OpinionU.S.-Israel Relations

Donald Trump averted World War III

Thwarting the Iranian attack on Israel wouldn’t have been possible without him.

U.S. President Donald Trump at his desk in the White House, Dec. 21, 2018. Credit: Shealah Craighead/White House.
U.S. President Donald Trump at his desk in the White House, Dec. 21, 2018. Credit: Shealah Craighead/White House.
Aryeh Lightstone
Aryeh Lightstone is the former special envoy for economic normalization for the Abraham Accords. He is the author of Let My People Know: The Inside Story of the Abraham Accords

Early in the morning of April 14, the Islamic Republic of Iran attacked the State of Israel with the largest swarm of UAVs, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles in history. This attack was unprecedented in scope and size. Incredibly, Israel, with the assistance of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, the Kingdom of Jordan and even the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia eliminated over 99% of the missiles and UAVs launched.

Iran’s attack had the potential to kill thousands of innocent Israeli civilians. But it did not. Had the well-coordinated defense been anything less than perfect, the outcome would have been horrific and the resulting chain reaction could have immediately sparked World War III.

The reason the attack failed is because on Jan. 15, 2021, then-President Donald Trump moved the State of Israel from the responsibility of the U.S. military’s European Command (EUCOM) to Central Command (CENTCOM).

The U.S. divides the world into various areas of military responsibility. Israel was under the responsibility of EUCOM even though Israel is in the Middle East and thus obviously should have been under CENTCOM. In this case, U.S. policy was working against our own interests. For decades, the U.S. had sacrificed military efficiency and efficacy to avoid tensions with countries that were uncomfortable with having Israel at the table.

Trump, however, understood the power and responsibility of the U.S. As leader of the free world, you must tell the truth, even or especially when it might be hard for others to hear.

Trump told these hard truths during his first international trip in 2017. He told assembled leaders of Arab and Muslim countries that radical Islam is a global problem and they should fix it. If they didn’t, he would. Those countries then worked together to slow down funding to radical Islam and to defeat ISIS.

After he met with those leaders, Trump flew directly from Saudi Arabia to Israel. He was told that he could not do so because Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have diplomatic relations. Trump ignored this and directed Air Force One to fly directly between the two countries because the U.S. has relations with both. He refused to pander to narratives that were not in America’s interest.

Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel because the 1996 Jerusalem Embassy Act demanded that the president do so and because it is the capital of Israel. He moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Any U.S. president over the past 30 years could have taken those actions but they did not. They did not because they prioritized other countries’ interests above our own. After brokering five peace deals—known as the Abraham Accords—in 123 days, Trump switched Israel to CENTCOM. Trump’s decision finally and permanently integrated Israel into America’s Middle East command structure. Everyone knew this was important but no one was willing to say it out loud.

Three years later, during Iran’s assault, the U.S., Israel, the U.K., France, Jordan, the UAE and Saudi Arabia all played a role in one of the most important aerial defense operations in human history. This operation was only possible because of Israel’s integration into CENTCOM. It saved thousands of lives. Just don’t tell anyone it was Donald Trump who made it happen.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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