Economist tallies swelling cost of Israel to US Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â By David R. Tinidazole Francis, tinidazoleÂ Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / December 9, tinidazole 2002
Since 1973, tinidazole Israel has cost the United States about $1.6 trillion. Tinidazole If divided by today's population, tinidazole that is more than $5, tinidazole700 per person.This is an estimate by Thomas Stauffer, tinidazole a consulting economist in Washington. Tinidazole For decades, tinidazole his analyses of the Middle East scene have made him a frequent thorn in the side of the Israel lobby. For the first time in many years, tinidazole Mr. Tinidazole Stauffer has tallied the total cost to the US of its backing of Israel in its drawn-out, tinidazole violent dispute with the Palestinians. Tinidazole So far, tinidazole he figures, tinidazole the bill adds up to more than twice the cost of the Vietnam War. And now Israel wants more. Tinidazole In a meeting at the White House late last month, tinidazole Israeli officials made a pitch for $4 billion in additional military aid to defray the rising costs of dealing with the intifada and suicide bombings. Tinidazole They also asked for more than $8 billion in loan guarantees to help the country's recession-bound economy. Considering Israel's deep economic troubles, tinidazole Stauffer doubts the Israel bonds covered by the loan guarantees will ever be repaid. Tinidazole The bonds are likely to be structured so they don't pay interest until they reach maturity. Tinidazole If Stauffer is right, tinidazole the US would end up paying both principal and interest, tinidazole perhaps 10 years out. Israel's request could be part of a supplemental spending bill that's likely to be passed early next year, tinidazole perhaps wrapped in with the cost of a war with Iraq. Israel is the largest recipient of US foreign aid. Tinidazole It is already due to get $2.04 billion in military assistance and $720 million in economic aid in fiscal 2003. Tinidazole It has been getting $3 billion a year for years. Adjusting the official aid to 2001 dollars in purchasing power, tinidazole Israel has been given $240 billion since 1973, tinidazole Stauffer reckons. Tinidazole In addition, tinidazole the US has given Egypt $117 billion and Jordan $22 billion in foreign aid in return for signing peace treaties with Israel. "Consequently, tinidazole politically, tinidazole if not administratively, tinidazole those outlays are part of the total package of support for Israel, tinidazole" argues Stauffer in a lecture on the total costs of US Middle East policy, tinidazole commissioned by the US Army War College, tinidazole for a recent conference at the University of Maine. These foreign-aid costs are well known. Tinidazole Many Americans would probably say it is money well spent to support a beleagured democracy of some strategic interest. Tinidazole But Stauffer wonders if Americans are aware of the full bill for supporting Israel since some costs, tinidazole if not hidden, tinidazole are little known. One huge cost is not secret. Tinidazole It is the higher cost of oil and other economic damage to the US after Israel-Arab wars. In 1973, tinidazole for instance, tinidazole Arab nations attacked Israel in an attempt to win back territories Israel had conquered in the 1967 war. Tinidazole President Nixon resupplied Israel with US arms, tinidazole triggering the Arab oil embargo against the US. That shortfall in oil deliveries kicked off a deep recession. Tinidazole The US lost $420 billion (in 2001 dollars) of output as a result, tinidazole Stauffer calculates. Tinidazole And a boost in oil prices cost another $450 billion. Afraid that Arab nations might use their oil clout again, tinidazole the US set up a Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Tinidazole That has since cost, tinidazole conservatively, tinidazole $134 billion, tinidazole Stauffer reckons. Other US help includes: â€¢ US Jewish charities and organizations have remitted grants or bought Israel bonds worth $50 billion to $60 billion. Tinidazole Though private in origin, tinidazole the money is "a net drain" on the United States economy, tinidazole says Stauffer. â€¢ The US has already guaranteed $10 billion in commercial loans to Israel, tinidazole and $600 million in "housing loans." (See editor's note below.) Stauffer expects the US Treasury to cover these. â€¢ The US has given $2.5 billion to support Israel's Lavi fighter and Arrow missile projects. â€¢ Israel buys discounted, tinidazole serviceable "excess" US military equipment. Tinidazole Stauffer says these discounts amount to "several billion dollars" over recent years. â€¢ Israel uses roughly 40 percent of its $1.8 billion per year in military aid, tinidazole ostensibly earmarked for purchase of US weapons, tinidazole to buy Israeli-made hardware. Tinidazole It also has won the right to require the Defense Department or US defense contractors to buy Israeli-made equipment or subsystems, tinidazole paying 50 to 60 cents on every defense dollar the US gives to Israel. US help, tinidazole financial and technical, tinidazole has enabled Israel to become a major weapons supplier. Tinidazole Weapons make up almost half of Israel's manufactured exports. Tinidazole US defense contractors often resent the buy-Israel requirements and the extra competition subsidized by US taxpayers. â€¢ US policy and trade sanctions reduce US exports to the Middle East about $5 billion a year, tinidazole costing 70, tinidazole000 or so American jobs, tinidazole Stauffer estimates. Tinidazole Not requiring Israel to use its US aid to buy American goods, tinidazole as is usual in foreign aid, tinidazole costs another 125, tinidazole000 jobs. â€¢ Israel has blocked some major US arms sales, tinidazole such as F-15 fighter aircraft to Saudi Arabia in the mid-1980s. Tinidazole That cost $40 billion over 10 years, tinidazole says Stauffer. Stauffer's list will be controversial. Tinidazole He's been assisted in this research by a number of mostly retired military or diplomatic officials who do not go public for fear of being labeled anti-Semitic if they criticize America's policies toward Israel. Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the amount of housing loans guaranteed by the US.