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After Israeli-Palestinian talks in Egypt predictably failed, Clinton gave Jordan an additional $275 in economic aid.

Jordan lacks power to pressure Fatah, certainly in comparison to Egypt. Thus, Jordan received money not for its help in the negotiations, but for sitting at the table. Why is Jordan reluctant to join the peace show? Perhaps because it knows the price of negotiations: an attack on Iran.

The Israeli government has approved the purchase of twenty F-35 fighter jets from the United States. At $150 million apiece, these planes are more expensive than prior estimates.

Twenty jets are too few for strategic missions, and they are too expensive to risk in real battles. So far, they have been useful for deep strikes, but that could change in a moment with the introduction of Russian S-400 into the Middle East. The jets are scheduled to arrive in Israel in 2015; as usual they will be delayed by a year or two. Very probably, Russian SAM batteries will have reached the region by that time.

Most theoreticians of aerial warfare believe that quantity triumphs over quality: moderately advanced jets with highly trained pilots will generally beat a smaller number of ultra-advanced jets. But the military-industrial complex looks for profits rather than battlefield advantages.

Israel’s $3 billion purchase of F-35s is negligible compared to the $60 billion spent on arms purchases by Saudi Arabia.

September 2010
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