Lost amid the national distractions of a Super Bowl and Super Tuesday, the clock is running down on an immense sale of precision-guided munitions and other advanced weapons to Saudi Arabia and several of the smaller oil-rich Gulf States the Saudis dominate. Unless two-thirds majorities in both houses of Congress adopt resolutions of disapproval by the 14th of February, these transactions will proceed. All other things being equal, it is a safe bet the Saudis will augment their already vast arsenal with these new American arms.
After all, many in official Washington recognize that the growing aggressiveness of Iran is a threat to U.S. interests in the region – from Iraq to Israel to the flow of oil through the Persian Gulf. Even before Bush administration efforts to prevent Tehran’s Islamofascist mullahs from obtaining nuclear weapons were undone by a politicized National Intelligence Estimate, the step of up-arming rival nations was an obvious move. In the aftermath of that NIE, it became the only game in town.
Thanks moreover to the Saudis’ considerable influence in U.S. corridors of power – cultivated over many years and at a cost of untold millions of dollars spent on lavish retainers, trips and other inducements for politicians, former officials and lawyer-lobbyists – the latest weapon sale has been greased like one of the Gulfies’ petrodollar-powered “sovereign wealth” acquisitions. Apart from a hundred-or-so, mostly Democratic congressmen who have declared their opposition to such further arming of the Saudis, scarcely a discouraging word has been heard about the whole matter.
President Bush’s latest sop to the Saudis nonetheless provides something valuable – what educators call a “teaching moment.”
The notion that the United States’ vital interests will be served by providing the Saudis and their minions with billions of dollars in additional arms fundamentally rests on the proposition that Saudi Arabia is indeed a “reliable ally.” Would anybody in their right mind propose such sales if we had reason to believe they might be used against us – either by the original owners or by a successor government? Presumably not.
How about if the arms themselves are not turned against us but other actions taken or supported by the government in question are profoundly hostile?
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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