Conditional U.S. Support in The Middle East

In late 2019, some Democratic candidates for president stated that they would condition American support for Israel with Israel’s behavior regarding Palestinian Arabs. Former Vice President Joe Biden considered the suggestion made by Senator Bernie Sanders (as well as Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg) to be “bizarre.”

Biden seemed to further cement his position of not compromising on military aid to Israel in a recorded message to an AIPAC conference on March 1, 2020 when he reiterated that “I will never boycott [Israel]…. Israel must be able to defend itself. It’s not just critical for Israel’s security, I believe it is critical for America’s security.

As Biden tries to court the Sanders supporters who are highly critical of Israel, it remains to be seen how far Biden will tilt towards the anti-Israel stance of Team Sanders who demand a boycott of Jewish homes and businesses east of the Green Line and funneling Israeli military aid towards rebuilding Gaza.

To appreciate the “bizarre” Sanders conditional approach to Israel, consider America’s approach to the Middle East overall.

American Blood

The United States has thousands of troops deployed throughout the Persian Gulf.

Country U.S. Troops Operations
Bahrain 5,000 Headquarters of the U.S. Fifth Fleet and U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (USNAVCENT)
Qatar 10,000 Home to the Al Udeid Air Base, which includes the forward headquarters of U.S. Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT)
Saudi Arabia 2,500 Prince Sultan Air Base
Kuwait 14,500 U.S. uses Camp Arifjan, Camp Buehring, Ali Al Salem Air Field and the naval base Camp Patriot
Iraq 6,000 Remaining troops after Operation Inherent Resolve to fight ISIS
Oman 600 Relatively small footprint
UAE 5,500 Al Dhafra Air Base hosts several U.S. fighter, attack and reconnaissance aircraft of the U.S. 380th Air Expeditionary Wing.

There are over 225,000 U.S. troops stationed abroad but the United States has no permanent base in Israel and no troops are stationed there. Based on the shared principles of democracy and trust, the United States relies on Israel as a partner in the region and supplies it military aid to defend itself.

The figures of American dead and wounded reflect these facts. The data below is from October 2001 to April 18, 2020 from the U.S. Department of Defense:

Military Operation  Killed   Wounded 
Iraqi Freedom             4,431             31,994
New Dawn (Afghanistan)                  74                  298
Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan)             2,353             20,149
Inherent Resolve (ISIS)                  96                  224
Freedom’s Sentinel (Afghanistan)                  92                  570
            7,046             53,235

No Americans have died protecting Israel.

In June 1996, a truck bombing killed 19 Americans at the Khobar Towers barracks near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.Credit…U.S. Navy, via Associated Press

Treasure

The United States spent roughly $2 trillion to fight wars in Iraq and has spent over $2.5 trillion fighting in Afghanistan. It has spent tens of billions of dollars maintaining its various bases throughout the Persian Gulf and supporting and protecting the Arab and Muslim Persian Gulf countries.

In Egypt, the United States has provided over $40 billion in military aid and $30 billion in economic assistance since 1980. The United States also provides over $1 billion of aid to Jordan every year, in addition to billions of dollars of loan guarantees.

In total, the United States has spent roughly $5 trillion since 2001 on countries in the Middle East, excluding Israel. Almost all of that money has been expenses to stabilize failing regimes and protect U.S. interests. There has been almost no investment in technology development to advance the U.S. military.

However, when it comes to Israel, the United States has benefited from an INVESTMENT in a close ally. As described by the U.S. State Department,

“Israel has long been, and remains, America’s most reliable partner in the Middle East. Israel and the United States are bound closely by historic and cultural ties as well as by mutual interests.”

The U.S. gives Israel over $3 billion per year in military assistance, much of which is spent procuring American products. Israel shares the technological advancements that it develops to enhance America’s military capabilities. In total, the U.S. has given Israel roughly 1/80th of the funds it has spent on the rest of the Middle East, while receiving over 80 times the benefits in technological advancement.

Conditionality

The United States has spent $5 trillion this century on Middle Eastern countries that do not share American values, yet the progressive wing of the Democratic Party has been mum.

Saudi Arabia, a major trading partner, executes minors – in public. It kills people for basic human rights like converting religion. It executes men for engaging in homosexual sex (it only beats woman who are lesbians). Women are forbidden to drive and cannot leave the house without a male escort or approval.

No one seems to care.

Qatar and the United Arab Emirates also have a death penalty for apostasy, converting from Islam. Kuwait, Oman and the UAE have capital punishment for people dealing in drugs. The Palestinian Authority has capital punishment for Arabs who sell land to Jews.

Yet there have been no calls from Sanders or other Democratic Socialists to condition aid to these countries which KILL people for basic human rights. There are over 70 countries – mostly Arab and Muslim – which consider homosexuality a crime, and there is not a peep about placing any conditions on trade and assistance.

