Israelis." The "terrorist war against the United States and the terrorist war against Israel is the same war," declares the New Republic. But precisely because it's the same war--a war in which we've now taken thousands of casualties, and are preparing to bear the burden of additional painful sacrifice--America has more of a stake in anything that might affect the war's outcome.
If we're in the same boat, we're now entitled to a bigger say in how the boat is steered. That would be true whether we wanted to pressure Israel to make peace or pressure it to make war. But right now, our interest is in the former, especially if we conclude that the Israeli government isn't doing all it might reasonably do to reach an agreement. Does Prime Minister Ariel Sharon defer to the demands of militant Israeli settlers? America might once have given great deference to that decision, and to the complex political calculation behind it. It was Israel's business, after all, and Israel presumably knew its business.
But that was before 9/11. We now have at least 6,000 new reasons to second-guess Sharon's judgment--or even the judgment of Israel's voters. It's not just their business. It's our business, too, in a way it wasn't two weeks ago.
Note: A discussion of this issue continues in the Breakfast Table.