On February 26, 2019, the Citizens Commission on National Security (CCNS) held its first major event, a symposium titled “The U.S.-Israeli Alliance and Its National Security Implications,” featuring Alan Dershowitz and an all-star line-up of experts from the worlds of military, law, politics, intelligence, Congress, diplomacy and think tanks. It was held in a TV studio in downtown Washington DC, and aired live in its entirety on JBS-TV, the Jewish Broadcasting Service. The symposium consisted of three panels, and an interview with Dershowitz.
Today we start with the first panel, titled “The Historic Alliance,” which includes opening comments by Rabbi Mark Golub, the CEO and founder of JBS-TV, and Roger Aronoff, the Executive Director of the CCNS. The panel is moderated by Aronoff, and panelists and their topics are as follows:
Rand Fishbein: The Role of Congress and US-Israel Military Coordination/Cooperation
Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney (USAF Ret): The Military Role that the IDF and US Can Play to Create Stability in the Region
Yoram Ettinger: The Mutually-Beneficial Two-Way-Street of US-Israel Relations
About Panel 1, “The Historic Alliance”
“The core of this new organization came from the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi, formed six years ago,” said CCNS Executive Director Roger Aronoff in his opening comments. “People with very important parts of that story that hadn’t come out, came to us. They recognized our fierce, fearless, independence. No one can keep us quiet when it comes to trying to strengthen America’s national security.”
This event was an ideal opportunity to explore the military and intelligence capabilities of our ally Israel, and how, with foreign aid from the U.S., their strengths benefit U.S. national security and warfare capabilities many times over.
Speakers on this first panel discussed how Israel’s national security benefits American interests. The relationship with Israel is a “mutually beneficial two-way street” which highlights the “unique synergy” and unique deep relationship between the two countries, commented Ambassador Yoram Ettinger, a former Israeli diplomat. Not only is Israel the testing ground for U.S. military equipment, but, as Ettinger pointed out, the “former chief of Air Force intelligence, General George Keegan, used to refer to Israel as the country of five CIAs. According to his own estimate, the scope of intelligence shared by Israel with the U.S. amounted to roughly what the U.S. gets from the CIA multiplied by five.”
Another speaker, Dr. Rand Fishbein, who worked as a Special Assistant for National Security Affairs to the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI), and is a current member of the CCNS, pointed out that the strategic relationship between the two countries is “one of the most far-reaching and effective alliances in history.”
“Both nations are vibrant democracies, and each understands the necessity of collective defense in a world awash with evildoers,” he said. “By any standard, the U.S.-Israel strategic alliance has more than lived up to its promise.”
It is notable that President Donald Trump, who has emphasized the need for other countries to carry their own weight in protecting their own populations, announced toward Israel a strengthening of this relationship: he relocated the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. This was a promise made by previous presidents, who never carried through on it. Ettinger pointed out that this relocation sends a message that the United States will not be deterred by threats.
One of the major threats in the Middle East is that posed by Iran, which threatens a nuclear breakout and has been enriching uranium which could be used to build nuclear weapons. As CCNS Executive Director Roger Aronoff has pointed out in the past, there was no signed deal with Iran, as acknowledged by the State Department, but rather only a series of political commitments.
“During the eight years of the Obama administration,” said CCNS Member Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney (USAF Ret.), “they enabled huge amounts of resources to support the tyrannic[al] regime.”
“This,” he said, “started with Obama ignoring [Iran’s] ‘green revolution,’ which materialized immediately after his election, to loosening sanctions as well as developing new trade opportunities with Europe and Iran.” McInerney added that Obama went along with “a very flawed nuclear agreement as well as moving plane loads of hard cash directly to the Mullahs.” But Trump threw out the Iran deal, a direct challenge to Obama’s legacy.
Israel plays a key role in holding back Iranian power. Ettinger suggested that Iran’s nuclear program is a cancer best removed early.
“We hope that you will sign up to receive our emails and updates, read our articles and reports, join our social media, and, very importantly, please support us financially,” said Aronoff. “We need it to continue doing events such as this.”