How much of your tax money is sent straight to the Federal Reserve every year to pay for ‘arms sales?’ We have no idea.
Photo: Victor Dubreuil, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
19 October 2023 | James Porteous | Clipper Media News
We hear much talk south of the border (from where I am) about American ‘foreign policy’ and standing up for democracy and ‘the constitution’ and the general proud aspirations of mankind.
And these things are basically true and sincere. Perhaps even the majority of people believe these aspirations to be true.
But it is also a bit of an abusive relationship. The government can sometimes be likened to a partner who cheats on you and, once found out, swears up and down that they made a big mistake and they have learned from the experience and it will never happen again. Sometimes this turns out to be true. But sometimes the mere act of accepting their behavior might embolden them to not only carry on, but to do so with impunity.
So it is in American politics. For example, we now have entire generations who have not known life without war. True, you might say, but those multiple wars are not really part of their daily lives.
Well, yes and no. There can be little doubt that the complete, unrelenting obsession with worldwide stranger danger and retaliation and actual wars do have a subliminal or even more direct effect on all thinking people. It is not quite post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but perhaps it could be said to be a civilian version?
Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder include flashbacks, nightmares, feeling very anxious and difficulty sleeping.
The main treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder are antidepressants and talking therapies.
Any situation that a person finds traumatic can cause post-traumatic stress disorder. Examples include a road accident, an assault and childbirth.Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
We are told there are a constant ‘threats’ or at least perceived threats of war, bombings, World War III, and general, unrelenting danger. Think about it. We have had 20+ years of extremely disruptive foreign and policy, from The War on Terror to terrorism, to actual wars in foreign lands, the threats of wars in foreign lands, to the massive world economic breakdown, to the abusive control of a worldwide pandemic, to the almost complete breakdown of civil and economic society, to ongoing wars in Ukraine, Syria, and Iraq, and the threat of future wars against China, Russia, Iran, and beyond.
None of these fears should be accepted as normal in a civilized society. We do not even dare to ask ourselves if the apparent breakdown and violence we are seeing in our societies is in any way a result of these obsessions. It could certainly be more than likely. Soldiers often have to be trained to hate. Maybe we have been trained to do the same thing?
So we are left with a vacuum that is filled with a $1 trillion yearly military budget and by-now constant cuts to what is left of the social contract that, for entire generations, marked a path for all civil societies and governments to actually attend to the needs of the people they were hired to serve.
But no more. Indeed, we are told, over and over again, that the current hardline, warlike ‘foreign policy’ is needed to preserve our freedom.
But like that abusive partner, the promises of redemption are little more than a romantic myth.
The real, true, and seemingly forever US ‘foreign policy’ is arms sales. It is that simple and straightforward. There is no moral ambiguity whatsoever.
This new foreign policy is not illegal. Or ‘wrong’ in the traditional sense. Indeed, on the surface, it bears the markings of a simple Business to Business (B2B) philosophy:
Business-to-business is a situation where one business makes a commercial transaction with another. This typically occurs when: A business is sourcing materials for their production process for output, i.e. providing raw material to the other company that will produce outputWikipedia Business-to-business
Do you notice the pattern? If you can’t find a market that generates money, create one. If sales in one market runs dry, you create a new one. So for example, the move from Iraq, to Syria, to Libya, to Afghanistan, to Ukraine, to Israel, to… And those are just some of the actual wars. The foreign market arms market is actually much bigger.
And remember, no actual cash is involved. The money generated goes directly to the US Federal Reserve, and they issue tenders (sometimes), with the Big Three Defense Contractors each getting a share, as do the shareholders. (Some will suggest that this is one of the main reasons the sales of arms abroad remains largely unregulated or supervised; if you can’t pocket cash, you might have better luck selling the actual arms on the so-called black market.)
It’s a brilliant strategy, in a B2B kind of way. Disrupt. Destroy. Depart.
