Monday, August 29, 2005

Israel on its own

This is a what-if scenario. Its goal is to describe a possible course of events in case Israel decides to ignore the US when determining policy regarding the Arabs.

For those familiar with the history of the founding of Israel, as well as that of the various Arabs countries, and the role of the US in them, it must be clear that US and Israeli interests are not identical. In fact, a strong case may be made that US policy has been more detrimental to Israeli interests at crucial moments in history than that it has been beneficial. Just a few examples: The US withholding crucial information about Egyptian and Syrian intentions right before the 1973 Yom Kippur war, intense US pressure on Israel to not deal decisive strokes during ALL its wars with the Arabs, US vetoes on Israeli trading with parties deemed off-limits by the US, crushing US pressure to accept US-designed 'peace' deals with the Arabs that were grossly one-sided in favour of the Arabs, etc.

The US is not a friend of Israel. This is a recurring theme of this blog.

There is no doubt that given the choice, most Americans would choose the Jews over the Arabs any day of the week, and in fact would choose to support Israel as a matter of policy. The actual policymakers however have diametrically opposed interests, and use Israel only as bargaining chip in their dealing with the oil-laden Arabs. People like former Secretary of State James Baker even made it a point to demonstrate to the Saudi's the power the US holds over Israel.

Israel has not become America's dog voluntarily. So what is this gun the US State Department is holding to Israel's head? And the subject of this essay: Is it really a deadly weapon, or is there perhaps nothing to fear but fear itself?

In fiscal year 2004, Israeli exports to the US made up nearly 37% of the total. This amounts to nearly US $13 billion.
In fiscal year 2003, Israel received $662 million in economic aid from the US. In addition to this, Israel has received roughly US $2.5 billion annually in military aid.
Since 1985, total US financial has as averaged about US $3 billion, and since 1949, the US have given financial aid to Israel a total of just over US $80 billion. In addition, the US have lent Israel another US $17 billion, of which roughly US $2 billion in debt remain as of fiscal year 2004.

Huge amounts of money involved then.

But to put it in a US perspective: The 2005 US defense budget for fiscal year 2005 is just over US $400 billion. In other words, the amount of money given annually to Israel - something Israel bashers like to beat Israel supporters with - amounts to about three days worth of just the US defense budget. The total US budget for 2004 was US $2.238 thousand billion.

To put it another way, the US spends one-seventh of one percent of its annual expenditures on helping Israel. It takes the US slightly less than twelve hours to spend the amount of money it gives to Israel each year.

By comparison, I spend more on car magazines. And I'm pretty sure the US looks upon Israel as being equally trivial. I could easily do without the magazines, and if the US had no need anymore for a stick to threaten the Arabs with, the US would cancel its subscription on the Jews. And save twelve hours worth of small change.

The US gives nearly that much to Egypt, just so they won't wage war on Israel. Egypt, a major source of Muslim extremism, home of the Al-Azhar University, where the Muslim Brotherhood has its roots.

Clearly, in US foreign policy priorities, Israel ranks just above Egypt, and just below the budget for designing new tie clips for embassy security personel.

Viewed from the Israeli side, thinks of course look a bit different. Three billion US dollar is a lot for Israel, in fact it makes up almost six percent of its annual expenditures.

Six percent. Could Israel do without that six percent? Or could it replace it somehow?

Of course, this is assuming that cutting aid would be the only sanctions the US would institute against Israel in case of a total "I don't care about your opinion" attitude from Israel. Israel has a lot of trade with the US, going both ways. An active economic boycott would hurt much more, and the US is certainly capable of putting Israel in the same category with Cuba.

Now there's a thought. Make friends with Cuba, and whoever is friends with Cuba, like Hugo Chavez, and all the totalitarian nutjobs Castro counts as his friends. Not a very attractive prospect, but in my view preferable over the leash the US currently has around Israel's neck. Israel would be independant, to deal with the Arabs as they would like, and the US doing the bidding of the Saudi's wouldn't make any difference.

Israel would be free to develop economic ties with parties now designated off-limits by - you guessed it - the US. Selling high-tech military hardware to China is not my idea of fun, but isn't it a whole lot more healthy than being a serf of the US? Israeli sovereignty and independance is a joke at present. And perhaps being just the 51st state wouldn't be so bad, if only the US also looked at Israel that way.

But they don't. There used to be a time when the arms balance was always maintained in Israel's favour. But this has been radically changing in the last 10-15 years. Saudi has been sold AWAC's, and the latest model F15, against agreements with Israel, and these airplanes have been stationed at bases near Israel, against agreement with Israel.
Egypt too has been propped up militarily far beyond any defensive need, and any offense of Egypt can have only one target.
Even the Palestinian Authority received US $200 million in fiscal year 2004. This is an organization that publicly and officially calls for the destruction of the state of Israel, sponsors other terrorist organizations and incites hatred and violence against Israel through its official state media and state-sponsored mosques.

Israel should change its current relationship with the US. I submit that the US has more to lose than Israel does.
If the interests of Israel and the US coincide, good. If they don't, no problem. They each go their own way, even if those ways are diametrically opposed.

This isn't really such a strange proposition once we accept the simple - albeit painful - truth: There is really no rational reason for the idea of Israel and the US being joined at the hip. It is wishful thinking, encouraged by a smart and media-savvy US State department.

Israel would survive the cut-off from the US. It would even survive economic sanctions from the US.

And it would be free. To make policy based not based on what the Saudi's want the US to dictate to Israel, but based on what is good for Israel.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes Yes Yes, please cut the strings! We could use the money here in America. PLus we wont have to pay your neighbors. But my gut tells me that your spokespeople, American Jews, will still extort money from our government on your behalf.

I could only dream that Israel is no longer connected at the hip. America should no longer get blamed for your actions over there and we wont have to go to war with Iran and Syria like we did when we attacked Iraq.

Good Riddance, I hope your nation seriously considers it.

2:30 AM  
Blogger D said...

Extort money? So you're the victim now?

Just for the record, the US goes to war for many reasons, but Israel was never one of them. Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Kuwait, and that's just recent history.

As for Arab blame, that will stop once America decides to bomb Tel Aviv and Jeruzalem, and you've all converted to Islam. And no sooner.


11:02 AM  

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