The singling out of Israel for allowing a basic human right of a family living in a home and protecting itself from missiles is both hypocritical and antisemitic. Threatening to withhold or divert military aid to Israel which directly benefits American security interests while saying nothing to spending 80 times as much on Arab and Muslim countries is insane. And putting thousands of American lives in danger for backwards regimes while denying Israel the ability to protect Israeli and American interests with ITS OWN SOLDIERS is outright un-American.

Team Sanders and the Democratic Socialists of America including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib should not be allowed on any foreign policy committee or have any hand in crafting the Democratic Platform. They are dangers to America on multiple levels.


Related First One Through articles:

Bernie Sanders’ Antisemitic and Anti-Zionist Friends

Bernie Sanders is Less Sophisticated Than Forrest Gump

Bernie Sanders is the Worst U.S. Presidential Candidate for Israel Ever

Related First One Through videos:

The Crime of Being Gay (music by Boy George)

The Anthems of the Middle East (music by Enya)

BDS Movement and Christian Persecution (music by Hovaness)

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Obama and the Saudis

obamaabdullah

His foreign policy is like putting diesel into a car instead of gasoline.”
-satire of KSA King Abdullah on US President Obama’s foreign policy

The United States maintained a strong tie to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for decades due to its stable monarchy and enormous supply of oil on which the US economy (and its allies) depended.  Many US administrations looked past the KSA’s human rights abuses to keep the relationship on solid footing.

That warm relationship between the countries existed until US President Obama began to change the traditional order of foreign relations.  Obama did not favor stability; he did not reward allies.  Instead, he advanced a new foreign policy paradigm in which he would undermine allies and try to build bridges to enemies.  He would favor public opinion over the rule of law.

Obama’s “New Beginning” speech in Cairo in 2009 was indeed a new beginning.  Within two years, Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, began calling for removing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from power.  Shortly thereafter, the Muslim Brotherhood assumed power in a democratic election, just as the MB’s Palestinian branch, Hamas, won elections in 2006.  The stability of the monarchies and dictators throughout the Middle East soon began to implode, and the “Arab Spring” shook the stability of the region.

As Saudi King Abdullah watched Egypt, his ally and neighbor to the west collapse with the assistance of the United States, he watched Obama establish warmer relations with his enemy, Iran to the north.  Remarkably, Obama seemed content letting the Iranians obtain nuclear weapons.

In Syria, Abdullah watched Obama let Iranian ally Syria prance right through a bright red line that Obama had drawn loudly and publicly, after Syrian President Assad used chemical weapons in his civil war.  Was this an ally to be trusted in the volatile Middle East?  How long before he turns on his kingdom to reform and open elections to the masses?

More importantly for him, how long before Obama’s actions enable a firestorm in the Middle East that destroys his kingdom?


Sources:

King Abdullah hated Obama: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/397044/nbcs-engel-king-abdullah-could-not-stand-president-obama-brendan-bordelon

White House “New Beginning” speech in Cairo: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/NewBeginning/

Fouad Ajami on the Arab impression of Obama: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703499404574558300500152682

Related First One Through article:

Obama’s confused foreign policy: https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/obamas-foreign-policy/

Obama’s Foreign Policy

Summary: Obama’s foreign policy is viewed by both liberals and conservatives as deeply flawed

Both liberal and conservative commentators had a lot to say after US President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union address in January 2015.  They were not positive.

The liberals attacked their president as being divorced from reality.  They highlighted several areas:

  • Iran continues towards nuclear weapons despite assurances to the contrary
  • Islamic State takes over Iraq after Obama calls them “JV” and claims that US forces have stopped their advance
  • Yemen falls despite Obama recent assurances
  • Assad controls Syria after Obama’s claim of helping moderate opposition forces (so marginal, can it be called true?)
  • Russia gets a mere slap on the wrist for invading Ukraine and taking over Crimea despite treaties with Ukraine

Conservatives have often berated Obama for practicing a policy which coddled enemies and rebuked allies:

  • Continued snubbing of ally Israel, particularly the Prime Minister Netanyahu (calling him “chicken*hit”, not meeting with him, walking out on him…)
  • Not showing up for unity rally in Paris after terrorist attacks (one of the only major western allies to not send anyone)
  • Refusing to help ally Canada with approving the Keystone pipeline
  • Pulling all troops out of Iraq after thousands of American forces died, to let the country fall into a terrorist haven

Here is a music video early in the Obama presidency which showed these paths started from the earliest days of his presidency (music by Genesis):


Sources:

Liberals attack Obama “asleep at the switch“: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxsyVO23G38

Mainstream media saying Obama “not close to reality“”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FcQE32_HSU

Criticism for snubbing Paris rally: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yt5xqO0FgI