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The announcement last week by the United States of the largest military aid package in its history – to Israel – was a win for both sides.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu could boast that his lobbying had boosted aid from $3.1 billion a year to $3.8bn – a 22 per cent increase – for a decade starting in 2019.

Mr Netanyahu has presented this as a rebuff to those who accuse him of jeopardising Israeli security interests with his government’s repeated affronts to the White House.

In the past weeks alone, defence minister Avigdor Lieberman has compared last year’s nuclear deal between Washington and Iran with the 1938 Munich pact, which bolstered Hitler; and Mr Netanyahu has implied that US opposition to settlement expansion is the same as support for the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews.

American president Barack Obama, meanwhile, hopes to stifle his own critics who insinuate that he is anti-Israel. The deal should serve as a fillip too for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic party’s candidate to succeed Mr Obama in November’s election.

In reality, however, the Obama administration has quietly punished Mr Netanyahu for his misbehaviour. Israeli expectations of a $4.5bn-a-year deal were whittled down after Mr Netanyahu stalled negotiations last year as he sought to recruit Congress to his battle against the Iran deal.

In fact, Israel already receives roughly $3.8bn – if Congress’s assistance on developing missile defence programmes is factored in. Notably, Israel has been forced to promise not to approach Congress for extra funds.

The deal takes into account neither inflation nor the dollar’s depreciation against the shekel.

A bigger blow still is the White House’s demand to phase out a special exemption that allowed Israel to spend nearly 40 per cent of aid locally on weapon and fuel purchases. Israel will soon have to buy all its armaments from the US, ending what amounted to a subsidy to its own arms industry.

Nonetheless, Washington’s renewed military largesse – in the face of almost continual insults – inevitably fuels claims that the Israeli tail is wagging the US dog. Even The New York Times has described the aid package as “too big”.

Since the 1973 war, Israel has received at least $100bn in military aid, with more assistance hidden from view. Back in the 1970s, Washington paid half of Israel’s military budget. Today it still foots a fifth of the bill, despite Israel’s economic success.

But the US expects a return on its massive investment. As the late Israeli politician-general Ariel Sharon once observed, ­Israel has been a US “aircraft carrier” in the Middle East, acting as the regional bully and carrying out operations that benefit Washington.

Almost no one blames the US for Israeli attacks that wiped out Iraq’s and Syria’s nuclear programmes. A nuclear-armed Iraq or Syria would have deterred later US-backed moves at regime overthrow, as well as countering the strategic advantage Israel derives from its own nuclear arsenal.

In addition, Israel’s US-sponsored military prowess is a triple boon to the US weapons industry, the country’s most powerful lobby. Public funds are siphoned off to let Israel buy goodies from American arms makers. That, in turn, serves as a shop window for other customers and spurs an endless and lucrative game of catch-up in the rest of the Middle East.

The first F-35 fighter jets to arrive in Israel in December – their various components produced in 46 US states – will increase the clamour for the cutting-edge warplane.

Israel is also a “front-line laboratory”, as former Israeli army negotiator Eival Gilady admitted at the weekend, that develops and field-tests new technology Washington can later use itself.

The US is planning to buy back the missile interception system Iron Dome – which neutralises battlefield threats of retaliation – it largely paid for. Israel works closely too with the US in developing cyber­warfare, such as the Stuxnet worm that damaged Iran’s civilian nuclear programme.

But the clearest message from Israel’s new aid package is one delivered to the Palestinians: Washington sees no pressing strategic interest in ending the occupation. It stood up to Mr Netanyahu over the Iran deal but will not risk a damaging clash over Palestinian statehood.

Some believe that Mr Obama signed the aid package to win the credibility necessary to overcome his domestic Israel lobby and pull a rabbit from the hat: an initiative, unveiled shortly before he leaves office, that corners Mr Netanyahu into making peace.

Hopes have been raised by an expected meeting at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday. But their first talks in 10 months are planned only to demonstrate unity to confound critics of the aid deal.

If Mr Obama really wanted to pressure Mr Netanyahu, he would have used the aid agreement as leverage. Now Mr Netanyahu need not fear US financial retaliation, even as he intensifies effective annexation of the West Bank.

Mr Netanyahu has drawn the right lesson from the aid deal – he can act against the Palestinians with continuing US impunity.

- See more at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/2016-09-19/palestinians-lose-in-us-military-aid-deal-with-israel/#sthash.fL4Eq28N.dpuf

The “Major and Deadly” Wars to Come

By Andre Damon

October 05, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "WSWS" -  The Atlantic Council, a leading US geopolitical strategy think tank, published a report on September 20 titled The Future of the Army. The document outlines the far-reaching preparations that are underway for the United States, in the report’s own words, to fight “major and deadly” wars between “great powers,” which will entail “heavy casualties” and “high levels of death and destruction.”

