American weapons
American weaponsiStock

In a television broadcast on January 17, 1961, outgoing US President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered his now iconic farewell, titled "Eisenhower's farewell address to the nation." Today his speech is best remembered for warning that the nation guard against the potential influence of the military–industrial complex, a term Eisenhower himself is credited with coining.

While Eisenhower came from a strong military background, so much so that he was the only general to be elected as President in the 20th century, his final message to the American people was a dire warning against what he saw as a corrupting influence that was growing behind the scenes of American life. He warned the nation that:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

Most Israelis today, this author included, were not alive to hear the address in person. Most Israelis today likewise don’t even know who Eisenhower was, or see a need to study his concerns for Midcentury American society. More's the pity. Eisenhower’s speech might have been directed at the America of over a half-century ago, but it has perhaps never been more relevant than to the Israel of today.

It is of course no secret that Israel’s military power is inexorably tied with American support. Before October 7th, The US provided Israel with 3.8 billion a year in military aid, the largest military support it supplies to any country. Since the war began, The United States has been providing air defenses and munitions at a highly increased level. According to data from a 2023 report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 69 percent of Israel’s arms purchases come from US firms. Israel, as Amb. (ret.) Yoram Ettinger has ably pointed out, also provides employment and financial gain thereby for weap;ons manufacturers in the USA.

It is also clear that the current administration is no friend of Israel’s. The comments and actions of the Biden White House in recent weeks have shown not only a diminishing lack of support for the Jewish state but an outright hostility to it and an open antagonism of its government. To hear the President and his lackeys tell it, Israel, not the genocidal murderers bent on its destruction, is the biggest obstacle to peace.

Yet despite such stinging rhetoric, and more importantly, despite repeated threats to curtail arms shipments and resources, the US has been very slow to act. To be sure, President Biden has frequently threatened to slow or outright refuse the transfer of arms if certain unreasonable conditions are not met. Most recently, Gen. Charles Brown, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that US President Joe Biden’s administration was not willing to provide at least some of the weapons Israel asked for. Yet overall, the flow of arms continues by and large to be unabated.

Since October 7th, America has approved and delivered more than 100 arms sales to Israel. To wit, at the same time General Brown’s statement was released, top Washington officials leaked to several media outlets a list of ongoing weapons sales that the US has approved for the future which are still going forward. According to the Washington Post, sources say that the new arms packages include more than 1,800 MK84 2,000-pound bombs and 500 MK82 500-pound bombs. For all the President's bluster, it’s evident that Biden is unwilling to hurt Israel when it hurts his own pockets.

To the military-industrial complex, war is a business. And business is, excuse the pun, booming. But every war has its end. Biden knows this. And he also knows that as profitable as weapons sales might be, it’s when the war is over that there’s big money to be made. Here is where the industrial side comes into play. Money is made not only in the conflict but even more so in what happens afterward.

War may be profitable, but peace is downright lucrative.

Or it has the potential to be, depending on what peace looks like. To be clear, anything less than the total destruction of Hamas and other terror groups, the return of every single hostage, alive and dead, and absolute Israeli control of Gaza means that Israel has lost the war.

Anything less is not only a desecration of those killed since the war began, it’s a guarantee that the same situation that led to October 7th will again be allowed to fester and grow. The world has already seen what Palestinian Arab control looks like. If Israel loses, if Gaza is once again put in Palestinian Arab hands, it’s not if another war will break out, it’s when. To allow such a corrupt regime to maintain any sort of power shows Israel’s lack thereof. Any Palestinian Arab state in Gaza not only signifies a loss for Israel, it sets the stage for further wars and even greater tragedies.

Absolute Israeli victory is the only realistic possibility for peace. Unfortunately for Israel, Biden’s vision of peace looks like its complete and utter defeat. Day after day, the president seems intent on forcing Israel to set a course that will lead to its certain downfall.

It seems unbelievable that the leader of the United States should want this as the outcome for a trusted ally, especially one that has just survived unspeakable tragedy. Yet as Biden has made clear over and over again in his speech and actions, he is very openly endorsing a situation in which Israel loses. Such a course of action defies logic. This is because the president’s motivation isn’t logical. Nor is it diplomatic, moral, or even feasible. It’s fiscal.

