Nehemia Shtrasler | Nov 4 | Haaretz
For years, the most popular headline with the heads of Israel’s defense establishment was “Shihab-3 missiles aimed at the heart of Tel Aviv.” Every time the argument about the size of the defense budget arose, military correspondents would urgently be called to the Kirya in Tel Aviv, where the General Staff is headquartered. There, senior officers would tell the military correspondents, in the utmost secrecy, that Iran’s nuclear plans were advancing and that their missiles already were capable of reaching Tel Aviv. The result would be massive headlines in the next day’s newspapers reporting on missiles aimed directly at the heart of the country, and asserting that it was therefore possible to cut the defense budget when our lives were at stake.
But this year Defense Minister Ehud Barak had a problem. The government decided, contrary to his opinion, to cut the defense budget and also to institute some transparency and exert control over it. True, we are not talking about a big slash, just a small cut, and only to the addition given to the army. But Barak didn’t like even this small cut, and he therefore decided to appear before the Knesset’s Finance Committee and hint – a hint only as subtle as an elephant – that Israel could find itself in a situation in which it would be necessary to attack Iran alone, without help from others. He even mentioned a date – the decisive year of 2012. So who will now have the courage to cut the defense budget when next year we could face a war in which life and death hang in the balance?
The scare tactics used by the heads of the defense establishment aren’t new. Once upon a time, the defense ministers would invoke Egypt, then they moved to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and the eastern front. But now all they have left is Ahmadinejad in Iran. The truth is that there is no great connection between the real threats and the size of the defense budget in this country.
The army always exaggerates the dangers, always demands more money, but the budget is determined at the end of the day by the political strength of the defense minister and not by any real threat. more