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Senator Daniel Inouye – Did They Break the Mold?

The late Senator Daniel Inouye, Chairman of the Appropriations Committee and President Pro Tempore (third in the line of succession to the presidency) was the most effective architect-ever of mutually-beneficial US-Israel strategic cooperation. He was a tenacious defender of the US Constitution and the role of the legislature as a co-determining, co-equal branch of government; a humble American patriot and a realist who rejected wishful-thinking in the interest of advancing US national security.


In 1990, while most foreign policy and national security mavens were under the spell of the “Peace Dividends” mirage – following the dismantling of the USSR – Senator Inouye, then the Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense alarmed Capitol Hill about the smothering Iraqi and Iranian “sandstorms,” threatening US economic and national security interests.


Thus, while lowering the US military profile in the post-Cold War Europe, Senator Inouye initiated a series of amendments, leveraging Israel’s unique capabilities, enhancing the win-win US-Israel cooperation in the face of mutual challenges in the Middle East and beyond (e.g., counter- terrorism, missile defense, military intelligence, battle tactics, industrial research and development).


Inouye initiated a significant transfer of US military systems from pacified Europe to Israel, due to Israel’s geographic location, which is most critical to vital US economic and national security interests. This enhanced the US-Israel posture of deterrence in the Middle East, reassuring pro-US Arab allies such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and deterring anti-US rogue regimes such as Libya, Syria, Iraq and Iran. Inouye was, also, responsible for expanding pre-positioned ammunition and medical supplies, in Israel, for American use during Middle East emergencies.


Inouye’s amendments were signed into law, in defiance of President Bush and Secretary Baker, who were on the verge of cutting off their noses to spite their faces, by holding the win-win bilateral cooperation initiatives hostage to their opposition to Israel’s settlements policy.


For example, Bush and Baker opposed Inouye’s amendment to upgrade the facilities of the Israeli ports of Haifa and Ashdod in the crucial eastern flank of the Mediterranean, for the benefit of the Sixth Fleet. During one of the exchanges with the Secretary of the Navy, Senator Inouye stated: “Under the US Constitution, Congress possesses the oversight authority, and as the Chairman of the Defense Subcommittee I’ve concluded that the Sixth Fleet would benefit from the upgrade.” The port of Haifa was upgraded and became the most favorite port for Sixth Fleet repairs, maintenance, training and recreation.


Upon learning that Secretary Baker did not implement an amendment, which stipulated an expansion of US-Israel counter-terrorism cooperation, Inouye sent a letter threatening to “fence” part of the counter-terrorism budget. Implementation was underway by the following day!


AIPAC officials were concerned about the Bush/Baker opposition to the Inouye amendments. They suggested that “the legislative pipe may not bear such a huge traffic.” Inouye quipped back: “I am the Chairman and I know that the pipe can bear such traffic.”


Inouye was aware – more than most legislators and observers of Congress – that the US Constitution provides Congress with the power to both directly shape foreign and national security policy, and to constrain presidential actions.


In 2001, Inouye briefed Dr Uzi Landau, then Israel’s Minister for Homeland Security, on Israel’s unique contributions to the national security of the US, Inouye: “The scope of intelligence received by the US, from Israel, exceeds the scope of intelligence received from all NATO countries combined.” He then contended that the Soviet military hardware (e.g., the P-12 Soviet radar, the Mig-21 and Mig-23 Soviet fighter aircrafts) – captured by Israel and transferred to the US – tilted the global balance of power in favor of the USA and amounted to a mega-billion dollar bonus to the US defense industries.


Jointly with Senator Bob Kasten (WI-R) – who co-led each of the above amendments and in defiance of Bush/Baker – Inouye introduced the 1992 legislation to extend $10BN loan guarantees to Israel, and the 1987 legislation to allow Israel to refinance its exceptionally high-interest loans, which saved Israel some $2BN over 20 years.


In 1993, Inouye expressed his concern about the potentially devastating consequences of the Oslo Accord. He participated in the White House ceremony because “I could not disappoint my good friend, Prime Minister Rabin.” Once again, Inouye demonstrated his ability to vanquish wishful-thinking, in defiance of political and social pressure.


During our last personal meeting, at his office, Inouye asked: “Are you aware of Daniel Inouye-like legislators, who will carry the torch when I am gone?!” In the words of Bruce Springsteen, “When they built you, brother Daniel, they turned dust into gold; when they built you, brother Daniel, they broke the mold!”


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

Congress – the co-equal and systematic ally of Israel

Presidents propose and Congress disposes

On September 23, 2021, the US House of Representatives voted 420:9 to replenish the Israeli-developed defensive “Iron Dome” missiles, which are increasingly manufactured – and eventually exported – by the US defense company Raytheon, that benefits from the battle-tested “Israeli laboratory.”

The overwhelming vote reflects Congressional realization that the “Iron Dome”:

*Enhances Israel’s posture of deterrence, which is critical to the survival of all pro-US Arab regimes and minimization of regional instability;
*Reduces the need for full-scale Israeli wars on Palestinian and Islamic terrorism;
*Provides an alternative to Israeli military ground-operations against Palestinian terrorists, which would entail substantial Israeli and Palestinian fatalities;
*Represents joint US-Israel interests, militarily and technologically, in the face of mutual threats (e.g., Islamic terrorism) and mutual challenges (e.g., developing world-class, game-changing technologies).

*Constitutes another example of the systematic support by Congress of enhanced US-Israel cooperation.

The decisive role played by Congress in the replenishment of the “Iron Dome” underscores the cardinal rule of the US political system: The President proposes, but Congress disposes.

The involvement of Senators and House Representatives in foreign policy and national security-related issues has surged since the Vietnam War, Watergate and Iran Gate scandals, the dismantling of the USSR (which transformed the world from a bi-polar to a multi-polar) and rapidly-expanding globalization.

In fact, former Secretary of State, Jim Baker, complained about the growing congressional assertiveness in the area of foreign policy: “You can’t conduct foreign policy with 535 Secretaries of State….”  Former Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney, criticized Congress for micromanaging the defense budget: dictating how much to spend on particular weapons, imposing detailed requirements and programmatic restrictions, venturing into policy-setting and requesting that the Department of Defense submits mountains of reports.

Congressional muscles 

The US Congress is the most powerful legislature in the world, and it has demonstrated its co-equal, co-determining muscle in the areas of foreign and defense policies on many occasions, such as:

*Imposing sanctions against foreign countries in defiance of Presidents Clinton, Obama and Trump (e.g., Egypt – 2012, Iran – 1996-97 and 2013, Russia – 2017);
*Non-ratification of the 2015 JCPOA, which enabled withdrawal by the US;
*The 2009 non-closure of the Guantanamo Detention Camp was led by Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (NV-D), in defiance of President Obama.
*The 2009 non-confirmation of Charles Freeman to the Director of National Intelligence was led by Senator Chuck Schumer (NY-D);
*The 1999 non-ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in defiance of President Clinton and the international community;
*The unprecedented expansion of US-Israel strategic cooperation took place despite stiff opposition by President Bush and Secretary of State Baker;
*The Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act overrode President Reagan’s veto;
*The 1984 Boland Amendment aborted President Reagan’s financial and military aid to anti-Communist elements in Nicaragua;
*The 1983 blocking of President Reagan’s attempted coup against the Surinam pro-Soviet regime;
*The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act mandated congressional authorization of surveillance of persons and organizations, which may threaten national security;
*The 1975/76 Tunney (CA-D) and Clark Amendments stopped financial and military covert support of the opposition to the pro-Soviet regime in Angola;
*The 1973 Church-Case Amendment ended funding of military involvement in Southeast Asia;
*The 1973 War Powers Act overrode President Nixon’s veto;
*The Jackson-Vanik Amendment preconditioned aid to Moscow upon free immigration.

Congress empowered by the Constitution

As documented in the aforementioned paragraphs, one is advised to note that while Congress is preoccupied with District and State issues, it has the power to both propose and dispose in the areas of foreign and defense policies.

The US Constitution aspires for a limited government and a non-monarchical president, and therefore does not limit Congress to overseeing the budget. It provides the Senate and the House of Representatives with the power to act on strategic issues and policy-setting.

The Constitution accords Congress ”the power of the purse,” oversight of government operations, ratification of treaties, confirmation of key appointments, declaration of war, funding of military operations and cooperation with foreign entities, creation and elimination of government agencies, imposing sanctions on foreign governments, etc.

In other words, the President is the “commander in-chief” within constraints, which are set by Congress.


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