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August 24, 2016 / 20 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘secretary of defense’

Liberman Embarks on First visit to DC as Defense Minister Amid Military Aid Dispute

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) is coming to Washington DC on his inaugural visit as Defense Minister against the background of a dispute between the White House and Congress over increasing US support for Israel’s missile defense research and development. He’ll be meeting with US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, who maintained a personal friendship with Liberman’s ousted predecessor, Moshe Ya’alon (Likud). Liberman and Carter are expected to discuss the White House proposal for a long-term US military aid, which would be larger than the current package, but conditioned on Israeli agreement not to solicit additional military aid from Congress.

Last Tuesday the Administration opposed a call by Congress to increase funding for Israel’s missile defense program by $455 million, to $600 million, well above the 2017 fiscal year White House budget request.

Israel is looking to expand the US annual military aid package from the current $3.2 billion to upwards of $4.5 billion, a portion of which would go to purchases from Israeli companies. The White House is looking at a more modest increase over 10 years, and for the entire amount to be spent in the US.

According to a senior defense ministry source speaking to Ma’ariv, the military aid package is not the central purpose of the visit, rather the trip is mainly planned for introductory meetings with key players in the defense department and in Congress. “We don’t expect dramatic breakthroughs in the coming week,” the source said.

Liberman will also meet with the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Committees.

On Wednesday, Liberman will attend the Lockheed Martin roll out ceremony for the F-35 fighter planes purchased by the Israeli air force — the first of which is expected to arrive in Israel in December. The defense minister will also tour an Elbit Systems plant and meet in New York with the defense ministry purchasing delegation.

According to Walla, there is a dispute between the professional echelon in the defense ministry and Prime Minister Netanyahu over the American proposal, with the DM staff recommending signing the aid package now, and Netanyahu preferring to wait out this administration and dealing with the next president, Clinton or Trump, either one of whom would be more pro-Israel.

Liberman is much more liked by the current administration than Netanyahu, because back when Secretary of State John Kerry was still pushing for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement based on the 1967 borders, Liberman, then Israel’s foreign minister, supported the US effort, saying this was the best deal Israel could expect.

In that vein, Liberman is expected to use the opportunity of his US visit to allay fears regarding his hawkish reputation on defense, by making a major dovish statement about the two-state-solution.

JNi.Media

US ‘Willing’ to Send Soldiers to Fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

 

United States army soldiers might be sent to Syria and Iraq to fight the Islamic State (ISIS), Secretary of Defense Ash Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday.

His remarks directly contradict President Barack Obama, who has said the United States will not have any “boots on the ground” in Iraq and Syria. They also reflect the Obama administration’s concern that Russia has become the one and only Western power broker in the Middle East, filling the vacuum that President Barack Obama has left open by discarding opportunities to take the lead.

Carter told the committee:

We won’t hold back from supporting capable partners in opportunistic attacks against ISIL, or conducting such missions directly whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground.

Last week, U.S. soldiers participated with Kurdish forces to free hostages held by ISIS in northern Iraq, but the Pentagon said that the maneuver did not mean the United States was putting “boots n the ground” in the country.

But Carter has said that there probably will be “more raids of this kind and that the rescue mission “represents a continuation of our advise and assist mission.”

In simple English, the United States is putting boots on the ground in specific operations, for the time being, in the war against ISIS, but the White House is saying it isn’t.

 

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Obama Calls Netanyahu to Assure Him of ‘Concerns’ for Iranian Terror

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

President Barack Obama placed a check mark on his list of duties of protocol night and called Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to assure him that the agreement with Iran ensures “the peaceful nature” of Tehran’s nuclear program. The White House summary of the phone call omitted Netanyahu’s response, which included two major concerns that he raised:

One, the agreement allows Iran to develop extensive capabilities that will serve it in arming itself with nuclear weapons whether at the end of the period of the agreement in another 10-15 years, or earlier if it violates the agreement.

Two, the agreement channels hundreds of billions of dollars to Iran’s terrorism and war machine, a war that is directed against us and against others in the region.

President Obama’s “reassurance” on the aspect of terror was nothing but an expression “of our concerns regarding Iran’s support for terrorism and threats toward Israel.” He did expound on how his “concerns” will thwart terror.

According to the White House version, President Obama noted that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) “will verifiably prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon while ensuring the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program going forward.

The White House was careful not to admit that Iran has 24 days to hide the evidence between the time that IAEA inspectors will ask to sniff for nuclear weapons development and the time they actually arrive.