The report confirms the warnings made by the World Socialist Web Site and the candidates of the Socialist Equality Party in the 2016 US elections that the world stands closer to war than at any time since 1939.

The document was co-authored by Lt. General David Barno, who commanded the US-led force in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005, having previously taken part in the US invasions of Grenada in 1983 and Panama in 1989. It was published by the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, named after a leading military adviser to the Ford, Nixon, George H. W. Bush and Obama administrations.

It presents a picture of the near future (2020-2025) as a horrifying dystopia, characterized by spiraling inequality, economic insecurity and perpetual war. “Today’s world of haves and have-nots will be greatly magnified,” it states, “with those fortunate enough to have employment and access to stunning technology living in stark contrast to the hundreds of millions struggling to survive in disrupted environments.”

This world “will be marked by the breakdown of order, widespread violent extremism and aggressive large states.” The world situation will be driven by “unpredicted and unpredictable events,” including the possibility of “a nuclear exchange.” Noting that “urban operations will increasingly dominate land warfare,” the Atlantic Council predicts that armies will operate “in densely packed metropolitan areas where civilian populations are a part of the battlefield.”

Speaking of the present situation, the report declares that “the United States has entered an era of perpetual war.” It notes, “After fifteen years, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are still continuing.” There is, additionally, “an increasing number of conflicts in the gray zone, whose primary characteristic is ambiguity—about their objectives, participants, and even outcomes, since they clearly lack defined end points.”

But, as the document cautions, “The Army cannot focus solely on these types of conflicts.” It must prepare for what “we’ve called ‘the next big war’—involving very capable adversaries, high levels of death and destruction, and perhaps hundreds of thousands of US troops.”

The Atlantic Council roots the likelihood of such a war in what it calls “Russia’s resurgence,” which requires NATO to “seriously prepare for the possibility of a Russian attack on one or more of its members for the first time since the end of the Cold War.” China, likewise, has “become increasingly aggressive.”

Noting that 5,366 US soldiers died during the Iraq war, the report declares that “the next big war” will see levels of violence and death far beyond what has been seen in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. It bemoans the fact that Army “personnel have not been psychologically hardened by personal experience for the grim task of fighting through heavy losses to battlefield victory.” It warns that “current Army leaders have little if any experience with the extreme battlefield stresses caused by overrun units and heavy casualties,” adding, “These stresses were common during past US conflicts and could likely be so again during a future big war.”

“A future major war against a great power competitor might,” according to the report, “require the Army to grow by several orders of magnitude in order to prevail.” To make this possible, the Army must begin making plans for a “mass mobilization.” As the Atlantic Council explains, “The growing threats in today’s world” mean that the Army “must once again build a mobilization plan to rapidly grow the size of the Army to meet a national crisis of existential danger.” In other words, it must prepare to institute a draft.

Finally, there must be active preparations for an intervention—or even takeover—by the military in the event of what the report calls a “breakdown of civil order”—a euphemism for the emergence of a political challenge from below to the domination of the ruling class. The Atlantic Council notes that “the large-scale disruption of civil order…would almost certainly engage much of the Army in providing extensive support to civil authorities throughout the country.”

Totally left out of this analysis, except as the object of military repression, are the American people. It never occurs to those engaged in the preparation of these policies to consult the population. It is taken for granted that it must acquiesce to a course of action that will result in death and destruction on a horrific scale.

None of this is being discussed or even hinted at in the US elections. The media and the establishment candidates are seeking to bury the real issues at stake. The questions of life and death are deliberated away from the cameras. They are the purview of the “deep state”—the Pentagon, the intelligence agencies and their associated think tanks.

One can be certain that in the second mud-slinging match between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, scheduled for October 9, none of the issues raised in the Atlantic Council report will be addressed. Regardless of whether Trump or Clinton wins next month’s election, the war preparations will go ahead. In the United States, dominated by an immensely powerful financial oligarchy and the vast national security apparatus in its employ, elections serve as little more than a façade for policies determined behind the scenes and kept out of public view.

There is no way for workers to oppose the drive to war by voting for either Clinton or Trump, or, for that matter, the candidates put forward by the third-rate capitalist parties, the Greens and the Libertarians.

Nothing can stop the drive to war except the mobilization of the international working class. Workers and young people seeking a genuine alternative to war should support the campaign of Jerry White and Niles Niemuth, the Socialist Equality Party’s candidates for president and vice president in the 2016 elections, and make plans to attend the SEP’s November 5 conference in Detroit, Socialism vs. Capitalism and War.

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