Sorry, Mr. President, It's Money Well Spent

FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012 file photo, Libyan militias from towns throughout the country's west parade through Tripoli, Libya. The chaos unleashed by the Arab Spring has led to the rise of powerful militias across the Middle East, some allied with governments, others fighting to topple them and some -- like the Kurdish peshmerga in northern Iraq -- seen as vital Western allies. All could prove to be major obstacles to bringing peace or stability to the troubled region (AP Photo/Abdel Magid Al Fergany, File)

With all due respect to the President, I believe he’s wrong that America’s presence in the Middle East is the biggest mistake America ever made, and he’s using inaccurate numbers concerning the amount of money it has cost the U.S. to play the role we’ve played in that region of the world.

The actual figure, according to several studies, including one from the Congressional Budget Office, is closer to $2 trillion or $1.7 trillion to be more precise. To arrive at his $8 trillion figure, he uses a 30-year military budget projection. That figure also includes an estimated $1 trillion to treat wounded veterans over the next three decades.

And since that money, as well as the $1.7 trillion already expended, is borrowed money, the $8 trillion figure Trump is citing assumes $3 trillion in interest costs and is inclusive of not only the price of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars but includes all U.S. military spending going back to 2001.

It’s worth pointing out that the U.S. spends over $680 billion annually on our defense budget, whether we are at war or not. And this doesn’t include the hundreds of billions the Pentagon spends “off-budget.”

However, my main gripe with Trump’s position, which is that it is a waste of money and the “biggest mistake ever made” for America to be in the Middle East, is that it ignores the geopolitical reality in this complex area of the world.

Trump should answer this question; if it’s such a colossal waste of money and terrible mistake for America to be in the Middle East, why did he move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?

The reason is that the U.S. government’s policy is one of being pro-Israel. And that has been true, albeit more explicit, depending on the occupant of the White House, since 1947.

America is Israel’s most important Allie in the Middle East, and Israel is ours. Full stop. To abandon the Middle East is to leave Israel at the mercy of its enemies. It’s as simple as that.

And make no mistake about it, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates are Israel’s mortal enemies and would celebrate the departure of America from the region. And they would quickly set their collective sights on Israel, none of which recognize the Jewish State’s right to exist.

And I hate to play the Old Testament card, but it is God, after all, who said, as recorded in Genesis 12:3 referring to Israel, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse…” I submit it’s smart geopolitics to keep the Almighty on our side.

I would also submit it’s been no accident why America emerged from the ashes of World War II as the undisputed military and economic superpower on Earth…our unequivocal support and defense of the state of Israel, and the defeat of Nazi Germany are at the forefront of that reason.

But here is the other reason we needed to be in the Middle East these past many years, and why it remains the right policy; OIL! Protecting America’s and the world’s oil supply was and remains a wise geopolitical strategy.

A plentiful oil supply helped finance America’s military rise and our victory in the Cold War. In other words, it was vital to both our economic and national security, because of what it meant to our manufacturing sector in general and our defense industry in particular.

Without an abundant, reliable supply of affordable energy, America’s supremacy in the world wouldn’t have happened. And that would have meant a much bloodier, dangerous, and darker planet.

So, I’m sorry Mr. President, I believe your heart is in the right place, but you’re not correct in your view of America’s role in the Middle East. It was an essential role; indeed, it is and remains an indispensable role for us to fulfill. No other nation can do it without the results being disastrous.

Today, thanks to America’s fossil fuel industry and their innovative use of technology leading to the invention of hydro-fracturing, and directional drilling, resulting in America becoming the largest producer of oil and gas in the world, even ahead of Saudi Arabia, America is energy independent, and this is good for America, and also for Europe and Asia.

It is true America doesn’t need Middle Eastern oil anymore, but that doesn’t mean America doesn’t have a strategic interest in the Middle East, we do, and we always will as long as our Allies depend on that oil, and especially as long as Israel is at the center of a geopolitical struggle that pits good against evil.

And let us not kid ourselves, in any struggle between good and evil, America must always be on the side of good. No matter what the financial cost. To do otherwise might seem penny-wise, but it would be pound foolish.