Kyl and JINSA’s anti-START campaign: Brought to you by Raytheon

On November 15,  JINSA (the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs) presented its annual Henry M. Jackson Distinguished Service Award to Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ):

Through the Jackson Award, JINSA recognizes and thanks those leaders whose careers have been distinguished by the principle that is the foundation of JINSA’s work; the belief that the United States requires a strong military capability for both its own security and for that of trustworthy friends and allies.

Translation: JINSA propounds (per Jason Vest’s still timely article, The Men from JINSA and CSP) :  “…articles of faith that effectively hold there is no difference between U.S. and Israeli national security interests, and that the only way to assure continued safety and prosperity for both countries is through hegemony in the Middle East — a hegemony achieved with the traditional cold war recipe of feints, force, clientism and covert action.”

The brief article on JINSA’s website about the award presentation– including Raytheon’s corporate sponsorship of the event — reveals more about the the role of the defense industry in U.S. politics and foreign policy than any Wikileaks document.

1. The conferer: JINSA

JINSA’s particular forte within the pro-Israel lobby is luring retired U.S. military officers to its cause through its annual Flag and General Officers trip to Israel. Since 1982, JINSA has provided around 400 retired U.S. military officers with all-expense paid junkets to Israel, where they hobnobbed with Israel’s military and political establishment as well as representatives of Israeli defense industries.

JINSA also provides networking opportunities that  help ease the transition from the ‘business of war’ to ‘war as a business.’ Many military officers who retire from the U.S. Armed Forces go to work for defense contractors. Others have become consultants who provide input to members of Congress on defense-related issues and projects.

JINSA insists that there are no strings attached to participation in their Israel trips, and that no subsequent pressure is brought to bear on participants to publicly support JINSA’s political agenda. Nevertheless, upon their return, many do  provide helpful  quotes for JINSA advocacy statements and press releases. All  sixty military officers who signed an ad, published in major newspapers by JINSA this past spring, defending Israel as a security “asset” of the U.S. and expressing “dismay and grave concern that political differences may be allowed to outweigh our larger mutual interests,” had gone on a JINSA Israel trip for military retirees.

On Nov. 29,  JINSA issued an Open letter to the America’s Jewish Community, attacking both the New START treaty itself and Jews supporting it:

There is no reason why the United States should be required to sacrifice its own defense capabilities to inspire Russia to a greater degree of diplomatic fortitude. If a nuclear-armed Iran is worrisome to Russia then Moscow should need no extra incentive to take necessary actions to stop it.

The letter was not signed by any military retirees.

2. The recipient:

Jon Kyl has been in the headlines recently because of his vocal opposition to “resetting” the START treaty with Russia in the lame-duck session of the Senate. The day after Kyl received his JINSA award, Peter Baker explained in his New York Times blog:

A failure to approve the treaty in the departing Senate could undermine Mr. Obama’s broader campaign to curb nuclear weapons and eventually eliminate them. The treaty, which would trim American and Russian strategic arsenals and restore mutual inspections that lapsed last year, was supposed to be the first, and easiest, step in a long-term effort to bring an end to age of nuclear arms.

It could also sour Mr. Obama’s two-year effort to “reset” ties with Russia and win greater cooperation from Moscow in areas like counterterrorism, transit routes to Afghanistan and pressuring Iran to give up its nuclear program. Mr. Obama vowed to pass the treaty during a meeting with his Russian counterpart, President Dmitri A. Medvedev, in Japan on Sunday, and is scheduled to see him again later this week at a NATO summit meeting in Lisbon.

While not calling for the Senate’s outright rejection of the START treaty, Kyl insisted it was  too important to be enacted hastily in a lame-duck Senate session, and that any further consideration should be entrusted to the incoming Senate for slow and cautious consideration. According to  Baker:

Mr. Kyl’s announcement shocked and angered the White House, which learned about it from the news media. Both parties had considered Mr. Kyl the make-or-break voice on the pact, with Republicans essentially deputizing him to work out a deal that would secure tens of billions of dollars to modernize the nation’s nuclear weapons complex in exchange for approval of the treaty. After months of negotiations and the addition of even more money in recent days, the White House thought it had given Mr. Kyl what he wanted.

While Kyl suggested he might be open to negotiating the possibility of a Senate vote in 2011, it’s probable that Kyl will soon be deeming it too late in Obama’s presidency to undertake such a serious matter, and demand that the Senate vote be postponed until after the 2012 elections.

Kyl has a long history of hostility to any gestures of conciliation toward Russia. Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate in 1994, as Congressman from Arizona’s 4th district since 1986, Kyl opposed any cuts in U.S. defense spending, and was one of the few enthusiatic supporters of  Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars”) on the House Armed Services Committee. He is a strong proponent of missile defense.

3. The honor

The award with which Kyl was presented bears the name of the late Sen. Henry M. (“Scoop’) Jackson (1912-1983), a hawkish Democrat from Washington state who served in the U.S. Senate for three decades (1953-1983), and whose close ties to the aerospace industry prompted the moniker “the Senator from Boeing.” Jackson argued vociferously against  the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty between the U.S. and the Soviet Union in the Senate debates in the late 1960’s. (It passed anyway in 1972.)

