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30 July 2007

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Got A Watch

The MIC must be fed. Even if it's a stupid idea. Even if the long suffering American taxpayers have to pay so Israel can have more hi-tech arms that they don't really need unless they are going to fight a real war.

As the Lebanese found out last year, American cluster bombs are a great spokesman for the "democracy project."

"We are actually no worse than many". A fine bit of moral relativism there. You fail to mention that America is the one always making fine sounding speeches about how democracy and freedom are the goals, and how America is the one who sets the bar in these areas. The dis-connect between the lofty ideals and fine words vs actions grows by the day, and it does not go un-noticed.

The obvious hypocrisy of America is what really sets America apart. Few other nations have such an endemic swollen ego syndrome, nor do they desire to.

But the MIC is nearing the end of its windfall profit years, the economic position of the USA is deteriorating to the point where the bloated military budgets will become un-sustainable, and present force levels will have to be reduced. Not just yet, but it is inevitable unless some financial sanity returns to Washington, which is unlikely any time soon.

Sorry I sound cranky today, but this whole thing just sounds like such a waste of time and taxpayer $.

Serving Patriot

Clifford,

Your friend reports faithfully. In fact, the stuff the PRC sells to Egypt is better for their armed forces than the materials Egypt receives from the US (essentially for free). Chinese weapons systems are simple; made for an technically emerging society; don't come with a LARGE, foreign support contractor workforce; and relatively cheap. For Egypt - a country hard up on $s and prickly about their sovreignity - the Chinese stuff is just what they need. Even more ironic is how some of it may actually trace back to US systems (via the 51st state).

The tweaks that the Mubaraks get to give to their sponsor Uncle Sam as a result are an added bonus.

And of course, the graft is just the same.

So, how close are the two countries? Find out how many times the Egyptian defense minister visits Beijing and DC. We should not forget how quickly Sadat threw the Soviets out ...

SP

Matthew

Col: Isn't there a bright side here? Maybe the Busheviks have decided for a cold war against Iran, rather than a hot one. Do you also perceive this as evidence of strenght or weakness on our part?

VietnamVet

No doubt a few billion here and there will shore up the coalition against the Iranians; but, to gain what? These weapon systems only blow holes in the sand. Israel and the USA keep skirting around the fact to pacify Arabs, their cities have to be bulldozed flat. Beirut, or Bagdad isn't sufficient; every city from Tangiers to Jogjakarta has to be flattened in the War Option.

William Lind is absolutely correct, the only way the USA can pump oil and dry up the jihadist breeding ground is to build a state in Iraq. To dream that an Iraqi state will be a friend of Israel and barrack to invading Christian soldiers is farcical. The only chance for "success" is rapprochement with Iran, a regional framework for peace and US troop withdrawal to the Gulf States.

anna missed

"The symbolism is the thing.
[...] Well, if we do, we can't collect the money."

Considering the (militant) threat these client nations face in the real world, these deals are more like how the potlatch degenerated in late pacific northwest native cultures, where instead of sharing the wealth the chiefs elected to burn it as a display of power. Maybe they should think about doing that instead, seeing how all this fancy stuff is useless against an IED.

J. Michael Hammer

I believe the Saudies buy this stuff to increase their sense of MOJO. At the end of the day, they don't want their people to know how to use it because it may be turned on them.

b

@D. Kindler - JPost story on "250 Sukhoi fighters to Iran".

That story was a rumor lauched by someone at the Paris Air Show in June via Aviation Week.

It was revived by DEBKA (Mossad) a day before the 30 billon gift of U.S. tax dollars to some 7 million Israelis was published.

That again was picked up by the neocon JPost and others and now gets recycled in the U.S. media.

The "truthiness" value of that rumor is likely beween 0% and 10%.

And people fall for it.

Links/quotes etc here:
http://www.moonofalabama.org/2007/07/to-push-through.html

Clifford Kiracofe

Serving Patriot,

Thanks much for your insights. So while the US pushes a "prestige" weapons purchase on the Gulfies, Egypt could well move on in a different direction.

Egypt necessarily is concerned about the Nile/Sudan/Nile headwaters-basin situation. And we have the Chinese presence in Sudan from which it gets about 8 percent of its imported hydrocarbons.

How would you (and Col. Lang and "All") assess what the likely regional consequences would be if the US were dropped "a la russe" by Cairo? I agree entirely with your Soviet analogy, which would also imply an internal political alteration.

Seems to me that Israeli strategy since the mid-1950s has been to fish in the troubled waters of the Nile Basin targetting Egypt. I suppose the Decider's concern over Darfur stems from this regional geopolitical game.

Babak Makkinejad

jonst:

The fundamental flaw is called the "Fall of Man".

Abu Sinan

My father in law worked as a military attache for the Saudis here in DC for years.

This equipment will do exactly what all of the previous equipment has done. It will sit in some large warehouse and be maintained by foreigners. It will be seldom used, but often touted.

There will be much more equipment than the Saudis can ever hope to train their forces to use. In many cases they buy more equipment than they ever have plans to use.

The will let everyone know how much money they have spent to protect the Kingdom, but if anything comes about it will be exactly like the first Gulf war and they will let the Americans and the West protect them and the oil supply.

Billions of dollars will be made by those in the right places, think of the billion or so racked up by Prince Bandar and you have an idea of what is going on.

There are large warehouse all over Saudi housing decades of this same material, much of it never used, not even in a training capacity.

Saudis are not keen on joining the military, especially the army as it is seen as work not fit.

It will be such a massive waste of money it is mind bogling.

