Thursday, January 27, 2011

Intelligence from an Unexpected Source

As Ben Smith reports on his Politico blog, Republican and Tea Party Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky has called for the ending of foreign aid to Israel and other Middle Eastern countries, arguing on CNN's Wolf Blitzer that continued American aid would only be "funding an arms race on both sides."

My Gut Reaction: Even a broken clock is correct twice a day.

Analysis: Rand Paul's statements cannot be construed as support for the Palestinian cause, or even as a condemnation of Israeli policy. Sen. Paul states that he admires Israel as a democracy, and it is clear from his comments that they stem more from an overall drive to lower federal spending.

Nevertheless, this statement raises some interesting questions in regard to United States policy toward Israel, and the current drive toward cutting federal spending. For all the Republicans' vows to lower the deficit, they seem very reluctant to even bring up the possibility of major cuts to defense spending. When we do hear them bring up defense cuts, they are already one's pre-approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Imagine if we had to run education spending cuts by the teachers' union!) Given that most of the aid to Israel falls into the category of military aid, Sen. Paul's comments have potentially broader implications.

Furthermore, Rand Paul lays his finger on an important truth when he notes that we are essentially funding an arms race in the Middle East. Although Sen. Paul makes this point while discussing the Arab nations we fund, it is worth considering how military aid to Israel also perpetuates the Middle East conflict. If the Israeli government did not have the assured backing of the United States and its military resources, Israeli leaders might be more amenable to actually making steps towards peace, such as dismantling settlements.

1 comment:

Bill Hawthorne said...

Dear Expatriate,

My name is Bill Hawthorne and I am a political blogger. Just had a question about your blog and couldn’t find an email—please get back to my assistant as soon as you can (barbaraobrien(at)