The announcement last week by the United States of the largest military aid package in its history – to Israel – was a win for both sides.Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu could boast that his lobbying had boosted aid from $3.1 billion a year to $3.8bn – a 22 per cent increase – for a decade starting in 2019.
Mr Netanyahu has presented this as a rebuff to those who accuse him of jeopardising Israeli security interests with his government’s repeated affronts to the White House.
In the past weeks alone, defence minister Avigdor Lieberman has compared last year’s nuclear deal between Washington and Iran with the 1938 Munich pact, which bolstered Hitler; and Mr Netanyahu has implied that US opposition to settlement expansion is the same as support for the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews.
American president Barack Obama, meanwhile, hopes to stifle his own critics who insinuate that he is anti-Israel. The deal should serve as a fillip too for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic party’s candidate to succeed Mr Obama in November’s election.
In reality, however, the Obama administration has quietly punished Mr Netanyahu for his misbehaviour. Israeli expectations of a $4.5bn-a-year deal were whittled down after Mr Netanyahu stalled negotiations last year as he sought to recruit Congress to his battle against the Iran deal.
In fact, Israel already receives roughly $3.8bn – if Congress’s assistance on developing missile defence programmes is factored in. Notably, Israel has been forced to promise not to approach Congress for extra funds.
The deal takes into account neither inflation nor the dollar’s depreciation against the shekel.
A bigger blow still is the White House’s demand to phase out a special exemption that allowed Israel to spend nearly 40 per cent of aid locally on weapon and fuel purchases. Israel will soon have to buy all its armaments from the US, ending what amounted to a subsidy to its own arms industry.
Nonetheless, Washington’s renewed military largesse – in the face of almost continual insults – inevitably fuels claims that the Israeli tail is wagging the US dog. Even The New York Times has described the aid package as “too big”.
Since the 1973 war, Israel has received at least $100bn in military aid, with more assistance hidden from view. Back in the 1970s, Washington paid half of Israel’s military budget. Today it still foots a fifth of the bill, despite Israel’s economic success.
But the US expects a return on its massive investment. As the late Israeli politician-general Ariel Sharon once observed, Israel has been a US “aircraft carrier” in the Middle East, acting as the regional bully and carrying out operations that benefit Washington.
Almost no one blames the US for Israeli attacks that wiped out Iraq’s and Syria’s nuclear programmes. A nuclear-armed Iraq or Syria would have deterred later US-backed moves at regime overthrow, as well as countering the strategic advantage Israel derives from its own nuclear arsenal.
In addition, Israel’s US-sponsored military prowess is a triple boon to the US weapons industry, the country’s most powerful lobby. Public funds are siphoned off to let Israel buy goodies from American arms makers. That, in turn, serves as a shop window for other customers and spurs an endless and lucrative game of catch-up in the rest of the Middle East.
The first F-35 fighter jets to arrive in Israel in December – their various components produced in 46 US states – will increase the clamour for the cutting-edge warplane.
Israel is also a “front-line laboratory”, as former Israeli army negotiator Eival Gilady admitted at the weekend, that develops and field-tests new technology Washington can later use itself.
The US is planning to buy back the missile interception system Iron Dome – which neutralises battlefield threats of retaliation – it largely paid for. Israel works closely too with the US in developing cyberwarfare, such as the Stuxnet worm that damaged Iran’s civilian nuclear programme.
But the clearest message from Israel’s new aid package is one delivered to the Palestinians: Washington sees no pressing strategic interest in ending the occupation. It stood up to Mr Netanyahu over the Iran deal but will not risk a damaging clash over Palestinian statehood.
Some believe that Mr Obama signed the aid package to win the credibility necessary to overcome his domestic Israel lobby and pull a rabbit from the hat: an initiative, unveiled shortly before he leaves office, that corners Mr Netanyahu into making peace.
Hopes have been raised by an expected meeting at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday. But their first talks in 10 months are planned only to demonstrate unity to confound critics of the aid deal.
If Mr Obama really wanted to pressure Mr Netanyahu, he would have used the aid agreement as leverage. Now Mr Netanyahu need not fear US financial retaliation, even as he intensifies effective annexation of the West Bank.
Mr Netanyahu has drawn the right lesson from the aid deal – he can act against the Palestinians with continuing US impunity.
