Israel To Get Biggest US Aid Package In History – A Good Idea?

Yesterday US National Security Advisor Susan Rice signed a “memorandum of understanding” committing the US to providing $38 billion in military aid over the next ten years. Philip Giraldi joins today’s Liberty Report to break down the agreement and discuss whether it really does, as Rice claims, benefit US security.

Daniel McAdams: Hello everybody, and thank you for tuning in to The Liberty Report. As you can probably tell, Dr. Paul is travelling today, so I will do my best to hold up the show, and to keep the show on the road. Today we’re going to talk about an important event that happened yesterday, and that is the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to give the largest U.S. aid package in history: 38 billion dollars over the next ten years to the state of Israel. It is an enormous military gift to Israel. The implications, both financially and in terms of security, are significant. If we can first pull up a tweet, and this is how U.S. national security advisor, Susan Rice, depicted it yesterday: “Today I was proud to announce the new MOU w/ Israel, the largest single pledge of military assistance in US history to any country.” And then underneath it: “No other administration has done more for Israel’s security, & U.S. commitment to Israel will remain unshakeable”. That’s how Susan Rice characterized it.

We’re joined today by my old friend, Philip Giraldi, who covers these issues very well in his columns for www.unz.com and for The American Conservative, as well as his position as head of the Council for National Interest. Philip, thank you so much for joining us.

Philip Giraldi: Thank you for having me.

Daniel McAdams: So here’s what Susan Rice said, and I think this is interesting, Philip, because the whole thing is couched in business terms. The whole idea of a Memorandum of Understanding is a business term, the whole thing is couched as an investment. Here’s what she said: “The U.S. is making a historic investment to protect the security of Israel”. She also said, “This memorandum of understanding is not just good for Israel, it’s good for the United States. Our security is linked”. It’s interesting how they try to couch it in these hard business terms, interest terms, but in fact it is just simply free money, isn’t it, Philip?

Philip Giraldi: Well, it’s hard to imagine how this in any way enhances the security of the United States. Basically, as you are suggesting, it is a giveaway that they’re trying to sugar coat in a way to say that this is something that really benefits the U.S. and the U.S. taxpayer, but it doesn’t. Essentially, Israel is strong enough to stand on its own two feet, it’s a nuclear power with ballistic missiles on submarines, ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads, it has the strongest air force, navy, and army in the Middle East. It could beat all its neighbors simultaneously. So this is a bit of a con. Susan Rice and also Obama know perfectly well that this is just something that has to be done to satisfy a powerful domestic lobby that demands that there be a special relationship with Israel, even if that relationship makes no sense whatsoever.

Daniel McAdams: Over the past few weeks on this show, we’ve also criticized the U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which was also in the billions. Those were sales, but they’re still in the billions and they still support a country whose foreign and domestic policy is not, shall we say, up there with Switzerland or Norway. We’ve criticized that, we certainly have criticized all foreign aid. What’s interesting for the press conference yesterday is the Israeli National Security Council head, Yaakov Nagel, seemed a little bit unsatisfied even with the 38 billion dollars. Here’s what he had to say when he got the microphone: “I believe that what we received today was the maximum we could have obtained given the state of the U.S. economy. Maybe, and that is also doubtful, we could have gotten another $100 million”. What do you think the American public would think about this seeming ingratitude of us giving 38 billion dollars to a foreign country?

Philip Giraldi: Well, the American public are actually reading the accounts of what was going on, and they’re paying attention. They might be outraged, but the fact is, of course, these stories are always kind of buried in the mainstream media on page 13, and none of the downside is ever laid out in the article. So, again, if you’re getting a kind of sugar coated version of what this is all about: “Poor little democratic Israel is beleaguered and vulnerable, and the United States is doing the right thing by supporting our best friend and ally in the Middle East, or in the world, indeed”. This, of course, is all ridiculous. Israel is not an ally, Israel has never done anything to support U.S. national security interests. Quite the contrary, they’ve essentially created security problems for the United States in a region that was once extremely friendly to the United States. So they are the reverse of an ally and security helper.

I remember back in the 1990s, when Netanyahu was in power the last time, one of the big things that he said when he came to power was, “We really want to wean ourselves off of U.S. aid, we think that it makes us dependent, it distorts our economy, it’s not a good thing. We want to be more powerful, and we don’t want the U.S. pushing us around”. That all sounded great at the time, I wonder why they have backed off. To back off against the allure of free money is always something, but if all the things he said about receiving aid are true, then it doesn’t seem like it’s that awfully helpful to Israel either.

