In the last installment of this series, we talked about why the US gives military aid to Israel, both in the Cold War era and today. A question you might be wondering, though, is why do we give so much military aid to Israel? We give a heck of a lot more to Israel than any other country (except countries we are actively fighting wars for, such as Vietnam). Why?
The answer is a basic Cold War reality: arms race. The Soviet Union was arming all the Arab states around Israel for a long time. Israel knew from bitter experience that these Arab states (Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia) were not its friends. Therefore, it believed it had to keep up with all of the Arab states in terms of number of tanks, planes, missiles, etc.
As you might expect, there was no way Israel could keep up with all the different Arab states' foreign aid, and it almost bankrupted itself trying. The US though, as we talked about before, wanted to keep Israel strong, so it agreed to fund Israel's military even when Israel wasn't in the middle of a war.
The reason why the US aid was so much was because the US not only had to keep up with the Soviet Union's aid to Arab states, it had to keep up with its own aid to the Arabs! The United States was trying to convince the moderate Arab states, especially Egypt and Jordan, to abandon the Soviet Union and join the US (and it eventually succeeded). Part of the way it convinced them was through foreign aid, including military aid. Naturally, this annoyed Israel considerably and they demanded more military aid for their own to compensate. The US didn't mind, and so Israel got a heck of a lot of military aid.
This military aid continues today, as the Arab states have been replaced by terror groups and the Soviet Union by Iran and probably Saudi Arabia. Israel probably does not need quite as much military assistance, but there is little doubt they need assistance in general, and since no one in America minds that much (with the exception of the HPers), we continue to send military aid their way.
Next time: why it is in the US's interests to be Israel's ally, and what that means for the Palestinians.