Does Israel’s Response to the Iran Deal Show Ingratitude to the U.S.?

That is the thesis of Susan Milligan’s U.S. News July 17 column “Biting the Hand that Feeds You.” Given that Israel receives more than $3 billion a year in military aid from the U.S., Milligan argues Prime Minister Netanyahu should tone down his criticism. After all, the U.S. wouldn’t give Israel all that money year after year if it was unconcerned with Israel’s safety.

Let’s examine Milligan’s argument.

Israel shouldn’t criticize the Iran deal because we give Israel $3 billion a year in military aid. There are several problems with that argument, including the fact that the aid is not given to Israel to keep its mouth shut. The crucial problem with the argument is the assumption the Iran deal is not a 180-degree change in direction of U.S. Middle East policy. That’s why so many Americans are critical of the deal and why leaders of both the conservative and liberal parties in Israel oppose it.

What is the purpose of the U.S. military aid? Presumably the U.S. sees that aid accomplishing something worth every dollar. The key reason is that it enables Israel to protect itself from enemies who have been at war with it since 1948. But it accomplishes other things for us as well, not to mention the fact that ¾ of the aid money must be spent in the U.S.

What has Israel done for the U.S.? It has defended Western values in a region teetering on the edge of Islamic totalitarianism, but it aided the U.S. in other ways. In 1967, Israel defeated the armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, a defeat that was directly responsible for Egypt’s turning away from the Soviet Union, which had sought to bring the Arab League into its sphere of influence.

Another way Israel repaid the U.S. was by taking out the nuclear reactors that Iraq and Syria were illegally attempting to build, and when Iraq fired Scud missiles into Tel Aviv, Israel sat on its hands at U.S. request.

Milligan’s final argument is that the only alternative to this deal is war. One “gets the impression [Netanyahu] would only be satisfied if the United States bombed Iran back to the Stone Age.”

Instead of relying on impressions, however, let’s consider Netanyahu’s actual answer to that question. He has never been opposed to a deal with Iran. His criticisms is based on the fact that the deal doesn’t do what the U.S. and its allies set as their goal when negotiations started, which was dismantle Iran’s nuclear energy program in return for lifting sanctions.

Milligan has bought the administration’s argument that it is this deal or no deal, but that is absurd. A better deal was available had Obama/Kerry shown some backbone.

Instead of criticizing Netanyahu for biting the hand that feeds Israel, the American people ought to be thankful that he is pointing out the deal’s flaws because if he’s right, this deal is very likely to come back to haunt the American people in lives lost down the road.

2 thoughts on “Does Israel’s Response to the Iran Deal Show Ingratitude to the U.S.?

  1. There are at least two fundamental misconceptions here. Specifically about who was negotiating and about what their goal was. You say that PM Netanyahu’s criticism “… is based on the fact that the deal doesn’t do what the U.S. and its allies set as their goal when negotiations started, which was dismantle Iran’s nuclear energy program in return for lifting sanctions.” 1) These were not bilateral negotiations between the United States (together with its allies) and Iran. The P5+1 (and several international agencies) were the parties negotiating with Iran. They were negotiating a multilateral agreement limited to Iran’s international obligations relating to nuclear weapons. In these negotiations, as elsewhere, Russia and China cannot reasonably be called America’s allies, In addition, the policies of France, England, and Germany regarding Iran (and Israel) are certainly not identical to those of the US. For example,although Iran is not very popular in Europe, all three European powers, unlike the US, have normal diplomatic relations with Iran as well as extensive present and potential economic ties — as do Russia and China. To take just one example of differences between the US and its “allies” Germany now has more than 5 billion dollars in annual trade with Iran despite maintaining the sanctions. the German Chamber of Commerce estimates that maintaining the sanctions is costing Germany additional billions and at least 10,000 german jobs. Hundreds of German firms are active in Iran, and almost all Iranian industrial machinery is of German origin. Similar anayses can be made for the other powers. No country wants to continue sanctions which hurt their own economies if those sanctions have served their stated purpose. 2) The stated purpose of the sanctions (and of these negotiations concerning the conditions for lifting them) was to force Iran to accept additional international surveillance and control of its compliance with the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). No other issues were on the table. The P5 are not only the legacy nuclear powers enforcing this treaty, they are also the permanent members of the UN Security Council which imposed many of the sanctions. Under the provisions of the NPT Iran has, like every other signatory except the P5, forever renounced the acquisition or development of any nuclear weapon. In return for this, Iran, like all the other signatories, is guaranteed ongoing support and aid for its own peaceful nuclear energy program. (See Article IV of the NPT.) Any attempt by the P5+1 to dismantle Iran’s (non-weapon) nuclear energy program would violate the very treaty they were attempting to enforce.

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