The US has ulterior motives for deploying its forces in the region - opinion

At the end of the day, as has been the case for 75 years and will be the case for all time, Israel relies only on itself and will fight and defeat any foe, anyplace, at any time.

 THE WORLD’S LARGEST aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford steams alongside USNS Laramie (T-AO-203) during a fueling-at-sea in the eastern Mediterranean Sea (photo credit: US Naval Forces Central Command/US 6th Fleet/Reuters)
THE WORLD’S LARGEST aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford steams alongside USNS Laramie (T-AO-203) during a fueling-at-sea in the eastern Mediterranean Sea
(photo credit: US Naval Forces Central Command/US 6th Fleet/Reuters)

In recent days, it has become clearer to many in the region and around the world why the US was so quick to announce it was redeploying and bolstering forces in the Middle East.  

Contrary to the headline grabbing and somewhat frantic reporting and commentary in various parts of the domestic Israeli press, the US moves had little to do with either some imminent joint military action with Israel in the region, or an important defensive military maneuver to aid in Israel’s defense. Anyone even slightly familiar with Israel’s core national security doctrine and military capabilities could have attested to that in real time.  

While it is yet unclear why Hezbollah and pro-Iranian militias in Syria did not attack in tandem with Hamas/ISIS at dawn on October 7, what is clear is that they did not join in the hours following because of the Israeli forces’ indescribable heroic halt of the initial invasion, and its unprecedented mobilization of 300,000 reservist troops within 48 hours.  

As for the American announcement and subsequent deployments, as well as those by certain NATO allied states, they were critical for the defense of those nations’ assets and interests in the Middle East. Subsequently, in close cooperation between Israel and the US, these moves were leveraged very effectively for psychological warfare and public diplomacy purposes by both nations.  

The public diplomacy and psychological warfare efforts were directed at both regional and international players. From the abjectly hostile to Israel global press, which consistently seeks to isolate and delegitimize Israel, to Iran, Russia, and the United Nations – the latter a tool of Israel’s enemies and critics – in attempts to stymy or even completely neutralize Israel’s exercise of its right to self-defense.  

 US Ambassador Jack Lew presenting credentials, November 5, 2023 (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
US Ambassador Jack Lew presenting credentials, November 5, 2023 (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

US solidarity in words and seeming partnership in actions in the first few days after the horrific October 7 Jihadi-new Nazi attack on Israel, contributed greatly to interdicting moves by international bodies and a potentially business-as-usual libelous international press that wished to frame Israel’s reaction as isolated from the world and lacking any support internationally. The same is true for the supportive words and actions of several of Israel’s European partners such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France, Hungary, Greece, the Czech Republic, and others. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s solidarity and support for Israel also had a substantial impact in the international arena.

Notably, French President Emmanuel Macron’s suggestion of creating an international coalition similar to the one that fought ISIS, and before that the Al-Qaeda, to fight Hamas/ISIS was perhaps the most far-reaching statement of partnership of its kind.  This statement was very effective in drawing a line of good versus evil in the sphere of public diplomacy – at least for the time being.  

The same was true for the initial statements of moral clarity made by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and US President Joe Biden as to the nature of Israel’s enemy. Since then, statements coming out of the administration in Washington have become less and less unequivocal in their support of Israel’s actions in self-defense, and in drawing a clear moral line.

As for the actual military and intelligence forces redeployed and reinforced in the region, what they are meant for are the US and her NATO allies’ critical security interests. A Wall Street Journal report recently helped to reveal this reality and bring it into sharper focus. The report revealed that US officials had asked Israel to delay any major ground incursion into Gaza until they could get critical air defense equipment and forces to the wider Middle East to defend US assets and personnel in the region.

With the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq and Afghanistan in the last number of years, along with a lower profile force posture in other parts of the region, the US and its allies’ military personnel and citizens in the Middle East are more susceptible, as well as more vulnerable, to Iranian and Iranian-proxy attack. Not to mention being more exposed to potential hostile actions from Russia, which still maintains a substantial presence in Syria, and has scores to settle with the US and NATO over Ukraine.

Small, relatively isolated US military facilities in Syria and Iraq make this problem even more acute. The USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, flagship of the strike group redeployed from the Central Mediterranean closer to the Eastern Mediterranean, and the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group, in transit from the US to the Persian Gulf, are not sufficient for the challenges and potential threats facing the US in the Middle East. Hence the appeal to Israel which has begun significant ground operations in Gaza to delay last week.  

NATO forces in Cyprus

The US, as well as NATO allies such as the UK and Germany, have therefore also reportedly forward deployed special operations forces and intelligence capabilities to Cyprus where the British military maintains a large base (RAF Akrotiri), as well as to NATO ally Greece. The French navy has also deployed a helicopter carrier closer to the region ostensibly to supply humanitarian support to non-combatants in Gaza. The carrier, joining other French naval vessels in the eastern Mediterranean, is of course also capable of multiple military tasks.  

These forces and capabilities would be critical if, for example, the US and other NATO and European allies were forced to evacuate their citizens and diplomatic posts in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, or throughout the region. This is in addition to the task of defending and potentially evacuating their military posts and assets, or conversely in providing options to effectively strike the enemy forces that are attacking them.  

US bases in Syria and Iraq have in fact been attacked constantly in recent days by Iranian proxy forces, and at the time of this writing, the tepid US response has been airstrikes in eastern Syria against facilities categorized as “Iranian Revolutionary Guards affiliated” sites. 

The threat to US and allied military personnel and assets from Iran and her proxies is true for the area around the Persian Gulf as well, and that is why it is an urgent priority for the US to reinforce its military capabilities in that part of the Middle East no less than in the broader region. That is why beyond the military forces already detailed, the United States also bolstered ground-based aircraft in and around the region and ordered a Marine Corps expeditionary unit with rapid reaction capabilities deployed to the Middle East.

There are two additional important interests for the US relating to Israel’s war against the Jihadi-new Nazis Hamas. The US needs to be on the winning team after a disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan and the return of the Taliban to power, along with the war in Iraq resulting in Iran taking control, via her allies and proxies, of a large portion of the country.  

There was a similar phenomenon during and after the Six Day War, when the US was not even yet Israel’s main ally and was failing to find much success in the Vietnam War. Israel’s awe-inspiring victory over multiple combined Arab armies, who had full Soviet support, served as a major inspiration and mark of honor for the free Western world.

Compound the Afghan and Iraqi debacles with the recent stagnation in Ukraine, which has deteriorated into a World War I-style war of attrition, and the ever-bolder actions of the Chinese around Taiwan and vis-a-vis America’s other East Asian allies, it becomes clear that associating closely with Israel and its uncompromising pursuit of victory is vital for the US’s image globally.  Furthermore, the seeming reliability of the US as an actual ally, which it is trying very hard to project with its statements and military moves in the broader region, is another major American policy objective. 

Given the failures and fumbles mentioned above, in recent years key US allies such as Japan, South Korea, the Persian Gulf States, and countries in Europe have called into question the efficacy and reliability of their alliances with the US.

The State and people of Israel greatly appreciate and salute the solidarity and support of our friends in the US and across the free world. 

At the end of the day though, as has been the case for 75 years and will be the case for all time, Israel relies only on itself and will fight and defeat any foe, anyplace, at any time.

The writer is an Israeli hi-tech entrepreneur and a member of the Israel Leadership Forum. He is involved with various Israel-advocacy causes including working with Christian Zionist and pro-Israel Noahide groups.