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  • Joseph Woodward

America's $38 billion (foreign?) investment

The United States has just promised the Israeli military $38 billion over the next 10 years. That is not a typo. A re-energized interventionist agenda has paved the way for this huge pact that will undoubtedly become a dark cloud over U.S.-Middle Eastern relations. Before we take a look at the all the potential negative implications (and there are many), let’s first try to understand the why in all this.

Israel is by far the strongest ally the United States has in the Middle East, and so it has always been the nature of our government to help those we believe will help us. There are three main reasons why the U.S. has backed Israel in almost everything it has done. First and most obvious is that Israel is a democracy. While it rules with an iron fist over the region (more on that later), it is still consider the poster child of democracy in the Middle East. For that, the U.S. has been more than sympathetic to almost any endeavor the Israeli government sets its mind to. Next, Israel is also America’s strongest military foothold in the Middle East. To demonstrate this, the late Senator Jesse Helms used to call Israel “America’s aircraft carrier in the Middle East.” The third reason is a little more confusing: Israel is the holy land to all Jewish people. The U.S. houses more than 40 percent of the entire Jewish population in the world, so imagine a congressman or even presidential nominee getting on stage and saying we are ripping all funding that the U.S. is giving to Israel. There’s a guarantee that next election cycle that nominee will lose nearly all of his/her Jewish voters. At the end of the day, it's still politics. However, this confuses me because President Obama is walking out of The White House (and politics) for good in a few months, so I would've thought now would not have been the time to be held captive by political restraints.

Politicians are elected to represent the our interest, so this deal raises the question: “Do they really need it more than we do?” I’m not talking about using that money to keep raising our current military budget. Instead, how about using it to reduce our deficit. After all, interest on the debt was approximately 6 percent of our federal budget last year. Furthermore, the president that takes office next year will inherit the highest debt-to-GDP ratio since Harry Truman. And it’s not like Israel is fighting to keep the sole democracy in the region alive, as it has a more imperialist view of the region. With more than 200 nuclear missiles in their repertoire, it currently has the ability to not only deter any kind of attack but clearly already has some nasty fire power.

One other key implication in this deal is economically it is very pro-American, at least in terms of our private military contracting sector. While I would've liked to see taxpayers money spent domestically on infrastructure or education, it is hard to complain when a requirement of this money is that it be spent solely on American military companies such as Northrop-Grumman or Lockheed Martin -- the fifth and first largest defense contractors in the world. Furthermore, a significant amount of the $38 billion is expected to upgrade the lagging Israeli air force with the purchase of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter aircrafts. Which, by the way, is probably how Obama got the Republican Congress to sign off on the aid package.

Of course, a key component of this deal is the relationship the US and Israel has with Palestine. For those of you that don’t know, the Israeli--Palestinian conflict has been raging for many decades. It all started at the end of the World War II when the ex-British colony was established as a mainly Jewish state. However, much of this land cut into Palestine’s and thus began a 49 year occupation of Palestine. They have been disputing land ever since. So imagine how Palestinians feel when the US dishes out over half (53 percent to be exact) of its foreign military aid worldwide to their occupier. Furthermore, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is viewed as a hardliner and not flexible toward peace with Palestine. That, in turn, raises another question: why aid a party not willing to find peace or compromise? And in the Middle East, it always seems to come back to religion. The debate here is in a region dominated by Islam, the United States supplies so much money to arm the only Jewish dominated State.

And while Afghanistan, Egypt, and Turkey all receive military assistance from the US (mainly used for anti-terrorism purposes), the Islamic States are left to fend for themselves when it comes to inter-nation disputes. One thing I want you to ponder is could your money be used for things that benefit you more than a near 50 year dispute featuring two sides that are too stubborn to negotiate?

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