The president’s recent statement that he has Israel’s back was well received at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Conference. But it comes pretty late in the game.
Moreover, actions speak louder than words. At a time when Iran is defying IAEA inspectors and is closer than ever to a nuclear weapons capability, robust investment in Israeli missile defense would help reassure our ally that it has the no-kidding backing of the world’s most powerful military.
Increasing funding to improve these programs would send a strong, reassuring message to all our allies, not just Israel. It would signal that being on the side of the U.S. is a winning proposition. For Iran and the rest of our foes, the message would be: aggression against a U.S. ally means it must also contend with the U.S.
But the president did not increase funding to Israeli missile defense programs in his FY 2013 budget. He halved it. Members of Congress from both parties have criticized the low funding levels at this time of heightened danger from Iran.
Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ), a House appropriator, flatly admitted the amount is too low, but suggested that the administration was probably low-balling its request on the assumption that Congress would increase whatever the president proposes. That may be the strategy, but if so, it’s unwise planning and dangerously poor leadership — and messaging — on the part of the commander in chief.
The president must realize that budgets reflect policy, and that defense budgets reflect defense strategy.
Practically speaking, Israel needs robust missile defense systems in order to absorb an Iranian attack. Cutting programs to improve Israel’s missile defense systems will have real consequences in the near term.
First appeared in The Daily Caller