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In a previous article, this writer initiated an inquiry into the topic of US aid to Israel. As adumbrated there, it is clear that the USA and Israel enjoy a special relationship, a tight alliance based on more than mere political expediency. The USA gives Israel political support and c. $3 billion per year, and Israel gives the USA political support, financial reciprocity and very significant benefits in the areas of military intelligence, ordnance and operations. Many of our most outstanding political leaders agree. Yet critics of Israel, most prominent among them being the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (WRMEA) and Professors John Mearscheimer and Stephen Walt, complain that the USA gives too much money to Israel and that the special relationship is in reality a liability for the USA.
But these critics fail to take into consideration the proverbial other side of the coin. On one hand, the USA reaps the enormous benefits of financial reciprocity as Israel spends most of its US aid money in the USA, Israeli military intelligence worth more than “five CIAs,” and operational support which has been likened to a US aircraft carrier which cannot sink and which requires no American military personnel. And this was no exaggeration. See here, here, here and here for a detailed assessment of Israel’s military support for the USA in the Eastern Mediterranean; and for the history of Israel’s intelligence support see Wolf
Blitzer’s Between Washington and Jerusalem (New York, Oxford University Press, 1986). A few examples, among many, are the Soviet MiG 21 that the Mossad smuggled out of the former USSR, and a variety of Soviet weapons systems (including the 122-mm. and 130-mm. artillery and T-72 tanks), all offered free of charge to US military intelligence.
Maj. Gen. George J. Keegan, former head of U.S. Air Force intelligence, stated that America’s military defense capability “owes more to the Israeli intelligence input than it does to any single source of intelligence.” While a dollar figure on such benefits is hard to pin down, Keegan put the number at somewhere between $50 billion and $80 billion: a balance of trade very much in America’s favor. A. F. K. Organsi, professor of political science at the University of Michigan, offers a bit more conservative estimate in his The $36 Billion Bargain: Strategy and Politics in the U.S. Assistance to Israel (New York, Columbia University Press, 1990).
On the other hand, what benefits does the USA reap from its financial and political support of Muslim countries, especially those which are the avowed enemies of Israel? It is important to recall that the goals of billions of US dollars to foreign countries is to advance pro-US policies, to constrain anti-US elements, to promote regional stability, to prevent terrorist armies from establishing operational bases, and to prevent WMD proliferation. A brief review of the past decade’s US aid to Muslim countries will demonstrate the frightening degree to which those goals have not been achieved.
The most extreme case is Pakistan. Zalmay Khalilzad, former US Ambassador to Pakistan, recently reported that Pakistan helps the Taliban! In fact, Pakistani support is a major reason why the Taliban have been successful in outmaneuvering our troops and carrying out a series of high-profile assassinations of senior Afghan officials. Pakistani military and intelligence services (ISI) assist the Taliban, while the Pakistani government offers “implausible denials” of its complicity in Taliban military operations against the USA. Pakistani support for the Taliban could well deal America a “major strategic blow” in its war in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s support for American enemies in Afghanistan could be “the difference between victory and defeat” according to Mr. Khalilzad.
Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, went even further. On September 21 he told the Senate Armed Services Committee (and on September 28 he told the world, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal) that the Taliban’s supreme military and political command, and other terrorist organizations, not only operate with impunity against US troops from within Pakistan, but they are in reality Pakistan’s proxies, carrying out Pakistani orders when they attack Afghan and American troops and civilians. Both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta have recently made similar accusations. And this is not a new issue. Although unnoted in western mainstream media, the Pakistani army itself has carried out a number of attacks against Afghan troops and police in Afghanistan since February of this year. John Brennan, counterterrorism advisor to the White House, defined Pakistan as an enemy of the U.S.A. back in 2001, during a live interview on CBS.
Pakistan receives almost $2 billion in US aid annually and uses some if that money to kill our troops and support our enemies. What kind of trade balance is that?
Egypt is another example of a negative imbalance of trade. Over the past 30 years, America has given Egypt almost $40 billion, $10 billion of that in the last 5 years as the annual sums rose to about $2 billion a year. Yet, former President Hosni Mubarak supported Sadam Hussein in the first Gulf war, undermined US war efforts by uniting Arab opposition and supporting French and German anti-US initiatives, and by violating post-war sanctions on Iraq. During the last decade of his rule, Mubarak worked with Russia to expand Egypt’s nuclear technologies, undermined US peace-making strategies in Sudan, exacerbated the Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict, and opposed US sanctions on Iraq prior to the 2nd Gulf war. Despite Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, Mubarak has led anti-Israel initiatives at the UN and has provided safe passage for terrorists and weapons smuggled into the Gaza Strip.
Professor Fuad Ajami summarized the mood in Egypt after 9.11.01:
“On September 11, 2001, there was an unmistakable sense of glee and little sorrow among upper-class Egyptians for (the USA) — only satisfaction that America had gotten its comeuppance….The United States could grant generous aid to the Egyptian state, but there would be no dampening of the anti-American fury of the Egyptian political class….There would be no open embrace of America, and no public defense of it….”
And this is a country that we long considered our chief ally in the Muslim world.
Things don’t look much better now that Egypt has enjoyed its “Arab Spring.” If the Muslim Brotherhood comes out on top in the promised elections, it is likely that the USA, despite its tens of billions of dollars of aid, will see Egypt become its chief enemy in the Muslim world. None the less, President Obama recently unveiled a plan to forgive over $1 billion in Egyptian debt, on top of an additional $2 billion in direct aid. It is important to recall that the Muslim Brotherhood has direct ties to numerous Arab terror groups and its Egyptian branch founded Hamas in 1988. This is another obvious case of good billions after bad.
The situation is similar in other Muslim countries.
In 2009 the USA distributed about $45 billion to more than 180 countries, 41 of which are Muslim countries. Seven of the top eleven recipients were Arab or Muslim countries: Afghanistan was #1 with $8.8 billion, then Iraq with $2.3 billion, and Egypt tied with Pakistan for $1.8 billion each. Sudan received $1.2 billion, the Palestinian Authority received $1billion, and Jordan received $816 million. The total to the top eleven was of $17.7 billion.
Over the past ten years, the seven Muslim countries listed above received more than $136 billion. Almost two-thirds of American aid money for 2012 is earmarked for Muslim countries, and about one-half of that goes to Arab countries.
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