Sunday, July 29, 2007

Umm…About that Twenty Million Dollar Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia

It’s getting harder and harder to make sense of the Alice in Wonderland moves and counter-moves in the Middle East.

This latest gambit is making everyone nervous:

The Bush administration will be asking Congress to approve a $20 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia and neighboring Gulf states despite the concerns of some U.S. officials that the Saudis have been hampering U.S. efforts in Iraq...

The size of the proposed package, which would include advanced weaponry, has made Israel and its supporters in Congress “nervous”... The administration is expecting Israeli supporters and Saudi critics in Congress to oppose the deal when it is formally presented to Congress this fall.

To resolve these concerns, the administration has promised Israel $30.4 billion in military aid over the next decade, and is asking the Saudis to accept restrictions on the “range, size and location of the satellite-guided bombs” and to agree not to store the weapons near Israeli territory…

Do not run screaming from the room just yet…
- - - - - - - - - -
Yes, the Saudis are a corrupt bunch. Yes, it does appear that we are arming our enemies, those truly evil Wahhabists who have sewn such destruction in the world. The first thought of a reasonable person has to be: “is Bush out of his mind?”

Actually people have been asking some variation on that question for some time now. However, in this case, Ed Lasky at The American Thinker has a bit of history and a lot of strategy for us to consider.

First of all the details: these sales also involve other Middle Eastern countries. Mr. Lasky calls them “allies” but for most Americans - including me - thinking of Egypt as an ally is a hard concept to get one’s mind around. And he reminds us that Israel has not been left out of the equation. They will receive even more military aid than the others over the ten year period.

But Mr. Lasky wants us to examine the ingredients in this sausage the U. S. is making:

This move [massive arms sales] is being taken in reaction to the provocative steps Iran has taken by not only continuing its nuclear program, but also by being the arms supplier to Syria, Hezb’allah, and insurgents in Iraq. Iran has also been making huge purchases of arms from Russia. Iran has also laid claim to various islands in the Persian Gulf (the Arab nations call this waterway the “Arab Gulf”) and has pressured the smaller nations that line the Persian Gulf to accept Iranian suzerainty over the area.

So Iran is the reason. This is about strategy. What of the history? Well, Mr. Lasky invokes President Reagan’s moves in bringing down the Soviet Union:

The fear of the Sunnis that the Shiite arc in the Middle East is strengthening is also an element in trying to assuage Sunni Arab concerns by expanding arm deliveries to them. However, one other tactic might be at work-and it is one that helped to bring down the Soviet Union. When President Reagan was briefed that the Soviet economy was weak, he undertook a massive military expansion-hoping to bring the Soviet Union’s economy to its knees since he suspected their economy would not be able to match the American build-up in arms and would “go broke” while trying.

In sum, it may not be as bad an idea as it first appears. After all, the sale stretches over ten years. It may be that just a few years down the road things will have changed and the need for shoring up anti-Iran will not seem so compelling. On the other hand, change in Middle East seems as though it does not occur in human terms - it’s more like geological time over there. However, let us bear in mind the fact that The Wall is history; how many of us ever expected to see the fall of the Soviet Union in our lifetime?

Thus, it is well worth your time to read the rest of Mr. Lasky’s brief essay and ponder his view of the situation. Just reading his description of Iran’s current condition offers hope.

13 comments:

beefrits said...

Sorry, but this sale of advanced weaponry to a country with the track record of Saudi Arabia is just insane. Mosques and madrassas worldwide are being funded by the Saudi regime in the campaign to make Islam the world's dominant religion and social system, usually involving dissemination of hate and often violence. Saudi Arabia is the home of Islam, with Mecca and Medina off limits to non-Muslims and with imams preaching a continuous call to jihad. It is bad enough that the western world provides them with petrodollars to fund the effort. Supplying them with arms to strengthen this enemy of democracy and freedom in an attempt to balance the influence of Iran is a major error. If Iran succeeds in its quest for nuclear capability, does that mean Saudi Arabia should follow to balance the equation? This is a bad idea.

kepiblanc said...

