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Andrew Bacevich: Trump’s “Israel First” Policy Will Likely Lead to More Violence in Region

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Donald Trump has tapped the far-right-wing bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman to be the U.S. ambassador to Israel. Many are calling Friedman an unprecedented pick for the position, given his hostility toward peace between Israelis and Palestinians and his disregard for international law. Friedman has no diplomatic experience. He supports Israel’s Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank and says he doesn’t think it would be illegal for Israel to annex the entire Palestinian territory, despite the fact that it would be blatantly illegal under international law. For more, we speak to military historian Andrew Bacevich. His latest book is “America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History.”

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s actually talk about—


AMY GOODMAN: —David Friedman, the far-right-wing bankruptcy lawyer tapped by Donald Trump, as you said, to be ambassador—U.S. ambassador to Israel. He supports Israel’s Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank, says he doesn’t think it would be illegal for Israel to annex the entire Palestinian territory, despite the fact, of course, it would be illegal under international law. In October, Friedman appeared on the Israel network i24news.

NURIT ZUNGER: Will Donald Trump recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s sole capital?

DAVID FRIEDMAN: Yes. He said that countless times, that he will recognize the city of Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital. And he’ll move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

NURIT ZUNGER: All right. So, Trump’s policies, as far as the Israeli Jewish American voter, why should Israeli voters, Israeli-American voters, vote for Trump?

DAVID FRIEDMAN: Well, if those who want to see a strong relationship between Israel and the United States with no daylight, those who want to see Israel protected at the United Nations, those who want to see the strongest level of military and strategic cooperation between the two countries, those who don’t want to see any daylight between the two countries, those that want to live in an environment where the United States doesn’t attempt to impose upon Israel a solution to the Palestinian conflict against the state of Israel, those that want to see Jerusalem recognized as the capital of Israel, you know, vote for Donald Trump.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that is David Friedman, who Donald Trump has just tapped to be the U.S. ambassador to Israel. He’s actually Donald Trump’s bankruptcy lawyer. Your comments on what he just put forward?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, ambassadors don’t make policy, but, I mean, ambassadors reflect the policies made by the chief of state. But if Friedman knows what he’s talking about, then we’re about to see a radical, radical change in U.S. policy with regard not simply to Israel, but with regard to the whole Israeli-Palestinian question. And I guess if you are, if I could use a slightly provocative term, an Israel-firster, then you might welcome those developments. If you believe, as I believe, that one of the pressing problems we face is trying to restore some semblance of stability to that part of the world, then the steps that he just laid out are going to put us in exactly the other direction. It may work to the benefit of Israel in the short term, but it is simply going to increase the likelihood of violence. It’s going to extend the conflicts that have engulfed this part of the world. And from an American perspective, I don’t see how that could possibly be viewed as good news.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Andrew Bacevich, we want to thank you for being with us, retired colonel, Vietnam War vet. His latest book, America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History. This is Democracy Now! When we come back, we look at Puerto Rico. Stay with us.

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