Qualitative Military Edge — another name for Israeli brutality backed by the US

On October 15, 2008, just three weeks before the US presidential election, George Bush signed into law the Naval Vessel Transfer Act which had been sponsored by one of Israel’s most loyal supporters in the US Congress, Rep. Howard Berman.

The new law, which from its title might have been assumed to relate primarily to the sale of ships from the US Navy to foreign governments, actually had a much more important purpose: to place every American president under a legal obligation to ensure that Israel maintains its military dominance over the Middle East.

What had previously been a matter of foreign policy, suddenly became law — law written to meet the interests of a foreign government.

Israel’s regional hegemony is legally enshrined in the concept of Israel’s “Qualitative Military Edge” (QME). The US Government must now guarantee that “the sale or export of the defense articles or defense services will not adversely affect Israel’s qualitative military edge over military threats to Israel.”

The law states:

[T]he term ‘qualitative military edge’ means the ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military threat from any individual state or possible coalition of states or from non-state actors, while sustaining minimal damages and casualties, through the use of superior military means, possessed in sufficient quantity, including weapons, command, control, communication, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities that in their technical characteristics are superior in capability to those of such other individual or possible coalition of states or non-state actors. [Emphasis mine.]

Andrew J Shapiro is the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs. One of his primary responsibilities is to ensure that Israel maintains its qualitative military edge. Does he serve the US government or the Israeli government? It’s far from clear.

This is how he presented the United States’ obligation to serve Israel’s interests in a speech he delivered at the Brookings Institute in Washington on Friday:

For decades, the cornerstone of our security commitment to Israel has been an assurance that the United States would help Israel uphold its qualitative military edge — a commitment that was written into law in 2008. Israel’s QME is its ability to counter and defeat credible military threats from any individual state, coalition of states, or non-state actor, while sustaining minimal damages or casualties. The Obama Administration has demonstrated its commitment to Israel’s QME by not only sustaining and building upon practices established by prior administrations, but also undertaking new initiatives to make our security relationship more intimate than ever before.

Each and every security assistance request from the Israeli Government is evaluated in light of our policy to uphold Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge. At the same time, QME considerations extend to our decisions on defense cooperation with all other governments in the region. This means that as a matter of policy, we will not proceed with any release of military equipment or services that may pose a risk to allies or contribute to regional insecurity in the Middle East.

The primary tool that the United States uses to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge is security assistance. For some three decades, Israel has been the leading beneficiary of U.S. security assistance through the Foreign Military Financing program, or FMF. Currently, Israel receives almost $3 billion per year in U.S. funding for training and equipment under FMF. The total FMF account is $5 billion annually and is distributed among some 70 countries. So it is a testament to our special security relationship that each year Israel accounts for just over 50 percent of U.S. security assistance funding distributed through FMF.

The Obama Administration is proud to carry on the legacy of robust U.S. security assistance for Israel. Indeed, we are carrying this legacy to new heights at a time when Israel needs our support to address the multifaceted threats it faces.

For Fiscal Year 2010, the Administration requested $2.775 billion in security assistance funding specifically for Israel, the largest such request in U.S. history. Congress fully funded our request for FY 2010, and we have requested even more — $3.0 billion — for FY 2011. These requests fulfill the Administration’s commitment to implementing the 2007 memorandum of understanding with Israel to provide $30 billion in security assistance over 10 years.

This commitment directly supports Israel’s security, as it allows Israel to purchase the sophisticated defense equipment it needs to protect itself, deter aggressors, and maintain its qualitative military edge. Today, I can assure you that — even in challenging budgetary times — this Administration will continue to honor this 10-year, $30 billion commitment in future fiscal years. [Emphasis mine.]

Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin challenged Shapiro during Q&A:

[I]t pains me to hear you sound more like an agent of the Israeli government than a U.S. representative because as you travel around the world you see that this “special relationship” really endangers us, makes us more hated around the world. So I wonder if you would be willing to step in other shoes and go to Gaza, see the results of the Israeli invasion there, see the destruction, talk to people in Gaza, talk to the elected government, which is Hamas. You don’t have to like them to talk to them. I also wonder if you’ve spent any time with people in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to see what it feels like for Palestinians, the daily humiliations they suffer.

And I also wonder, given the financial crisis here at home and the great needs of impoverished nations around the world, couldn’t you think of a better use of $3 billion than giving it to a wealthy country like Israel that is abusing the human rights of Palestinians on a daily basis?

Benjamin drew a round of applause — Shapiro declined to respond directly to her challenge.

As Shapiro noted, the concept of Israel’s QME has been in use for decades, but it was only when the Bush administration let Israel draft American law, that QME turned into a license to use force with impunity.

In January 2008, William Wunderle, a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, and Andre Briere, a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, wrote in a paper for The Washington Institute for Near East Policy:

The US commitment to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge (QME) is a long-standing tradition that every president since Lyndon Johnson has maintained and reiterated. The basic principle behind this commitment is simple: Israel is a bastion of liberal representative government in the Middle East, and, as such, its continued survival is a vital national interest of the United States. To ensure this longtime ally’s continued existence in a sea of nations that reflexively call for its destruction, Israel must be able to defend itself militarily and deter potential aggression. In this effort, Israel will always be militarily outnumbered with regard to the artillery, tanks, and combat aircraft that can be deployed by a coalition of Arab states. Israel’s continued survival can be ensured only if it is able to maintain qualitative military superiority, relying on superior weaponry, tactics, training, leadership, and other factors of military effectiveness to deter or defeat its numerically superior adversaries in the Middle East.