“Snap inspections,” which Obama once said would part of the final deal, will not happen.

The President is going through the motions to show Congress how much his administration is Israel’s greatest ally and supporter, and he reminded Prime Minister Netanyahu last night that Secretary of Defense Ash Carter will visit Israel next week.

The President told the Prime Minister that the visit “is a reflection of the unprecedented level of security cooperation between the United States and Israel, and that the visit offers a further opportunity to continue our close consultation on security issues with Israeli counterparts as we remain vigilant in countering the Iranian regime’s destabilizing activities in the region.”

Uh-huh.

Prime Minister Netanyahu told the Security Cabinet last night that if weren’t for Israel, Iran would have nuclear weapons today. He explained:

The pressure that we applied and the actions that we undertook over the years led to the fact that Iran did not arm itself with nuclear weapons and I can safely say that were it not for Israel’s actions, including by governments that I led, Iran would have already armed itself with nuclear weapons.

And therefore, at present there is one mission – to ensure that it does not arm itself with nuclear weapons in the future.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Iran Tests US Resolve, Forces Maersk Vessel to Coastal Waters

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

Iran appears to be testing the resolve of the United States and President Barack Obama in its latest adventure with a Marshall Islands-flagged cargo ship in the Strait of Hormuz.

U.S. forces operating in the region heard and responded to the distress call sent by the M/S Maersk Tigris, sailing under the flag of the Marshall Islands, during a confrontation with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The Marshall Islands are under a defense treaty with the United States; the U.S. is obligated to come to the defense of that nation should it be attacked.

The Iranian forces contacted the master of the cargo ship as it sailed through the Strait of Hormuz, ordering him to divert to Iranian waters. When he refused, the Iranian vessel fired warning shots across the bow of the Danish ship. IRGC forces then boarded the ship and guided it towards southern Iran.

By the time the U.S.S. Farragut, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer reached the location – more than 60 miles away at the start of the distress call – the Maersk was heading to Iran.

Apparently under Admiralty law, a commercial firm is allowed to go to court and obtain a court order to seize a ship to satisfy a debt, according to retired U.S. Navy captain and Fox News military analyst Chuck Nash.

Nash told Fox News journalist Gretchen Carlson on Wednesday that an Iranian company did just that about 10 or 12 years ago, after cargo that was to be shipped with a Maersk vessel never arrived.

Last Friday, four Iranian ships also dogged the heels of a Maersk ship as it sailed through the Strait of Hormuz. But that vessel was sailing under the flag of the United States of America, and eventually the Iranians abandoned their pursuit.

This week the targeted Maersk vessel was flagged under the Marshall Islands, which clearly emboldened its pursuers.

“The U.S. is under no obligation” to do [anything to defend the vessel] in the maritime realm, Nash explained. He pointed out the treaty with the Marshall Islands is a “clear spoken defense agreement should they be attacked” – on land.

The U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense has confirmed the above facts, saying the shipping company told U.S. Central Command that the Iran Navy “contacted the vessel and directed the Maersk Tigris’s master to divert further, into Iranian waters.” He added: “The master initially declined and one of the IRGC patrol craft fired shots across the Maersk Tigris’s bow. The master then complied and diverted under escort by the IRGC vessels.”

The Maersk issued a distress call when the shots were fired. The U.S.S. Farragut received that call and immediately launched a maritime reconnaissance aircraft to monitor the situation, and itself headed to site, he added.

The real questions now are:

  • What is the status of the MaerskTigris, forced to a southern Iranian port city by Iranian forces?
  • Where are the 34 sailors who were aboard the Maersk and what is their condition? Are they now hostages of Iran?
  • Who has the obligation to rescue the crew of the Maersk? Who will ensure their safety?
  • How will the United States consider this situation as it continues to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear development activities?

It’s important not to forget that Iran continues to hold U.S. citizens hostage, even as Secretary of State John Kerry carries on his nuclear development negotiations with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. They are:

  • Saeed Abedini, 34, of Idaho, arrested during a 2012 trip to Tehran to visit family and sentenced to eight years in prison. Married father of two;
  • Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent seized by Iranian intelligence in 2007 as he was investigating a cigarette smuggling case on Kish Island, an Iranian free-trade zone — the longest-held hostage in Iranian custody, assuming he is still alive;
  • Amir Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine arrested and charged with espionage in 2011 while visiting family in Tehran; and
  • Jason Rezaian, the bureau chief for The Washington Post in Tehran, arrested in July 2014 on undisclosed “security-related offenses.” In January 2015 an Iranian prosecutor revealed Rezaian would be tried in a revolutionary court by one of the country’s most notorious hanging judges.
  • It is important to remember the names and circumstances of each of the hostages and to remind each candidate who stands for office as elections approach in 2016.

