Autonomy was another cornerstone of Israeli strategic doctrine,
but autonomy did not mean independence. The Israeli military acknowledged
a heavy dependence on the United States as a supplier of military
matériel and as a deterrent to possible Soviet intervention on
the side of the Arabs during times of war. Precisely because of
this dependence, however, Israel felt it necessary to take autonomous
action--often in defiance of strong United States objections.
In numerous actions, such as the 1973 encirclement of the Egyptian
Third Army and the 1982 siege of West Beirut, Israel signaled
to Washington that its national interests were not always congruent
with those of the United States. More important, Israel proved
to its Arab adversaries that despite any political pressure they
exerted on Washington, the United States could not extract concessions
from Israel. Another dimension of autonomy was that Israel would
not make a settlement with the Arabs by placing itself in an indefensible
position in return for security guarantees from the United States.
In general, foreign policy was subservient to defense policy,
and Israeli policy makers felt that Israel should never sacrifice
its strategic strength for improved foreign relations with the
United States, the Arab states, or other countries, even if such
improved relations made war less likely. As Dayan said, "Israel
has no foreign policy--only a defense policy."
Data as of December 1988