Thursday, August 26, 2010

Limitations On New Jets Belie Obama's Braggings About US Security Assistance To Israel

Q So that fear, the tangible fear that some Israelis have that their best ally in the world might abandon them is --

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it's pretty hard to square with the fact that not only have I in every speech that I've ever given talked about the unbreakable bond to Israel, not only did I describe that special relationship and condemn those who would try to drive a rift between us in Cairo in front of a Muslim audience, but if you look at our actions -- and Prime Minister Netanyahu will confirm this, and even critics I think will have to confirm that the United States under my administration has provided more security assistance to Israel than any administration in history. And we’ve got greater security cooperation between our two countries than at any time in our history. And the single most important threat to Israel -- Iran, and its potential possession of a nuclear weapon -- has been my number one foreign policy priority over the course of the last 18 months.
President Obama in an interview with Yonit Levi, Israeli TV

I've post before about the embarrassing fisking the Obama administration went through during a State Dept. press conference last year--where exaggerated statements about accomplishments vis-a-vis the Middle East were demolished on the spot.

One claim that I wrote about that did seem to stand was that the Obama administration has stood by Israel in terms of military assistance--but now that claim also appears to be exaggerated.

Evelyn Rubin writes about The F-35 and the Israel-Obama Relationship, and notes the restrictions that the US has applied to the sale of the jets--restrictions so severe that the in the end, Israel bought only 20 planes instead of the 75 that it originally wanted:
First, as Haaretz reported last month, the U.S. refused to supply a test aircraft as part of the deal for the first time in 40 years. From the Phantom in 1969 through the F-16I six years ago, every previous American sale of fighters to Israel has included an experimental aircraft that Israel can use to test new systems or weapons it is considering installing in order to upgrade the planes or adapt them to particular missions. Effectively, the paper said, this refusal means “upgrades will not be implemented during the plane’s service in the IAF.”

Second, Washington initially refused to let any Israeli systems be installed in the plane, and finally reluctantly agreed to what various Israeli reports described as “minor changes” or “a few” systems (though holding out the carrot that more might be allowed if Israel ultimately commissions more planes). This, too, is unprecedented. Previous deals have given Israel great latitude to have its own systems installed on American-made aircraft, and have also allowed other countries to install Israeli systems — with the result that “between 10 percent and 15 percent of every new F-16 made in America, for instance, consists of Israeli systems.”
Gordon concludes with why this particular sale, and the restrictions that the Obama administration is applying to them, is important--and representative:
It’s a testament to the depth of Israel’s support both in Congress and among the American people that even a hostile president only dares impair the security relationship at the margins, where he can hope it won’t be noticed. But precisely because the F-35 restrictions will fly below most Americans’ radars, they’re a telling indication of where Obama’s heart really lies.
Who really cares that Obama talks about the "unbreakable bond" and "special relationship" when he acts as though it did not exist.

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