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30 July 2007


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Serving Patriot


Yes indeed, Israel will not pay for any of it. Of note, their share rises almost 50% ($3B/yr x 10 yrs) while thier "treaty partner" Egypt will continue to get the same # of $s they have been getting since 1990s ($1.3B/yr x 10yrs). Given inflation, looks like we know WHO we favor in that 3-way deal. Expect the Chinese to continue to press Egypt and others to "diversify" their systems and not tie themselves solely to US-made items.

BTW, US law requires receipients of military assistance (US taxpayer) money to spend those $ back in the US on US-made stuff. Except for Israel - who gets to spend about 1/3rd of thier "assistance" on thier own arms industry. You know, the industry that sells advanced American weapons technology to our friends in China and India.

More interesting is how quiet this "deal" has been kept over the past several months.... good corporate welfare for US defense industry - guaranteed laundered subsidy up front just when the congress and taxpayer are starting to question the real level of support DoD needs...


If your analysis that "[t]here is no way that THE KINGDOM can absorb" the arms package headed their way is correct, I'd suggest an alternative explanation for the deal -- arming Israel without further damage to US-"Sunni" relations.

Granted, this hypothesis is harder to prove, as the devil's in the details of this deal and the form of additional sales to Israel. And it's quite possible that the additional sales to Israel are viewed simply as a long-term "sweetener" to the planned sale, and are not a primary objective.

Duncan Kinder
There is no way that THE KINGDOM can absorb this kind of equipment,

Then why do the Saudis want it?

Twenty billion dollars could, instead, build quite a few pleasure domes in Xanadu.

W. Patrick Lang


You should not think of SA as a monolith.In fact, it is a swirling maelstrom of conflicting factional and personal agendas and interests.

There will be a lot of money made in this. pl

Tom S

Will Saudi hands ever touch the new systems? Or will those they hire to do the fighting for them us them? Will details of the systems make thir way to parts of the world where we would rather they didn't?

W. Patrick Lang

I agree with you on "arms" but would add two points. One, to anyone who has watched this maneuver performed a number of times over the years, it's a charade. However, it's the technique they use that's so fascinating. First the State Department says it's going to sell weapons to the Saudis, and, anticipating an outcry from the friends of Israel in the Congress, they include an arms package for the Israelis, as well. The claim is that Israel is buying these weapons, but as you pint out, Israel doesn't pay; the arms are gratis. As soon as the sale is announced, Israel's friends oppose, with a lot of rhetoric, and so, to win them over, more free arms are thrown into the pot for the Israelis. Then, the sale goes through. Who benefits? The arms manufacturers, of course (as well as the Israelis). The arms dealer have just gotten a "twofer". Two deals for one--they get real money for the arms they sell tothe Saudis and American taxpayer money for the arms "sales" to the Jewish state. The other point is, I don't think the arms bought by the Saudis rust, by any means. Eventually they bleed out of the system, falling into the hands of America's enemies. That's what happened with arms sold to the Shah, after he was overthrown. What are the Iraqi insurgents fighting us with, if not arms the Saudis and Kuwaitis bought for Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War.
Steve Pelletiere"


I would agree with almost all of this. You can make a case for the materiel we sold the imperial government ending in the hands of the Islamic Republic.

The Iraqi insurgents are fighting us with the small arms that were everywhre in the cuontry when we arrived. Saddam's government armed just about everyone who would taccept weapons + there were government arms depots.

the rest of the stuff the insurgents are using, IED's etc are just bits of explosive junk engineered together with circuits they take out of consumer electronics, etc. and the plate things the Iranians are giving them.

Just junk, Ingenious. pl


If we're going to continue to police the world, we need to get paid. Making the world safe for capitalism is not sufficient compensation for the amount we spend on defense.

We should start demanding a tribute.



wouldn't it be great if career military and civilian personnel could put together a financial package the way the Israelis do through their lackeys in both the white house and congress. the career military/civilian/taxpayers wind up paying for everything the Israelis buy. the white house and congress dole out the 'free aid' to the one Israeli hand. the Israelis do a quick turnaround and then hand it back to the white house/congress saying here is their 'payment' for whatever (minus a few dozen fins that the Israelis take off the top and stick in their pockets). just think if career personnel could 'creative finance' their retirement packages the way the israelis do their 'u.s. aid', maybe retirees wouldn't have to get a second or third job along with their government retirements just to make ends meet.


Not everybody knows that the Gulf Arabs and the Saudis pay hard cash for their toys and the Israelis get theirs for free.

Yesterday on NPR, i heard a ditsy female say that Gates was proposing a 20 billion dollar arms package for the Arabians and that Congress may have something to say about this "LARGESSE." That was the word she used whigh implies gift and her tone of voice clearly conveyed it. I shxt you not.

Also most of the aircraft would be piloted by American contract crews.

Cold War Zoomie

If I read you correctly, you're saying that the Saudies don't have the technical knowhow to maintain this gear we're selling them. I find this interesting since us overseas contracting types used to flock to SA for the big bucks supporting the weapons systems that they could not. I worked with one guy in particular who spent almost ten years in SA with Bendix and made an absolute mint.

When I got out of the AF and wanted to board the Saudi gravy train, I was SOL...it had already made its last stop. When I researched where all the lucrative contracting jobs had gone, it looked like SA started demanding that each foreigner doing a technical job would train the locals on how to do it. I also remember vaguely that SA had used oil money to build technical schools that would slowly feed the pipeline of trainees. It appreared by the 1990s that the plan had worked and slots for support personnel like myself had been filled by locals.

