Is Israel a good ally?
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We will be debating whether or not we should continue an alliance with the state of Israel and use of funds to support their military.
Let’s talk about the Israel-Palestine conflict. It has persisted for an incredibly long period of time,and continues to persist with no signs of ending. Hamas has protracted the fighting by launching rockets into Israel, knowing full well that they will inflict no damage and result in retaliation. Hamas has a regular habit of violating even short term ceasefires, and doesn't even seem to be seriously united in their actions, as their military wing and political wing are clearly divided in what they will accept. We see evidence of their expectations in the Hamas Covenent, which clearly supports the obliteration or dissolution of Israel, i.e. they will not accept a 2-state solution. Israel has responded to Hamas with the deaths of 1,000 Palestinians. There are far-rightwing members of the government that would stand for nothing less than total victory in Gaza, and they have substantial control over political decisions.
So there are large and influential bodies on both sides that will settle for nothing short of complete victory. There's no room for agreement in this case because neither side is budging. To re-emphasize from my overview, the cessation of our alliance, and with it our military aid, is absolute for any foreseeable future. Without a clear threshold for returning to either of these, Con effectively yanks away all US leverage in the region. Only in a world where a) there is a mutual reliance between our militaries that ensures US assistance in conflicts and b) there are funds provided to maintain and better equip the Israeli military is there any incentive structure to act differently. Both can be reduced or drawn back in response to misplaced efforts on the part of the Israelis or increased to encourage specific actions.
2. Israeli Benefits
$3 billion equates to a third of Israel's defense budget, though access to U.S. expertise, technology, and surplus equipment is invaluable. With Iran and Syria standing as near constant threats to Israel, particularly from the use of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, putting Israel's defense spending in jeopardy to such a significant degree opens the door to devastating attacks. Israel also receives emergency funds when war erupts and as incentive for positive developments, like the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, the Wye River Memorandum, and the 2005 Gaza withdrawal. Both Israel and the region have benefitted from these developments, and Israel has benefitted from receiving emergency funds and equipment (which ensured their survival without the deployment of any U.S. troops against pro-Soviet Egyptian and Syrian armies ) that would be unavailable in Con's world.
3. Regional Benefits
Let's talk about the strong horse principle. "[T]he strong horse is the person, tribe, country, or nation that is best able to impose its will upon others, the weaker horses, through the use of force." It's been "active for more than a millennium in Arab politics," and it plays out as usually violent struggles between powers in the region. A weak horse invites attack, and a strong horse deters. Most importantly, "the stronger the horse, the greater the deterrence."
Our role as a global strong horse places us in a unique position to elevate powers to that status. In aligning ourselves with a proxy strong horse, we create a stabilizing force in a region without a clear top power, and conversely, if we abdicate that role, we invite aggression. Israel functions as that stabilizing force in status quo, yet our decision to no longer aid their military creates the perception of weakness, which is enough to invite conflict. It also weakens perception of the U.S., as we become an untrustworthy ally. Both Israel and the U.S. have a vested interested in stability and peace in the region, one that's built on democratic values and tolerance, whereas Arab nations are often split by ethnic rivalries that incite hatred and violence against others. While it is far from perfect, Israel easily outdistances other countries in the Middle East on human development and freedom.  Hatred of Israel and Jews in the Middle East is ingrained to the point that any of these being the strong horse results in mass persecution. Generals in the U.S. military recognize this: "In the Middle East, a volatile region so vital to U.S. interests, it would be foolish to disengage - or denigrate - an ally such as Israel."
4. U.S. Benefits
It goes without saying that if we're spending $3 billion a year, we should be getting some returns on it. There are plenty of non-economic benefits, including Israel's consistent record of support in UN votes and support in military operations, something none of our other allies have done to nearly that degree of consistency. The long-standing relationship wasn't built off of nothing: we share democratic values, they have consistently repaid debts, they are a major source of both business deals and tourists to the U.S., we share a broad number of innovations (particularly in high tech), we draw from their talent pools, our trade relationships have dramatically risen in value over time, growing in one decade from $6 billion to $20 billion. It also helps that 95% of U.S. aid to Israel is spent in the US, which means that the vast majority of the funds we send to them come back and bolster our economy.
Israel is our closest ally in the Middle East, supporting U.S. policy therein. It's not just location, either. "Israel has consistently been a major security asset to the United States, an asset upon which America can rely, far more so than have been other recipients of American largesse... Israel is arguably the world's leading expert in collecting intelligence on terrorist groups" and we've consistently received intelligence, research and development savings from working with them that value as much as 4X greater than the grants they receive. These benefits apply to counter-terrorist efforts and addressing unconventional weapons and cyber-threats. And this value isn't just economic. Their expertise has successfully reduced the effectiveness of improvised explosive devices on our troops, reducing casualties substantially.
And that's just their intelligence. The Supreme Commander of NATO himself described Israel as "the largest US aircraft carrier, which does not require even one US soldier, cannot be sunk, is the most cost-effective and battle-tested, located in a region which is critical to vital US interests. If there would not be an Israel, the US would have to deploy real aircraft carriers, along with tens of thousands of US soldiers, which would cost tens of billions of dollars annually, dragging the US unnecessarily into local, regional and global conflicts." They provide us with safe and dependable ports and bases in the Middle East, which provide us with a means to deploy troops that reduces costs by trillions of dollars. Their actions also reduce the danger of nuclear arms and terrorism, as well as stabilizing the region to ensure consistent access to Middle Eastern oil and gas. And let's be clear that shifting the money to Muslim nations in the region is more likely to do us harm than it is to benefit us in any way.
Thus, we garner far more from this relationship than the $3 billion we spend per year. At the point that the U.S. decides to renege on its alliance with and support for Israel, they become likely to rescind their own support mechanisms. With little reason to trust us, particularly as we step back from a decades-long alliance, they have no reason to share intelligence, collaborate with new and cutting edge military technology, and certainly not share a base or physical resources. Ending this relationship debilitates our military, especially in the Middle East.
Con’s argument has 3 pieces. I’ll address each in turn. Before I start, two overviews.
Onto the direct rebuttal.
25. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/mar/21/kosovo-template-for-disaster-libya, https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/1983/france-libya-attack