Michael Jansen
The Jordan Times
July 22, 2010 - 12:00am

Following Israel's 1948 war of establishment, the Truman administration warned the leaders of the new state that the US would not send in the cavalry for protection, but provide military hardware so it could defend itself. President Harry Truman argued that US voters would support Israel as long as the blood of US soldiers was not being shed to preserve it.

After Israel's 1967 war on Jordan, Egypt and Syria, the US adopted a policy of providing Israel with enough state-of-the-art armaments or the funds to develop arms to defeat any combination of Arab antagonists. This policy - which has become a doctrine - has given Israel the tools to wage almost constant war on the Palestinians and Arabs.

Therefore, arming Israel is, all too clearly, not a means to achieve peace, but a very dangerous policy indeed.

President Barack Obama began his term in office with peace making on his mind. He called for serious negotiations which would result in the creation of a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Instead of going along with Obama's policy, Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu repeatedly humiliated the US chief executive by ignoring his pleas for a colonisation freeze in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, a halt to Israeli demolition of Palestinian houses, and an end to t?e siege and blockade of Gaza.

Nevertheless, Obama is sticking to a deal struck by the Bush administration, providing US funding for nearly one quarter of Israel's military expenditures. This is highly significant because several years ago, the US was seeking to shift the balance of its annual $3 billion donation to Israel away from military to civilian projects.

Last week, Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro announced that the administration requested congressional funding for a new "security package" valued at $2.775 billion. This is, according to Shapiro, "... the largest such request in US history". (It is certainly meant to boost the prospects of Democratic candidates in the November mid-term congressional elections).

He said the package was intended to help "the Israeli people to seize this opportunity and take the tough decisions necessary for comprehensive peace".

Furthermore, in a bid to reduce strains in relations between Obama and Netanyahu, Shapiro stated: "Israel is a vital ally and a cornerstone of our regional security commitments?. We are fully committed to Israel's security because it helps Israel to take the steps necessary for peace."

The package includes the "sale" (read donation) of F-35 Joint Strike fighter planes, joint training exercises, funds for Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system designed to protect Israel from medium-range rockets, and research and development.

While Shapiro argued that a "secure Israel is better able to make the tough decisions that will need to be made to make peace", the package can be expected to lead to war.

On the one hand, the deal is certain to strengthen Israel's determination to hang on to occupied Palestinian and Syrian territories. On the other, the package could prompt Israel to risk an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

A blitz on Iran could bring disaster to the region. According to a report, "Military Action Against Iran: Impact and Effects", issued by the Oxford Research Group - which promotes peaceful resolution of conflicts - Israeli strikes on Iran could lead to protracted regional war and prompt Iran to develop nuclear weapons.

The 14-page briefing paper, written by Paul Rogers, professor of peace studies at Britain Bradford University, said that Israel's "potential for action against Iran" has been boosted by Israeli popular support and enhanced military capabilities, including the acquisition of long-range bombers and drones, tanker aircraft for refuelling, and the establishment by the "support facilities" Israel might use in northern Iraq and Azerbaijan.

Rogers quite rightly asserted that an Israel strike could not be carried out without US "tacit support", which would almost certainly attract Iranian attacks on US interests, troops and allies. Furthermore, Israeli action would not take the form of a single strike modelled on the bombing of Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981. Israel would, instead, conduct a campaign of targeting "a wide range of nuclear and missile facilities" as well as "factories, research centres and university facilities that would underp?n the rebuilding of the [destroyed nuclear] facilities".

As many Iranian targets are located in or near cities, there would be "significant civilian casualties", stated Rogers.

Following an attack, Rogers argued that Iranians would stand together and the government would withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Tehran would focus on the development of weapons at hardened underground sites, necessitating further Israeli strikes.

This would result in "prolonged conflict" during which Iran could block the Strait of Hormuz, interdicting Gulf oil shipments, and stir instability in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Prospects for regional stability and global security would be very seriously damaged," stated Rogers.

He said the US "political right" and the "powerful Israel lobby that is centred on the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee" seek "much firmer action" to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons than is "currently contemplated" by the Obama administration.

It is relying on sanctions to compel Iran to suspend its nuclear programme, but the administration's "rhetoric has certainly become much tougher" in recent months. If the administration eventually opts for military action, this would amount to a full-blown offensive against a wider range of targets.

In spite of Israeli and US sabre rattling, the report observed, "... there is no firm evidence" that Iran has taken the decision to build "a small arsenal of nuclear weapons". But Tehran is "developing the technologies and personnel to enable it to handle a range of nuclear-related systems". Consequently, it could take Iran seven years "to produce six useable weapons" once Tehran takes the decision to do so.

Recent "construction projects" suggest that Tehran "at least wants the option of a capability, even if it is held in reserve rather than implemented". But if Iran decides to go for nuclear weapons, Tehran would have to break safeguards maintained by the International Atomic Energy Agency on enriched material. This, said Rogers, "would set off a major international alert many months before Iran would be able to convert the material into a weapon".

Since this would give Israel and the US plenty of time to mount military operations, it would be sensible for the Obama administration to initiate a serious dialogue with Iran.

It would be more profitable for Washington to discuss with Tehran the range of issues on which there is disagreement than to beat the drums of war and provide Israel with arms to wage a war that could wreck US interests in this region and destabilise it for decades.


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