20 July '15..
Seeking to undermine claims that it is harming Israel’s security with a weak Iran nuclear deal, the Obama administration is preparing to offer the Jewish state an unprecedented “military compensation” package. According to Israel’s Channel 2, the effort is intended to redress any damage the Iran pact will have on Israel’s qualitative military edge over its foes and was broached in a phone conversation between National Security Advisor Susan Rice and Israeli President Shimon Peres. But the dialogue about what is, in effect, an effort to bribe Israel with weapons, speaks volumes about the way the White House is seeking to execute an end run around both Congress and the Israeli government in its effort to get the Iran pact ratified. The conversation was an attempt to bypass Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who had a point yesterday when he asked a pertinent question about the report. If the deal makes Israel safer, as President Obama claims, why would it require military compensation to deal with its aftermath?
Savvy observers know the answer to his rhetorical question. The president knows that no amount of arms transfers to Israel can possibly make up for the enormous boost that the nuclear deal gives Iran. The lifting of sanctions will enrich Tehran to the point that it will not only enhance Iran’s conventional arms but, more importantly, will increase its ability to foment and aid terror against Israel by its Hezbollah auxiliaries and Hamas ally. Indeed, Wendy Sherman, the lead U.S. negotiator with Iran, confirmed that the Israeli government has rebuffed American efforts to start talks about an arms deal specifically because they know that such an effort is a ploy aimed at silencing criticism of the pact with Tehran.
While Israel has very specific military needs for which it must look to the United States for help, the entire point of any such arms sale or aid package is not aimed at enhancing the alliance between the countries and everything to do with making it easier for Democrats to vote with the president on Iran.
Let’s be frank. If the U.S. military package were to include Massive Ordinance Penetrator (or MOP) bombs, then perhaps the administration could claim that Israel was being provided with the means to defend itself against the Iranian threat. The 15-ton bombs that can reportedly penetrate through 200 feet of earth and 60 feet of concrete were presented as the Pentagon’s “Plan B” that gave credibility to the notion that the U.S. was prepared to use force should the nuclear talks fail. But, as the course of the negotiations proved, President Obama was never prepared to threaten Iran and would instead make concession after concession on vital issues to Tehran in order to get a deal at any price.
However, the odds are, the MOP will not be part of any package of arms offered Israel. Even if it were, the nature of the nuclear deal is such that the U.S. has offered Iran a virtual guarantee against any foreign interference with its nuclear infrastructure, making any Israeli attack on the Islamist regime’s facilities virtually impossible.
As former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren noted in his recent book Ally, the administration has often used aid to the Jewish state as a political weapon intended to tie its government’s hands. Assisting the development and funding of purely defensive systems aimed at stopping rocket attacks on Israeli cities is vital to the country’s security even if the White House also thought of it as a way of deterring Israeli counter-offensives against Hamas rocket launchers. But there is no package of weapons or amount of aid that can possibly offset the edge that Iran is getting from a deal that boosts its economy as well as giving it an eventual path to a bomb once the restrictions expire.
Nor is there much sense in the arguments being made that the nuclear deal actually boosts Israel’s security because of the ten or 15-year waiting delay until an Iranian bomb is better than any pause that would result from a military attack. As even a proponent of this flimsy point of view like Chuck Freilich, who wrote yesterday in the New York Times on the subject, concedes the agreement doesn’t address Iran’s support for terror, provides little in the way of actual transparency via inspections and makes the re-imposition of sanctions highly unlikely under virtually any circumstances. Rather than a knockout of the nuclear threat, all the U.S. and Israel have gotten is a “punt” with Iran clearly determined to get a weapon at some point in the not-too-distant future.
The administration has set up a circular argument that claims there is no alternative to the deal because the sanctions regime will collapse if Congress rejects the deal. But the only reason that is true is because Obama has signaled the world that he will not provide the U.S. leadership against the Iranian threat that is necessary for success in any effort to prevent a regime bent on regional hegemony from achieving its goals. The alternative is a tough policy that could stop rather than enable Iran’s nuclear project.
Freilich says that as the “junior partner” in the alliance, Israel must simply say “enough” even if it knows that Obama’s deal undermines the very foundation of its security. Israel is certainly the junior partner and there is some sense to knowing how far to push a friend. But what he misses is that the Iran deal isn’t merely about a pause before an Iranian nuke. It is, as even America’s Arab allies like Saudi Arabia now understand to their sorrow, the lynchpin to a fundamental re-ordering of U.S. policy in the Middle East that strengthens new “friend” Iran at the expense of America’s friends, most specifically Israel. The new Iran-centric Obama foreign policy legacy is a crucial tipping point in a struggle to undermine the U.S.-Israel alliance. That is why Israelis and Israel’s friends in the United States in both the Republican and Democratic parties must not be deceived by any arms offers to Israel.