Israel traded more than 1,000 prisoners, many of whom with blood on their hands, for Gilad Shalit, whose conduct prior to his capture was not exactly heroic.
— by Steve Sheffey
Should we have traded five Taliban prisoners for one U.S. prisoner of war? It is amazing that we are even asking this question.
Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is rarely accused of being soft on terrorism, negotiated with Hamas and traded more than 1,000 prisoners, many of whom with blood on their hands, for Gilad Shalit, whose conduct prior to his capture was not exactly heroic.
These are painful decisions, but countries like the U.S. and Israel do not leave their soldiers behind, and certainly not run a character and fitness test before deciding whom to rescue. General Dempsey was right when he said about Sergeant Bergdahl, "Like any American, he is innocent until proven guilty."
In a joint appearance today before the House Budget Committee, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey testified regarding the proposed FY2013 budget-and they set the record straight when it comes to helping provide needed funds for America's closest ally in the Middle East, Israel.
With regards to Israel, we have significantly increased the amount of funds that we provide to Israel. It's now $650 million, which more than doubles what was the level in the prior administration of about $320 million. We have provided significant funding for Israel's Arrow and Sling ballistic missile defense programs; we've secured funding for Iron Dome system, which is a great defense system for them, against short range rockets; and whatever decisions we have made with regards to Israel and her assistance level, has been made in conjunction with them.
Further questioning from Rep. Price about Iran also brought this clarion response from General Dempsey:
There's no group in America more determined to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon than the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I assure you of that.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey visited Israel to conduct high level meetings regarding the Iranian threat. The New York Times reported on Dempsey's trip:
The meetings were closed and their contents were not revealed. But General Dempsey, on his first visit to Israel as military chief, was quoted in brief remarks released by the office of Israel's defense minister as saying, 'We have many interests in common in the region in this very dynamic time, and the more we can continue to engage each other, the better off we'll all be.'...
General Dempsey began his visit here with an intimate dinner on Thursday evening at a restaurant in Jaffa with his counterpart, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, Israel's military chief of staff. The men were joined by their wives. Early Friday, General Dempsey was greeted at Israeli military headquarters in Tel Aviv with an honor guard and held meetings with General Gantz and other senior commanders.
The top generals 'discussed military-to-military relations, the new U.S. defense strategy, budget and economic issues and regional security challenges,' Col. Dave Lapan, the Special Assistant for Public Affairs in the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a statement.
Other meetings were held with Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Barak and Israel's president, Shimon Peres. General Dempsey also visited Yad Vashem, Israel's official Holocaust memorial, where he wrote in the visitors' book, 'We are committed to ensuring that such a human tragedy never happens again.' He departed Israel before the onset of the Sabbath at sundown on Friday.
Each of the meetings 'reinforced the deep and special relationship shared by Israel and the U.S.,' Colonel Lapan said, and 'served to advance a common understanding of the regional security environment.'...
Mr. Peres told General Dempsey on Friday that 'Even today in a very complicated situation we can find a common ground. We have profound trust in your democratic system and your armed forces.' General Dempsey assured Mr. Peres that 'America is your partner and we are honored to have you as a partner in that regard.'
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey told CNN that all options remain on the table for stopping Iran's nuclear weapons program. He said he is "satisfied" that the options being considered will be "executable" if needed. According to CNN:
As Gen. Martin Dempsey toured around the globe over the last eight days, one issue was prominent-Iran's nuclear intentions.
Dempsey, in an exclusive interview with CNN, warned that Iran is playing a dangerous game that could ensnare the Middle East, the United States and others into conflict and a renewed nuclear arms race. From Iraq to Afghanistan, Kuwait to Saudi Arabia, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff heard about growing concerns about Iran's ambitions.
'My biggest worry is they will miscalculate our resolve,' Dempsey said in an interview conducted during a stop in Afghanistan. 'Any miscalculation could mean that we are drawn into conflict, and that would be a tragedy for the region and the world.'...
Behind the scenes Dempsey is quietly leading the ongoing military planning for an attack against Iran's nuclear weapons in the event the president gives the order to do so.
'We are examining a range of options,' Dempsey said, echoing the 'all options on the table' line used by administration officials.
Dempsey, the highest-ranking officer in the U.S. military, said the military options are achievable.
'I am satisfied that the options that we are developing are evolving to a point that they would be executable if necessary,' he said.
Dempsey's remarks coincided with an announcement by the Treasury Department that 10 new Iran shipping companies and a shipping executive were blacklisted through expanded sanctions measures. The Washington Post also reported that the value of Iran's currency has dramatically plunged due to the country's increasing isolation.
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