Honestly, my confidence in the sanity of Mr. Bush is very hard to uphold. His "Islam is a religion of peace" and now this makes me believe that he and his government consider "the war on terror" as some sort of Machiavellian exercise in a traditional, regional conflict rather than a global war between civilization and barbarism. And I don't for a second think that the fall of the Soviet Union is a valid parallel here: The Soviet Union was a highly developed nation with an intelligent and educated population, albeit governed by an incompetent, corrupt hierarchy. It would have collapsed by itself, regardless of the arms race or not. And how about the wisdom of the USA arming the Mujaheddin and Taliban ? - OK, they defeated the Soviet forces - or maybe they were smart enough to get out of the quagmire - and hand it over to NATO.

It may be wishful thinking on my part, but I strongly believe the best solution to this 1,400 year old war is what I call "indemnification" - the complete isolation of all Islamic countries, deportation of all Muslims from civilized countries and a 100% lockdown of all communications, help, technical assistance and trade with them. Everything. Preferably with barbed wire, mine fields and armed troops all around the hellhole.

OK, this may not be possible right now, but arming the savages makes no sense to me at all and my support for my government's policy of sending Danish soldiers in harm's way is dwindling. Fast. - What's the purpose? - To establish a democracy in an Islamic country? - Give me a break, please.

Harrison said...

The Saudi elites, fearing the crumbling of their corrupt regime, have taken it upon themselves to export the more fundamentalist groups overseas in order to weed out regime-threatening elements in Saudi Arabia itself. It seems as though the agenda is to send Wahhabi missionaries to proselytise the Bosnians such that civil war will return and thereby create a maelstrom that will continue to draw jihadi fighters from the KSA to their deaths in the Balkans and other locales.

Funding the Saudis to aid in their stabilisation of the regime while ensuring the continuation of exporting of Wahhabism throughout the world, triggering anti-Wahhabist sentiment and reaction from Shiites and fellow Sunnis - a self-perpetuating cycle that will continue to provide a reason to expend more resources and lives fighting terrorism, while mistakenly painting the Saudis as a counterweight to Shiite radicalism and Iranian ambitions, thus reinforcing the perceived need to stabilise the Saudi infrastructure.

Exacerbating religious conflict between the Shiites and Sunnis, empowering one radicalised side against another will send both halves into an endless vicious cycle of radicalisation and indoctrination - the victors would then turn on their financial and ideological backers i.e. the West, now emboldened by the justification of similar methods of genocide against their previous co-religionists, and without hesitation implementing those exact methods against us; the losers would be reduced to such degeneracy as that of the Palestinian strain, blaming the West for its downfall, lamenting about Western intervention and meddling characterised by events such as the 1953 coup in Iran. Furthermore, we would inevitably place ourselves in the unenviable position of replacing one extremist government with another. And another. And another.

In either case, 'strategy' leads us down the same path of eventual doom. Instead, we should focus less on a grand 'strategy' as if us human beings should fool ourselves into believing that we possess great oversight as that of Mr Lasky - who truly predicted the Soviet Union would eventually fall? Our main concern is tactics, and each action taken should, to err on the side of caution, deny both Shiite and Sunni extremism and ideological radicalism the opportunity to manifest further into more virulent forms.

Whereas the Soviet Union was partially brought down by its ailing economy that prevented it from maintaining its monopoly of military force over its satellites, note that Islamism does not require cash to be nihilistically destructive - the Palestinians wallowing in their devolved cult of death are mired in abject poverty, yet they still manage to thrive and continue to wreak havoc upon Israelis.

Painlord2k said...

