I often criticize President Obama on foreign policy, so it's worth pointing out when does something right. Israel is in the process of building a multi-layer missile defense system. One key component is called "Iron Dome."
The Iron Dome missile defense system aced a test run in January, and event that convinced senior defense officials that the defense system was on its way to becoming operational and that it will be able to effectively protect against short-range missiles, such as Katyushas and Qassams, which often hit Israeli towns.Like most missile defense systems, it's expensive, and the question of funding was holding it up.
The budgetary difficulty that has been delaying Israel's armament with the anti-missile defense system Iron Dome has apparently been resolved. The Pentagon has issued a message to Israel's Defense Ministry that U.S. President Barack Obama has approved the transfer of special assistance totaling $205 million (just under NIS 800 million) for the purchase of more than ten Iron Dome batteries.For those who balk at handing even more money to Israel, here's why I believe this action is in the U.S. interest.
As I've argued before, I believe that U.S. interests are best served by keeping a lid on the overall Arab/Israeli situation, and by a policy of deterrence toward Iran and its likely eventual acquisition of nuclear weapons. An effective Israeli missile defense system will do several things. First, it will lessen the chance that Israel will need to take offensive action to defend itself. Rockets which are intercepted before they strike are much more tolerable than ones which hit Israeli towns and kill civilians. It may even make Palestinian rocket attacks even more counterproductive than they are already. Why make the effort to launch such attacks if there is little likelihood that they'll hit any targets?
An Israel with an effective missile defense system is also an Israel that might be more willing to consider a deterrent policy with regard to Iran. Iron Dome doesn't counter long range missile threats, but it's a component of an layered system, which would at least partially reduce the threat from Iran's ally/proxy Hezbollah. With the U.S. tied down in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the situation as fragile as it is in both places, the last thing we need is a major war caused by a preemptive Israeli offensive. Such a war would radically alter the dynamics of the situation, and cost far more than the $205 million we are shelling out to Israel. If improving Israeli defenses makes offensive action less likely, and I believe it does, than the money is well-spent. Finally, we have our own needs regarding missile defense. Funding what appears to be a successful Israeli project could benefit our own efforts through technology transfer. It is also likely that Israeli defenses will be tested for real, as they intercept rockets from Gaza. The data from a working missile defense system should be invaluable to missile defense research in general.