Friday, November 25, 2011

Israel’s unique contribution to the US

Yoram Ettinger

“Israel is responsible for over 600 modifications in the current generation of General Dynamics’ (GD) F-16 fighter aircrafts, providing General Dynamics a multi-billion dollar bonus in research and development, improving General Dynamic’s competitive edge in the global market, expanding U.S. employment and its export base and enhancing U.S. national security,” General Dynamic’s plant manager in Ft. Worth, Texas recently told me. Similar benefits are enjoyed by many U.S. defense contractors who sell their products to Israel. Israel’s choice of U.S. military products is perceived, by the global community, as having a blue ribbon effect that multiplies U.S. exports. Israel constitutes the most advanced battle-tested, cost-effective, and invaluable laboratory for U.S. military systems. Israel is to the U.S. defense industry what a triple-A tenant is to a shopping mall – a value enhancer and a tenants/clients drawer.

In fact, the CEOs of Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, IBM and many other U.S. giants concur that Israeli technologies have played a crucial role in these companies' global competitiveness. George Gilder, a U.S. hi-tech guru, maintains that "we need Israel as much as it needs us."

Contrary to conventional wisdom, U.S.-Israel relations are not a one-way street (U.S. gives and Israel receives), but a two-way street. They are mutually-beneficial, a win-win relationship, which extends the U.S.’s strategic arm. Contrary to conventional oversimplification, U.S.-Israel relations transcend the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian issue.

Israel has worked with U.S. soldiers on their way to Iraq and Afghanistan and shared with them its unique experience in handling car bombs, suicide bombers, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and anti-tank missiles, thus helping to save American lives. Brig. Gen. Michael Vane, deputy chief of staff at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, contends that the Israeli experience played a role in defeating terrorists in Iraq's Sunni Triangle.

According to Senator Daniel Inouye, president pro tempore of the Senate, chairman of the Appropriations Committee and former chairman of the Intelligence Committee, "The scope and quality of intelligence received by the U.S. from Israel exceeds the scope of intelligence received from all NATO countries combined."

According to Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Andrew J. Shapiro, "Israel serves as a cornerstone of our regional security commitments. From confronting Iranian aggression to working together to combat transnational terrorist networks, to stopping nuclear proliferation ... Israeli technology is proving critical to improving our Homeland Security and protecting our troops. One only has to look at Afghanistan and Iraq, where Israeli armor plating technology is being used on U.S. military vehicles and innovative equipment, such as the specially designed 'Israeli bandage,' which is being used to treat our troops ... U.S. and Israeli forces also take part in numerous exercises throughout the year in order to test operational concepts, improve interoperability, and practice urban terrain and counter-terrorism operations …"

In 1970, while the U.S. was bogged down in Vietnam, Israel demonstrated its posture of deterrence. Israel forced the rollback of a pro-Soviet Syrian invasion of pro-U.S. Jordan, which also threatened the survival of pro-U.S. oil-rich Persian Gulf regimes, thus sparing the U.S. an economic and national security disaster. And it did not require a single U.S. boot on the ground.

In 1981, Israel demonstrated its counter-nuclear proliferation muscles and its aptitude as a national security producer by destroying Iraq's nuclear reactor, thus lessening U.S. nuclear confrontations with Iraq in 1991. In 2007, Israel demolished a Syrian-Iranian-North Korean nuclear reactor in Syria. Israel's battle tactics were promptly shared with the U.S. Air Force.

The late Gen. Alexander Haig, who was NATO's supreme commander and a former U.S. secretary of state, defined Israel as "the largest, most battle-tested and cost-effective U.S. aircraft carrier, which does not require a single U.S. boot, cannot be sunk and is located at a most critical area. If Israel did not exist, the U.S. would have to deploy a few more real aircraft carriers to the eastern flank of the Mediterranean, costing some $20 billion annually, which has been spared by the Jewish state."

The seismic events on the Arab Street – which have yet to reach their climax – underline the tenuous and shifty nature of Arab regimes, policies and alliances. The stormy Arab Winter – which may be followed by a burning Arab Summer - highlights the one-bullet, one-revolution, unpredictably violent aspects of each Arab regime.

The pending U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, the increasing volatility of the Middle East, the intensifying threats to critical U.S. economic and national security interests, the deepening Russian and Chinese involvement in the region, the growing vulnerability of pro-U.S. Arab regimes and the increasingly Islam-oriented policy of Turkey, have all shed light on Israel as the sole stable, reliable, capable, democratic and unconditional ally of the U.S. – a regional anomaly and a global rarity.

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