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Convergence of US-Israel national security interests

In 2017, the national security interests of the US and Israel have converged, in an unprecedented manner, in response to the anti-US Arab Tsunami; anti-US Islamic terrorism; the declining European posture of deterrence; drastic cuts in the US defense budget; an increasingly unpredictable, dangerous globe; Israel’s surge of military and commercial capabilities and US-Israel shared values.  

Contrary to conventional wisdom – and traditional State Department policy – US-Israel and US-Arab relations are not a case of zero-sum-game.  This is currently demonstrated by enhanced US-Israel strategic cooperation, concurrently with expanded security cooperation between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other pro-US Arab countries, as well as stronger cooperation between the US and those same Arab countries. Unlike the simplistic view of the Middle East, Arab policy-makers are well aware of their priorities, especially when the radical Islamic machete is at their throats. They are consumed by internal and external intra-Muslim, intra-Arab violence, which have bled and dominated the Arab agenda, prior to – and irrespective of – the Palestinian issue, which
has never been a core cause of regional turbulence, a crown-jewel of Arab policy-making, nor the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict. 

Israel’s posture as a unique ally of the US – in the Middle East and beyond – has surged since the 1991 demise of the USSR, which transformed the bi-polar globe, into a multi-polar arena of conflicts, replete with highly unpredictable, less controllable and more dangerous tactical threats. Israel possesses proven tactical capabilities in face of such threats. Thus, Israel provides tailwind to the US in the pursuit of three critical challenges, which impact the national and homeland security of the US, significantly transcending the scope of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian issue:  

1. To constrain/neutralize the Ayatollahs of Iran, who relentlessly aspire to achieve mega-capability (nuclear), in order to remove the mega-obstacle (the US) from the Persian Gulf, and achieve the mega-goal (domination of the Muslim World and subordination of the “modern day American Crusaders”).

2. To defeat global Islamic terrorism, which aims to topple all pro-US Arab regimes, expand the abode of the “believers” and crash the abode of the “infidel” in the Middle East and beyond.

3. To bolster the stability of the pro-US Arab regimes, which are lethally threatened by the Ayatollahs and other sources of Islamic terrorism.

Moreover, Israel has been the only effective regional power to check the
North Korean incursion into the Middle East. For instance, on September 6, 2007, the Israeli Air Force destroyed Syria’s nuclear site, built mostly with the support of Iran and North Korea, sparing the USA and the globe the wrath of a ruthless, nuclear Assad regime. 

While Israel is generally portrayed as a supplicant expecting the US to extend a helping hand, Admiral (ret.) Stavridis, a former NATO Supreme Commander, currently the Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, says otherwise. He maintains that Israel is not a supplicant, but rather a unique geo-strategic partner, extending the strategic hand of the US through a mutually-beneficial, highly-productive, two-way-street, win-win relationship with the US.  On
January 5, 2017 Admiral Stavridis wrote: “Our best military partner in the region, by far, is Israel…as we stand together facing the challenges of the Middle East…. Israeli intelligence-gathering is superb…. Second zone of potentially enhanced cooperation is in technology and innovation…. In addition to missile defense, doing more together in advanced avionics (as we did with the F-15), miniaturization (like Israel’s small airborne-warning aircraft) and the production of low-cost battlefield unmanned vehicles (both air and surface) would yield strong results….We should up our game in terms of intelligence cooperation.  The Israeli intelligence services…have been ahead on a wide range of trends, including the disintegration of Syria, the events in Egypt and the military and nuclear capability of Iran…. Setting up a joint special-forces training and innovation center for special operations, in Israel, would be powerful…. It truly is a case of two nations that are unarguably stronger together….” 

Unlike other major US allies in Europe, the Far East, Africa and the Middle East, Israel does not require US military personnel and bases in order to produce an exceptionally high added-value to the annual
US investment in – and not “foreign aid” to – Israel’s military posture. 

For example, the plant manager of Lockheed-Martin, the manufacturer of the F-16 and F-35, told me during a visit to the plant in Ft. Worth, Texas: “The value of the flow of lessons derived from Israel’s operation, maintenance and repairs of the F-16 has yielded hundreds of upgrades, producing a mega-billion-dollar bonanza for Lockheed-Martin, improving research and development, increasing exports and expanding employment.” A similar added-value has benefitted McDonnell-Douglas, the manufacturer of the F-15 in Berkeley, Missouri, as well as hundreds of US defense manufacturers, whose products are operated by Israel. The Jewish State – the most predictable, stable, effective, reliable and unconditional ally of the USA – has become the most cost-effective, battle-tested laboratory of the US defense industry.

According to a former US Air Force Intelligence Chief,
General George Keegan: “I could not have procured the intelligence [provided by Israel on Soviet Air Force capabilities, new Soviet weapons, electronics and jamming devices] with five CIAs…. The ability of the US Air Force in particular, and the Army in general, to defend NATO owes more to the Israeli intelligence input than it does to any other single source of intelligence….” 

The former Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Daniel Inouye, revealed that “Israel provided the US [operational lessons and intelligence on advanced Soviet ground-to-air missiles] that would have cost the US billions of dollars to find out (Congressional Record, October 2, 1990, Vol. 136, No. 145).”

On October 28. 1991, in the aftermath of the First Gulf War, then
Defense Secretary Dick Cheney stated: “There were many times during the course of the build-up in the Gulf, and subsequent conflict, that I gave thanks for the bold and dramatic action that had been taken some ten years before [when Israel destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor, Osirak].”  The destruction of Iraq’s nuclear capabilities in 1981 spared the US a nuclear confrontation in 1991.

