"Weapons of Mass Deception"


A Country as Well as a Company

Michael Saba

Arab News

WASHINGTON, 27 December 2004 — In 2003, according to a Dec. 23 article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Israel’s military sales abroad reached the $3 billion mark. That figure is about 10 percent of the overall world arms trade. It puts Israel in 5th or 6th place in the list of the largest arms exporting countries. Estimates for 2004 place Israeli arms sales at about $4 billion. Israel is a company as well as a country. Yet that company may be in trouble in light of a recent arms controversy between the United States, China and Israel.

The United States has allegedly demanded that Israel confiscate Chinese-owned Harpy assault drone aircraft that had been returned to Israel for upgrading. The Harpy drones are Israeli-made but currently the property of the Chinese. The Israelis sold these aircraft to the Chinese in the 1990s and are designed to destroy radar stations and anti-aircraft batteries. There is a dispute over whether these drones contain any American technology prohibited from export to third countries, but American sources claim that these drones could be used against American forces in Taiwan.

For more than a decade, the US has been raising concerns about Israeli weapons exports to China. In the summer of 2000, the US forced the Israelis to cancel the sale to China of a Phalcon, an airborne radar system equipped with advanced Israeli-made aeronautics loaded on a Russian-made plane. The Israelis had to return $350 million in that aborted arms deal and between the botched Phalacon and Harpy arms deals with China, the Israelis have lost their increasing good will with China and possibly future arms sales to the People’s Republic.

Israel has utilized its sizable arms trade for decades in increasing both its own domestic arms production as well as providing significant income for the Jewish state. According to a top secret CIA report made public in 1979, “Israel’s program for accelerating its technological, scientific and military development as rapidly as possible has been enhanced by exploiting scientific exchange programs. Mossad (the Israeli intelligence service) plays a key role in this endeavor. In addition to large-scale acquisition of published scientific papers and technical journals from all over the world through overt channels, the Israelis devote a considerable portion of their covert operations to obtaining scientific and technical intelligence. This has included attempts to penetrate certain classified defense projects in the US.”

In 1983, the US General Accounting Office, GAO, pointed out, “Israel’s technological exports are heavily dependent on foreign components. In Israel’s fastest growing industry, the electronics field, about 35 percent of the knowledge is acquired from the United States in licenses production or technology transfer. Almost every arms production includes a US input.” The GAO suggested that Israel needed to become a major exporter of high-tech products to obtain the foreign currency it needed to solve its tremendous debt problems. Unlike most other arms manufacturers, Israel exports 75 percent of the total production of its military industries. Israel’s military industry is dependent on exports for its survival.

Israel is China’s second-largest arms supplier (Russia is first). Israel ad China have only had official diplomatic relations since 1992, but their military and arms ties go back to the early 1980s. And various current and former US officials have played significant roles in US-Israel-China relations. According to an article written by Stephen Green in the February 2004 issue of Counterpunch, Paul Wolfowitz, the current US deputy secretary of defense, was in 1990 brought into DOD as undersecretary for policy by then Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney. Two years later, in 1992, the first Bush administration launched a broad inter-departmental investigation into the export to Israel of advanced AIM-9M air-to-air missiles that happened under Wolfowitz’ watch. Israel has already been caught selling the earlier AIM-9-L version of the missile to China in violation of a written agreement with the US on US arms re-sales.

Earlier, in the 1980s, Stephen Bryen was appointed as deputy assistant secretary of defense by his neocon associate, Richard Perle, the assistant secretary of defense for international security policy. Bryen was the founder and director of the Defense Technology and Security Administration (DTSA) which controlled US defense technology exports. Bryen, who was investigated in 1978 for espionage to Israel, was cited for having attempted to allow the export of sensitive US military exports to Israel without the permission of the US State Department which actually issued the export license at the time. Bryen is currently president of the US arm of Finmeccanica, Italy’s largest aerospace firm Finmeccanica that currently does business with China.

A close associate of Bryen’s is Michael Ledeen also a close friend of Israel. Ledeen has been in and out of the US government as both an official and a consultant. He most recently served as a consultant for the now infamous DOD Office of Special Plans (OSP) under Douglas Feith. Both Ledeen and Bryen serve or have served on a US congressional consultative body called he United States-China Economic Security Review Commission. The charter for the China Commission, as it is popularly known, states that its purpose is to....”monitor, investigate and report to the Congress on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.” The charter also reflects an awareness of the problem of “back door” technology leaks: “The Commission shall also take into account patterns of trade and transfers through third countries to the extent practicable.”

Ledeen and Bryen co-authored an article in the Jerusalem Post in 1992 criticizing the first Bush administration for being too tough on restricting Israel’s re-exports of American technology to China. Could we have the “fox in the chicken coop” here, by chance?

In 1992, in an article in Commentary magazine, current DOD Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith, a close colleague of Wolfowitz and a fellow neocon wrote: “It is in the interest of US and Israel to remove needless impediments to technological cooperation between them. Technologies in the hands of responsible, friendly countries facing military threats, countries like Israel, serve to deter aggression, enhance regional stability and promote peace thereby.”

According to the Israeli press (the major sections of US media have ignored the current US-Israel-China flap until now), the present conflict has arisen because of Paul Wolfowitz and Doug Feith’s concern of Israel’s exports to China. There are even stories that Feith has asked for the resignation of Israeli Defense Ministry Director General Amos Yaron over the Harpy drone upgrade issue. All of this doesn’t seem to look good for Israel, the company. Or maybe there is much more here than meets the eye. Stay tuned.

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Milton Frihetsson, 01:32


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