In other words, the US policy advocated that Israel should be able to counter a quantitative disadvantage with a qualitative advantage. It said nothing about supporting Israel’s use of that advantage at minimal cost. The expression after all was qualitative military edge — not supremacy.

These analysts noted however that:

Israel defines QME as “the ability to sustain credible military advantage that provides deterrence and, if need be, the ability to rapidly achieve superiority on the battlefield against any foreseeable combination of forces with minimal damage and casualties.”

The Israeli phrasing went straight into US law which says that Israel must maintain the ability to use military force “while sustaining minimal damages and casualties.”

Let’s put that in context. The law was signed just two years after Israel had visibly lost its qualitative military edge in Lebanon in 2006 when it faced Hezbollah, and less than three months before it used the assault on Gaza to once again demonstrate its ability to wreak massive destruction while sustaining minimal damages and casualties.

The war on Gaza, which President-elect Obama watched in silence, showed not merely the brutality that Israel is willing to use under America’s political protection, but the extent to which Israel’s military agenda is empowered through its ability to control the United States Government.

The war on Gaza was QME in action.

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  1. Ian Arbuckle says:

    There is also an American law that prohibits military aid to a country that is has nuclear weapons outside the IAEA and NPT and has tried to proliferate as Israel did to South Africa when it was under anti-apartheid sanctions, and another that prevents such aid to human rights abusers such as Israel or those war criminal countries in contravention of the Geneva Conventions; So many laws America can ignore conveniently for this Zionist rogue state, so I suppose they can ignore this one too when they feel it appropriate.

  2. Abracadabra says:

    There is one important question we need to ask our leaders. What that question is can be deduced from the following anecdote. I was reading Robert Byron’s ‘Road to Oxiana’ yesterday; specifically the Introduction by Paul Fussell. Byron, an Englishman, came to loathe the Nazis very early and long before it was popular. Fussell narrates:

    Once, for example, he scandalized diners at a London club when a man important in the government was extolling the Munich agreement. [Christopher] Sykes recalls:

    He paused for breath. Robert leaned across the table and asked him a question. He did not seem to hear. He felt he must have heard wrong. He continued his dissertation and paused again. Robert again leaned across the table and again asked the same question: “Are you in German pay?”
    This time it was said very clearly.

  3. delia ruhe says:

    Did Walt and Mearsheimer address this QME law in their book?

  4. The US zionist lobby’s and Israeli hubris has now reached stratospheric proportions.

    I wonder after this hubris, nurtured by our own corrupt and treasonous political leaders, leads the US into another war, and it will, if the ordinary American people will ever understand exactly how this happened to their country.

  5. DE Teodoru says:

    At a recent program I asked a former US Ambassador to Israel and Zionist why the US can’t deal with Israel as the ISRAELI state instead of as the JEWISH state? His answer, like that of Mr. Shapiro, was: “BECAUSE EVERY PRESIDENT SINCE TRUMAN HAD DECIDED TO DO SO.” This frighteningly vapid Talmudic answer only raised the flag that the distinction between Jews that are American and Arabs that are Israeli is fraught with fearful misrepresentations. Having often dealt with Congress in the past—I have no reason to assume it changed– I must express my fear over their propensity to assume that the public is just too dumb to keep up with what Congress does. Only the media gives Congress scrutiny. And since, per Hieme Saban’s prescription, the goal of Zionists is to control America by controlling the media, one can see why Berman and other Congressional Israel-first-Zionists feel comfortable that we “dumb goyim” haven’t got a clue as to what they are doing. But now, Indiana Senator Feingold and Vermont Senator Sanders cannot freely be AMERICAN JEWS but must declare themselves ISRAELI ZIONISTS lest AIPAC go after them. Normally both are Americans first despite any support they give for Israel within clear limits. However, others who chose to become Israel’s obedient legislators—as if Knesset operatives in the US Congress– are turning the Jewish faith of two American nationalists into an involuntary issue of Fifth Column status. Here again, Hiemi Saban’s advice comes into the picture: pay big to play big in Congressional decision making. What Truman did because he needed money for his 1948 campaign and JFK refused to do fir his 1950 campaign decides to this day what Congress will do, depending on how much Jewish leaders were willing to shell out in order to garnish support for Israel. It is like a boiling pot with the lid tightly sealed by Zionist political and media censorship. Physics tells us how it evolves and history tells us that it won’t be pretty. History also tells you that people who never lose, never see the horror of their defeat coming. The TEABAGGERS proved themselves to be very angry and slanderous in their generalizations and ensuing rage; Christian Zionists they are not. Centuries from now when the coming American Krystalnacht catastrophe will be examined, historians will be wondering why wasn’t it stopped sooner, before it led to massacre? The reason is that Zionism profits from Holocaust and without Holocaust it withers away. That is why the Holocaust is so often invoked. The chutzpah of Berman and others—many of whom may have ready to go a quick exit to Israel for themselves and family when needed—is endangering true blue American patriot Jews—THE MASS MAJORITY– for whom Israel is merely a religious-historic symbol, not something they would die for, as they would die for their country, USA. But unknown to them, their lives are put in danger as the lives of European Jews were put in danger in the last century by Zionists bargaining for their wealth and bodies with Hitler. THERE IS THE REAL CRIME OF ZIONISM!

  6. Hate to repeat, but as I said the other day, ‘Americans have been sold down the river’. The answer — treason trials, treason trials and more treason trials.

  7. “The answer — treason trials, treason trials and more treason trials.”

    Naw, trials take too long, are too expensive and where you gonna find a honest judge who won’t screw the prosecution’s case?

    Assassinations are the way to go, cheap, fast and final.

  8. Renfro — you mean do it the American way?

    Actually I wasn’t serious, I just wanted to get the word out there and into the dialogue.