Buying Back the Iron Dome

Iron Dome, Israel

U.S. taxpayers are being ripped off as U.S. Army buys back what we paid to develop.

By Philip Giraldi

Even if one spends years exploring the dark corners infested by Israel’s agents and its diaspora proxies in their successful effort to control much of Capitol Hill and the White House, it is still possible to be shocked by the effrontery of what many have dubbed the 51st state.

In early February, the U.S. Army announced that it would be buying Israel’s Iron Dome antimissile system to protect American troops against incoming rockets, artillery shells, and mortar rounds. The sale means that the United States, which has the largest and most advanced defense industries in the world, is now agreeing to buy some of its military hardware from Israel rather than producing its own equivalent version.

The Iron Dome was developed and produced by Israeli government-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems company with some assistance from Raytheon in the United States. It has been operational since 2011 and was deployed to intercept mostly homemade incoming rockets from Hamas during Israel’s large-scale ground and air attacks on Gaza in 2012 and 2014 as well as in the more recent bloody clashes along the border fences that separate Israel from Gaza, which have killed nearly 3,000 Arabs.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu inevitably took credit for the sale, describing it as “a great achievement for Israel and yet another expression of the strengthening of our powerful alliance with the U.S.” The U.S. Army is committed to buy two Iron Dome batteries for deployment next year for $373 million as a first phase of a possible $1.7 billion procurement to develop an enhanced mobile missile defense capability. It is believed that the purchase could lead to far bigger deals if Rafael proves able to upgrade Iron Dome to defeat the more complex battlefield threats envisioned by the Pentagon.

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There are a number of problems related to the agreement to purchase Iron Dome. First of all, there is some dispute about whether it actually works. Israeli government sources unsurprisingly claim that it does, but some critics believe that its actual success rate might be considerably lower than the 90% that is being claimed by Rafael and by the Israeli government based on 1,700 reported interceptions. It has been observed that intercepting an incoming bottle rocket is a relatively easy task compared to an artillery or mortar round, which have lower trajectories and less flight time, making locking in the system’s radar more difficult. And, as Iron Dome has not been used with any frequency against enemies firing military-grade rockets, mortars or artillery, so the testing of it has not been fully subjected to the actual field conditions if the U.S. Army were to deploy the system.

The second problem involves the purchase itself. According to a report examining the Iron Dome project, the United States has already provided at least $5.5 billion of the development costs of the system since it was first proposed in 2010. In 2018, Congress provided an additional $705 million to the Israeli government for various missile defense projects, which included Iron Dome. That means that Washington is buying back a system that it paid to develop and is therefore paying for it twice. This is a wonderful way to do business for Israel, but it is a complete rip-off of the American taxpayer. The fact that no one in Congress is complaining is perhaps attributable to the willingness of the government to do favors for Israel, including favors that undercut the U.S.’s own defense industries, as Israel will undoubtedly use reports of the sale to boost its own efforts to market the product worldwide.

A third problem is the cost effectiveness of the system, even if it does work. Each Iron Dome battery will cost close to $125 million, but actually using the system is also expensive. Each Iron Dome-compatible Israeli-developed Tamir missile costs between $50,000 and $150,000, and two are normally used to counter each incoming target. In operations against homemade rockets emanating from Gaza, that means that $100,000-$300,000 is spent to destroy a projectile that might have cost less than $1,000 to make if one is dealing with resistance groups, insurgencies, or terrorist organizations that might be improvising their armaments. And, as the supply of missiles is depleted either in training or in actual combat, it will be necessary to go back to Israel for more, creating a regular cash flow for government-owned Rafael.

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When all is said and done, if the U.S. Army has no defense against low-level missile and projectile attacks and Iron Dome is the only tested option available, then there would be a certain desirability to obtain the system for deployment in parts of the world where the military faces that kind of threat. But, as is often the case when it comes to Israel, one has to suspect that politics are quite likely behind the purchase, most particularly in the form of Pentagon officials and congressmen who are desirous of enhancing the benefit packages that Israel receives from U.S. taxpayers.

The bottom line should be the bottom line. If the United States has contributed more than $6 billion to the development of Israel’s military antimissile defenses and actually needs Iron Dome, there should be payback. The two batteries should be freely provided to the U.S. Army as a thank you from the grateful people of Israel for the unprecedented financial aid totaling $134 billion since 1948, as well as the virtually unlimited political cover for Israel’s bad behavior that the American people have provided for the past 70-plus years. Perhaps someone on Capitol Hill or in the White House should remind Netanyahu of the $38 billion that Congress has just approved for Israel on top of all the money that has already gone to Iron Dome. This presents a wonderful opportunity for Israel to finally demonstrate its willingness to do something for the United States, a reciprocity which its powerful American lobby always boasts about but which has never actually been the case in practice.

