Israel Demands US Arms; Lobbies for War with Iran
September 29, 2013
United Press International & M. J. Rosenberg
Israel's military chiefs are pushing for an increase in the $3.1 billion a year the Jewish state receives in US military aid even though a 10-year aid agreement doesn't expire until 2017 and America is struggling with domestic economic issues. At the same time, the Netanyahu government and its lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, intend to use Congress to sabotage Washington's attempts to use diplomacy to resolve issues with Iran's new leadership.
Israel Starts Campaign to Boost US Military Aid
United Press International
TEL AVIV, Israel (September 27, 2013) -- Israel's military chiefs are pushing for a bump in the $3.1 billion a year the Jewish state receives in US military aid even though the 10-year agreement doesn't expire until 2017 and America is struggling with domestic economic issues.
Among other things, the Israelis are citing a 2008 US law that for the first time legally committed Washington to maintain the Jewish state's technological superiority -- its Qualitative Military Edge, or QME, in military terminology -- over its regional adversaries, particularly Iran, which has been pursuing nuclear technology.
The QME, the cornerstone of the strategic alliance between the United States and Israel for the past few decades, was long viewed as a negotiating principle between the two allies, but was made law under the Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2008. The act requires US military aid at all times ensures Israel is technologically capable of countering any array of hostile states and non-state combatants such as Lebanon's Hezbollah.
The $3.1 billion a year in military aid is by far the largest single package of its kind provided by the United States but the Israelis argue a new set of security threats in the Middle East -- such as the Syrian civil war, the turmoil in Iraq and Egypt, and the increased danger from al-Qaida now operating in Syria and Egypt -- justify an increase in foreign military finance, or FMF, grants.
Military analyst Nathan Guttman said in preliminary talks now under way, Israel is laying out "the principles it would like to see guide the next aid package."
"One will aim to put a dollar sum on the cost of maintaining Israel's QME. This estimate will take into account what it will take to ensure that Israel's armed forces are always one step ahead of their adversaries -- or those Israel argues are adversaries -- in the region," he wrote in the US Jewish newspaper the Forward.
"The second will be to include missile defense programs, currently funded through a separate Pentagon budget line, in the foreign aid program managed through the State Department's budget."
The Pentagon has provided $600 million in the last two years to fund the development and production of several Israeli missile-defense systems that have a major role in Israeli strategy to counter Iran's growing ballistic missile arsenal -- which could carry nuclear warheads at some point -- and short-range weapons in the hands of Hezbollah and Palestinian hard-liners.
Syria, too, is seen as a potential missile threat.
The Israeli systems include Israel Aerospace Industries' Arrow anti-ballistic system, with the state-owned IAI and the Boeing Co. jointly developing Arrow-3, the most advanced variant of the system that's designed to intercept long-range missiles outside Earth's atmosphere.
The Raytheon Co. has a similar program with Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems to develop David's Sling, a lower-altitude weapon designed to counter mid-range missiles.
US funds were also involved in the production of Rafael's short-range Iron Dome anti-missile system. It's been operational since early 2012 and has, by official tally, racked up an 85 percent kill rate against Palestinian rockets.
Israel's military is undergoing a major strategic shift away from large conventional air and ground forces to meet the challenges posed by new technologies, such as the cyberwar threat.
Guttman noted that in the current US-Israel talks, "Israel is pointing to, among other things, recent sales of advanced American weaponry to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates."
The United States has sold the Saudis new and upgraded Boeing F-15 combat jets, along with dozens of Boeing AH-64 Apache gunships and Sikorksy UH-60M Black Hawks.
The Emirates acquired Lockheed Martin's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile systems, known as THAAD, and Boeing CH-47F Chinook transport helicopters. Egypt, Iraq and Oman received Lockheed F-16s.
When the Americans unveiled these contracts, officials said Israel had been assured the sales would not undermine its QME.
But Israel's outgoing ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, noted that "the nexus between QME and FMF has become stronger."
He said the "very large contracts to the Middle East ... raise the question of armies having capabilities similar to our own and how we make sure we can maintain our QME."
(c) 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The Lobby Sets Out To Defeat Obama on Iran
M. J. Rosenberg / MJRosenberg.com
(September 25, 2013) -- The two presidents have spoken: Barack Obama and Hassan Rouhani. And they are on the same page. By that I mean not they agree about the issues dividing the two countries but that they are both ready to move forward, to test each other and see if agreement is possible.
As tentative as this is, it is also huge -- as anyone who has paid even a little attention over the past 34 years knows.
However, I do not see this process leading anywhere because the Netanyahu government and its lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), are both determined to end the process and have the ability to do it.
They intend to use the United States Congress to pass resolutions that will cause Rouhani to walk away by making clear that Congress will accept nothing short of an Iranian surrender on nuclear issues. Although President Obama wants to negotiate with Iran about ensuring that Iran's nuclear program not be used to produce weapons, the lobby, which writes the laws imposing sanctions on Iran, insists that Iran give up its nuclear program entirely.
AIPAC listed its demands in a statement last week.
The bottom line is this: Congress must not consider lifting economic sanctions until the Iranians stop uranium enrichment, stop work on installing new centrifuges, allow international inspection of nuclear sites, and move out of the country its stockpile of highly enriched uranium.
In contrast to the administration which, recognizing that Iran (like every other country) has the right to nuclear power for peaceful purposes, AIPAC says that Iran has no such right. (Israel, of course, has a large stockpile of nuclear weapons but, hey, that's different).
Not only that, if Iran does not agree to total nuclear surrender, "The United States must support Israel's right to act against Iran if it feels compelled -- in its own legitimate self-defense -- to act."
In other words: the only way for Iran to avoid a military attack is by totally dismantling all its nuclear facilities and potential (to address the "potential," Israel has repeatedly assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists on Iranian soil). This contrasts with the US view that each step toward compliance by Iran would result in the lifting of some sanctions.
AIPAC is already preparing legislation that will send a clear message to Rouhani: don't bother reaching out to the West because you will achieve nothing.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who with Robert Menendez (D-NJ), is AIPAC's top lieutenant in the Senate says that "if nothing changes in Iran, come September or October, " he will introduce a bill "to authorize the use of military force to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb." He says that the "only way to convince Iran to halt their nuclear program is to make it clear that we will take it out."
Senators Menendez, Chuck Schumer (D-NY, John McCain and Graham also sent letters to President Obama urging "full compliance" by Iran before the United States offers anything. In short, led by AIPAC, the senators want "unconditional surrender" by Iran to avoid attack. This is diplomacy? It sounds more like the way the Germans and later the Russians addressed Czechoslovakia.
But why would anyone think the Senate will pass AIPAC's war bills. The answer is simply that the midterm elections are coming up and that means Members of Congress need campaign cash. And AIPAC helps provide it.
Remember what AIPAC's former #2 guy, Steve Rosen (later indicted under the Espionage Act) told New Yorker writer Jeff Goldberg in 2005. Goldberg asked Rosen just how powerful AIPAC is. Goldberg described Rosen's response.
A half smile appeared on his face, and he pushed a napkin across the table. "You see this napkin?" he said. "In twenty-four hours, we could have the signatures of seventy senators on this napkin."
Obama better be prepared. AIPAC has been pushing war with Iran for a decade. Its bills to achieve it won't be written on napkins.
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