Israel is a net asset to the U.S.
By Ted Belman
The New York Times recently announced Obama Speech Signals a U.S. Shift on Middle East.
“When Mr. Obama declared that resolving the long-running Middle East dispute was a “vital national security interest of the United States,” he was highlighting a change that has resulted from a lengthy debate among his top officials over how best to balance support for Israel against other American interests.
[..] “Mr. Obama said conflicts like the one in the Middle East ended up “costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure” — drawing an explicit link between the Israeli-Palestinian strife and the safety of American soldiers as they battle Islamic extremism and terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.”
To show that Obama was not alone in this, it buttressed his message by quoting from Sec’y Rice, Gen Patraeus and Martin Indyk. It might just as well have quoted from The Baker Report, Z Brzezinski and Sec’y Clinton.
Actually this shift was a long time in coming. There have always been voices in the administration that viewed Israel as a liability rather than an asset.
Richard Holbrooke pointed this out in his recent article, “Washington’s Battle Over Israel’s Birth,” He quotes Secretary of Defense James Forrestal who made his case for non-recognition by saying “There are thirty million Arabs on one side and about 600,000 Jews on the other. Why don’t you face up to the realities?” He concluded, “[To] this day, many think that Marshall and Lovett were right on the merits and that domestic politics was the real reason for Truman’s decision. Israel, they argue, has been nothing but trouble for the United States.”
Then as now, Israel was opposed by “the substantial anti-Zionist faction among leading Jews, [including] the publishers of both the Post and the New York Times.”
The problem that these anti-Zionist forces had was that the American people strongly supported Israel and AIPAC was too powerful to take on. So they developed a plan to undermine AIPAC and discredit Israel.
The first salvo of which was the indictment of Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman of AIPAC in 2005 for espionage related charges. The case was dropped four years later but the damage had been done to them and to AIPAC. To show how politically motivated the charges were James Kirchip wrote in WSJ,
“If the offense were really criminal, half the Beltway press corps could be indicted. Mr. Franklin’s mishandling of classified documents deserved sanction, but 12 years in jail is far worse than the misdemeanor and fine meted out to former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger for stuffing secret documents in his clothing.”
Then, in 2007, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” by Mearsheimer and Walt, was published. Its central thesis was that but for domestic politics, the US would have abandoned Israel long ago. They viewed the Israel lobby, AIPAC, as far too influential for America’s good. Israel was a liability rather than an asset. They totally ignored the vast power of the Saudi Lobby.
An alternative to AIPAC was needed to counter or undermine its influence, so in April 2008, J Street was formed. George Soros backed them as he did Obama.
It was necessary to cast J-Street as pro-Israel so the term had to be redefined. Thomas Friedman, Jeffrey Goldberg and Jeremy Ben-Ami each took up the challenge. I took their arguments to task in “Redefining “What it means to be pro-Israel”.
Thus the groundwork was laid for Obama’s “tough love”. He is not just undermining and weakening Israel in the name of being “pro-Israel” he is also attempting to undermine the support of the American people for Israel by suggesting that a settlement of the dispute satisfactory to the Arabs is in America’s strategic interest or that Israel’s intransigence is costing “US blood and treasure”.
During the cold war with the USSR, no one doubted that Israel was a strategic asset to the US. Similarly today with the growing influence and power of Iran, Israel is a strategic asset in Iran’s containment and possibly her defeat. But in Obama’s world view, he would have opted out of the cold war as he is opting out of standing up to Iran. He prefers appeasement to confrontation. Thus Israel becomes a liability or a sacrificial lamb. He wants Israel to appease the Arabs rather than to confront them.
Caroline Glick recognized the stupidity in saying that the US had a strategic interest in achieving peace rather than in keeping Israel strong so she just wrote, The strategic foundations of the US-Israel alliance.. Paraphrasing her article could not do justice to the extremely strong case she makes. She also makes the point that not only is America better off with a strong Israel but so are the moderate Arab states. They recognize that Israel is not a threat to them and in fact, is a force for stability in the area. She also makes the point that “the two-state solution as presently constituted is antithetical to America’s most vital strategic interests in the Middle East.”
Beyond Israel’s strategic value, it is correct to say Israel does not “cost U.S. blood and treasure”. No US soldier has lost his life, fighting for Israel. On the other hand many Israeli soldiers have lost their lives fighting common enemies of both the U.S. and Israel such as Hezbollah and Hamas. The US has not been drawn into any conflict because of Israel as Obama suggests. The US is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan because she perceives it in her national interest to do so. In fact should she leave Iraq as she presently intends, she is comforted by the fact that Israel is still in the ME and capable of protecting American interests and of ensuring stability in the area. It takes America six months to mobilize an invasion force of 500,000 whereas it takes Israel only 72 hours to do the same. Furthermore if Israel wasn’t there to protect Jordan, the US would have to be in Jordan.
Israel’s expertise and technology is shared with the US resulting in a great reduction in U.S. casualties first in Iraq and now in Afghanistan.
Amb Yoram Ettinger’s A Two Way Street highlights the importance to America of Israel’s contribution by referencing these quotes,
“Israel’s contribution to US military intelligence is greater than all NATO countries combined.”
Former Secretary of State, General Alexander Haig, a former Supreme Commander of NATO, refers to Israel as “the largest, most battle-tested and cost-effective US aircraft carrier, which does not require a single US personnel, cannot be sunk and is located at a most critical area for US national security interests.”
Once again, I can’t do the article justice by paraphrasing it.
In response to Obama’s treatment of Israel, a group of about 50 retired United States generals and admirals recently wrote a letter to Obama in which they expounded on “Israel as a Security Asset for the United States” urged him as well as Congress and the general American public to recognize how truly intertwined Israel’s success is with America’s.
As we know, the US hired private military contractors to assist in the fighting in Iraq. They formed an organization, Private Military Contractors and it published this major report, “Israel Assists US Forces: Shares lessons learned fighting terrorists. Fallujah Success capitalized on IDF Know How”.
Dr Steve Carol, the author of Middle East Rules of Thumb: Understanding the Complexities of the Middle East, compiled an extensive list of the many benefits flowing to the US from the relationship and he included this reference,
“General George Keegan, former head of U.S. Air Force Intelligence has publicly declared that “Israel is worth five CIA’s.” He further stated that between 1974 and 1990, Israel received $18.3 billion in U.S. military grants. During the same period Israel provided the U.S. with $50-80 billion in intelligence, research and development savings, and Soviet weapons systems captured and transferred to the U.S. “
The case for Israel’s strategic value is so overwhelming, one wonders what is motivating Obama and his minions. He is spending an enormous amount of political capital on this and for what? The Arabs aren’t spending any political capital or anything else for that matter.
This week Gen Jones acknowledged
“I can also say from long experience that our security relationship with Israel is important for America. Our military benefits from Israeli innovations in technology, from shared intelligence, from exercises that help our readiness and joint training that enhances our capabilities and from lessons learned in Israel’s own battles against terrorism and asymmetric threats.”
It seems there has been a change of policy in the last few days. Assure Israel of America’s undying love and support so it can be forced to accept the Saudi Plan.