Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Israel: Not Just a Strategic Asset, But a Strategic Bonanza
Nixon Center debate ^ | 7/23/2010 | Robert Satloff – Prepared Remarks

Posted on 07/23/2010 6:51:47 AM PDT by HearMe

My task today is to make the case why Israel—and the U.S.-Israel relationship—is a strategic asset to the United States. In fact, I will go even further. I will argue that Israel, and the U.S.-Israel relationship, is—both in objective terms and compared to any other Middle Eastern relationship we have—a strategic bonanza to the United States. Not just an asset, but a bargain.

Let me make these points:

· It is to America’s advantage to have a nation of friends, whose people and government are firm supporters of and advocates for American interests in the broader Middle East. I don’t think there is anyone in this room who would disagree with the contention that there is no country in the Middle East whose people and government are so closely aligned with the United States; in some countries, the people are pro-American, in others, the government, but in Israel, it is unabashedly both. Our two countries share ways of governing, ways of ordering society, ways of viewing the role of liberty and individual rights, and ways to defend those ideals. Some realists tend to dismiss this soft stuff as having no strategic value; I disagree. This commonality of culture and values is at the heart of national interest; it manifests itself in many ways, from how Israel votes at the United Nations to how its people view their role as being on the front line against many of the same threats we face.

· It is to America’s advantage to have in Israel an economy that is so closely associated with ours and that is such an innovator in the IT field, in high-tech medicine, and in green technologies, like the electric car. The Obama administration made the economic health and well-being of the U.S. the pillar of its National Security Strategy. Our partnership with Israel is a clear asset in this regard—not only does Israel’s fiscal responsibility (a situation that contrasts with other U.S. allies in Europe) mean that Israel is not part of this problem, but with its high-tech economy, Israel is actually part of the solution. Indeed, the strength of our relationship helped turn Israel from an economic basket case into an economic powerhouse—and our economic partner. Just ask Warren Buffett and all the other American investors who view Israel as a destination worthy of their capital.

· It is to America’s advantage to have had a close working partnership with Israel for the last thirty-plus years in the pursuit of Middle East peace. Some bemoan the peace process as “all process, no peace” and critique the strength of the U.S.-Israel relationship as an impediment to progress, not an ingredient of it. I disagree. First, I would argue that a strong Israel, with a strong U.S.-Israel relationship at its core, has been central to what we know as the peace process. And second, in historical terms, the Middle East peace process has been one of the most successful U.S. diplomatic initiatives of the last half-century.

In the words of one knowledgeable observer: “The peace process has been a vehicle for American influence throughout the broad Middle Eastern region. It has provided an excuse for Arab declarations of friendship with the United States, even if Americans remain devoted to Israel. In other words, it has helped to eliminate what otherwise might be seen as a zero-sum game.”

That sort of praiseworthy peace process was born out of the 1973 war, when two interlocking developments began to take shape —the growth of the bilateral U.S.-Israel strategic relationship, which took off in economic and military terms, and the emergence of a peace process in its current, American-led form. Since then, the Arab-Israeli arena has changed dramatically in favor of U.S. interests. Over the past thirty years, we have seen peace agreements between Israel and the most powerful Arab state (Egypt) and the state with the longest border with Israel (Jordan). We have also seen thirty-seven years of quiet on the Syrian border and seventeen years of diplomacy between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. That is also a huge and positive difference.

Indeed, the first twenty-five years after the establishment of Israel, the regional situation could be described as continuous war with periodic outbursts of diplomacy. The second thirty-five years—the period since 1973, the period since the take-off in U.S.-Israel strategic relations—can be described as continuous diplomacy with periodic outbursts of war. Since 1973, there has not been a regional war or a state-to-state conflict in the Arab-Israeli area. We have had limited wars—Israel versus Hizballah, for example—but nothing that engulfed the region. That’s a huge and positive difference.

I say all this because we tend to forget the context—the fear of regional war—that dominated the Arab-Israeli arena for years. For more than thirty-six years, it hasn’t happened. Of course, it may happen again—there is always that fear—and the circumstances on Israel’s northern border may be leading in that direction. But let’s look at what we know: The peace process over the last thirty-five years has essentially evolved into a process to resolve issues between Israel and the Palestinians. These issues are difficult, complex, and highly emotional. The failure to resolve them can lead to bloodshed and violence between Israelis and Palestinians, as we saw in the second intifada. But despite all those ups and downs, it has never reverted into regional war. Indeed, one of the great achievements of U.S.-Israel cooperation, manifested through their partnership in the peace process, is to have reduced the Arab-Israeli conflict to an Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Look at the experience of the second intifada, for example: approximately 4,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis dead in the worst outburst of intercommunal violence since 1948. Despite this, the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan survived and not one Arab state intervened to provide military support to the Palestinians; in fact, the only state to lend military support to the Palestinians was Iran.

