Special to the JTA Army Journal Says Israel is a ‘permanent Liability’ to the U.s.; U.S. Has ‘tools’
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Special to the JTA Army Journal Says Israel is a ‘permanent Liability’ to the U.s.; U.S. Has ‘tools’

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The Armed Forces Journal, a privately-owned monthly, claimed in an article published in its current issue that the U.S. has “no permanent interest in Israel and may now be acquiring something painfully close to a “permanent liability.”

The Journal, which has been publishing since 1863 as a “spokesman” for the military, contended that the election of the Likud Party headed by Premier Menachem Begin “may well have turned U.S. willingness to supply armaments to Israel into a major national security problem” but that “the U.S. has potential tools to change the situation if it can break out of its own domestic political constraints.”

The eight-page article, accompanied by 10 charts and tables, was written by Anthony Cordesman who served as civilian assistant to Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Ellsworth and as secretary of the Defense Intelligence Board before he left the Pentagon last May. He is now an employee of the U.S. Department of Energy in its Strategic Petroleum Reserves Office.

Cordesman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he wrote the article while he was a private citizen between his jobs at the Pentagon and Energy Department and that it had been “up-dated by the editors of the Journal to make it more timely and relevant.”

A well-placed Pentagon source told the JTA that the Journal is usually reliable “but sometimes its articles may be a lot of fiction out of very little fact.” The source said, however, that he did not have an opportunity to study Cordesman’s article and express an opinion about it.”


The article claimed that “the shift in Israeli politics gives the Arab-Israel military balance a very different meaning. The U.S. may no longer be supplying an Israel whose military strength would lead to Israel’s willingness to compromise for peace. It may now find itself aiding an Israel which may use its military strength to take permanent control of former Arab territories in direct opposition to U.S. policy and be locked into an indefinite cold war with the Arabs. At worst, the U.S. may find itself tied to an ally which will use military force in a pre-emptive attempt to settle the PLO problem or to destroy Arab military forces while they are weak,” the article said.

The writer claimed that Israel is “a militaristic state whose military build-up has gone far beyond the requirements of defense.” The “trend in U.S. aid might have presented few military risks” under former Premier Yitzhak Rabin or Labor Party leader Shimon Peres and “might well have contributed to peace,” the article said.

After Rabin’s fall, it continued, “most U.S. experts saw Peres as having the strength to replace Rabin with a man the army and people would true to negotiate. Peres could, as a conservative, gradually approach the PLO and make concessions on the Golan Heights that Israel’s growing military strength would permit.”


According to the writer, the U.S. “cannot react to Begin’s election by reversing its policies and cutting its aid because of morality, history and domestic politics.” The writer referred to “the West’s real collective guilt for the Nazi Germany Holocaust” and the failure of the U.S. to come to the aid of European Jews before and during World War II.

However, he said, the American Jewish community “seems determined to react from fear rather than thought. It not only does not examine U.S. and Israeli relations with sufficient independence, it is too prone to over-react to any attempt to do so by others and some extreme American Jewish groups seem willing to use anti-Semitism and the Holocaust as a moral club.”

The article continued: “This paralysis is also a vicious circle” because “it would take great moral courage for the Administration to put pressure on Begin’s military jugular without Congressional and American-Jewish support.”

The article claimed that American Jews “lack leadership and information from the Administration and Congress” and “Begin seems to lack Peres’ ultimate practicality and restraint.” The writer warned that Begin may “actually seek the political and military destruction of the PLO and also permanently seize control of the West Bank towns and territories that have no desire to be part of Israel.” The U.S. “has potential tools to change the situation,” he wrote.


As examples of those “tools” the writer said “Begin is a terrorist and the U.S. can exploit the fact that there is no ‘moral’ difference between an Israel led by a ‘patriot’ like Begin and a PLO led by a ‘patriot’ like Arafat.”

Furthermore, Cordesman wrote, “The U.S. can attack Israel’s refusal to talk with the PLO in a way it could never do when Israel was led by David Ben Gurion, Golda Meir or Yitzhak Rabin.” He recommended that the U.S. can freeze aid levels in current dollars and reduce credits and other tacit economic support and indirect subsidies to Israel. It can “make clear in many different, politically acceptable ways that Begin endangers Israel’s lifeline to the U.S.” and “can probably force the collapse of his coalition.”

The U.S. can also slow down military aid to Israel without endangering Israel and “erode Israel’s military endurance to defensive levels by selectively halting parts, ammunition and training” and “ending Israel-South African cooperation on land and air weaponry and nuclear weapons,” Cordesman wrote.

He said “The U.S. can use the current peace talks to force Begin and Likud to set clear, unambiguous limits to what they define as ‘Eretz Israel.” He insisted that none of those acts would endanger Israel and “all can be accomplished in ways that do not violate diplomatic procedures.” He said that “even a reduction in official U.S.-Israel contacts” would have “a visible and powerful impact in Israel.”

Cordesman said the U.S. could use those “tools” if the Administration and Congress at least would “openly debate discuss U.S. military aid to Israel, the trends in the Israel balance and Begin as a man and Likud-Herut as a party. More directly, the Administration and leading members of Congress should place fixed limits on U.S. obligations to Israel.” He added that U.S. Jews might follow such a debate “with considerable independence of thought and…support U.S. policy that protects U.S. interests without threatening Israel’s survival.”

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