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To prevent nuclear Iran, US should arm Israel, write 44 retired generals and admirals

JINSA head Michael Makovsky hopes the letter will “galvanize” Democrats and Republicans to give Israel the military tools it needs.

Israeli and American F-35 fighter jets during a joint training exercise. Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit.
Israeli and American F-35 fighter jets during a joint training exercise. Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit.

In a March 20 open letter issued by the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), 44 retired U.S. generals and admirals asked the White House and Congress to “immediately provide Israel with the advanced weapons it needs to deter and prevent a nuclear Iran.”

“Iran is coming ever closer to crossing the nuclear threshold and, thereby, sparking a crisis in the Middle East,” according to the letter released by the Washington, D.C. nonprofit. It first appeared in The Hill on March 21.

The signatories added that Washington should apply lessons from the one-year-old conflict in Ukraine: “It’s vital to arm capable and willing partners facing regional threats, and best to do so before conflict erupts.”

“As retired American military leaders who devoted our lives to the defense of our nation, we prefer a diplomatic solution that would genuinely end the threat posed by Iran’s escalating nuclear program,” they wrote. “But no such deal is imminent, nor realistic.”

Herman Shelanski, a Jewish retired vice admiral who signed the letter, told JNS that projecting strength is a very important way to dissuade would-be aggressors.

“The focus for the United States is to remain a very strong and powerful military to avoid having to go to war. There are countries that look at signs of weakness and will act if they perceive weakness,” he said.

Just as the United States delivered arms to Ukraine, it should do the same for Israel, according to Shelanski. “Frankly, we hope no one else messes with them. That deterrence in strength and in arms could eventually prevent worse things from happening,” he said. “Better to be strong and prevent than to have to go to war.”

Only Israel has the means, will and ability to stop Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold imminently, the letter stated.

To that end, it said, the United States should sell, lease or place in position Boeing KC-46 Pegasus aerial refueling tankers; McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle and Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jets; and precision-guided munitions.

“JINSA organized this letter because many leading U.S. military leaders understand that Iran’s unprecedented nuclear escalation represents a dire threat to American security interests, and that Israel has demonstrated the most will to counter Iran and prevent its achieving nuclear capability,” Michael Makovsky, president and CEO of JINSA, told JNS.

“Hopefully, this letter will help galvanize more Democrats and Republicans in Congress to press the Biden administration to expedite to Israel the military tools it needs to defend itself and prevent a nuclear Iran,” he said.

Shelanski thinks that the letter will have an impact.

“It’s always a battle, but I’m optimistic,” he said. “Maybe we will not see everything on the list, but we will see a better supply to Israel so that it can be better prepared for this.”

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