Heavy US arms aids India & Israel

Shumaila Raja

The all time high increase in the US military aid to its strategic partners in Asia like India, Israel and for example Philippines and the massive
hike in the defense budgets of these countries indicate towards a new push to the superpower designs in the Indian ocean region, as white housewell as part of the new world order ahead of presidential elections in the United States of America. Pakistan amongst the world community is considered the so-called front-line ally in its war against terrorism, and in the process during the last one decade has sacrificed over 37,000 people’s lives and around $1 trillion worth economy besides chaos on political, educational and societal fronts, has not only been ignored in the past but at the height of this war is not being provided the basic weapons, even intelligence surveillance gadgets, which could help it eliminate terrorists from FATA region along the Afghan border. According to reports Israel will receive a record $4bn in military aid in 2013; following a decision by the US House of Representatives Defense Appropriations Subcommittee which just approved over $948m in funding for Israel’s anti-missile defense programs. This is reportedly part of the USA’s final move against Iran. A $679m of the funding will go to the Iron Dome, the remaining $269m will go to Israel’s other anti-missile initiatives: the short-range David’s Sling ($149.7m), and the current long-range Arrow anti-ballistic missile system and its successor the Arrow 3 ($119.3m). These projects, unlike the Iron Dome, are joint Israel-US projects. While the increase in funding for the Iron Dome was expected, the funding for the other projects represents an increase of $169m over the Obama administration’s proposed number.

But how Israel is facing opposition from inside against its anti-Iran moves under the US pressure is evident from no other than a former Israeli army’s chief of staff’s statement. In a single week, the former head of internal security and the former head of external security have all publicly questioned Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s judgment on Iran. While the current army chief spoke narrowly about the Iranian government, the former security officials directed their fire at Israeli politicians. On Friday, May 6, the former internal security chief told an Israeli audience, “I don’t believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on messianic feelings” – and he was speaking not of Iran, but of Israel.

Another report by AFP said the US will nearly triple its military funding for the Philippines this year as tensions rise with China over disputed islands and Washington bolsters its alliance with Manila. The Philippines accounted for over 70% of total FMF allocation for East Asia in 2006, compared to 35% this year. Washington agreed to provide $30m in FMF this year, up from an initial 2012 allocation of $15m and from $11.9m last year. In 2003, funding amounted to $50m as Washington sent forces to help the Philippines battle al Qaeda-linked militants. The Philippines is offering the US greater access to its airfields and may open new areas for US soldiers to use as it seeks stronger military ties with its ally and faces rising tensions with China in the maritime dispute. The US also agreed at the meeting to share “real-time” data on the South China Sea, suggesting it will give Manila more of its surveillance data on naval activity. The State Department also promised to explore “creative funding streams” to help the Philippine military. Since 2002, the Philippines has received nearly $500m in military aid from the US. The amount does not include the transfer of 20 reconditioned helicopters, a Cyclone-class ship and a Hamilton-class cutter. A second Hamilton-class cutter will be transferred later this month and the two sides are discussing the possibility of a third Hamilton-class ship and a squadron of second-hand F-16 fighters.

India on the other end is the largest weapon importer as per the study made by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Over the past five years, Asia and Oceania accounted for 44% in volume of conventional arms imports. That compared with 19% for Europe, 17% for the Middle East, 11% for North and South America, and 9% for Africa. India was the first world importer over the period, accounting for 10% in weapons volume. It was followed by South Korea (6%), China and Pakistan (both 5%), and Singapore (4%), according to the independent institute, which specializes in arms control and disarmament matters. These five countries accounted for 30% of the volume of international arms imports.“India’s imports of major weapons increased by 38% between 2002-2006 and 2007-11. Notable deliveries of combat aircraft during 2007-11 included 120 Su-30MKs and 16 MiG-29Ks from Russia and 20 Jaguar Ss from the UK.” India raised its defense budget this year 17% and announced to purchase heavy and sophisticated weapons, aircraft, navy ships worth billions of dollars. The world community this time took serious note of it and defense analysts across America and Europe proved that China that shares billions of dollars trade with India is not a threat for India and therefore such a huge arms buildup is meaningless and certainly seems to be Pakistan-specific. Another point is noteworthy that the diplomats, State Department officials and even the news agencies which report the hike in aid clearly play with the words and the impression of “arms sale to continue running their war industry” is tactfully diverted to “US military aid”, which is not at all the military aid. There is no military “aid” but military “sales” only. The US will nearly triple its military funding for the Philippines this year means the USA will arrange the American Bank loans that will increase threefold the sale of American weapons to the Philippines and will increase threefold the Philippines external debt. The aim of this “aid” is to make Philippines a much poorer and deeply indebted country, so that the only way of paying back is by offering USA more land, both for exploitation as well as for more military bases. Same is the case with Pakistan and if India is unaware of this “exploitation”, then it is mistaken that for sake of a temporary benefit, it is putting at stake the future of this region and helping make the generations hostage to others, like they did in the past.

(Shumaila Raja is freelance columnist based in Rawalpindi, she can be reached at schuma.raja@yahoo.com)

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