On a more serious front, read Dana Milbank’s logic knock on the heads of a few leading allegedly fiscally conservative Republicans who have been pining for the level of security that Israel applies at its airports. Milbank stings them with the hard dollar reality that what they want would cost more than $40 billion a year:
“What the Israelis do – and I’ve flown on El Al about a dozen times to Israel – what they do is the way it ought to be done,” says likely Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
“I traveled to Israel, and I tell you what,” says Tea Party darling Allen West, congressman-elect from Florida. “They have very good procedures and you don’t have to go through all of these very draconian practices.”
Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), making the rounds of cable TV, says the federal government “flubbed the dub” because “they didn’t take the Israeli model.” Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Tea Party godfather, praised the “Israeli model” during a Senate hearing, and Fox News’s Sean Hannity proclaimed: “We have a paradigm, a model that is enormously successful, and that’s Israel.”
The Israeli model for airport screening has, without a doubt, been successful. But do these guys have any idea what they are proposing? Replicating the Israeli model in the United States would easily cost $40 billion a year – and possibly many times that. That would wind up being more expensive than supposed big-government boondoggles such as the Troubled Assets Relief Program and the auto bailout, and it would wipe out Republican promises to cut spending.
Milbank also cites Foreign Policy‘s Annie Lowrey who calculated that “if each passenger flying through a U.S. airport were subjected to 10 minutes of questioning by a guard, we would need 3 million full-time guards, at a cost of more than $150 billion a year.”
And as Harvard scholar and Foreign Policy blogger Stephen Walt wrote to me this morning:
Am I the only person who sees the irony in the recommendation that the US adopt the Israeli approach to airline security? The proper question to ask is: why do we suddenly need greater airport security?
Could it be because we’ve gradually adopted Israel’s approach to the Middle East too?
— Steve Clemons