America's no-strings attached aid policy
Douglas Bloomfield considers Eric Cantor's proposal to shift U.S. aid to Israel into the defense budget:
One possibility I doubt Cantor considered, and the most troubling for Israel, is that his proposal risks sparking a debate over whether Israel actually needs that $3 billion every year, especially when its economy is performing better than ours.
Israel was just graduated from â??developingâ? to â??developedâ? nation by its unanimous acceptance into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Will deficit hawks and Tea Party followers in Cantorâ??s own party insist that Israel be graduatedâ? from the US foreign aid program as well? The OECD praised Israelâ??s economic reforms and its scientific/technological leadership. Wikipedia called Israel â??one of the most advanced countries in Southwest Asia in economic and industrial development.â?
The independent Swiss Institute for Management Development ranks its economy as first in the world for resilience to economic cycles, and first for its R&D spending as a percentage of GDP.
Thirty billion dollars and growing â?? the amount the Obama administration has pledged over the next decade â?? buys a lot of hardware for the IDF, but it also comes with obligations that limit freedom of action.
Israelis have long debated whether US aid hampers their governmentâ??s ability to take actions Washington dislikes. Leverage is the flip side of any aid package.
I'm not sure how many obligations U.S. aid actually comes with, outside of requirements that it be spent on U.S. suppliers. The Obama administration asked Prime Minister Netanyahu to stop building settlements. He refused, then agreed to merely pause building, then said he'd consider pausing for another two months after Obama made a generous set of security guarantees. The administration hasn't cut off aid and hasn't, I believed, even raised the possibility that it would (in fact, just the opposite).
And this is in no way unique to Israel. Egypt gets boatloads of taxpayer cash without many demands on their government. American and NATO soldiers are dying to protect Hamid "Plastic Bag" Karzai despite his flagrant disregard for American wishes. Only if you're a country of little strategic or political significance will the U.S. maybe make you jump through some hoops before doling out the taxpayer cash.