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 $1.7 trillion.
The war with radical Islam has not been won, and could continue for decades.
The US 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 US 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 US to win the war on terrorism. The same may be said of Iraq where as of June 2009 the US military occupied 357 bases, manned by 144,000 troops.
The corrupt government, led at that time by Nouri Maliki, a pro-Iranian Shi’ite, made victory in the war against terrorism equally unattainable.
The question has now become: how can the US fight the next battle in the war on terrorism 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 grown weaker during the Obama presidency. Quite the contrary.
Al-Qaida and Islamic State (ISIS) are now active in Lebanon, the Sudan, Yemen, the Sinai, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and the Gaza Strip. Both are deeply embedded in Syria and Libya. Lebanon has become a refuge for Hezbollah. Iran has now gained sanctions relief that makes it possible for it to fuel and feed its Shi’ite caliphate through its proxies worldwide.
Given the urgency, gravity and necessity of winning the war on terrorism, what are the next steps that should be undertaken by the US? In 2015, US troops were stationed in more than a 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The military powers that be are concerned that if the troops are withdrawn, Afghanistan will become another Iraq – the country from which ISIS launched its bid for an Islamic caliphate.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 $713b. by the end of the decade. The additional funds were employed to locate troop bases 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.
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 US has a verifiable alliance.
The US has, for decades, assumed the role of global police force, which has strained both its army and its budget.
The demands have not lessened, but increased. The question arises: does America have the tenacity necessary to fight and win the war on terrorism in the Persian Gulf, no matter how long it takes? If it ever hopes to succeed in the part of the world that has given us Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and now ISIS, the US must reassert itself as the courageous leader of moral clarity in the Western world.
The solution is a US military base in Israel. The Port of Haifa is the ideal location for it. With a strategic base in Israel, the US 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 terrorism. America could also utilize Israel’s knowledge, technology and resources to assist the US effort while at the same time American troops would be in a safe location.
If the US were to establish a base of operations in Israel, what form would it take? There are already huge warehouses maintained by the US 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 $500m. That has risen, as of 2015, to $1.8b.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 US presence at Israeli air bases.
An agreement of tactical support between Israel and the US 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 US and Israeli air forces founded a joint operation at Nevatim; a gigantic leap in cementing the relationship between the two countries. The Port of Haifa has been used as a quasi- home base for the US Sixth Fleet, under the guise of a repair facility.
Perhaps the time has come to establish a bona fide US 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 US 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 US-Israeli relations, Israel remains adamant that she will defend her people and her land independent of all foreign troops. This innate opposition of the Israeli government would have to be overcome.
The Israelis have never asked other countries to endanger the lives of their military personnel to defend the Jewish people. As it now stands, Israel has only to be concerned with the safety and security of its own people and not the lives of foreign troops stationed on Israeli soil.
Currently, government leaders of both the US 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 $10b. 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 US to wage war on terrorism.
The US, 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 US to win the war. To pretend that oil-rich dictators are America’s allies when they finance terrorism with one hand and pretend to fight it with the other is sheer insanity.
The author is a No. 1 New York Times bestselling author who has published 64 books. His latest book is Islamic Infidels, ISIS, Oil and Israel.
For information, visit www.timeworthybooks.com.