I forgot to mention that the observer I referred to earlier as praising the peace process for eliminating the zero-sum game of Middle East politics—a peace process whose oxygen is the strength and vitality of the U.S.-Israel relationship—was Chas Freeman.

And then there is the long list of military-related advantages that Israel brings to the United States directly, by its own actions and through the bilateral relationship. I will cite just a few:

· Since 1983, American and Israeli militaries have engaged in contingency planning, and Israeli facilities can be made available to the United States if needed. American forces have practiced the use of many Israeli facilities, ranging from Ben Gurion Airport to pre-positioning sites. All four U.S. armed services routinely conduct training at Israel Defense Forces facilities.

· The U.S. has deployed an X-band early warning radar for missile defense on Israeli soil. This facility supplements other American missile defense assets and is available for both America’s regional missile defense architecture and our own reconfigured missile defense concept for protecting Europe from longer-range Iranian missiles.

· America began stocking war reserves in Israel fifteen years ago. Those stockpiles are hardly “minimal”—the total value is approaching $1 billion. They’re U.S. property and the Pentagon can draw upon them at any time. America has shown it is able to move military supplies from Israel to the Gulf; for example, it sent Israeli mine-plows and bulldozers to Iraq during the first Gulf War in 1991.

· Israel can be an extremely useful location for strategic logistics or power projection in the eastern Mediterranean, and in fact the United States Navy has conducted countless port visits in Haifa in support of U.S. operations.

· Israel has proven to be a prime source of effective counterterrorism/counterinsurgency tactics, techniques, and procedures, which have played a significant role in U.S. success (thus far) in Iraq

· Israel has also been an outstanding innovator in the technology, tactics, techniques, and procedures of unmanned aerial vehicles, which the U.S. now relies upon so extensively in Afghanistan.

Add all this up: Israel—through its intelligence, its technology, and the lessons learned from its own experience in counterterrorism and asymmetric warfare—has saved American lives. And when you add to this Israel’s unique counterproliferation efforts – destroying nuclear reactors in Iraq (1981) and Syria (2007) – Israel’s contribution to our security is even greater.

Bottom line: do a cost-benefit analysis of the U.S. relationship with Israel over the past thirty-plus years and the U.S. relationship with its Arab friends in the Gulf. What do you find? To secure its interests in the Arab-Israeli arena, the United States has spent about $100 billion in military and economic assistance to Israel, plus another $30 billion to Egypt and relatively small change to others. Our losses: a total of 258 Americans in the Beirut embassy and barracks bombings and a few other American victims of terrorism in that part of the Middle East. On a state-to-state basis, as I have argued, that investment has paid off handsomely in terms of regional stability. Compare that with the Gulf. Look at the massive costs we have endured to ensure our interests there, the principal one being to secure access to the region’s energy resources at reasonable prices. The United States has spent more than $1 trillion—$700 billion on the Iraq war alone, according to the Congressional Budget Office—lost more than 4,400 U.S. servicemen, fought two wars, endured thirty years of conflict with the Islamic Republic of Iran and a global al-Qaeda insurgency fed originally by our deployment of troops in Saudi Arabia. After all that, the Gulf region is still anything but secure. It’s when you boil it down to this very simple arithmetic that I can say that our relationship with Israel helped produce a strategic bonanza for the United States at bargain prices.


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Israel
KEYWORDS: arabs; israel; us

1 posted on 07/23/2010 6:51:55 AM PDT by HearMe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: HearMe
It is much more than $100 Billion if you a) count all the assistance since 1948 b) adjust for inflation .

It is closer to $300 Billion in today's dollars, and that doesn't include the loss on taxes due to the many non-profits that are donated to, where the money goes exclusively to Israel, thus leaving the economy.

Also look up the Lautenberg Amendment, which gave special privileges to Russian Jews.

2 posted on 07/23/2010 7:57:26 AM PDT by ikka
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ikka

Oh, I forgot, total area of the Israel / Palestine area is about 10,000 acres, so basically we have spent some $3,000 per acre, for land we don’t even own.

