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Obama Instructs Clinton to Prepare a Report on Israel’s Military Strength

After meeting with Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the White House today, President Obama issued a directive giving Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton certain responsibilities under “section 201 of Public Law 110-429,” in “coordination” with Gates. Meaning what, exactly? Here’s the relevant text:

The President shall carry out an empirical and qualitative assessment on an ongoing basis of the extent to which Israel possesses a qualitative military edge over military threats to Israel. The assessment required under this subsection shall be sufficiently robust so as to facilitate comparability of data over concurrent years.

That’s now Clinton’s job, with Gates’ assistance, and it’s got to be complete by June 30. The subsequent parts of Section 201 (that don’t apply to Clinton) make it clear that the assessment is done in order to ensure that U.S. arms sales to Middle Eastern countries don’t “adversely affect Israel’s qualitative military edge over military threats to Israel.” It’ll be interesting to see how Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu interprets anything that even hints at an American reappraisal of Israel’s strategic position during this somewhat rocky moment in his relationship with the Obama administration.

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