An Israel-like ally in the Persian Gulf would have dramatically minimized US military involvement in Persian Gulf conflicts, and drastically reduced the monthly, mega-billion dollar cost of US military units and bases in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean, as is the current Israel-effect in the eastern flank of the Mediterranean.


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Open letter to Prime Minister Bennett ahead of visit to USA

(Hebrew edition in “Israel Hayom,” Israel’s largest circulation daily)

During your first official visit to Washington, DC, you’ll have to choose between two options:

*Blurring your deeply-rooted, assertive Israeli positions on the future of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), which would be welcome by the Biden Administration, yielding to short-term political convenience and popularity inside the beltway;


*Tenaciously advocating your deeply-rooted, principle-driven positions, which would underscore a profound disagreement with the Biden Administration and the “elite” US media, while granting you and Israel long-term strategic respect, as demonstrated by some of your predecessors.

For example, the late Prime Minister Shamir honed the second option, bluntly introduced his assertive Israeli positions on Judea and Samaria, rebuffed heavy US pressure – including a mudslinging campaign by President Bush and Secretary of State Baker – suffered a popularity setback, but produced unprecedented expansion of US-Israel strategic cooperation. When it comes to facing the intensified threats of rogue regimes and Islamic terrorism, the US prefers principle-driven, reliable, patriotic, pressure-defying partners, irrespective of disagreements on the Palestinian issue.

Assuming that you shall not budge on the historical and national security centrality of Judea and Samaria, it behooves you to highlight the following matters during your meetings with President Biden, Secretary of State Blinken, National Security Advisor Sullivan, Secretary of Defense Austin and Congressional leaders (especially the members of the Appropriations Committees):

  1. The 1,400-year-old track record of the stormy, unpredictable, violent and anti-“infidel” Middle East, which has yet to experience intra-Arab peaceful-coexistence, along with the 100-year-old Palestinian track record (including the systematic collaboration with anti-US entities, hate-education and anti-Arab and anti-Jewish terrorism) demonstrates that the proposed Palestinian state would be a Mini-Afghanistan or a Mega-Gaza on the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria.

It would dominate 80% of Israel’s population and infrastructures in the 9-15-mile sliver between Judea and Samaria and the Mediterranean, which is shorter than the distance between RFK Stadium and the Kennedy Center.

Thus, a Palestinian state would pose a clear and present existential threat to Israel; and therefore, Israel’s control of the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria is a prerequisite for its survival.

  1. The proposed Palestinian state would undermine US interests, as concluded from the Palestinian intra-Arab track record, which has transformed the Palestinians into a role-model of intra-Arab subversion, terrorism and ingratitude. Arabs are aware that a Palestinian state would add fuel to the Middle East fire, teaming up with their enemies (e.g., Iran’s Ayatollahs, the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey’s Erdogan) and providing a strategic foothold to Russia and China. Consequently, Arabs shower Palestinians with favorable talk, but with cold and negative walk.

Hence, during the October, 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty ceremony, Jordan’s military leaders asserted to their Israeli colleagues that a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River would doom the pro-US Hashemite regime east of the River, and lead, subsequently, to the toppling of all pro-US Arab Peninsula regimes.

  1. There is no foundation for the contention that Israel’s retreat from the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria – which are the cradle of Jewish history, religion and culture – is required in order to sustain Israel’s Jewish majority. In reality, there is unprecedented Jewish demographic momentum, while Arab demography – throughout the Middle East – has Westernized dramatically. The Jewish majority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel benefits from a robust tailwind of fertility and migration.
  2. Israel’s control of the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights, bolsters its posture of deterrence, which has daunted rogue regimes, reduced regional instability, enhanced the national security of all pro-US Arab regimes, and has advanced Israel’s role as a unique force-multiplier for the US. An Israeli retreat from Judea and Samaria would transform Israel from a strategic asset – to a strategic liability – for the US.
  3. As the US reduces its military presence in the Middle East – which is a global epicenter of oil production, global trade (Asia-Africa), international Islamic terrorism and proliferation of non-conventional military technologies – Israel’s posture of deterrence becomes increasingly critical for the pro-US Arab countries (e.g., Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Jordan), who consider Israel to be the most reliable “life insurance agent” in the region.

Contrary to NATO, South Korea and Japan, Israel’s defense does not require the presence of US troops on its soil.

  1. Sustaining Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge is a mutual interest for the US and Israel, which serves as the most cost-effective battle-tested laboratory for the US defense industries and armed forces. Thus, Israel’s use of hundreds of US military systems has yielded thousands of lessons (operation, maintenance and repairs), which have been integrated, by the US manufacturers, into the next generation of the military systems, saving the US many years of research and development, increasing US exports and expanding the US employment base – a mega billion dollar bonanza for the US. At the same time, the US armed forces have benefitted from Israel’s military intelligence and battle experience, as well as joint training maneuvers with Israel’s defense forces, which has improved the US formulation of battle tactics.

Prime Minister Bennett, your visit to Washington, is an opportunity to demonstrate your adherence to your deeply-rooted strong Israeli positions, rejecting the ill-advised appeals and temptations to sacrifice Israel’s national security on the altar of convenience and popularity.

Yours truly,

Yoram Ettinger, expert on US-Israel relations and Middle East affairs

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The post-1967 turning point of US-Israel cooperation

Israeli benefits to the US taxpayer exceed US foreign aid to Israel

Iran - A Clear And Present Danger To The USA

Exposing the myth of the Arab demographic time bomb