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Ties with Israel – What’s In It for the US?!

by Yoram Ettinger yoramtex@netvision.net.il
www.acpr.org.il Jerusalem Cloakroom #102 March 13, 2001
  1. US-Israel People-to-People relations do not evolve around the Oslo
    Process, but rather around Shared values, Joint regional interests and Mutual
    regional threats. Israel has been a democratic, able, willing and efficient
    ally in the context of conflicts between the US and radical regimes,
    irrespective of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Mideast radicals have viewed the
    US as “the great Satan,” and Israel as its outpost. There is no zero-sum
    game between US ties with Israel and its ties with the Arabs, as evidenced by
    the 1991 Gulf War, and accentuated since the demise of the USSR.
    The US has been Israel’s sole effective ally!

  2. Israel’s bombing of Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981, provided the US with
    the conventional option against Saddam in the 1991 Gulf War. It spared the
    US a horrific nuclear war, along with its massive human losses and mega
    billion dollar cost.

  3. Israel shared with the US military tactics and technologies, which
    devastated Soviet-made Syria’s air force and air defense systems in 1982,
    thus saving the US a few billion dollar R&D and vital time. It eroded Soviet
    posture, while enhancing that of the US.

  4. Acquiescing to President Nixon’s 1970 request, Israel mobilized its
    regular and reservist units, rolling back (pro-USSR) Syrian invasion of
    (pro-US) Jordan. It prevented the downfall of King Hussein and a radical
    pro-Soviet domino scenario into Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Egypt, with
    its devastating energy repercussions. Thus, flexing Israel’s military muscle,
    spared the US the need to deploy its already-stretched forces, during the
    Vietnam and Cambodia Wars, which could’ve caused another USSR-USA
    confrontation. Israel’s posture of deterrence and intelligence-gathering
    capabilities have foiled a number of attempts on the lives of President
    Sadat, King Hussein and a number of moderate Gulf leaders. It has inhibited
    the radicalism of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Libya, in a most volatile region,
    vital to the US.

  5. Israel’s battle experience has been shared with the US military, thus
    saving American lives. Israeli-made Unmanned Aerial Vehicles performed in
    the Gulf War, Somalia and Bosnia. Israeli fuel tanks have extended flying
    range of US aircraft, and its night targeting, missile guidance and reactive
    armor systems enhanced US performance against Saddam’s military. Ordering new
    parts and units from US defense manufacturers, Israel has provided them with
    a unique multibillion dollar battle-proven, cost-effective, time efficient,
    job-creating R&D. It has provided the US military with upgraded military
    systems. Israel’s use of defense products has constituted an effective
    marketing multiplier for US exports.

  6. Israel has been a role-model in countering terrorism, providing the US
    with unique
    intelligence, operational, R&D and scientific data (e.g., explosive and
    finger prints detection and identification). Israel has been one of five US
    allies partaking in
    the Technical Support Working Counter-Terrorism Group.

  7. The US-Israel Arrow project has been a most advanced missile defense
    system, in face of a growing ballistic threat to Western Democracies. Both
    have also cooperated in the Boost Phase Intercept (BPI) and the Tactical High
    Energy Laser (THEL) projects. Israel has provided the US with unique
    intelligence on Iraq’s non-conventional military effort and on Iran-Russia
    ballistic, nuclear and biochemical cooperation.

  8. Some $100BN per annum, and tens of thousand US servicemen, would be
    required to replace Israel’s strategic contribution (deterrence,
    intelligence, R&D, joint exercises, operations, runways, ports,
    prepositioning, US-class military hospitals, etc.) in the eastern flank of
    the Mediterranean and the Mideast. Al Haig referred to Israel as a the
    largest pro-US aircraft carrier, which doesn’t require US personnel, and
    can’t be sunk. Maj. Gen’l George Keegan, former Dir. of Air Force
    Intelligence suggested that Israel equals five CIAs in terms of
    intelligence-sharing and power projection. US military presence in Europe
    and Far East requires over one hundred thousand GIs and $100BN and $30BN
    respectively.

  9. US-Israel Binational Industrial R&D (BIRD) Foundation prides itself with
    a return of over $2BN in sales, by US companies, to a $75MN one time US
    investment. The US-driven Israeli high-tech industry has provided the US –
    via strategic alliances and M&As – with breakthrough technologies, creating
    more jobs in the US and enhancing US’ competitive edge. The Binational
    Agricultural R&D (BARD) Foundation has provided the US with a similar benefit
    ($200MN annual saving to the US poultry industry, etc.) from a $75MN one-time
    US investment. US-Israel AID-directed collaboration in the third world (CDR
    and CDP) has enhanced their position there.

  10. Bolstered ties with the US has always been the most crucial goal of
    Israel’s international relations, enthusiastically supported by the Israeli
    electorate. On the other hand, Arab and European countries have subordinated
    their ties with the US to inter-Arab, regional, global, domestic and economic
    concerns, thus undermining their cooperation with the US against terrorism,
    Iran, Iraq and ballistic missiles.

  11. While the Soviet threat required a strategic response, the demise of the
    USSR has produced a multitude of regional-tactical threats. Israel possesses
    unique tactical capabilities, which directly address these new
    regional-tactical threats.

  12. Israel’s ports of Haifa and Ashdod have become more important than
    European ports, since the demise of the Soviet threat and the emergence of
    Mideast and Gulf threats, to the US. Israeli air strips, prepositioning sites
    and training grounds have become more vital than those in Europe. Sixth Fleet
    sailors find Haifa to be the safest port in the Mediterranean. The rate of
    US-Israel mutual military visitations has been higher than any other US ally.

  13. In 1991 Israel deferred to the US, restraining itself in face of Saddam’s
    missiles.
    It was done in spite of its own military capabilities (Defense Minister
    Arens was ready to act!), and despite the damage to Israel’s own posture of
    deterrence and to its national psyche: Two critical elements in the brutal
    Mideast.

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