This is a significant business. It’s such a big deal that the US government publishes a daily list of awarded contracts. Here’s just one example:
Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, Andover, Maryland, was awarded a $30,621,464 fixed-price incentive contract for Radar Interface Unit lite. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work will be performed in Andover, Maryland; and Huntsville, Alabama, with an estimated completion date of March 31, 2028. Fiscal 2024 Foreign Military Sales funds in the amount of $30,621,464 were obligated at the time of the award. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-24-C-0004).Contracts
You can find more here. Many many more.
And to repeat, please do not underestimate the amount of money this policy generates.
How Much Aid Does the U.S. Give to Israel? The United States has given Israel more aid than any other nation since World War II, granting it more than $260 billion.How Much Aid Does the U.S. Give to Israel?
That is just one example. We basically have no idea whatsoever how much money is spent on this foreign policy worldwide every year, because most of it, aside from the ‘military budget,’ is dispersed via ‘grants,’ IMF ‘loans,’ World Bank ‘loans,’ U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) payouts… the list is literally and intentionally endless.
So, the next time some power that be lectures you about Standing For Whatever, follow that story and see if you can decipher or track how much of your money is involved.
And good luck. But remember: This cycle is endless.
James Porteous | Clipper Media News
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III answers questions during a joint press conference with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant in Tel Aviv, Israel, Oct. 13, 2023. Photo Credit: Chad McNeeley, DOD
The ongoing battle between Israel and Hamas is overwhelmingly one-sided—the most powerful military in the Middle East, armed with some of most sophisticated and state-of-the-art American weapons systems vs a ragtag guerrilla force armed largely with shoulder-borne rocket launchers, mortars, drones and small arms.
Adding more to its devastating firepower, Israel is also the only nuclear power in the Middle East, joining the ranks world-wide of UK, the US, France, Russia and China, along with India, Pakistan and North Korea.
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week warned Hamas to “Get Out Now”, he vowed to unleash “the full force of Israel’s military”.
But that military might originates largely in the United States, which has provided billions of dollars in American weapons, funded mostly with military grants, credits and financing.
Zain Hussain, a Researcher in the Arms Transfers Programme at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) told IDN US foreign policy towards Israel involves the supply of foreign military financing (FMF) and arms to Israel.
There is a 10-year bilateral military aid memorandum between the US and Israel, which commits the US to providing Israel with USD 3.3 billion in Foreign Military Financing, and to spend USD 500 million every year in joint missile defense programs between FY2019 and FY2028.
The US, he said, is committed to helping Israel uphold its qualitative military edge and does this through long-term commitments for military aid and cooperation, and supplying arms in times of conflict.
In an analytical piece on 13 October, Elias Yousif, a Research Analyst with the Washington-based Stimson Center’s Conventional Defense Program and Rachel Stohl, Vice President of Research Programs and Director of the Conventional Defense Program, point out that Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. military assistance since the Second World War, amounting to more than $158 billion over the past seven decades—not adjusted for inflation.
$3.3 billion in annual US financing to Israel
In recent years, U.S. assistance to Israel has been outlined in a 10-year memorandum of understandings, the most recent of which was signed in 2016 and pledges $38 billion in military assistance between FY2019-FY2028.
Though U.S. security assistance to Israel takes many forms, the largest portion comes through Foreign Military Financing (FMF), which are grants to support the purchase of U.S. defense articles and services.
The current MOU commits the United States to $3.3 billion in annual FMF to Israel, the largest routine FMF package the United States provides on a yearly basis and which alone represents approximately 16% of Israel’s defense budget.
According to SIPRI, US arms supplies to Israel between 2013 and 2022, include the following:
Aircraft (including fighter planes and combat helicopters):
· F-35 Stealth multirole fighter/combat aircraft – Estimated 36 delivered.
· F-15A/C Eagle F-15E Strike Eagle combat aircraft – Estimated delivery of 9 between 2013 and 2023 (estimated delivery of 115 in total).