I think we need to differ how we deal with muslims states and how we deal with da'wa and muslims inside our countries.
The deal is double edged (maybe tripled edged).
The saudis have their new shiny hardware and they need the US to maintain it and keep training the pilots and the ground crews. So they are able to use the new hardware to defend themselves against iranians or attack Israel.
But they are poorer of 20 billions of $ and they are required to spend other $$$ to use them, pay the ground crews, etc.
Please remember that Saudi Arabia 2006 GDP was 270 billions $. The combined GDP will be no more than 500 billions. So, if we suppose that the deal will span a few years, we know that something from 0,4% ( for ten years )to 1% (for four years) of their GDP will be transformed in military hardware. Less money for the da'wa and the jihad.

This will push Iran and Siria to increase their stockpile of weapons further.
So, we have Iran spending more in weapons, straining its economy, and saudis and other arabs doing the same with theirs.

More money they spend in hi-tech weapons systems less money they are able to spend in da'wa, terrorism and secret police.

USpace said...

Ah yes, that 20 BILLION. But would Iran ever attack SA? And would the Saudis ever launch an attack against Iran? If only an impenetrable bubble could be put over Israel...

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
sell weapons to enemies

or to friends of enemies
who might sell some to them


absurd thought -
God of the Universe loves
EVIL ideologies...

they deserve weapons too
we must respect DEATH cults
.

rickl said...

This sounds bad to me, too. Of course, I'm not privy to the information our leaders have, and recognize that there might be a method to this (apparent) madness.

But it looks mighty cynical that the American government is selling weapons to both Israel and its mortal enemies.

More and more, I'm in favor of just seizing the oil fields and letting the Arabs eat sand. After all, WE discovered them, drilled them, maintain them, etc. All the Arabs do is cash the checks.

PapaBear said...

USpace,
It would be interesting if the GPS software of the bombs were rigged to immediately detonate (ie, in the hanger) if fed certain predetermined coordinates

Freedom Fighter said...

Hi Dympha, Baron...

This is exactly the kind of desert mirage the Bush Administration indulged in with President Bush's Arab democracy fantasy or the attempted coup d'etat by Fatah against Hamas.

The current occupant of the White House has likely abandoned any direct US action against Iran until near the end of his term ( if at all) and is counting on the Sunni autocracies to help in a Cold War style `containment'.

Unfortunately, the Saudis and Iran have already made their own arrangements.

The Bush Administration has forgotten (if they ever knew) that the Sunnis and Shiites have always been wiling to put aside their differences temporarily to combine against the infidel for the conquest of dar harb.

Keep up the fight.

ff

unaha-closp said...

Backing Hitler to contain Stalin might work.

Subvet said...

IMHO the Administration is still using the mindset of the Cold War, where we had to compete with the Soviets for influence in the Middle East. This led to turning a blind eye to Islamic hijinks and supporting corrupt regimes like the House of Saud with few, if any, conditions attached.

While we may need their oil they definetly need our military support. We should start dictating terms and conditions. Some might include; the cessation of funding mosques not on Saudi soil, a more proactive approach to the terrorists residing in Saudi Arabia, seeking a less hostile relationship with the Israelis.

And while we're at it, lets have them allow the building of churchs and the proselytization efforts of non-Islamic faiths. Time to break the ideological monopoly of the mullahs in this part of the world.

Next stop, Iran!

R. Hartman said...

Obviously, this looks like a delusional strategy. But history has shown the Arabs cannot handle nor maintain the modern weaponry; in the past they were bought just as toys, to show off.

If Bush really is afraid of what Iran might do, it would be a lot more effective to take Iran's nuclear facilities out. But maybe he fears the response of the Arab world on such a move.

It could of course all be taqiyya, where Bush promises stuff to everyone, but only delivers to Israel, but somehow I don't think so. For one, he's desperate for some hard cash. And maybe he's counting on the Saudi's inability too use / mantain them, or retain control through the maintenance programs, which will generate cash as well, like Painlord2k suggested.

I honestly don't know what the best strategy would be. But history teaches us that most weapons deals in the region have come back to bite us.

kepiblanc said...

And here is the Iranian:
response
I guess the Israelis are happy...?

Axel said...

That's 12 Billion - not Million - dollars !

You can't buy much for 12 million - a single MBT, perhaps.