The Middle East is in turmoil now, possibly again on the verge of a major war that could draw in the United States and Russia. President Donald Trump has pulled the United States out of the six nation nuclear agreement with Iran, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA. Although a few of his advisers counseled against leaving the agreement, he has brought into his cabinet advisers who are known to be hawkish toward the Middle East and prefer regime change in that area to regime reform. The most notable of these advisers is John Bolton, appointed as director of the National Security Agency. His policies align well with those of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who condemned the nuclear accord with Iran from the outset.
On May 14 of this year Israel celebrated the seventieth anniversary of its existence. It has enjoyed extraordinary military successes against its Arab neighbors in 1948, 1956, and 1967, and after suffering a setback at the outset of the 1973 war with Egypt and Syria, the Israel Defense Force crossed the Suez Canal and was in a position to threaten the capitals of Egypt and Syria and their many population centers. Yet, in spite of its unmatched military capabilities in the Middle East, its strong cultural institutions, its technological capacities, and its high standards of living with respect to the other states in the region, Israel has negotiated peace agreements only with Egypt and Jordan.