Has Israel advanced US interests?
General Omar Bradley, the first Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs-of-Staff, said in July, 1950, in the aftermath of Israel’s War of Independence: “The Israeli army would be the most effective force south of Turkey, which could be utilized for delaying action [extending the strategic hand of the USA]….” General Bradley’s assessment was rejected by the State Department and the Pentagon, which opposed the 1948 establishment of the Jewish State, contending that it would be decimated by the Arabs, a burden upon the US and probably an ally of the USSR.
Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan wrote in the Washington Post, on August 15, 1979: “The fall of [the Shah of] Iran has increased Israel’s value as perhaps the only remaining strategic asset in the region, on which the US can only rely….Only by full appreciation of the critical role the State of Israel plays in our strategic calculus can we build the foundation for thwarting Moscow’s designs on territories and resources vital to our security and our national wellbeing…. Israel is not a client but a very reliable friend…. American policy-makers downgrade Israel’s geopolitical importance as a stabilizing force, as a deterrent to radical hegemony and as military offset to the Soviet Union….”
In 2018, General Bradley’s and President Reagan’s assessments are vindicated, as pro-US Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Oman, as well as Jordan and Egypt, seek further strategic ties with Israel. They view Israel as a most effective ally in the face of lethal threats posed by the anti-US Ayatollahs, ISIS and Muslim Brotherhood terrorists, irrespective of the unresolved Palestinian issue – which they never considered a crown jewel – and their fundamental reservations about the existence of an “infidel” Jewish State in “the abode of Islam.”
In 2018, Russia lends credence to General Bradley and President Reagan, recognizing Israel’s enhanced strategic posture, accepting Israel’s military operations against the rogue Ayatollahs and Hezbollah terrorists in Syria, which has been a Moscow satellite since the late 1960s.
Moscow recognizes the impact of Israel’s posture of deterrence on the Washington-Moscow balance of power: 1967 Six Day War terminated the lethal offensive by pro-USSR Egypt against Saudi Arabia and other pro-US oil-rich Arab countries; a 1970 Israeli military mobilization forced the rollback of the pro-Soviet Syrian invasion of the pro-US Jordan; the 1967 and 1973 Israeli military victories over Soviet-armed Egypt and Syria provided the US military with a rare study of Soviet military systems and Soviet battle tactics; the June 1982 (first ever!) destruction of 29 of the most advanced Soviet surface-to-air missile batteries and the downing of 83 Soviet MIGs employed by Syria, and sharing with the US innovative battle tactics and technology; the 1981 and 2007 Israeli destruction of the nuclear reactors in pro-Soviet Iraq and Syria, which spared the US a nuclear confrontation in 1991 and a much more traumatic Middle East; etc..
70 years since the reestablishment of the Jewish State, notwithstanding the minute size of its population and area, the Jewish State has emerged as a uniquely stable, democratic, reliable, creative and effective ally of the US in the Middle East and beyond, commercially, militarily, scientifically and technologically.
The potential of Israel’s strategic contribution to US military and commercial interests has been bolstered by the Israeli experience and state of mind, which are top heavy on patriotism, attachment to roots, collective responsibility, ingenuity and defiance of the jugged cutting edge of nature, militarily and commercially.
The transformation of US-Israel relations from a one-way-street to a mutually-beneficial two-way-street has occurred despite the tactical, short-term US-Israel disagreements over the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian issue. The significant compatibility between the strategic, long-term regional and global challenges and threats facing both nations has transcended such disagreements.
In 2018, the US-Israel strategic compatibility is underlined by their national security orientation, allocating 3.6% and 4.7% of their budget, respectively, to defence, which is much more than any European country: Britain 2.1%, France 1.8%, Germany 1.1% and Italy 1.1%, etc..
Moreover, in 2018, Israel’s Air Force features the US-developed and manufactured F-35 stealth combat plane, serving as a battle-tested laboratory for the US Air Force and manufacturer (Lockheed Martin), as it has been for the manufacturers of the F-15, F-16, missiles and missile launchers, tanks, armed personnel carriers and hundreds of additional US military systems. Israel has shared with the US lessons learned by Israeli pilots, who fly under a do-or-die state of mind, which has stretched the performance of the US-made aircraft beyond conventional standards. Such lessons have enhanced the capabilities of the US Air Force and the quality of the next generation of the F-35, saving the manufacturer many years of research and development, enhancing the US competitiveness in the global market, increasing US exports and expanding US employment. In other words, the annual transfer of $3.8BN to Israel (which funds the acquisition of US military systems) is not “foreign aid” to – but a highly profitable investment in – Israel.
