Sunday, January 18, 2009

Gaza Invasion: U.S Role and Culpability - Analysis by Robert Bryce

Taxpayers are spending over $1 billion to send refined fuel to the Israeli military -- at a time when Israel doesn't need it and America does.

[Editor's Note: This is a detailed and important analysis that every US citizen should read.], January 16, 2009 -....It's well known that the U.S. supplies the Israelis with much of their military hardware. Over the past few decades, the U.S. has provided about $53 billion in military aid to Israel. What's not well known is that since 2004, U.S. taxpayers have paid to supply over 500 million gallons of refined oil products -- worth about $1.1 billion –- to the Israeli military. While a handful of countries get motor fuel from the U.S., they receive only a fraction of the fuel that Israel does -- fuel now being used by Israeli fighter jets, helicopters and tanks to battle Hamas.

According to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, between 2004 and 2007 the U.S. Defense Department gave $818 million worth of fuel to the Israeli military. The total amount was 479 million gallons, the equivalent of about 66 gallons per Israeli citizen. In 2008, an additional $280 million in fuel was given to the Israeli military, again at U.S. taxpayers' expense. The U.S. has even paid the cost of shipping the fuel from U.S. refineries to ports in Israel....

In short, U.S. taxpayers are paying for U.S. energy companies to buy Arab crude, ship it across the Atlantic to refineries in the U.S., refine it, and then ship it back across the Atlantic so that the Israel Defense Force can use it in its wars.

While the origination point of the crude may only matter to part of the Arab world, it is becoming apparent that bloodshed in Gaza is further complicating America's efforts to gain credibility as an honest broker in the region. Anti-U.S. sentiment is not in America's long-term interest, says former diplomat Chas Freeman, a man whose résumé in international affairs extends back nearly four decades.

Freeman is a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, as well as a former assistance secretary of defense. He served as Richard Nixon's chief interpreter during Nixon's visit to China in 1972. Now the president of the Middle East Policy Council, a Washington think tank, Freeman says the FMS fuel program for Israel runs counter to long-term goals of resolving the Palestinian conflict and America's stated goal of protecting the flow of oil out of the Persian Gulf. The Defense Department has assumed "unilateral responsibility for the protection of the oil trade in the Persian Gulf, and yet it's assuming responsibility for the delivery of aviation fuel for the Israeli military," he says. "That's confused and contradictory." The program, he adds, is "one of many elements of our relationship with Israel that is very hard to explain."

Freeman may be correct, but the House of Representatives has scant doubt about continued U.S. support for Israel. Nor has Congress shown much interest in the fuel shortages among Palestinians. On Jan. 9, the 14th day of the fighting in Gaza, the House passed a resolution sponsored by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, "recognizing Israel's right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza." The vote was 390 to 5.

Two days before the vote, UNICEF estimated that 800,000 Gazans did not have running water and 1 million were living without electricity. using U.S. taxpayer money to buy and ship large quantities of fuel from U.S. refineries.

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