Hana Levi Julian

Hagel Coming to Israel Bearing Lots of (Sort of) Gifts

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is starting a weeklong visit to the Middle East, concluding a year of secret negotiations over a $10 billion arms deal involving Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The deal includes American made missiles, warplanes and troop transports, to help each country in facing threats from Iran.

The NY Times quoted a senior administration official who said the goal of the new deal is “not just to boost Israel’s capabilities, but also to boost the capabilities of our Persian Gulf partners so they, too, would be able to address the Iranian threat — and also provide a greater network of coordinated assets around the region to handle a range of contingencies.”

When Chuck Hagel leaves the region, he will also, supposedly, answer the puzzling riddle of how can Israel afford to spend even more billions of dollars, when her entire $3 billion in U.S. military aid is already spoken for. In everybody’s mind, there can be only one answer: Israel will ask the U.S. to pay the U.S. whatever it takes, so Israel can get the new, really shiny stuff.

Highest on Israel’s shopping list for things it couldn’t possibly pay for out of its own shrinking budget: new missiles designed to take out the enemy’s air-defense radar, and then, also, advanced radar for Israeli warplanes, and don’t forget new refueling tanker planes. In short, it’s all the stuff you need if you’re going out to bomb the nuclear facilities of an unnamed country a thousand miles away.

In addition Israel will also buy the V-22 Osprey troop transport aircraft, which combines the functionality of a conventional helicopter with the long-range, high-speed cruise performance of a turboprop aircraft.

If you ask me, Israel needs these units like it needs a hole in the head. Besides the fact that they’ve had a terrible reputation, rife with corruption (a Marine Lieutenant Colonel was kicked off the service after it was discovered he fixed reports to favor the new aircraft), Israel is not facing the troop transport issues the U.S. military does around the globe. It’s a whole lot cheaper to fly the troops across the border in any direction on good, old fashioned choppers, than to utilize and maintain these unwieldy behemoths. But since the entire U.S. military aid to Israel program is, essentially, intended to support jobs creation on Long Island and in Washington State, what do I care.

They accused former President GW Bush of being an irresponsible spendthrift when he invested trillions of dollars of money we didn’t have in invading and destroying the only enemy of Iranian expansionism in the region – Saddam Hussein. But, as it turns out, the president was smarter than we thought. By making Iran the undeniable bully of the Middle east, utilizing Shiite power in Iraq to bolster its own, now U.S. military industrial companies are able to cash in on the new market and sell everybody in the region those state-of-the-art American mega weapons. USA! USA!

“This year the United States provided $3.1 billion in foreign military financing to Israel, the highest the United States has ever provided,” a Pentagon official said. In addition, the United States provides about $300 million in missile defense to Israel, he noted.

Elsewhere in the region, in 2010 Saudi Arabia agreed to purchase 84 F-15 tactical fighters in a deal worth $29.4 billion, the official said, and the first F-15s have rolled off the line in St. Louis and are undergoing flight testing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

During Hagel’s trip, the UAE is expected to move forward with the purchase of 25 F-16 Block 60 Desert Falcon fighters manufactured by Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas. The expected value of the sale is $425 billion, the official said.

The United Arab Emirates wants to buy 26 F-16 warplanes, at $5 billion, and they also need those precision missiles that can be launched from those same jets at distant ground targets. Saudi Arabia is also in for them advanced missile.

The deal with Israel was in discussion over the past year between former defense secretary Leon E. Panetta and former defense minister Ehud Barak. The Times reports the two had 18 additional telephone discussions on the arms deal. After being sworn in as the new defense secretary, Hagel’s first face-to-face discussion with any foreign counterpart was with Barak, to get the deal done. When Hagel starts will move to finalize the arms deal with Barak’s successor, Moshe Yaalon.

Yori Yanover

Extra Thoughts: Hagelian Dialectic

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Update: Extra thoughts that could not make the main text of “When AIPAC Went AWOL“:

(1) It is conceivable, though not likely, that Obama and AIPAC each played a Machiavellian game here: Obama expected that Hagel’s attacks on AIPAC render AIPAC less likely to impede his nomination, so as not to seem petty. Conversely, AIPAC figured that Hagel’s attacks on Israel require him to reach out to it, so as not to seem insincere in his confirmation hearings.