3 posted on 07/23/2010 7:58:45 AM PDT by ikka
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: ikka

4 posted on 07/23/2010 8:25:57 AM PDT by HearMe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: ikka
Oh, I forgot, total area of the Israel / Palestine area is about 10,000 acres, so basically we have spent some $3,000 per acre, for land we don’t even own.

For a person so versed in details, you resort to the most silly measure one could invent. What was the price per acre of beech in Normandy? It's stupid to think in these terms: that beech allowed as to defeat the enemy.

Why don't you apply the same reasoning to our other friends? How much did we spend on the bases in Germany (per acre, please)? Korea? Japan? We don't "own them" either. And we don't even get much thanks there: witness all the demonstrations in Europe, when Reagan tried to install Pershing rockets; in Japan, whence we are forced to move some troops to Guam; and Korea, where anti-American demonstrations flare up all the time. There we spend not only money but put our soldiers' lives on the line --- and what ingratitude!

Does anyone remember a single anti-American demonstration in Israel? Are you even aware that Israel votes with us in UN 98% of the time --- more than any other country, including our "special friend" Britain, and NATO allies such as Germany and Italy? There would be no Desert Storm if Israel did not bomb Iraqi nuclear facilities a decade earlier --- Schwarzkopf has explicitly stated this at the time. What would we do with nuclear Syria, whose facilities Israel also bombed a few years back. Israel has spared us great many grievances over the decades of its existence.

We routinely help with the resettlement of refugees and offer other jumanitarian aid. Did you miss the recent events in Haiti? I don't recall your being upset with our help there while our troops where ordered not to fly the American flag --- that's how much we are liked in that country. Did you miss $15B Bush spent on AIDs in Africa, where they refer to us only as "imperialists" and "infidels?" But you are somehow bothered with the aid for resettlement of Russian Jews in Israel, as if it were somehow unusual.

People of your ilk do not rage about our help to Egypt, roughly equal that to Israel. What but hatred did we get from the Egyptians. We just spent over $7B on Pakistan, whose people cannot wait to cut our throats. The alternative would be even more expensive.

People of your ilk are not bothered with any of the above; they are concerned only when Jooos are involved. Why can't those pesky Jooos just go away, right?

5 posted on 07/23/2010 8:28:35 AM PDT by TopQuark
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: ikka

We don’t own Europe, or S Korea, or Kuwait, or Saudi Arabia or Granada or....

How much per acre -and American blood -to support them all?

6 posted on 07/23/2010 8:30:58 AM PDT by HearMe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: TopQuark; ikka

Not only does this ilk rail against support of Israel, but they are totally incapable of digesting proof, as evidenced in this presentation, that American support of Israel accrues back to America’s benefit in too many ways to count.

Unlike other places where we shed blood and treasure and receive scorn and vitriol and nothing of value in return.

7 posted on 07/23/2010 8:42:34 AM PDT by HearMe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: AdmSmith; Arthur Wildfire! March; Berosus; bigheadfred; blueyon; Convert from ECUSA; dervish; ...

Depends on what one is trying to accomplish as President.

Obama Worried About Losing Cracker, Honkie Vote (satire) | 7-23-2010 | Sven Waring
Posted on 07/23/2010 2:55:46 PM PDT by SvenWaring

8 posted on 07/23/2010 4:01:11 PM PDT by SunkenCiv ("Fools learn from experience. I prefer to learn from the experience of others." -- Otto von Bismarck)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: TopQuark
The article is making a case, not for supporting Haiti or other places, but for supporting Israel.

Why would I talk about AIDS in Africa (which is something I oppose our funding as well) in response to this posted article?

9 posted on 07/23/2010 6:25:31 PM PDT by ikka
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: ikka
By all means end aid for Israel. And Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan....

Also look up the Lautenberg Amendment, which gave special privileges to Russian Jews.
Has nothing to do with Israel. Besides, post-communist era Jewish immigrants vote Republican for mayor and national elections at higher rates than almost any other group of Americans.

10 posted on 07/24/2010 12:47:41 AM PDT by rmlew (There is no such thing as a Blue Dog Democrat; just a liberals who lies.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv
MacArthur tried to implement a similar grand strategy in the Philippines prior to Pearl Harbor. The islands were ideal for bombers to cut off oil and other important supplies from Japan. The people of the Philippines convinced him they were willing to train up a gigantic militia for land and shore defense. Unfortunately, bureaucrats in DC wrangled the supplies and budget necessary for this plan to proceed. For a small amount of funding, we could have severed any hope of Japan attacking us.