While for the most part, Israel has kept quiet about what the day after will look like, President Biden is already making his preparations. Even before an official announcement was made, Joe Biden issued orders to begin the complex operation of building a 550 meters long and two lanes wide floating dock near Gaza. Ostensibly to supply food and aid, the dock would offer a direct way to supply Gaza with resources, legal and otherwise, without Israeli oversight. It also lays down the groundwork for a future headquarters to bring in materials for reconstruction.

Besides creating infrastructure, Politico recently reported that Biden administration officials are in preliminary “conversations” about options for stabilizing post-war Gaza. According to two Defense Department officials and two other US officials quoted in the report, the US would supply funding to security forces and provide assistance to Peacekeeping teams.

It’s not hard to see the problem if Israel wins. Israeli victory means a rejection of any attempts to rebuild Gaza and reap the benefits of the numerous government contracts sure to go with it. Israel’s success means no massive rebuilding, no ongoing security funding, and an end to the billions in aid that would be funneled in annually.

On the other hand, Israel’s diplomatic and military defeat means post-conflict reconstruction projects on a massive scale. Biden has already expressed his support in such an undertaking, claiming the need to "establish a reconstruction mechanism to sustainably meet Gaza's long-term needs".

Such an effort will not come cheap. Bridges, roads, housing, and facilities will all need to be rebuilt. When all is said and done, an entirely new country will have to be constructed from the ground up. And building a nation is not cheap. It’s estimated that a rebuilt Gaza would cost over $50 billion. That much money provides a lot of prospects. How many government contracts are already waiting in the wings for the day Israel pulls out?

Besides money for reconstruction, a Gaza not under Israeli control will be under the authority of either the PA or another terror-supporting entity. Besides the security risks this exposes Israel to, this new administration will undoubtedly need funding from somewhere, as well as ongoing resources to maintain control. A look at the way Hamas embezzled billions in funding, let alone how the Palestinian Authority is also making itself rich at international expense, makes it clear that a new government in Gaza means extensive long-term economic support.

Finally, the Gazans left behind in peacetime will need massive and long-term support. Aid will necessarily be ongoing and systemic to the point that it will likely stabilize if not entirely hold up, the whole of post-war Gazan society. A Gaza that will be completely dependent on foreign aid for decades to come is good business news for corporations providing that aid.

Biden is hardly alone in his ambitions. The UN is already calling for a second Marshall Plan to restore Gaza once the war ends. The Marshall Plan, also known as The Economic Recovery Act of 1948, proposed that the United States provide economic assistance to restore the economic infrastructure of postwar Europe. A similar large-scale economic rescue program would be one of the largest economic undertakings of the 21st century. It’s a mandate that shows the full extent of the military-industrial complex, both in terms of the scope of its goal and its international influence.

Clearly, Biden and the interests he represents have a lot to gain financially from an Israeli defeat. The president’s motivation to sell out a longtime ally is disgraceful, but it’s hardly surprising. For Joe Biden, it’s just business as usual.

The ongoing scandals, the current allegations circulating, the present attempts at impeachment all make it clear that Biden and his family have a long dark history of turning a profit from questionable presidential actions. With Israel, the President has a chance to do it on his largest scale yet.

So, Joe Biden continues to beat the dead horse of a two-state solution. He knows full well this will never bring peace. Without removing the poisonous roots, it’s only a matter of time until a new Gaza bears the same deadly fruits. But the goal is not peace, nor is it serving the American people he claims to represent.

Biden now as always, serves the needs of special interests in return for monetary appreciation. It might not be good politics, but it’s good business. It’s only natural that if you become adept enough at moving money around, you become quite good at moving some of it into your own pocket.

Anyone looking to see a real-world example of Eisenhower’s worst fears of the military-industrial complex realized has only to look to the current administration. To put Biden’s plan into effect is to create an endless cycle of re-armament, war, rebuilding, and aid funding. In this situation, Israel loses, as do the American taxpayers who inevitably foot the bill, and even the PalestinianArabs who must be kept in a state of permanent dependency.

In the end, nobody wins except the military–industrial complex.

The 34th president’s words have an almost prophetic ring when applied to the current choices Israel faces. It might be too late for America to heed Eisenhower’s warning. But Israel still has a chance to take the message to heart and save itself from being pawns in a very expensive game.

Ilan Goodman is a museum collections professional and exhibition curator. He also serves as a rabbi and educator. He made Aliyah to Israel in 2011 and lives with his wife and children in Beit Shemesh.