US military aid to Israel is part of the US defense budget

By Ted Belman

Critics complain that Israel, with less than 0.0001% of the world’s population, gets 1/3 of US foreign aid. They argue for cancelling the aid. I thought I would put it in perspective.

In 2006 Israel received $2.3 billion in military aid, the largest portion of it was spent in the US. It also received $240 million in economic aid. The economic aid is being phased out and recently the military aid has been increased to $3 billion a year.

It is wrong to classify this money as part of US foreign aid. Instead it should be viewed as part of the US defense budget.

$3 billion a year is a very small percentage of the total US military budget, in fact only 0.6% of it.

Military budget of the United States
From Wikipedia,

The United States military budget is that portion of the United States discretionary federal budget that is allocated for the funding of the Department of Defense. This military budget finances employee salaries and training costs, the maintenance of equipment and facilities, support of new or ongoing operations, and development and procurement of new equipment. The budget includes funding for all branches of the military: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.

For 2007, the budget was raised to a total of US$532.8 Billion.[1] This does not include many military-related items that are outside of the Defense Department budget, such as nuclear weapons research, maintenance and production (which is in the Department of Energy budget), Veterans Affairs or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (which are largely funded through extra-budgetary supplements, e.g. $120 Billion in 2007).[2]

Now the Iraq war has cost about $500 billion so far and is increasing at the rate of $6 billion a month.

Now what’s $3 billion in comparison? Especially when you consider what America gets in return. Ten years ago this was described as follows;

    The U.S. supports Israel’s dominance so it can serve as “a surrogate for American interests in this vital strategic region.” “Israel has helped defeat radical nationalist movements” and has been a “testing ground for U.S. made weaponry.” Moreover, the intelligence agencies of both countries have “collaborated,” and “Israel has funneled U.S. arms to third countries that the U.S. [could] not send arms to directly,…Iike South Africa, like the Contras, Guatemala under the military junta, [and] Iran.” Zunes cited an Israeli analyst who said: “‘It’s like Israel has just become another federal agency when it’s convenient to use and you want something done quietly.”‘ Although the strategic relationship between the United States and the Gulf Arab states in the region has been strengthening in recent years, these states “do not have the political stability, the technological sophistication, [or] the number of higher-trained armed forces personnel” as does Israel.

    Matti Peled, former Israeli major general and Knesset member, told Zunes that he and most Israeli generals believe this aid is “little more than an American subsidy to U.S. arms manufacturers,” considering that the majority of military aid to Israel is used to buy weapons from the U.S. Moreover, arms to Israel create more demand for weaponry in Arab states. According to Zunes, “the Israelis announced back in 1991 that they supported the idea of a freeze in Middle East arms transfers, yet it was the United States that rejected it.”

Thus the more the US gives Israel, the more it sells the Arabs. All of this supports the US military industry.

Besides these issues, Israel is like a US aircraft carrier extending US power throughout the ME. America does not have to have a standing army in the ME of 400,000 soldiers because they can always turn to Israel’s Army. Finally it took six months for the US to transport men and equipment to fight Iraq in the first Iraq War. Israel can be ready to go with full mobilization in 48 hours. Now what’s that worth?

When the US makes plans for its military footprint in the ME which will remain after the war in Iraq calms down it will not be unmindful of the IDF as part of that footprint. At an absolute minimum if Israel wasn’t there, the cost of the footprint would increase by much more than than the $3 billion the US would save by not supporting Israel.

September 12, 2007 | 10 Comments »

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