Israel is much the same in a strategic sense. They have no choice but to defend themselves. We have our Bible to fall back on as a justification for supporting Israel, as well as a humanitarian reason. So diplomatically, Islamics don't have to take it as personally as they choose to.

11 posted on 07/24/2010 5:06:46 AM PDT by Arthur Wildfire! March (Want stimulus? Look to Harding, JFK,, and Reagan. Tax cuts work. FAnnie/FReddie hurt.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: ikka
"Why would I talk about AIDS in Africa (which is something I oppose our funding as well) in response to this posted article? "

Because if one indeed stands on principles, he applies them uniformly. Conversely, applying a particular criterion to one person or country but not another in the similar circumstances is bias (positive or negative).

Since 1800s, when anti-Semites no longer could fall onto indictment "Jews killed Christ" and had to offer an enlightened thought, their favorite method was a three-step procedure: (i) judge the Jews on a criterion that somehow applies only to them, (ii) show that they failed when so judged, and (iii) declare explain "why what's coming" to them is due. [The quoted words are from a poster like you, just a few days ago, here on FR.] They do the same today (e.g. Israeli blockade of Gaza).

If you (i) are bothered by the benefit-cost balance of our aid to Israel and (ii) stand on principle, then you should be equally bothered by other aid with the same or worse balance. You and your ilk are not. Not a peek from you about our bases in Japan, Korea, Germany, or Italy. Ever. Not a peek about any other aid, unless asked. You do not apply your principles uniformly, hence they cannot be viewed as principles: they are nothing but a mental and rhetorical device that you use, unsuccessfully, to justify you prejudice.

"AIDS in Africa (which is something I oppose our funding as well)"

This reminds me of Arabs: they too, when asked, tell us that Islam is against terrorism --- but only when asked. No real attempt by public to stamp it out. That is why we call them phonies, that is how we know that we are in a fight with most of them and not just a few. Well, in the same exact way, you too are phony.

If you were principled, you would be appalled that only our aid to Israel requires articles --- somehow, no need to explain all of the other cases I listed above. The article is needed precisely because of people like you, who treat Israel differently than all others.

I gave you enough food for thought. If there still is some light in your heart, think a bit. If you choose to continue as is, just keep in mind how unoriginal your arguments are: whether inadvertently or deliberately, the same boring "arguments" were applied for a century and a half --- from Hitler to Stalin to present-day Arabs and our public figures such as Pat Buchanan. Watch for the company you keep.

Have a good day.

12 posted on 07/24/2010 10:37:55 AM PDT by TopQuark
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: dennisw; Cachelot; Nix 2; veronica; Catspaw; knighthawk; Alouette; Optimist; weikel; Lent; GregB; ..
Middle East and terrorism, occasional political and Jewish issues Ping List. High Volume

If you’d like to be on or off, please FR mail me.


Needless to say not everyone will agree.

13 posted on 07/25/2010 12:35:33 PM PDT by SJackson (most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it, M Sanger)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: TopQuark
I think you need to understand exactly what this article is ... it is a SALES BROCHURE by someone who wants to sell the US something, by convincing Americans that they will be better off buying an item (in this case spending more money on Israel), than keeping the money in their pocket. Exactly like buying a new stereo, washer/dryer, or car.

You attempt to either put words in my mouth, or attack me by using guilt by assocation.

So far, neither your nor the others who have responded to my original comment on this thread, have refuted any of the points I raised, which are factual in nature, not opinion-based.

Do you agree or disagree that in inflation-corrected terms, the USA has spent at least $300 Billion since 1945/48 until now?

Do you agree or disagree that charitable donations from Americans leave the US economy and go to Israel, resulting in a lower amount of tax dollars?

Do you agree or disagree that Russian Jews, but specifically not Russian Orthodox Christians, are treated with special privileges under the Lautenberg Amendment? How could this be justified under the US Constitution?

By the way I am wrong in one point I made - Israel's area is 10,000 square miles, not 10,000 acres, my computation was wrong by a factor of 640.

If we do not have agreement on facts, we cannot really have a meaningful, adult progression to argument and opinions.

You have a very good point with aid to Egypt - I was not aware of the level of aid they are receiving - it is less than Israel's but still high.

14 posted on 07/25/2010 2:37:50 PM PDT by ikka
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson