Beyond the Cusp

August 8, 2013

Israeli Decision Refusing US Iron Dome Aid a Great Start

United States President Barack Obama along with the Congress gave assurances and promises that there would be no cut, even resulting from the sequestration cuts, to the aid provided Israel to assure the continued production and deployment of the Israeli anti-missile system Iron Dome. During the President’s visit last March, he made a point of announcing that he was “pleased to announce that we will take steps to ensure that there is no interruption of funding for Iron Dome.” The Iron Dome has proven in real live-fire situations of intercepting over 90% of the missiles fired into areas protected by Iron Dome leading up to and during the recent barrage attacks launched in response to Israeli anti-terror efforts in Gaza. The system displayed full range capabilities including determination of potential lethality in making choices of which rockets to intercept and which could be allowed to impact as they were computed to impact open, uninhabited areas thus causing no appreciable damages. Even with the guaranteed financial assistance, Israel has waived the spending cut waivers insisting that the $54.7 million dollar sequestration cuts be applied to the funding. Israel is also slated to receive funds assisting in the development and production of the Arrow-2 Weapon System, the Upper Tier Arrow-3 Weapons System and the David’s Sling Weapons System. Israel has also not requested, nor was it promised, to receive any exemptions from the near 5% sequester cuts on its annual grant for military financing aid scheduled over the next three years, funds that a high percentage is required to be spent on United States weapons systems while a portion may also be applied to domestic weapons development and production. Israel does not use any of the military financial grants for foreign purchases from any nation outside of the United States.


Reports in Defense News reported that Israel has been “insisting it should bear its share of the burden.” Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren stated in an interview for Defense News, “Our position is we must bear the burden that our American friends are bearing.” Other officials from both Israel and the United States Sources told Defense News that this is “a painful, yet pragmatic price for the goodwill to be generated among longtime supporters in Washington.” Recently retired as senior staff member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Alan Makovsky stated upon hearing the news of the Israeli request to have their aid payments cut that he was quite surprised using the analogy of “man bites dog” to express the novelty of the request. He went on and was quoted claiming, “Assuming this is accurate, it’s a very magnanimous, yet very wise decision on their part. It shows friendship, appreciation and sympathy for our fiscal difficulties … even to the point of giving up special favors which it’s fair to say Congress would have been willing to grant, considering the threats they face. The goodwill they will engender will be far more valuable than the funds they forego.”


These moves at insisting that the Israeli aid from the United States face equal sequestration cuts as other budget issues are required to receive despite the existence of promises to spare these funds from sequestration requirements is in-line with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s position of aiming to gradually reduce United States aid of military, economic, social and general funding eventually working to eliminate all aid in the not too distant future. There are likely many reasons behind the Prime Minister’s aims which most certainly include the vision that such aid cannot be relied upon to continue forever into the future, the realization that the Israeli economy has grown remarkably in the recent past, a desire to grow Israeli defense industries allowing for less reliance on foreign providers and suppliers for parts and munitions for weapons systems and most importantly to end the heavy influence wielded by the United States due to the reliance on America for so many of the IDF weapons systems. This is an idea which is opposed by many on the left in Israel as they view heavy influence wielded by the United States as something very much in agreement with their view of Israeli and world political ideas. Prime Minister Netanyahu and many others in the Zionist and nationalist flanks of the political community have been calling for more self-reliance and less reliance on foreign powers, even the United States, largely in order to completely remove much of the foreign pressures which have forced Israel to make concessions with which they were anywhere from simply uncomfortable to outright opposition. The ten month building freeze in Judea and Samaria that was forced upon Prime Minister Netanyahu by President Obama early in the latter’s first term and the recent agreement to release one-hundred-four of the worst of the worst terrorist murderers and planners thus commuting their life sentences are two of the more egregious examples of such influence forcing Israel to commit the otherwise unthinkable.


While we are discussing external influences pressed on Israel especially by the United States, it is as good a time as any to discuss the recent actions which affect Israel by Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey. General Dempsey just this past week delivered an unclassified letter to Senator Carl Levin concerning the risks of US military intervention in Syria. The letter was knowingly intended to inform more than just Senator Levin but to elucidate the entire Senate on the United States position concerning the civil war in Syria and to outlined all the catastrophic effects which would occur if the US militarily intervened in Syria to defeat Assad. Presumably one of the other reasons for providing this letter to Senator Levin is that it is well known that the Senator has good relations with Israel’s Prime Minister and this was a tactful way of informing Netanyahu of a number of realities without having to explain the reasons behind the positions adopted by President Obama. Even though the letter was delivered and signed off on by General Dempsey, everybody in the chain of communications is fully aware that the letter represents the views of President Obama but was delivered in a less formal manner to again avoid direct questioning or needs to explain.


So, what exactly did the letter actually claim? Well, it basically reviewed every possible level of United States actions, with or without allies, available and the expected minimum financial cost and the possibilities for complications including cross-border collateral involvement, damages, casualties and complications along with the dangers of causing a wider general conflict due to alliances of other parties supporting either side of the conflict. Actual scenarios covered included but were not limited to; undertaking efforts to train, advise, and assist the opposition in their efforts to overthrow President Bashir al-Assad; prepare and execute various levels of stand-off strikes supporting the positions and efforts as well as destroying Syrian military and their allies including Hezballah’s resources, equipment, positions and facilities; establish no-fly zones and/or buffer zones with the aim of reducing civilians casualties as well as aiding the rebel forces; or executing a military mission in an effort to take control of all of al-Assad’s chemical and other weapons of mass destruction in order to prevent their falling into the hands of terrorists or being deployed by either side on civilians or troops from both sides. The major arguments were the extreme costs involved and the inability to predict unintended consequences of which a resulting broader conflict possibly including Iran or Russia as to commit most of these actions the United States would be breaking certain agreements made with President Putin.


There was another message being sent which has some reflection from yesterday’s article about President Obama, Iran, President Rowhani and the nuclear program. From the emphasis on the costs of taking actions against Syria and the added risks of facing a hostilities with Iran and possibly Russia, one may safely assume that there will be no United States military actions taken against Iran and that President Obama is dead set on negotiating until there is a resolution of either Iran succumbing to endless talking or Iran proving they have produced deliverable nuclear weapons systems. It can also be taken that the United States is vehemently opposed to anyone taking actions against Iran as the United States is not prepared to risk a greater confrontation with Iran or Russia. As the letter given Senator Levin basically stated that even having al-Assad be removed from office as not necessarily a desirable result pending who would be taking his place as the United States fears that in such an instance that al-Qaeda may very well gain control over Syria and if it was necessary to prevent any further harm from befalling al-Assad, then so be it, then what else was the United States opposed to. We can surmise from the leaking of intelligence information even at the risk of revealing sources identifying publically every clandestinely attempted Israeli strike to prevent Hezballah from gaining tactically game changing weapons systems that President Obama intends to do whatever it takes to end Israeli strikes no matter the consequences to Israel. If President Obama is sending Israel a warning over striking Syria in order to prevent the arming of Hezballah with sophisticated weapons systems, one can only imagine what extremes the President would go to in order to prevent an Israeli strike on Iran. It is evident beyond virtually any doubt that President Obama has decided it would be best for everybody to rely on the negotiations to prevent Iran from going nuclear and if they fail then the world will just need to trust that deterrence works just as well with the Iranians as it did with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Apparently, if Israel were to consider striking at the Iranian nuclear facilities they will now also need to include in their calculations whether they will be able to succeed despite the possibility that the United States may intervene and assist in defending Iran from an Israeli strike and how Israel will function after such a strike when all aid from the United States is denied them even should a general war break out as a result from a military strike. It is beginning to appear that Israel is far more alone in the world than even the worst pessimist had claimed as there will be nobody who will stand with them in order to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons drive. Where does that leave the world, not just Israel?


Beyond the Cusp


Blog at

%d bloggers like this: