Israel’s peace agreement with the UAE and Bahrain, signed yesterday at the White House, is historic. It hasn’t happened before, nor has Israel entered into such a deal since 1994 (with Jordan).
The extent to which the deal is historically significant can be debated (but won’t be in this post). However, for those who wish Israel well (and who don’t have an ax to grind with Donald Trump or Benjamin Netanyahu), it is difficult to criticize the agreement.
The Washington Post doesn’t meet this test. Thus, it greeted the deal yesterday with a front page story professing concern that the agreement will spark an arms race in the Middle East.
In doing so, the Post was peddling Nancy Pelosi’s take on the deal. She has raised questions “regarding the commitment the UAE has received from the Trump administration to purchase American made F-35 aircraft.”
A Middle East arms race sounds ominous, but what are we really talking about when we use that expression in this context? It’s true that, pursuant to this deal, the UAE and Israel will both increase their military capabilities.
The UAE will receive high-grade fighter planes that upgrade its armed forces. Israel, whose qualitative military superiority in the region is guaranteed by U.S. law, will receive advanced military hardware that preserves its significant edge (unless Joe Biden is elected president and refuses to adhere to the law).
The upshot? Israel and the UAE will both become stronger militarily. That’s a good development unless one sides with their enemies — in particular, with Iran.
At the same time, Israel will remain more potent than the UAE and other nations in the region by a significant margin. Thus, to the extent it might otherwise be realistic to fear for Israel’s ability to defend itself against the UAE or its allies, that concern can be dismissed.
It’s touching to see Nancy Pelosi and the Washington Post fret about the possibility of Israel being attacked by F-35 aircraft supplied to the UAE. However, I trust the Israeli government’s assessment that this prospect — purely hypothetical in my view — isn’t a genuine worry.
Does anyone believe the Post would have raised the concern in a front page article if a Democratic president had brokered this deal? I don’t. The Post wanted to rain on Donald Trump’s parade. That’s all there was to its article.