Israel's Survival and American Assistance: It's Been Done Before

Ben Stein has offered an easily readable and cogent piece on a stratagem for dealing with the looming menace of a nuclear-armed Iran.  Mr. Stein, in writing for the American Spectator, has made a compelling case for American involvement in helping secure Israel from nuclear calamity.  And it is a strategy that doesn't embroil us in another shooting war.  The brilliance of Stein's idea comes from its simplicity and reliance upon the success of similar actions taken in the not-so-distant past.

While America was by all accounts an economic and military powerhouse in 1973, we did not enjoy nearly the level of relative military hegemony then as we do today.  By many measures, the former Soviet Union held quantitative advantages in weapon systems that would overwhelm us in a conventional slugfest, or obliterate us in a nuclear exchange.  The lack of an overwhelming military advantage and a belligerent USSR did not stop President Nixon from doing the indispensably vital and right thing by arming the Israeli Defense Forces in their dark hour of need.  Even in the face of escalated Soviet military readiness and threats, President Nixon rushed military aid to Israel that helped turn the tide of the Yom Kippur War and secure Israel's victory. 

All this was accomplished, as Stein points out, in the context of a highly intelligent and sophisticated foreign policy aimed at reducing the Soviet Union's worldwide threat.  While Nixon courted the People's Republic of China as a strategic partner in the containment of Russian expansionism, he found creative military, economic, and diplomatic avenues to confound the Kremlin.  Nixon's was a strategy of adult vision and far-reaching American interests.  The success and sophistication of his foreign policy still amaze historians and political scientists alike.  That President Nixon was able to achieve such dramatic successes in the military and domestic tumult of the Viet Nam Conflict gives even greater credence to his mastery of events.  The Nixonian foreign policy of the early 1970s set the stage for the triumph of Reaganism in the 1980s, 1990s and beyond.  Sadly, it is a foreign policy of a bygone era, when adults populated our national government.

Stein suggests that we can learn from our past and materially provide Israel all that she might lack in the conduct of pre-emptive attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities.  The point here is not to debate the intentions or capabilities of the Iranian government.  That government and its spokesmen have made their intentions clear.  The point is to make sure that Israel does not have to suffer the unthinkable -- a nuclear strike on her soil.  The ability to remove that very real, existential threat is readily available.  Moreover, our participation need not require risking the lives of any American military personnel.  The supply of advanced C4I, satellite imagery, refueling assets, advanced bunker-busting munitions, and other material support to Israel would send a commandingly clear message to the hostile Arab (and Persian) world that no attack upon our friend and ally will ever be tolerated.  If and when the pre-emptive attack on Iran becomes necessary, the American aid would provide game-changing advantages to the IDF and help assure their success.  Again, direct American personnel exposure would be minimal or non-existent.  It is an arrangement that should be favored by those in foreign policy circles who are so risk-averse that even minimal casualties anticipated in a military operation are considered too great for commitment to the operation.  It is the liberals' ideal of American military intervention.  Then again, it is not -- for this was not their idea.

The glaring recalcitrance toward Israel by this Obama administration continually finds new and inventive ways to express itself.  The most recent example of Obama's thinly veiled contempt for our ally came earlier in a shocking report by Mark Perry, writing for the periodical Foreign Policy.  In a March 28 article entitled "Israel's Secret Staging Ground," Perry reported:

In particular, four senior diplomats and military intelligence officers say that the United States has concluded that Israel has recently been granted access to airbases on Iran's northern border. To do what, exactly, is not clear. "The Israelis have bought an airfield," a senior administration official told me in early February, "and the airfield is called Azerbaijan."... "We're watching what Iran does closely," one of the U.S. sources, an intelligence officer engaged in assessing the ramifications of a prospective Israeli attack confirmed. "But we're now watching what Israel is doing in Azerbaijan. And we're not happy about it."

As anticipated, denials, accusations, and counter-accusations have since followed in the wake of the Foreign Policy report.  The administration now denies any knowledge of alleged Israeli dealings with the Azerbaijani government in Baku.  Clearly, someone in State Department or Defense Department circles leaked the story.  The accompanying question is, "Why?"  If we are to assume the veracity of the story's details, it would seem logical that the IDF is seeking a forward operating base that could help alleviate the refueling and rearming demands of its F-15 and F-16 strike fighters in any proposed attack plan against Iranian nuclear facilities.  That this inherently risky diplomatic venture on the part of the Israeli (and Azerbaijani) government is made necessary seems to speak in ancillary fashion to the conditions between the U.S. and Israeli governments as well.  If administration officials are leaking highly classified information such as this, on what could be a run-up to armed conflict between Israel and Iran, it portends that the president is attempting to derail the possible Israeli attack before it begins.  This development, taken at face value, indicates that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already determined that he cannot expect meaningful assistance from the Obama administration in what the IDF considers a mission for national survival.

Often, and many times rightfully, prudence and sober reflection before committing U.S. forces to military action are greatly advisable.  War by its very nature is a destructive and terrible thing.  If we can provide combat air assets to Libyan rebel forces; if our State Department can debate the merits of now providing material support to Syrian rebels; if we can intervene in the internecine warfare of the former Yugoslavia; then I believe we can assist our close friend and the only truly democratized nation in the whole of the Middle East region.  Liberal supporters of U.S. involvement in the aforementioned conflicts are hard-pressed to establish a meaningful reason in support of those interventions.  Yet have we not endured a decade of the shrill droning of the same liberal elitists as they caterwaul about American military operations against Iraq and Afghanistan -- two nations that arguably posed a clear and present danger to our national security?  Will it take the loss of Tel Aviv or Haifa and hundreds of thousands of Israelis for this administration to finally consider doing what is right?