Before 2013, there were some imports of relevant aircraft which are either of importance or may currently be being used by Israel:
· Boeing AH-64 Apache combat helicopter – Estimated 63 delivered.
· S-70 Black Hawk – We have confirmed deliveries of 49 Black Hawk transport helicopters.
· F-16A/C/I Fighting Falcon – Estimated 362 delivered.
Missiles and bombs:
· JDAM guided bombs – Estimated almost 9000 delivered between 2013 and 2022 (total estimated 18000)
· Small Diameter Bombs – estimated 7500 delivered (estimated total of 9000 overall)
Other missiles delivered before 2013 which are still of interest are AGM-114A/K/L the Hellfire missiles (estimated 1455 delivered)
· M-113 Armored Personnel Carriers – approximately 300 delivered between 2013 – 2022
· Namer Armoured Personnel Carriers/Infantry Fighting Vehicles – estimated 386 delivered between 2013 and 2022
Regarding drones, Israel’s own drone capabilities are very advanced. Israel’s arms industry continues to supply Israel with air defense weapons, artillery, and advanced rocket launchers, among other important capabilities, said SIPRI’s Hussain.
According to Yousif and Stohl of the Simson Center, Israel also has unique privileges in using its FMF funding. Israel is eligible for “Cash Flow Financing,” which allows it to use FMF to finance multiyear purchase without having to pay for acquisitions entirely up-front.
Israel has also been permitted to spend FMF appropriations on Israeli weaponry, a practice that is being phased out in the current MOU but has historically pumped hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars into the Israeli defense industry.
Israel is also permitted to use FMF to purchase armaments directly from U.S. manufacturers using the direct commercial sales process, and also enjoys expedited Congressional review periods for its arms packages.
In addition to FMF, Israel also receives U.S. assistance for joint missile defense development. The current MOU pledges $5 billion over the life of the arrangement for various missile defense programs that are often developed or produced with U.S. firms.
This includes investments in Israel’s much-vaulted Iron Dome short-range air defense system and other longer-range platforms like Arrow II, Arrow III, and David’s Sling. Between FY2006 and FY2023, the United States has appropriated more than $8.6 billion for various U.S-Israeli missile defense programs.
Maintaining Israel’s “qualitative military edge”
Beyond the direct support the United States provides to Israel, U.S. regional security cooperation is also aimed at maintaining Israel’s “qualitative military edge,” (QME) a term which refers to the technical sophistication of Israel’s defense equipment vis-à-vis its neighbors.
Although initially an informal commitment, successive administrations and Congressional actions have codified U.S. support for Israel’s QME, including measures like allowing Israel first regional access to U.S. defense technology or more advanced versions of systems provided to other regional partners.
In a statement issued before 17 October, the devastating bombing of a hospital in Gaza killed over 500 patients and civilians, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the situation in Gaza had reached a dangerously new low.
The horrific terror attacks by Hamas on Israel that killed more than 1200 people and injured thousands more last Saturday were followed by intense bombardment of Gaza that has already killed 1800 people and injured thousands more, he said.
After days of airstrikes, the Israeli Defense Forces have ordered the Palestinians in Gaza City and its surroundings to move to the south of the territory.
Moving more than one million people across a densely populated war zone to a place with no food, water, or accommodation when the entire territory is under siege is extremely dangerous—and in some cases, simply impossible.
Guterres said hospitals in the south of Gaza are already at capacity and will not be able to accept thousands of new patients from the north.
“The health system is on the brink of collapse. Morgues are overflowing; eleven healthcare staff have been killed while on duty; and there have been 34 attacks on health facilities in the past few days,” he warned on 13 October.
Thalif Deen, author of the book “No Comment – and Don’t Quote Me on That,” is Editor-at-Large at the Berlin-based IDN, an ex-UN staffer and a former member of the Sri Lanka delegation to the UN General Assembly sessions. A Fulbright scholar with a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Columbia University, New York, he shared the gold medal twice (2012-2013) for excellence in UN reporting awarded by the UN Correspondents Association (UNCA).