What's In It for the US in Its "Foreign Aid" To Israel?

The return on the annual US investment in Israel

  1. On October 2021 and January 2020, Israel's intelligence alerted the US of Iranian drone and missile attacks on US military installations in Southern Syria and Iraq. 200 US soldiers (in Syria) and 1,500 US soldiers (in Iraq) took effective shelter.
  2. The scope of Israeli intelligence shared with the US exceeds the intelligence provided by all NATO countries combined. It includes data on Iran's global terrorism and nuclear and ballistic programs; Islamic terrorism targeting the US and pro-US Arab regimes; battle tactics and military systems of US rivals and enemies; Israeli-developed technologies and battle tactics neutralizing hostile capabilities; Soviet nuclear-equipped intercontinental ballistic missiles; etc.
  3. According to General George Keegan, former Head of Air Force Intelligence: "I could not have procured the intelligence [received from Israel] with five CIAs." The annual budget of one CIA is around $15 billion.
  4. Israel is the most cost-effective, battle-tested laboratory of the US defense industries, employing (with much gratitude!) hundreds of US military systems, sharing with the US manufacturers lessons (operation, maintenance, repairs), which are integrated as upgrades. These upgrades enhance US global competitiveness, spare the US billions of dollars and many years of research and development, increase US exports and expand US employment. According to Lockheed-Martin (formerly GD), Israel's use of the F-16 has yielded over 700 upgrades, netting a mega-billion-dollar bonanza to the manufacturer. A similar bonanza is enjoyed by McDonnell-Douglas, the manufacturer of the F-15. The benefits to the US derived by the more sophisticated and expensive F-35 are substantially higher.
  5. According to the late Admiral Elmo Zumwalt and General Alexander Haig, "Israel is the largest US aircraft carrier, which does not require American soldiers on board, cannot be sunk, and is deployed in a most critical region, economically and militarily, sparing the US the need to manufacture, deploy and maintain more real aircraft carriers and additional ground divisions, which would cost the US some $15 billion annually."
  6. The formulation of US battle tactics is largely based on Israel's battle experience. For instance, Special Operations units (on their way to Iraq and previously to Afghanistan) and urban warfare specialists are trained in Israel. The US Air Force benefits greatly from joint maneuvers with Israel's Air Force, which possesses much more battle experience, shedding light on the far-reaching capabilities of US-made combat aircraft.
  7. Israel is a most innovative hub (second to the US) of more than 200 giant US hightech companies, which operate research and development centers, leveraging the brain power of the Start Up Nation.
  8. Israel is a unique commercial and defense force-multiplier for the US, extending the strategic hand of the US without the presence of US troops (unlike Europe, South Korea and Japan), while deterring and preempting regional rogue entities, which threaten the US and pro-US Arab regimes.

Israel's milestones – from misperceived liability to unique asset

  1. In 1948, the State Department, Pentagon, CIA, New York Times and the Washington Post opposed the establishment of the Jewish State, considering it a feeble pro-Soviet entity, unable to withstand an Arab offensive; a burden on the US.
  2. The 1967 Israeli preemptive military victory obliterated the military of then pro-Soviet Egypt, which aimed to topple every pro-US Arab oil-producing regime, at a time when the US was heavily dependent upon Persian Gulf oil. It spared the US a major economic and national security setback, and dealt a severe blow to the USSR. Israel was transformed from a misperceived geo-strategic burden to a geo-strategic force-multiplier, sharing with the US captured Soviet military systems (including surface-to-air missile batteries and tanks) and game-changing battle tactics.
  3. In December 1969, an Israeli commando unit snatched from Egypt the most advanced Soviet P-12 radar system, transferred its technologies to the US (estimated at $3 billion by the Senate Intelligence Committee), which enhanced the capabilities of the US defense industries and armed forces.
  4. In 1966, 1968 and 1989, Israel acquired (through defecting Arab pilots) Mig-21, 17 and 23, which were shared with the US, upgrading the US Air Force capabilities.
  5. In 1970, Israel demonstrated its effective posture of deterrence, when forcing pro-Soviet Syria to roll back its invasion of pro-US Jordan, by buttressing its military presence on the Syria-Israel-Jordan border (the Golan Heights) – at the request of the US – at a time when the US was bogged down in Southeast Asia.
  6. In 1981, Israel destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor, sparing the US a potential nuclear confrontation in the 1991 Gulf War.
  7. The transformation of Iran (1978/79) and Turkey (2003) from favored allies to major enemy/adversary of the US, highlighted Israel as the only effective, reliable and democratic Middle East ally of the US.
  8. In 2007, Israel destroyed the Syrian-Iranian-No. Korean nuclear reactor, which spared the globe a potential nuclearized civil war in Syria.
  9. Since 2010, the Arab Tsunami has traumatized the Arab Street, underscoring Israel's role as a unique ally of the US, against the backdrop of the inherently intra-Arab violence, instability, unpredictability and tenuous nature of Arab regimes, policies and accords.
  10. In 2021, the US could terminate its military presence in the Persian Gulf, if there were an Israel-like entity in that region.
  11. More data is available.

Israel's Qualitative Military Edge (QME) benefits the US

  1. Israel's QME has upgraded its posture as a US beachhead and force multiplier – with no need for US soldiers – in the inherently explosive junction of Europe-Asia-Africa, between the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf, which is an epicenter of regional and global Islamic terrorism, the proliferation of ballistic technologies and drug trafficking.
  2. Israel's QME has bolstered its performance as a cost-effective battle-tested laboratory for the US defense industry and armed forces, sparing the US many years and mega-billion-dollars of research and development, increasing US exports, expanding US employment and enhancing the formulation of US battle tactics.
  3. Israel's QME has reinforced Israel's posture of deterrence against Islamic terrorist organizations and rogue regimes, which have targeted the US and all pro-US Arab regimes.
  4. Israel's QME has constrained the maneuverability of Iran, Syria and Russia in Syria and Lebanon, serving as a critical line of defense for the highly-vulnerable pro-US Hashemite regime in Jordan.
  5. Israel's QME has scaled down regional instability, reducing the threat of regional wars and terrorism, while enticing the relatively moderate and pro-US Arab regimes to seek peace and normalization with Israel.
  6. Israel's QME– in the face of Iran's Ayatollahs – has motivated the Arab Gulf States to dramatically improve ties with Israel.
  7. Israel's QME has facilitated relatively swift and decisive military operations – with less losses to both sides – which has limited the scope of Israel-Arab conflicts, regionally and globally.
  8. Israel's QME eases a gradual US military withdrawal from the Middle East, while Israel's military capabilities fill in the geo-strategic void.
  9. Israel's QME is not an effective substitute for the topography of the Golan Heights and the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), which dominate the geographic sliver along the Mediterranean of pre-1967 Israel.  Israel's qualitative military edge today could be erased tomorrow, but Israel's topographic edge today will remain a topographic edge tomorrow.
  10. More data is available.

In conclusion

The aforementioned data reaffirms the fact that the annual US' $3.8bn constitute a most productive investment in – not foreign aid to – Israel, yielding several hundred percent annual rate-of-return to the US. This is the most productive investment made by the US.

Thus, US-Israel relations constitute a mutually-beneficial two-way-street with the flow of benefits from Israel to the US expanding by the day.

Yoram Ettinger