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And a Dangerous Trip

President Bush’s trip to the Middle East was not only rhetorically disappointing, the announcement of a major arms sale to Saudi Arabia made it dangerous as well.


President Bush’s trip to the Middle East was not only rhetorically disappointing, the announcement of a major arms sale to Saudi Arabia made it dangerous as well.

They’ll tell you the reason for selling 900 precision-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) to the Saudis as part of a $123 million package plus earlier sales of Patriots and support for an airborne early warning system to Kuwait and the UAE, and “targeting pods” and AWACs upgrades to Saudi Arabia is that these are our allies in containing Iran. They’ll tell you the Arab states have to be able to defend themselves. They’ll tell you we have to ensure that our Arab allies see us as reliable and trustworthy. They might even (quietly) suggest that we are pre-positioning in the Gulf in case WE have to deal with Tehran.

They’ll also point out – loudly and often – that the Government of Israel doesn’t object. The State Department’s Sean McCormack said, “We’ve spent a lot of time ensuring that we abide by our commitments to a qualitative military edge for Israel. We are committed to maintaining that qualitative military edge for Israel.”

We, on the other hand, will tell you that the real threats to Sunni state interests are insurrection and terrorism – the Shi’ite corollary to Sunni radicalism and terrorism – and JDAMS and AWACs won’t help. If Tehran is so foolish as to mount a full-scale war on Saudi Arabia, the Saudis will expect us to respond – and we will and we should.

We will tell you that with oil nearing $100/bbl, the United States wants the dollars back. We are peddlers, they pay cash and can purchase elsewhere. Our government has become so fixed on proving ourselves “worthy” that we don’t remember what an honest relationship would look like, or why we need one. Shouldn’t they have be “worthy” just once?

And about Israel. We will remind Mr. McCormack that the “qualitative edge” is comprised of a) better weapons; b) better tactics and training; and c) better soldiers. Only the first is in American hands, and the sheer quantity we sell to the Arabs impacts the quantity Israel can afford to buy, even with U.S. aid.

Furthermore, The Government of Israel (GOI) may not object to the Saudis undermining American policy in Iraq at both the diplomatic and security levels. The GOI may not object to Saudi sponsorship abroad of the intolerant, misogynistic Wahhabi religious philosophy that has settled across Europe and resides in schools and mosques in our own country. The GOI may not object to the Saudis looking at relations with the United States as a series of, “What will you do for me, while I undermine you by holding a Hamas/Fatah summit to which you object?” The GOI may not object to treating a country that shoves little girls back into a burning school building because they left without their headscarves, doesn’t want female American soldiers to drive and asks them to cover their uniforms with formless tent-like clothing, won’t permit Christian American soldiers to worship – not to mention JEWISH American soldiers – as if it is a normal, moral country.

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