Jackson was the co-sponsor of the Jackson-Vanik amendment to Title IV of 1974 U.S. Trade Act, which conditioned improved U.S. trade relations with the Soviet Union on permission being granted to Soviet Jews to emigrate to Israel. Among the diverse and direct beneficiaries of Jackson-Vanik: Natan (formerly Anatoly) Sharansky, the high profile refusenik turned Israeli über-hawk, whose views President George W. Bush enthusiastically appropriated as “part of my presidential DNA”; Israel’s hardline Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman; American Foreign Policy Council VP Ilan Berman, editor of JINSA’s Journal of International Security Affairs; and “birther queen” Orly Taitz, who insists that President Obama was not born in the U.S. and therefore is not legally its president.

Jackson’s greatest legacy, however, has been his coterie of acolytes, who have comprised much of the top echelon of neo-conservative hawks over the past decade. “Prince of Darkness” Richard Perle worked for Jackson from 1967-1980. Other members of Jackson’s inner circle who have continued to shape U.S. foreign policy by advocating war with Iraq as well as regime change in — or war with — Iran include Paul WolfowitzEliot AbramsFrank Gaffney and Douglas Feith.

4. The corporate sponsor

The sponsor of the JINSA award ceremony defense contractor Raytheon is the world’s largest producer of guided missiles, specializing in the manufacturer of defense systems. Raytheon became the leading manufacturer of radar systems during World War II. Absorbing the defense electronics divisions of  Texas Instruments and Hughes Aircraft in 1997, Raytheon is widely regarded as the leading Western manufacturer of surface-to-air missiles, including the Hawk and the Stinger, as well as the Sidewinder and Phoenix air-to-air missiles and the Maverick air-to-ground missile.

Raytheon’s Patriot missile system played a key role in “Operation Desert Storm” — also known as “the First Gulf War” against Iraq — in 1991. It provides much of the advanced weaponry used by the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Patriot is also “the air and missile defense system of choice for 12 nations around the globe,” including five NATO nations.

Raytheon’s “growing list of partners” also includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and, to some extent, Israel (where Patriot is in competition with the Arrow system developed by Israel Aircraft Industries in cooperation with Boeing). In Asia, Raytheon’s customers include Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

Indeed, Raytheon, which boasts of its “global presence,” is well situated to profit from all of  the crises making today’s headlines. From Raytheon’s perspective, threat of armed conflict means the opportunity for profit. Raytheon is a major contender to build the proposed U.S. missile defense system against Iran, of which Kyle is a champion.

On  July 26, the  U.S. and Israel signed a joint agreement to integrate the  high altitude Arrow-3 with Israel’s current missile defense system, which relies on both the Arrow-2 and the Patriot. The next day, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense voted to provide Israel’s missile defense programs with $422.7 million for 2011 (nearly $96 million above what the White House funding request asked for) and doubling U.S. aid to Israel for missile defense from 2010 to meet the perceived urgency of countering an “Iranian threat” to Israel.

With such huge contracts at stake, it’s little wonder that Dennis Carroll, Raytheon’s Vice President for Business Development, was chosen to present JINSA’s award to Kyl. Raytheon also ranks among Kyl’s top twenty campaign contributors.

As for the START treaty, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev stated in his  annual state of the nation address to the Kremlin on Nov.30, “Either we reach an agreement on missile defense and create a joint mechanism for cooperation, or, if we do not succeed in entering into a constructive understanding, there will begin a new arms race.”

A new arms race? Sounds like good business for Raytheon. With customers in more than 80 countries, arms races are the key to Raytheon’s prosperity. No wonder Jon Kyl — the “senator from Raytheon”? — is putting the brakes on New START, while drawing accolades from JINSA.

Marsha B. Cohen

Marsha B. Cohen is an analyst specializing in Israeli-Iranian relations and US foreign policy towards Iran and Israel. Her articles have been published by PBS/Frontline's Tehran Bureau. IPS, Alternet, Payvand and Global Dialogue. She earned her PhD in International Relations from Florida International University, and her BA in Political Philosophy from Hebrew University in Jerusalem.


One Comment

  1. Well, as usual a timely, thoughtful and information-rich piece from Ms. Cohen. I agree with the Senate Republicans about the need to spend money on nuclear modernization, but they’ve gotten what they want on that, and if they want more I’m sure they can have it. The treaty is in our interest and should be ratified. Holding it up is bad policy, bad politics, bad everything. Kyl is being — you know, I can’t think of an appropriate word to describe Sen. Kyl that’s also printable on a family-friendly site like Lobelog. The whole business stinks of politics, as far as I can see, and the nation’s interests be damned.

    It’s embarassing whenever I see a mention of Obama’s desire to rid the world of nuclear weapons. The toothpaste cannot be put back in tube. Even more important is the fact that a nuclear-free world would be a world that eventually would find itself in a conventional World War III. 50 million died in World War II. We need nuclear weapons in the world to prevent WW III from happening. (Anybody want to fight a conventional war against China? I didn’t think so).

    On those junkets to Israel for retired U.S. military officers: I’d be very curious to know, and not for prurient reasons, whether the junketeers are supplied with the companionship of young women and girls. Investigative reporters, please get to work!

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