The United States of America has been fighting wars in the Middle East for a decade and a half. The price tag for those wars, predominately in Iraq and Afghanistan, has surpassed the figure of $1.7 trillion dollars. The war with radical Islam has not been won, and could, indeed, continue for decades.
The United States attempted to win the war by establishing bases in Afghanistan in partnership with the Afghan government and its first president, Hamid Karzai, and also with Pakistan. Despite attempts to form alliances with both, the U.S. was left with no viable partner in the Middle East. The opposite is true; both governments are corrupt and have made it virtually impossible for the U.S. to win the war on terror.
The same may be said of Iraq where as of June 2009 the U.S. military occupied 357 bases occupied by 144,000 troops. The corrupt government led, at that time by Nouri al-Maliki, a pro-Iranian Shia, made winning the war against terror equally unattainable. The question has now become: How can the U.S. fight the next war on terror while not placing the lives of American troops at unnecessary risk?
In the weeks before the Persian Gulf War, I flew with General Khalid bin Sultan, the commander of the Saudi Multinational Forces. During our flight, he said to me, “Yesterday almost ended our government. Your troops wanted bacon with their eggs. If bacon had touched our soil, it would be the end of us all.” How can America possibly win the war on terrorism with such partners?
The situation in the Middle East is not improving. Radical Islam has not decreased during the Obama presidency. Quite the contrary; it has increased. Al Qaeda and the Islamic State are now active in Lebanon, the Sudan, Yemen, the Sinai, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Gaza. Both are deeply imbedded in Syria and Libya. Lebanon has become a refuge for Hezbollah. Iran has now gained sanction relief that makes it possible for it to fuel and feed its Shia caliphate through its proxies worldwide.
Given the urgency, gravity, and necessity of successfully winning the war on terror, what are the next steps that should be undertaken by the United States? In 2015, U. S. troops were stationed in more than one hundred countries worldwide. A few manned smaller bases, while thousands staffed other, larger installations. About 33,000 forces remain in Afghanistan at a cost of billions of dollars annually. The military powers-that-be are concerned that if the troops are withdrawn, Afghanistan will become another Iraq—the country from which the Islamic State launched its bid for an Islamic caliphate.
The Middle East is an area of great instability. Consider the countries threatened by radical Islamists—Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Gaza, Jordan, and more. Syrian refugees have flooded Europe, undermining the stability of such countries as France, Belgium, Germany, and to a degree, Great Britain.
The attacks on the American mainland on September 11, 2001, and the ensuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan doubled the military budget from about $305 billion that year to a projected almost $713 billion by the end of the decade. The additional funds were employed to locate troop bases outside the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan, of course, but also in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other Muslim countries in Asia. Those alliances are necessary to protect the world’s largest oil reserves in order to safeguard them from the Islamic infidels, the avowed enemies of the Western World.
Military bases were also established in several Eastern European states—essentially everywhere except in the country most threatened by the rise of Islamic fanaticism, Israel. It is the one ally with which the United States has a verifiable alliance. The United States has, for decades, assumed the role of global police force which has strained both its army and its budget. The demands have not lessened; conversely, they have only increased.
The question arises: Does the United States of America have the tenacity necessary to fight and win the war on terror in the Persian Gulf, no matter how long it takes? If she ever hopes to succeed in the part of the world that has given us the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and now the Islamic State, the U.S. must reassert herself as the courageous leader of moral clarity in the Western World.
The answer is: the U.S. needs a military base in Israel. The Port of Haifa is the ideal location for it. With a strategic base in Israel, the U.S. would be able to accomplish specific objectives: 1) a viable partner with moral clarity; 2) a partner that is already waging a successful war on terror, and can utilize its knowledge, technology, and resources to assist the U.S. while American troops would be in a safe location.
If the United States were to establish a base of operations in Israel, what form would it take? There are already huge warehouses maintained by the U.S. in Israel. These buildings are said to be similar to the ones operated in Saudi Arabia, several European and other countries. These were the brainchild of Ariel Sharon, and hold emergency military supplies—medical materials, tanks, armaments, and more—that can be dispatched quickly when and where needed.
In the late 1990s, the monetary value of the materiel stored was approximately $500 billion. That has risen, as of 2015, to $1.8 billion. The warehouses are reported to be positioned at Ovda and Nevatim Air Force bases, both above and below ground. With a decrease in the use of ground troops in today’s proxy wars, perhaps it is time to consider an expansion of a U.S. presence at Israeli air bases.
An agreement of tactical support between Israel and the U.S. was inked by the Reagan administration in 1983. It allowed for joint operations between air and ground forces of the two countries. In 2001, the U.S. and Israeli Air Forces founded a joint operation at Nevatim; a gigantic leap in cementing the relationship between the U.S. and Israel. The Port of Haifa has been used as a quasi-home base for the U.S. Sixth Fleet under the guise of a repair facility.
Perhaps the time has come to establish a bona fide U.S. naval base at the Port of Haifa. This is especially true now that both Iranian and Russian ships have paraded through the Mediterranean Sea. Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have made it glaringly evident that they will not be denied entrance wherever they wish to dispatch their navies. In 2015, China and Russia held joint naval exercises in the area.
An overt U.S. naval presence along the coast of Israel would allow for a permanent and overt naval deployment along Israel’s coast serving the interests of America for a more rapid response to growing challenges presented by Islamic radicals situated around Israel.
Despite the warehousing facilities, the joint cooperation between their air forces, and the role of the Port of Haifa in U.S. Israeli relations, Israel remains adamant that she will defend her people and her land at the exclusion of all foreign troops. This innate opposition by the Israeli government would have to be overcome. The Israelis have never asked other countries to endanger the lives of their military to defend the Jewish people. As it now stands, Israel has only to be concerned with the safety and security of her own people and not the lives of foreign troops stationed on Israeli soil.
Currently, government leaders of both the U.S. and Israel are discussing a new MOU (memorandum of understanding) that determines how much defense aid will be allotted to Israel over the next decade. (The current MOU ends in 2018.) The Israeli government is asking for $10 billion more than is allowed under the current agreement, billions more than the Obama administration is willing to consider. Israel is seeking a guarantee that missile defense projects so vital to that country’s security will continue to be funded.
The next president of the United States will either learn from the past or repeat it. Israel does not need the help of the U.S. to wage war on terror; she is in the crosshairs daily because of her uncompromising support. The U.S., however, does need a strategic base in Israel to protect our troops and effectively wage war on radical Islam. The Israelis have the knowhow to go into battle with the U.S. to win the war. To pretend that oil-rich dictators are America’s allies when they finance terror with one hand and pretend to fight against it with the other is sheer insanity.