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|Mon Nov 15, 2010 7:18 am Why is Obama arming Israel's enemies?
|In recent weeks, the Obama administration has accelerated the sale of advanced American weaponry to a variety of unsavory – and undemocratic - Arab regimes.
This includes the largest arms deal in US history - a $60 billion contract with Saudi Arabia - as well as a variety of other multi-billion dollar deals with Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. The ostensible reason is said to be growing fears about the power of Iran and the threat that it poses to the region, but that would hardly seem to account for the breathtaking size and pace of these transactions.
If anything, it appears that economics is playing a key role in Washington’s calculations, as Obama tries to inject some much-needed funds into the moribund US economy by closing a few deals with the Gulf Arab states.
But as I suggest in the column below from the Jerusalem Post, that is precisely what is so worrying about all this wheeling and dealing. In his rush to ring up the cash register, Obama might be overlooking the effects of these sales on the military balance in the Middle East, tilting it in favor of the rejectionist Arab regimes and against the Jewish state. And he is putting hi-tech US weapons in the hands of fair-weather friends who do not share Western values or ideals.
That just isn’t good policy – not for America, and certainly not for Israel.
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The Jerusalem Post, November 14, 2010
Why is Obama arming Israel’s enemies?
By Michael Freund
For someone who insists that his administration is a friend of Israel, Barack Obama sure has a funny way of showing it.
Last month, in a move that raised plenty of eyebrows in Washington and beyond, the US announced that it is planning a new round of arms sales to Saudi Arabia to the tune of a whopping $60 billion.
Under the proposed arrangement, the Saudis will be getting their hands on some of America’s finest military hardware, including F-15SA fighter-bombers, Blackhawk and Apache helicopters, laser-guided bombs, advanced radar systems, and Harpoon and Sidewinder missiles.
That’s more than enough firepower to make another round of Rambo sequels.
Indeed, this is by far the largest arms deal in all of American history, and it will significantly improve the desert kingdom’s military potential.
As Joshua Teitelbaum, Principal Research Fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, put it, “There is no doubt that the package represents a considerable improvement in the offensive capability of the Saudi armed forces.”
Just consider the following: in the 56 years between 1950 and 2006, the US sold a grand total of some $60 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia.
Now, in one fell swoop, Obama plans to offer Riyadh a package that is equal in size to all those decades of military sales.
This, of course, is the same Saudi Arabia that refuses to recognize Israel, has served as a source of funding and manpower for militant Islamic fundamentalism, and ruthlessly represses any semblance of human rights for its own citizens.
But the Saudis aren’t the only dubious characters to benefit from Obama’s military marketing plan.
In the past week alone, the Obama Administration has notified Congress about three additional arms deals with Gulf Arab states, all of whom are unfriendly toward the Jewish state.
These include the sale of $5 billion worth of AH-64D Apache helicopters to that bastion of freedom and democracy known as the United Arab Emirates, as well as a pact to send tactical missile systems to Bahrain.
And since the summer, Washington has also moved ahead with the proposed sale of aircraft and Patriot missiles to Kuwait, and $3.5 billion worth of F-16s to Oman.
This is all on top of the $13 billion in arms sales to Arab countries that Obama approved during his first year in office.
What is going on here? Why is Obama so busy arming Israel’s enemies?
The ostensible reason is said to be growing fears about the power of Iran and the threat that it poses to the region.
America, say the pundits, is aiming to send a message to the Ayatollahs that it will stand by its “allies” in the Persian Gulf in order to deter Iranian mischief.
But that would hardly seem to account for the breathtaking size and pace of these transactions.
If anything, it appears that economics is playing a key role in Washington’s calculations.
After all, what better way could there be to inject some much-needed funds into the moribund US economy than to close a few multi-billion dollar deals with the Gulf Arab states?
And that is precisely what is so worrying about all this wheeling and dealing, because in his rush to ring up the cash register, Obama might be overlooking the effects of these sales on the military balance in the Middle East.
Concern over this point is so great that it has led the top Democrat and Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee to circulate a joint letter among their colleagues regarding the proposed Saudi deal.
In the letter, Howard Berman, a California Democrat, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican, questioned whether the Administration has taken into account the sale’s impact on Israel’s “qualitative military edge”.
They even cite a report by the Government Accountability Office which found that the Pentagon and State Department ““did not consistently document how arms transfers to gulf countries advanced U.S. foreign policy and national security goals.”
But none of that seems to bother Mr. Obama very much. Thus far, he and his colleagues have rebuffed criticism of the deal, and are pushing forward.
There is something very, very wrong about all of this. As much as the US might need to start generating more jobs, selling arms to dictators just isn’t the way to go.
Sure, the United States has its own interests, and Obama isn’t the first American president to sign on the dotted line with the likes of the Saudi regime.
But this Administration seems intent on taking matters to another level, moving quickly to arm some of the Middle East’s most dreadful regimes with an array of dreadful weapons.
By doing so, Obama is running the risk of upsetting the military balance in the region, tilting it in favor of the rejectionist Arab regimes and against the Jewish state. And he is putting hi-tech US weapons in the hands of fair-weather friends who do not share Western values or ideals.
That just isn’t good policy.
Not for America, and certainly not for Israel.