In 2018, in response to growing sophisticated online and offline threats posed by Arab/Islamic countries and beyond, Israel has become a leading developer/producer in the area of cyber-technology, second only to – and in close collaboration with – the US. Israel is the site of 15%-20% of the global venture capital raised by cybersecurity companies, aiming to defend critical infrastructures, while preempting rogue regimes. On January 30, 2018, General David Petraeus, former CIA Director, stated: “the [US-Israel] collaboration reaches new heights, far beyond what is being published in the media…. Our cooperation has harmed significantly Iran’s nuclear program….”
In 2018, Israel is the chief source of intelligence (for the US) on the volatile, tectonic Middle East (and beyond), which has been a highly-complex platform of global terrorism, inherent instability, unpredictability, tyranny, domestic and regional intra-Arab/Islamic violence and intolerance, tenuous and shifty regimes, and consequently tenuous and shifty policies and agreements.
In fact, the nature of the Middle East highlights Israel’s unique qualities as a systematic, democratic, effective, strategic ally of the US, whether led by right or left of centre coalition governments. The nature of the Middle East was demonstrated by the violent toppling of a series of pro-US Arab/Islamic regimes by anti-US elements. For example, the 1952 toppling of Egypt’s King Farouk; the 1958 toppling of Iraq’s King Faisal; the 1969 toppling of Libya’s King Idris (Wheelus Air Base, in Libya, was the largest US military facility outside the US); the 1979 toppling of Iran’s Shah; the 2011 toppling of Egypt’s Mubarak; the 2014-15 toppling of Yemen’s Hadi; and it is not over yet….
The reference to Israel, as “the largest US aircraft carrier, deployed in a most critical region, with no Americans on board” – made by a former Supreme Commander of NATO and Secretary of State, the late General Alexander Haig – reverberates an assessment made in 1923 by the British Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, a top intelligence officer in the western region of the Middle East: “I’ve always considered the Land of Israel to be the key to the defence of the Middle East…. When a Jewish State will be established, Britain shall benefit from the air force, naval and land bases…as well as Jewish fighting capabilities…which will secure its long-term regional interests…. Unlike the Arabs, Jews are reliable and do comply with agreements…. The British policy in the Middle East bets on the wrong horse, when appeasing the Arabs….”
Will President Trump adhere to – or ignore – past experience?
Will President Trump defy the State Department’s and “elite” media’s traditional quid-pro-quo (and self-defeating, artificial connection) between the enhancement of the mutually-beneficial US-Israel strategic cooperation, on the one hand, and Israeli retreats from critical terrain, which would exacerbate regional instability, intensify threats to pro-US Arab regimes and undermine US national and homeland security?
Will President Trump continue to expand US-Israel strategic cooperation, by focusing on the wider strategic context of the Middle East, or will he follow in the failed footsteps of Europe, which has largely sacrificed Middle East geo-strategic reality on the altar of oversimplification, quick-solution state-of-mind, appeasement and the misperceived role of the Palestinian issue?
Yoram Ettinger is the President of “America-Israel Opportunities, Ltd”, a consultancy on US Mideast policy, US- Israel relations and inter-Arab affairs. Yoram served as Minister for Congressional Affairs – with the rank of Ambassador – at Israel’s Embassy in Washington, DC. (1989-1992); Director of Israel’s Government Press Office, coordinating relations with overseas journalists (1988-1989); Israel’s Consul General to the Southwestern USA, based in Houston, Texas (1985-1988); the editor of the “Contemporary Mideast Backgrounder,” which was disseminated to thousands of policy-makers and public opinion molders in Hebrew, English, Spanish, French and German (1976-1985); Deputy Director of the US Cultural Center in Jerusalem (1975-1976); information officer at Israel’s Consulate General in Los Angeles (1971-1973); the Alabama Trade Representative in Israel (1997-2000).
Read more from Yoram Ettinger at The Ettinger Report
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team.