Philip Giraldi: Well, I think it’s a question of what the United States actually does in terms of trying to move Israel on the issues that the United States considers to be important. The United States basically makes no efforts to move Israel, and Netanyahu knows this, so he’s not vulnerable to being pushed around by Washington. And, it’s free money, why not take it. It’s a hell of a lot of money, it’s a hell of a lot of money that can be better spent in the United States.

Daniel McAdams: Yes, you know our old friend, Lindsey Graham, who’s always looking out for U.S. interests first. You think he’d be thrilled with all this money going to Israel, but he slammed the deal. The problem that he had with it, is that there’s a provision in this deal saying, “Okay, we’ll give you literally a ton of money, probably several tons of money, but please don’t ask us for any more above this”, and he’s mad about that. But what I notice is interesting in that, is they agreed to not ask for any more money, unless a war breaks out. I wonder about that, because that seems like a huge incentive for something really bad to happen.

Philip Giraldi: Plus, it depends on how you define a war, doesn’t it? If you read the paper today, or if you go online, you’ll see that it looks like there’s a mini-war threatening to break out in Syria. The fact is that Israel is quite capable of spontaneously coming up with a war that people like Lindsey Graham and John McCain will immediately agree is a war, and suddenly the […] gets open again. This is outrageous, these congressmen are essentially … I wouldn’t call them tools of Israel or anything like that, but the fact is, even knowing what they know, they are willing to put U.S. national security interests on a backburner when it comes to Israel, because they know that’s politically expedient.

Daniel McAdams: As you point out, over the past few days we’ve seen some conflict between Israel and Syria in Golan Heights. What’s interesting, and it’s actually another thing that you don’t see much in the U.S. media, and you wonder about this, is that Israel is hitting the Syrian Arab Army. But in that part of Syria, the Syrian government army is fighting the al-Nusra front, they are fighting Al-Qaida. So, in a perverse way, you could almost say that Israel is acting as Al-Qaida’s air force in that part of Syria. 9/11 was just a few days ago, so it’s hard to imagine that that is a good thing from our perspective.

Philip Giraldi: Yes, you’re absolutely correct. Israel has always had a much different objectives in terms of what’s going in Syria than we have ostensibly had. Israel wants to see the conflict there go on forever, because it weakens a whole group of people, a whole basket of people, who are potentially hostile to Israel. And that’s what they think, and it makes a certain amount of sense. By why can’t the European and American politicians who kind of look the other way while Israel is doing these things, realize that it’s our own interests that are being sacrificed.

Daniel McAdams: Another aspect of this, Philip, and this brings it closer to home and makes it much less about Israel, in this case, and more about the military-industrial complex at home, which is really our biggest enemy; (those of us who work hard and try to pay our way). This deal is a huge welfare check to the defense contractors, the bomb makers, the missile makers, the F35 makers and all of this.. particularly in this Memorandum of Understanding, they have removed the provision that allows Israel to use, I think, up to 23% of this money in its own defense industry. And it tells Israel, “No, no, you’ve got to buy American, you’ve got to come and shop and prop up all of our big welfare queens, all of the Lockheeds and all of the military-industrial complex who are rich in Washington”. There really is a lot in it for rich American well-connected corporations.

Philip Giraldi: Yes, I agree. Under normal circumstances, I would welcome this clause, because it basically was allowing Israel to take our money and prop up its own defense industry, which competes with ours. It was directly taking away American jobs as much as I might disapprove of the defense industry in general. But yes, of course, this is all unnecessary spending, this is buying military equipment that is not needed for the security of Israel. It’s basically something that’s part of a self-generating system, whereby the U.S. government funds projects that have constituencies, but the constituencies have nothing to do with our national security.

Daniel McAdams: Yes, and of course, the defense industry, as I say almost every day on this show, plough in millions of dollars to the so called think tanks inside the beltway, and they come up with new plans to expand wars and to give more aid packages to Saudi Arabia and Israel and this sort of thing. So you’re right, as Chuck Spinney would say, it is a self-licking ice cream cone. The other issue is the congressmen, and you touched on a little while ago. You have a recent column that’s out this week about the elections and about Israel and about special interests. Reading that article, although not necessarily related to this memorandum of understanding, I think it gives us an idea of why we shouldn’t expect Congress to stand up too tall and say, “Hey, hold on, we need this 38 billion dollars at home. We can’t afford this, we are in a financial crisis.”