Montag

I read an interview with the Turk who was an official with the UN forces in South Lebanon for decades. He said the weapons procurement practices of the PLO and Hizbullah were like night and day. Before the Israeli invasion in 1982 the PLO delighted in procuring weapons that they had no use for, just for the prestige. At one point his Father, who was in the Turkish military was visiting him and his eyes bugged out when he saw the PLO driving around in trucks with anti-aircraft guns on the back. His son explained that, "They only use them to drive around and pick up girls with." When the Israelis invaded they gleefully went to the storage areas and carted the weapons off.

Hizbullah, on the other hand, has social welfare expenses as well. So when they buy weapons they darn well intend to use them and have an integrated plan for doing so. And they've learned from the PLO's mistake of advertising their weapons caches. Everything is on a need to know basis. You can judge for yourself who is giving the IDF hissy fits.

Indeed, the Israeli Admiral in command of their Navy just resigned prematurely, because he didn't think that Hizbullah had anti-ship missiles until one of his ships got hit by one. Proving that "consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds," much the same thing happened to the INS Elat in October, 1967--it ate four guided missiles from the Egyptian Navy that the IDF had "misunderestimated."

no fortunate son

Col. Lang,

Totally OT: I am reading the latest edition of Keylor's
The Twentieth Century and Beyond: an international history since 1900 and on its cover is a photgraph which includes the image at the top of your column. FDR is obvious, but unfortunately the other men are not identified anywhere in the book as far as I can tell.

The larger photo includes two more men in uniforms and a man in a white coat who may be a steward. Do you know the photo I am describing and can you identify the occasion and the officers, including the man with his back to the camera?

W. Patrick Lang

NFS

Send me the picture. pl

Curious


Page 2 of 2
The Saudi arms deal: Why now?
By Dan Smith

fact, Congress had already expressed its frustration about Riyadh's failure to be more actively engaged in furthering US (and therefore implicitly Saudi) objectives.

In fiscal years 2005 and 2006, Congress had directed that Saudi Arabia was not to receive any funds in the State Department's foreign-operations appropriation. But as usual, the legislation contained an escape clause: the ban against assistance became

moot if the president certified that the Saudis were cooperating in the "war on terror". Much to the dismay of many in Congress, Bush so certified each year.

Timing
An unanswered question about the proposed arms deal is: Why now? Had the administration moved before November 2003, the announcement would have been seen in the region as an audacious - given the "success" of US-led coalitions in Afghanistan and Iraq - but credible recommitment by Washington to the then-25-year-old policy of diplomatic, economic, and military (conventional and nuclear) containment of Tehran's ambitions in the Persian Gulf by increasing Riyadh's military stance.

But looking at the Saudi record and Riyadh's increasing propensity to act in its own interests without coordinating with Washington, there is the suggestion that the Bush administration is suddenly wary of its "other" flank in the Persian Gulf - the one occupied by the Saudi-dominated six-member Gulf Cooperation Council. Militarily overcommitted in midsummer, the White House has only two cards to play: pump up fear of Iran acquiring enough enriched uranium to build a nuclear weapon, or bribe the regional allies.

For a few months the nuclear fear factor seemed to work, but Tehran seems to have become "reasonable" enough in its position to defuse tensions with most of the main actors in this dispute. This left the Bush administration with bribery, spiced with a touch of traditional Sunni-Shi'ite sectarianism that underpins relations between Riyadh and Tehran even when they cooperate (eg, the just-formed Iraq security subcommittee that will consider steps to reduce the influx of weapons and fighters into Iraq from Iran).

This also explains the visit last week by the US secretary of state and the secretary of defense to the region on an old-fashioned, bribe-them-first-then-twist-arms, whistle-stop campaign to make sure regional "allies" - this time including the Saudis - are in line behind US policy.

Inconvenient inconsistencies
But the multibillion-dollar arms deal has some inconsistencies that could cause the two secretaries problems. The most immediate one is the policy message represented by the sheer size of the arms deal.

Washington has been insisting that there is no military solution to the region's trauma. Yet it is proposing not only $20 billion in weapons to the Saudis but another $13 billion to Egypt and $30 billion to Israel - a total of $63 billion for weapons in a part of the world already awash in modern arms. And this total apparently doesn't include $40 million in guns, bullets, rockets, missiles, small-arms ammunition, night-vision goggles, and spare parts for the Lebanese Army this year and another $280 million for 2008. Nor does it include the $3 billion Iraq is spending on weapons and ammunition - all of which are contributing to the current mayhem in these two countries.

Nonetheless, since Israel has already said it will not oppose the sale, it is unlikely that Congress will vote to block it or even to amend it. As for the Pentagon, it hopes to save money through economy of scale for items produced for either the Saudis or Israelis. And of course US companies that build weapons and munitions are pleased at the prospect of new contracts and new profits.

The irony in this whole affair is that Bush started the Iraq war over weapons that never existed and that have not been used since 1945. Now his administration seems to think the way to end the war is to make sure that there are more weapons - ones that kill thousands every day. Go figure!


http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/IH08Ak02.html

jgarbuz

The facts are, that the US sells ISrael's enemies 2.5 to 3 times in dollar terms as it gives or sells to Israel. In fact, the MAIN reason that Israel gets any aid at all is so that the US defense industries can be free to sell Israel's enemies as much as they want. If the US ended aid to Israel, it would be forced politically to end arms sales to the Arab states as well. Of the $8 billion in arms the US sells into the ME annually, about $2.5 B goes to Israel, and the rest (about 5.5 B) goes to ISrael's enemies. And 3/4s of all the aid given to both Israel and Egypt goes directly to the US defense industries and its workers and never leaves US shores.

The US also knows that if it ended all US aid to Israel, that Israel could easily make up the $3 B in its own sophisticated arms sales to China or Taiwan and India, et al. IN other words, Israeli competition with US arms makers would increase rapidly. Israel is already the 3rd largest arms exporter after Russia.

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