Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com
Okay, here’s your quiz of the day: What country, according to the Congressional Research Service, has been the “largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II,” to the tune of $124.3 billion, and most of it military in nature? Great Britain, Germany, Japan, the Philippines? The answer: none of the above. The correct response is Israel. In the midst of an election campaign in which almost nothing can’t be brawled about, military aid to Israel might be the only nonpartisan issue left. After all, President Obama, who hasn’t exactly had a chummy relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the ascendant Israeli right, recently agreed to a deal that, even compared to the present stratospheric levels of military aid to Israel, the White House has termed “the largest single pledge of military assistance in U.S. history.” You’re talking about a 10-year deal (2019-2028) for this country’s most advanced weaponry (and a lot of less advanced but no less destructive stuff as well) adding up to $38 billion, or about 27% higher than the previous aid package ― though Netanyahu originally asked for $45 billion, which represents chutzpah of a major sort).
This was undoubtedly the Obama administration’s way of throwing a sop (and quite a sop it is) to the Israeli prime minister in return for the Iran nuclear deal, which he so fervently opposed, and to congressional Republicans who also failed to block that deal (and many of whom are now relatively quiet but eager to pony up yet more military aid for the Israelis). In fact, in an era in which hardly a move the U.S. has made across the Greater Middle East hasn’t come a cropper, resulting in collapsing states and spreading terror movements, you could say that Washington has had just one genuine success. As befits the reigning arms trader on the planet, it has poured staggering amounts of weaponry into that embroiled region. Only recently, for instance, we learned from a study by arms expert William Hartung that, since 2009, the Obama administration has offered the Saudis $115 billion worth of arms and advanced weapons systems in 42 separate deals ― a record even for the Saudi-U.S. relationship ― and don’t forget similar, if somewhat smaller scale sales, often of advanced weaponry, to Kuwait, Qatar, and other countries in the region.
It’s quite a record. (U.S.A.! U.S.A.!) Now, in “Throwing in the Towel,” Sandy Tolan, author of Children of the Stone, puts that future $38 billion worth of weaponry for Israel in the context of the larger Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” in order to suggest just how bankrupt Washington’s policies in the Middle East actually are.
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