If these were their calculations, they have so far been borne out. AIPAC stayed mute; Hagel announced that his first face-to-face meeting with a foreign counterpart will be with Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

(2) “Hagelian Dialectic” is my fantasy title for this column, referring to the German philosopher, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and his highly elaborated dialectic theory of history (which Karl Marx subsequently drew on for his dialectical materialism). In the Hegelian schema, Israel is the thesis, Obama the antithesis and the Pentagon the synthesis.

Originally published at DanielPipes.org as an update to “When AIPAC Went AWOL,” available at the JewishPress.com.

Daniel Pipes

Don’t Look to AIPAC for Help

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Chuck Hagel was just confirmed as the next Secretary of Defense in Obama’s administration. The media having shed plenty of light on his controversial views on Israel, Iran and the Middle-East at large, didn’t stop 58 Senators—which included four Republicans—from confirming him. One of those Republicans was the supposedly pro-Israel Rand Paul of Kentucky.

A close friend of mine—who is a staunchly pro-Israel non-Jew—expressed shock and disappointment upon hearing the news of his vote. But as we’ve learned from the story of Purim (and frankly most Jewish holidays), just when the situation looks bleak, everything is for the best in the long run.

As we’ve come to find out, Chuck Hagel’s views on Israel are not in the norm in the Republican Party. Quotes such as “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here” isn’t something you’d hear from an aspiring Secretary of Defense. At least not since Secretary of State James Baker’s “f— the Jews” comment some 25 years ago.

But again, just when the situation looks dire, everything is for the best. The entirety of his quote on the “Jewish lobby”—which maybe was in fact a misnomer on his part and he meant the Israel lobby—was “The political reality is that… the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here…. I’ve always argued against some of the dumb things they do, because I don’t think it’s in the interest of Israel.”

You know what? In a way, he’s right. AIPAC, which is by and large a secular organization and the biggest Israel lobbying organization in America, has in fact done less for ‘hasbara’ or Israel advocacy movement and more to foment anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment in America. The only venture they’ve succeeded in is raising capital in the name of Israel. This falsely leads people to believe that the “Jewish lobby” does in fact control American foreign policy, and it plays into the greater idea of Jews secretly controlling every aspect of American lives from cradle to the grave. AIPAC is helping the Protocols of the Elders of Zion come to life, to the tune of $3 billion annually.

And this fund-raising comes at a heavy price. The result being that when America says jump, Israel has to say how high. Therefore, Israel can never take care of business in a real way when it comes to the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah. Moreover, when it comes to Iron Dome, America cashes in on the very conflict which it is at best complicit with and at worst actively foments. In the long run, it’s economically not worth it for America if there’s peace in this part of the world. See: America’s arming of “rebels” in Libya and Syria.

In the case of Israel, any American administration official or bureaucrat with half a brain would by now come to understand that the true path to peace between cousin Isaac and cousin Ishmael is having Israel not give away land, because the Arab nation, when given an inch, they usually tend to demand a yard or more. And America insists on asking Israel to give that inch every single time and Israel gets nothing in return. So either the U.S. administration is daft and still hasn’t fully grasped how things work in the Middle East or they understand it and are deliberately trying to shrink Israel. (Disclaimer #1: One has a choice. One can say I’m making a sweeping generalization based on race or one can open up the history books and see the results for themselves).

For more proof see: The Oslo Accords under Clinton, Gush Katif under George W. Bush (of all people), Jimmy Carter’s book on “Israeli apartheid,” which was the intellectual inspiration for the BDS movement. Reagan suspending a shipment of military aircraft to Israel, and harshly criticizing Israel after the bombing of the Osirak reactor near Baghdad, as well as contemplating sanctions to stop the Israeli siege of Beirut. The list goes on of “bright ideas” America has given Israel and/or has propagated about it, only to result intifadas and rocket attacks.

So when it comes to Rand Paul’s vote, he feels the same way as I do. That the financial (but not moral and social) relationship between Israel and America needs to end. Not immediately but in stages. The result would be Israel handling their business as they see fit. The result would be no Hillary Clinton making 11th hour “cease-fire”—or what in Islam is called a ‘hudna,’ which is a temporary cessation of hostilities for the purpose of re-armament—deals with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is nothing more than a temporarily self-restraining and more sophisticated Egyptian version of Hamas. We witnessed the result just this week with rockets being hurled at Ashkelon so as to provoke Israel into conflict shortly before President Obama’s visit.

Greg Lauren

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