We won’t expect them to stand up that much, so maybe if you can tell us a little bit about why, based on your excellent recent article.

Philip Giraldi: Basically, Israel worked very hard to propagandize with our Congress, and they do it very directly. If this were any other country doing what Israel does, we presumably would be outraged, but Israel gets away with it. All new freshmen congressmen that come in, and their spouses, are treated to an all expenses paid luxury tour of Israel during their first year in office, the point being to give them Israel’s point of view on what is going on in the Middle East. Of course, they come back, and they have met Netanyahu, and Netanyahu pats them on the head, and from that point on, they are apologists for Israel. This happens every year, in fact, it happens multiple times every year, and also, Congress itself funds fact finds missions to Israel, which are not fact finding missions at all.

They’re going over there to talk to Netanyahu and talk to his officials, and basically to find out what they want. It comes down to, “What do you want, […], what more can we do for you?” The whole process of Israel cultivating Congress is out in the open, but no one talks about it very much.

Daniel McAdams: As you say, when they come home, they’re much less likely to say, “Hang on a minute”. We would say Israel should be a friend, should be a trading partner, we should travel and trade with Israel and be friendly with them. But draw the line when it comes to sending an unprecedented amount of money, particularly at a time like this when we face an at least eight year financial crisis without recovery. Unfortunately, they do, and they go over there and they see a very limited view, as you point out. Nobody is asking to go to Gaza where they probably wouldn’t be allowed to if they wished to. They’re seeing on one side. This isn’t just Israel, any time these state sponsored trips overseas; if they went to Ukraine, they would see the same thing.

They never see the other side, and that’s why I think with the members of Congress, a little bit of knowledge is a very dangerous thing. Because, in our experience, they’ll get back to Washington and say, “I’ve just been back from Ukraine, and let me tell you, this is how it is”. It gives them a credibility that they don’t really deserve, because they only see a very limited view. And, as you point out, there is a lot of money probably freed up by some of this aid that allows them to woo a lot of congressmen and members and make them feel, from the beginning as freshmen members, like they’re in the big league, feel like they’re important. I guess that means something, perhaps, if you come from the Midwest or somewhere and you’re not in the midst of it. To immediately feel like an expert in foreign affairs must be a kind of ego boost for the members as well.

Philip Giraldi: Sure, that’s right. It’s just exactly like my own congressman. They get a kind of a factsheet from APAC that tells them how to think certain issues like the Iran deal, and they come back with the factsheet when you query what they’re doing or what they’re saying. It’s a multi-fronted propaganda exercise carried out by the Israeli government, which is very successful. You have to hand it to them, they do it right, they really get it. But the unfortunate thing for we Americans is our Congress is […] by the process, as well as the media. […] if the media were doing its job, this 38 million dollars deal would get castigated. But that’s not going to happen.

Daniel McAdams: Yes, that’s a good point, Philip. We can hardly blame the state of Israel or any other state, if they have the opportunity to invest a few million and get a few billion back. That’s hardly something you can fault them for. I think we would both fault members of Congress for putting themselves in such a situation, and for selling themselves out so cheaply. And also blame constituents, because if any of these members got hundreds of calls, even fifty calls from people saying, “I oppose giving away money to Israel. Let’s be friendly and let’s trade, but giving away money is not the way to go”. Really, a lot of the fault is here at home.

Philip, I want to thank you. We’re going to have to close now, but I want to thank you, it’s always great talking to you and getting your insights. I appreciate you joining The Liberty Report.

Philip Giraldi: Thank you.

Daniel McAdams: And I really want to thank the audience for continuing to watch the show, and growing the show. We’re well over 50,000 subscribers now to that Ron Paul Liberty Report, because we talk about hard hitting things, like today. I’m sure the critics would say, “You’re just beating up on Israel”, but that’s not the case at all. We’re talking about a system in Washington that is very, very corrupt, that does not put American interest first, and that makes us more economically vulnerable, security wise very vulnerable, making enemies overseas and spending money like a drunken sailor. We cannot continue doing it. As Dr. Paul often says, we are broke, we can’t afford it.

I hope you continue to tune in to The Liberty Report, please tell your friends to watch us and to subscribe, we’d love to hear from you, and we will be back again tomorrow.