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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Like South Korea?

When I wrote earlier this week that I was not crazy about Eric Cantor's idea to make aid to Israel a separate item from the rest of the foreign aid budget, what bothered me was the possibility that President Obama - or some future President - would have a line-item veto over aid to Israel, and there at least exists the possibility that at some point in the future, that veto will not be overridden by Congress.

But Caroline Glick describes Cantor's proposal differently, and assuming her description is correct, I am much more favorably disposed to it, and you ought to be too.
Specifically, Israel should adopt three basic policy lines. First, Israel should request that US military assistance to the IDF be appropriated as part of the Defense Department's budget instead of the State Department's foreign aid budget where it is now allocated.

This change is important for two reasons. First, US military assistance to Israel is not welfare. Like US military assistance to South Korea, which is part of the Pentagon's budget, US military assistance to Israel is a normal aspect of routine relations between the US and its strategic allies. Israel is one of the US's most important strategic allies and it should be treated like the US's other allies are treated and not placed in the same basket as impoverished states in Africa.

Second, this move is supported by the Republicans. Rep. Eric Cantor, who will likely be elected Republican Majority Leader has already stated his interest in moving military assistance to Israel to the Pentagon budget. The Republicans wish to move aid to Israel to the Pentagon's budget because that assistance is the most popular item on the US foreign aid budget. Not wishing to harm Israel, Republicans have been forced to approve the foreign aid budget despite the fact that it includes aid to countries like Sudan and Yemen which they do not wish to support.

When the government announces its request, it should make clear that in light of Israel's economic prosperity, Israel intends to end its receipt of military assistance from the US within five years. Given the Republicans' commitment to fiscal responsibility, this is a politically sensible move. More importantly, it is a strategically critical move. Obama's hostility demonstrates clearly that Israel must not be dependent on US resupply of military platforms in time of war.
I'd like to hear more details about that last paragraph (which I suspect is based on some inside information that Caroline has that I don't have), but moving aid to Israel from the State Department budget to the Defense Department budget certainly seems like a reasonable move.

To see the other policy directions Caroline proposes, read the whole thing.


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