Israel: A Strategic Bonanza

I’ve been busy working at getting my book out (plug, plug) and house-hunting with the wife, so I’ve not had a chance to work up a good theological post this week, nor to respond to the debate over conversions that has been raging in Israel, nor even to really keep up with the latest news Iranian conflict (other than to see Iran getting ready to fight a proxy war through Hamas and Lebannon). Hashem willing, I’ll get some time to work on those on Sunday. In the meantime, here’s a little tidbit I came across that I thought my readers might enjoy.

One of the memes that the Adversary is working overtime to get people to accept is that Israel is an enormous drag on our resources, serves no useful strategic or economic purpose, and is an impediment to peace in the Middle-east. Combating those views is this presentation by Robert Satloff from a debate at the Nixon Center. I encourage all of my readers to go read it in full, but here are a few highlights:

It is to America’s advantage to have a nation of friends, whose people and government are firm supporters of and advocates for American interests in the broader Middle East. I don’t think there is anyone in this room who would disagree with the contention that there is no country in the Middle East whose people and government are so closely aligned with the United States; in some countries, the people are pro-American, in others, the government, but in Israel, it is unabashedly both. . . .

It is to America’s advantage to have in Israel an economy that is so closely associated with ours and that is such an innovator in the IT field, in high-tech medicine, and in green technologies, like the electric car. The Obama administration made the economic health and well-being of the U.S. the pillar of its National Security Strategy. Our partnership with Israel is a clear asset in this regard—not only does Israel’s fiscal responsibility (a situation that contrasts with other U.S. allies in Europe) mean that Israel is not part of this problem, but with its high-tech economy, Israel is actually part of the solution. Indeed, the strength of our relationship helped turn Israel from an economic basket case into an economic powerhouse—and our economic partner. Just ask Warren Buffett and all the other American investors who view Israel as a destination worthy of their capital. . . .

In the words of one knowledgeable observer: “The peace process has been a vehicle for American influence throughout the broad Middle Eastern region. It has provided an excuse for Arab declarations of friendship with the United States, even if Americans remain devoted to Israel. In other words, it has helped to eliminate what otherwise might be seen as a zero-sum game.” . . .

Bottom line: do a cost-benefit analysis of the U.S. relationship with Israel over the past thirty-plus years and the U.S. relationship with its Arab friends in the Gulf. What do you find? To secure its interests in the Arab-Israeli arena, the United States has spent about $100 billion in military and economic assistance to Israel, plus another $30 billion to Egypt and relatively small change to others. Our losses: a total of 258 Americans in the Beirut embassy and barracks bombings and a few other American victims of terrorism in that part of the Middle East. On a state-to-state basis, as I have argued, that investment has paid off handsomely in terms of regional stability. Compare that with the Gulf. Look at the massive costs we have endured to ensure our interests there, the principal one being to secure access to the region’s energy resources at reasonable prices. The United States has spent more than $1 trillion—$700 billion on the Iraq war alone, according to the Congressional Budget Office—lost more than 4,400 U.S. servicemen, fought two wars, endured thirty years of conflict with the Islamic Republic of Iran and a global al-Qaeda insurgency fed originally by our deployment of troops in Saudi Arabia. After all that, the Gulf region is still anything but secure. It’s when you boil it down to this very simple arithmetic that I can say that our relationship with Israel helped produce a strategic bonanza for the United States at bargain prices.

There are, of course, spiritual benefits to our relationship with Israel that cannot be easily measured. But it is useful to know the documentable facts when discussing Israel with our less Biblically-minded friends and family.

Shalom.

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