by Yoram Ettinger
Jerusalem Cloakroom #102
March 13, 2001
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Israel has been a role-model in countering terrorism, providing the US
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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- In 1991 Israel deferred to the US, restraining itself in face of Saddam’s
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