Foreign aid burden? How the relatively small U.S. investment in Israel is returned many times over

By Yoram Ettinger and Fred Zeidman

( — The growing sophistication of domestic oil and natural-gas production has enhanced the U.S. national security. It has transformed the leader of the free world from a major importer of crude oil into the world’s top producer of both crude oil (surpassing Saudi Arabia) and natural gas (ahead of Russia). The United States is expected to be the globe’s largest exporter of crude oil within five years.

This dramatic reduction of U.S. dependence on imported oil comes at a time when the supply of oil from the Persian Gulf is increasingly precarious. It is threatened by Iran, as well as by additional rogue elements in the inherently violent, intolerant, fragmented, unpredictable, shifty, non-democratic and unstable Middle East.

The Middle East — and especially Iran — has become the epicenter of global Islamic terrorism, drug trafficking and the development of ballistic and nuclear capabilities, producing ripple effects throughout the globe. For instance, the expanding presence of Iran and its proxy Hezbollah in the South American platforms of anti-U.S. Islamic terrorism and drug trafficking: the trilateral borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay and Chile, Peru and Bolivia. The aim of Iran’s ayatollahs is to employ these platforms as a venue to surge toward the United States.

Iran is not driven by the eagerness to improve trade, employment, standard of living and education. It is driven by the conviction that it is divinely ordained to dominate the Persian Gulf, the Middle East, Asia, Africa and the entire globe. The ayatollahs indoctrinate their youth with the belief that the world is divided into the “abode of Islam” and the “abode of the infidel,” which will eventually submit or be vanquished through jihad.

The ayatollahs — as reflected by their K-12 curriculum — consider the United States to be the “Great Satan,” the mega-obstacle on their way to global domination. Hence their determination to develop ballistic and nuclear capabilities.

The ayatollahs are energized by Western policy-makers, who are unaware that gestures and retreats — such as the 1978-79 U.S. betrayal of the Shah and support for the ayatollahs — are perceived by Iran as weakness, which intensifies their anti-Western zeal. Moreover, they consider any agreement with the West — such as the 2015 nuclear accord — to be merely a tenuous truce, to be abrogated once the “believers” gain the necessary strength to overpower the “infidel” West.

The 2015 agreement suggests that Western policy makers may not be aware that leopards don’t change their spots, only their tactics.

The expansion of the ayatollahs to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and all the way to South and Central America has occurred while the “Arab Tsunami” — erroneously called the “Arab Spring” — haunts the Middle East from northwest Africa to the Arabian Peninsula. The Arab Tsunami — represented by the raging civil wars in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and the domestic upheaval in most Arab countries — reflects the 1,400-year-old reality of the Middle East: There is no intra-Arab, intra-Muslim peaceful coexistence.

In the face of the conventional and non-conventional threats posed by the volcanic Middle East, Europe is losing its will to flex effective military muscle, reverting to Chamberlain’s and Daladier’s pre-World War II policy of appeasement.

On the other hand, Israel is increasingly considered by all pro-U.S. Arab regimes to be the most effective “life insurance agent” in the region. Hence their unprecedented security and commercial ties with Israel.

At the same time, Israel is the most effective ally of the United States, extending America’s strategic reach and benefiting it militarily, technologically and commercially.

For example, Israel has emerged as the most cost-effective, battle-tested laboratory of the U.S. defense industries, employing over a hundred U.S. military systems and sharing with the manufacturers lessons related to operation, maintenance and repair. These lessons have yielded thousands of upgrades, saving the United States many years of research and development, enhancing the competitiveness of U.S. products in the global market, increasing U.S. exports and expanding the U.S. employment base.

A Lockheed-Martin executive told me that the lessons shared by the Israel Air Force with regard to the F-16 fighter jet “have yielded a mega-billion-dollar bonanza to the manufacturer.” Similar benefits have been enjoyed by McDonnell-Douglas, the manufacturer of the F-15, which is also employed by the IAF.

Israel’s battle experience, too, has been shared with the U.S. armed forces, contributing to the formulation of battle tactics and awareness of the capabilities of Russian military systems. U.S. special operations units on their way to Iraq and Afghanistan stop in Israel for two-three weeks’ training by Israeli experts in countering suicide bombers, car bombs and improvised explosive devices.

According to Gen. George Keegan, former Chief of Air Force Intelligence, five CIAs would be required to procure the intelligence provided by Israel.

In the aftermath of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney stated: “Thank you, Israel, for destroying Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981, which spared the U.S. a nuclear confrontation in 1991.”

The late Gen. Alexander Haig, former supreme commander of NATO and secretary of state, referred to Israel as “the largest U.S. aircraft carrier, which does not require a single U.S. soldier on board and [is] deployed in a most critical region. If there were not Israel, then the U.S. would have to deploy a few more real aircraft carriers to the region, along with many more ground forces, which would have cost the U.S. taxpayer some $15 billion to $20 billion annually, all of which is spared by Israel.”

Just like the U.S. independent oil and natural gas producers, Israel has defied the odds, ascending to new heights, enhancing U.S. national security and the economy through mutually beneficial cooperation.

U.S.-Israel relations resemble a two-way street, whereby the United States makes an annual investment in — not foreign aid to — Israel, which yields an annual rate of return of a few hundred percent, benefiting the U.S. taxpayer.

The U.S.-Israel cooperation proves that two guns shoot farther than one.

Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative.

Fred Zeidman is co-chair of the Council for a Secure America’s Domestic Energy Producers Alliance.

This article originally appeared in The Ettinger Report.