- See more at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/2016-09-19/palestinians-lose-in-us-military-aid-deal-with-israel/#sthash.fL4Eq28N.dpuf
An Establishment in Panic
By Patrick Buchanan
October 21, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - Pressed by moderator Chris Wallace as to whether he would accept defeat should Hillary Clinton win the election, Donald Trump replied, "I will tell you at the time. I'll keep you in suspense."
"That's horrifying," said Clinton, setting off a chain reaction on the post-debate panels with talking heads falling all over one another in purple-faced anger, outrage and disbelief.
"Disqualifying!" was the cry on Clinton cable.
"Trump Won't Say If He Will Accept Election Results," wailed The New York Times. "Trump Won't Vow to Honor Results," ran the banner in The Washington Post.
But what do these chattering classes and establishment bulletin boards think the Donald is going to do if he falls short of 270 electoral votes?
Lead a Coxey's Army on Washington and burn it down as British General Robert Ross did in August 1814, while "Little Jemmy" Madison fled on horseback out the Brookeville Road?
What explains the hysteria of the establishment?
In a word, fear.
The establishment is horrified at the Donald's defiance because, deep within its soul, it fears that the people for whom Trump speaks no longer accept its political legitimacy or moral authority.
It may rule and run the country, and may rig the system through mass immigration and a mammoth welfare state so that Middle America is never again able to elect one of its own. But that establishment, disconnected from the people it rules, senses, rightly, that it is unloved and even detested.
Having fixed the future, the establishment finds half of the country looking upon it with the same sullen contempt that our Founding Fathers came to look upon the overlords Parliament sent to rule them.
Establishment panic is traceable to another fear: Its ideology, its political religion, is seen by growing millions as a golden calf, a 20th-century god that has failed.
Trump is "talking down our democracy," said a shocked Clinton.
After having expunged Christianity from our public life and public square, our establishment installed "democracy" as the new deity, at whose altars we should all worship. And so our schools began to teach.
Half a millennia ago, missionaries and explorers set sail from Spain, England and France to bring Christianity to the New World.
Today, Clintons, Obamas and Bushes send soldiers and secularist tutors to "establish democracy" among the "lesser breeds without the Law."
Unfortunately, the natives, once democratized, return to their roots and vote for Hezbollah, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, using democratic processes and procedures to re-establish their true God.
And Allah is no democrat.
By suggesting he might not accept the results of a "rigged election" Trump is committing an unpardonable sin. But this new cult, this devotion to a new holy trinity of diversity, democracy and equality, is of recent vintage and has shallow roots.
For none of the three — diversity, equality, democracy — is to be found in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist Papers or the Pledge of Allegiance. In the pledge, we are a republic.
When Ben Franklin, emerging from the Philadelphia convention, was asked by a woman what kind of government they had created, he answered, "A republic, if you can keep it."
Among many in the silent majority, Clintonian democracy is not an improvement upon the old republic; it is the corruption of it.
Consider: Six months ago, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the Clinton bundler, announced that by executive action he would convert 200,000 convicted felons into eligible voters by November.
If that is democracy, many will say, to hell with it.
And if felons decide the electoral votes of Virginia, and Virginia decides who is our next U.S. president, are we obligated to honor that election?
In 1824, Gen. Andrew Jackson ran first in popular and electoral votes. But, short of a majority, the matter went to the House.
There, Speaker Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams delivered the presidency to Adams — and Adams made Clay secretary of state, putting him on the path to the presidency that had been taken by Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and Adams himself.
Were Jackson's people wrong to regard as a "corrupt bargain" the deal that robbed the general of the presidency?
The establishment also recoiled in horror from Milwaukee Sheriff Dave Clarke's declaration that it is now "torches and pitchforks time."
Yet, some of us recall another time, when Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas wrote in "Points of Rebellion":
"We must realize that today's Establishment is the new George III. Whether it will continue to adhere to his tactics, we do not know. If it does, the redress, honored in tradition, is also revolution."
Baby-boomer radicals loved it, raising their fists in defiance of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew.
But now that it is the populist-nationalist right that is moving beyond the niceties of liberal democracy to save the America that they love, elitist enthusiasm for "revolution" seems more constrained.
What goes around comes around.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new book "The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority." To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.