Bottom line, the remaining defense jobs in SA are few and far between, and definitely don't pay at the same rates they did 20-30 years ago.

But it sounds like the idea that we would train their folks, leave, and they would take over was just a way to spread the wealth locally rather than actually maintain a force.


I don't know quite how to say this, but these new weapons will not work if they fall into "the hands of Americas enemies" or if the Saudis suddenly decide to use their new toys to attack someone we don't want them to attack.

You might like to google the phrase ""operational sovereignty"

That is all.



Is it your opinion that we as a nation, are, for whatever reason/s, condemned to go through this costly charade because of some inevitable, fundamental, flaw in Byzantium on the Potomac? Or is it your opinion, that this charade, however foolish for all parties to entertain, is just the way things get done, one more tool in the diplomatic arsenal, and, ultimately, its possible (though perhaps doubtful) that some minor tactical good comes of it? Or am I off base on both angles?


Of course 10% of the arms going to Israel if given to the Lebanese forces, would paint Hizballah into a corner regarding its weapons. But then the army could use those weapons to actually defend Lebanon from Israeli attacks and as much as this administration loves Lebanons newly democracy-loving govt. that isn't going to be allowed.

W. Patrick Lang

Tom S

It has gotten a lot harder to use foreigners. The Pakistanis and Bangla Deshis just aren't as sumissive as they used to be and the Saudis have a memory of the trouble they had with the Khalid bin Waliid armored brigade (all Pakistani) 25 years ago.


"Also most of the aircraft would be piloted by American contract crews." That was never true. They have never used foreign pilots extensively except on the AWACS and those were Paki. they don'd have a problem being made into pilots. That is stick and rudder stuff. It is the staff work, logistics and maintenance that they can't do still.


They can't run a modern anything without a lot of foreigners and are afraid to turn combat suystems over to them.


They can't use the systems operationally in any sort of sustained effort.


Both things are true. I think that any world power committed to dominance strategies on a sustainrd basis ends up like this. We actually ar eno worse than many. Look at the mess that the Brits made of much of the world. pl


Yes, it sounds like the Iranian defense minister is spot on--it's just business as usual.

Pat, do you think this is incremental business, or have the merchants of death been notified that their sales in Iraq will be winding down in the next decade?

Mark G


W. Patrick Lang


I think all their instincts point to a need to diversify. pl

Peter Principle

"The symbolism is the thing. We, the American guarantors of the status quo in the Middle East guarantee to you, the Sunni Arab govenments that we are not going to try to unseat you."

In other words, we can look at this as the geopolitical equivalent of make-up sex.

It's as good an explanation as any, I guess.

David W

I'd like to see a breakdown of the deals for SA/Egypt versus Israel. In my (largely uninformed) opinion, Israel gets a much higher percentage of 'goodies' ie. cluster bombs and other offensive weapons, while the Saudis get more defensive systems, like AWACS systems. Last summer's controversy over the IDF's usage of these weapons against Lebanon seems forgotten now...

I think it's a shell game, playing all sides against each other (US govt. included)--is the pea underneath the Saudi's cup, or the Israeli cup? Neither--the pea is in the MIC's hands, awaiting another sucker buyer.

The answer to all of the rhetorical 'cui bonos?' about the war in Iraq is right here. Unfortunately, the US is in the situation of the proverbial business owner who claims, 'I know that half of my ad budget is wasted--the problem is that I don't know which half.'


There's also the matter of the "prestige" that the arms sale conveys to the Arabs, that they are important to us. Many countries have done stupid things for prestige. The French Maginot Line is a famous example. It allowed the French to boast that they contemplated no offensive warfare, which came back to haunt them when they were unable to launch an offensive to aid Poland.


Do we know which American arms manufacturers and middle men will benefit from the arms sales? The press seems to be silent, except for the Wall Street Journal which had an article today on the sale that mentioned two or three possible beneficiaries (I recall Lockheed) but nothing definite. I wonder whether the press ignores these issues, because the arms merchants are actually altruistic, sacrificing profits to patriotism.

Clifford Kiracofe

Ike would like this thread.

Seems to me that the Chinese could displace us in Egypt not that far down the road. A cabinet level official there told a friend of mine a while back, "We don't need US money." There are other arms suppliers out and about looking for deals.

I noticed in my recent visit to the UAE that the Chinese have moved heavily into the building construction supply sector. The Russian mafiya types are buying up real estate, fancy cars, and jewelry.

Hasn't there been a strong integration of the US and Israeli defense sectors during the Bush Administration? And now the new trade agreement with the Brits? So then can expect to see the emergence of an Anglo-US-Israeli military industrial complex?


Gary Sick (sic), political scientist and former National Security advisor, gives his views on this:


Duncan Kinder

According to the Jerusalem Post:

Israel is looking into reports that Russia plans to sell 250 advanced long-range Sukhoi-30 fighter jets to Iran in an unprecedented billion-dollar deal.

According to reports, in addition to the fighter jets, Teheran also plans to purchase a number of aerial fuel tankers that are compatible with the Sukhoi and capable of extending its range by thousands of kilometers. Defense officials said the Sukhoi sale would grant Iran long-range offensive capabilities.

Government officials voiced concern over the reports. They said Russia could be trying to compete with the United States, which announced over the weekend a billion-dollar arms sale to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.


"We should start demanding a tribute."

Then we should be allowed to vote for the new US president, how about a 1/100 vote for each of us US policed citizens worldwide.

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