Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Guns for Oil

It was announced this week that the United States will sell $20 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia over the next 10 years. The package includes "advanced satellite-guided bombs, upgrades to its fighters and new naval vessels". (If you are interested, you can read more about the deal here).

Congress must approve this deal before the sale can go forward. I hope that they do not.

The Bush Administration (which is certainly not the first to do this) has said that the weapons are intended to counter the emerging Iranian threat.

Reportedly, the Administration also believes (probably correctly) that if we do not sell the Kingdom weapons, someone else will. Our leaders have reasoned that it is better for us to get the money and maintain the "influence" with Saudi Arabia that our "close relationship" warrants.

I do not find either of these arguments persuasive.

Our vaunted influence with Saudi Arabia is having no visible effect on the price of oil - nor is it noticeably impacting the Kingdom's record on human rights. We should not inject weapons into a region to preserve "benefits" that have no practical value.

As for the Iranian threat...

No doubt, Iran is provocative. We should maintain a strong defensive position in the region as a result. Nevertheless, the argument that regional security requires or is enhanced by selling armaments to Saudi Arabia is does not hold up to scrutiny.

In the early 1990's Saddam Hussein taught every aspiring expansionist tyrant in the region that the invasion of other (oil-rich) countries would not be tolerated. Iran must know that any military conquests it makes will be short-lived and excruciatingly painful - if not completely suicidal.

The only thing Saudi Arabia's security requires is for America to need its oil. As long as we do, our carrier fleets will remain in the Persian Gulf and thousands of our troops will remain in nearby Iraq - weapons sales or not.

Therefore, the Saudis do not need new naval vessels and upgraded fighter planes. They most definitely do not need satellite guided missiles.

The addition of new weapons to this region, if anything, will only decrease its long-term security. Although the Saudi regime is relatively stable today, it is easy to imagine a day when it is not. Who would control these weapons if Saudi Arabia experienced a revolution?

Sound like a crazy and/or unrealistic scenario? Perhaps...but consider this:

The Iranian air-force flies the F-14 Tomcat. The famous fighters were sold to Iran in 1976. Just 3 years later, an Iranian revolution replaced a pro-American regime with one of the most hostile we have dealt with in the last 30 years. The government changed, but the fighters remain to this day.

Why take the same risk for so little benefit?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Why take the same risk for so little benefit?

Indifference to the actual good of the nation in favor of unadulterated avarice?