Philip Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer and a columnist and television commentator. He is also the executive director of the Council for the National Interest. Other articles by Giraldi can be found on the website of the Unz Review.

More Middle East news, from American Free Press Issue 9&10:

Israel, Neocons Push War With Iran

Major European leaders boycott event in Poland attended by U.S., Israel, Saudis

By Richard Walker

War was on the agenda of a recent anti-Iran conference in Poland where Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that the Trump administration shared with him and his Arab allies, especially the Saudis, a desire for war with Iran.

Hours later, his spokesman walked back the statement, claiming Netanyahu had used English, which was not his first language, and what he really meant was that they were all keen to combat Iran. The excuse was ridiculous given that Netanyahu speaks fluent English. He wanted everyone to know what was agreed.

The two-day conference was organized by National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Vice President Mike Pence and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner attended, along with Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). Major European leaders boycotted the event, suspecting it would be used by neocons to promote a war with Iran and to attack the Iran nuclear treaty that is still supported by the EU, Russia, and China.

Their suspicions were well-founded. A European diplomat, who spoke to this writer on condition of anonymity, said many European Union (EU) figures felt that the event was an insult to Europe and that its planning was murky from the start.

“EU policymakers were incensed that Netanyahu and MBS were brought into an EU capital to promote war,” he said. “They were unhappy that MBS was present, given his recent history and his war crimes in Yemen. No one was shocked by Netanyahu’s grandstanding because we all know his shtick. The consensus was that if Washington wanted to promote war, it should have done it in Washington, Riyadh, or Tel Aviv.”

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The diplomat thought it was “unfortunate” that Pence used the occasion to attack his European allies for their continued support of Iran’s international nuclear agreement. He added that this “loose behavior” had the potential to drive a wedge between Europe and the United States.

There was some speculation on the fringes of the conference, as well as in Israel, that Netanyahu’s war drumbeat was a wag-the-dog strategy, as he faces serious fraud and corruption charges at home, with a national election likely in May or June.

There was fear in some European institutions that Netanyahu and MBS have now found neocons in Washington like Bolton who are willing to take the U.S. to war in the Middle East. The event certainly raised the specter of a return to neocons dominating American foreign policy. Bolton is on record advocating the bombing of Iran, and his past history of promoting wars has been well documented.

Fellow neocon Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, attended the conference to advocate for regime change in Iran, something he has done in the past. He is a paid backer of MEK— Mujahideen e-Khalq—a group designated by the U.S., the EU and Canada as a terrorist organization until 2013. It has organized bombings in Iraq and has had links to Mossad and the CIA. Its origins are Marxist, which makes it a strange bedfellow in its relations with the likes of Giuliani and Bolton. For two decades, it has spent large sums of money using Washington lobbyists to promote its cause and to find backers like Giuliani.

Some observers complained that the conference was hijacked by warmongers, with former Polish ambassador to Afghanistan Piotr Lukasiewicz telling Mideast news agency al Jazeera that Poland “lost control over the general message of the conference.”

While the event was taking place a suicide bomber killed 27 members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Blame was quickly levelled at Jundullah, the Party of God, a Sunni terror group affiliated with al Qaeda. It has known links to Mossad, the CIA, and especially Saudi intelligence, which has been paying al Qaeda fighters to undertake operations in the Saudi war in Yemen and in Iran. The timing of the attack was regarded by Iran as significant, coming as it did while the Warsaw conference was taking place.

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The growing role of neocons in U.S. foreign policy is at odds with Trump’s promises to stay out of wars abroad. Some of those neocons include right-wing Zionist Elliott Abrams, who has been given a prominent role in the Venezuelan crisis. He has been linked in the past to covert operations in Latin America and was an Iraq war adviser and cheerleader. However, Bolton is the most prominent figure with the scope to develop a plan with Israel and the Saudis to draw Iran into a conflict.

Last September, he startled Pentagon chiefs when he demanded a battle plan for Iraq after several mortar shells were fired into the Green Zone in Baghdad. Bolton regarded the episode, in which there was no damage and no one was hurt, as an act of war.

Russia could also be drawn into a Mideast war should one be launched against its ally, Iran, because such a conflict would spread quickly into Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria, where Moscow has allies and military assets.

Netanyahu and Bolton, and now Pence, keep lying that Iran is secretly working on a nuclear weapon to wipe Israel off the map. If they and the Saudis can convince Trump that this is true, the chances of war will increase exponentially. In the wake of the Warsaw conference, Netanyahu’s mouth got him in trouble again when he was quoted in leading Israeli newspapers accusing the Poles of a role in the Holocaust. Netanyahu claimed he was misquoted, but his denial was dismissed by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawieck, who canceled a trip to Jerusalem for a major European conference.

Richard Walker is the nom de plume of a former New York mainstream news producer who grew tired of seeing his articles censored by his bosses.