by Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
President Trump’s national security strategy – as enunciated on December 18, 2017 - reflects a realistic assessment of clear and present threats to the US, rejecting the politically-correct worldview of the foreign policy establishment, which has been crashed, repeatedly, against the rocks of reality. It provides a prescription for the enhancement of the flourishing, mutually-beneficial US-Israel relationship.
Contrary to the US and West European government, academic and media foreign policy establishment - which are highly critical of Israel and top heavy on wishful-thinking concerning the supposed Arab Spring, ostensible democratization and peaceful coexistence of the Arab World – Trump recognizes the complex and inherently brutal reality of the Middle East. Trump is aware of the lethal threats posed by Shiite (Ayatollahs) and Sunni terrorism and the threats posed by the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement.
Apparently, Trump does not embrace the myth of the Palestinian issue as – supposedly - a core cause of regional instability, a crown-jewel of Arab policy-makers, nor the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
According to Trump, apologies, appeasement and multilateralism have been replaced by America-first patriotism, the independence of unilateral US military action, the resurgence of the US posture of deterrence, an expanded defense budget and peace-through-strength.
Will Israel leverage these principles in its own battle against Islamic/Arab terrorism and its public relation posture in the US?
Trump underlined US national goals, which already benefit from Israel’s own experience and knowhow, harboring a much greater, mutually-beneficial potential:
1. Improving ballistic missile defense and cyber technologies feature Israel as a top partner with the US in the area of groundbreaking research, development and production;
2. Operational and technological homeland security and counter-terrorism highlight Israel’s unique experience as a game-changing contributor to the US’ intelligence, training and operations;
3. The stress on innovation underscores Israel as a platform of cutting-edge technologies for over 200 US hightech giants, as well as the leading battle-tested laboratory of the US defense industries, upgrading the latter’s research and development, global competitiveness, exports and employment-base.
Moreover, Israel has been “the largest US aircraft carrier” – as suggested by the late General Alexander Haig - which does not require US soldiers, deployed in a most critical region for US national security, sparing the necessity for the US to deploy a few more real aircraft carriers and additional divisions to the area between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean (at an annual cost of $15BN-$20BN).
The President announced that allies of the US, which benefit from US protection – in the form of US military bases and personnel – “should reimburse the United States for the cost of defending them.” However, unlike Germany (70,000 US troops), South Korea and Japan (40,000 troops each), etc., Israel does not require US military bases and/or personnel, on its soil, for its defense.
In fact, Israel constitutes a most effective, reliable, battle-tested and uniquely unconditional US beachhead, stretching the strategic arm of the US in a most critical region for the American homeland and national security.
Will President Trump’s realistic national security talk be matched by effective walk?