The United States is happy to hawk its weapons to any willing customer.
The U.S. government has approved a $11 billion weapons deal to Iraq, in spite of the regime’s growing authoritarian and sectarian tendencies.
“The Obama administration is moving ahead with the sale of nearly $11 billion worth of arms and training for the Iraqi military despite concerns that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is seeking to consolidate authority, create a one-party Shiite-dominated state and abandon the American-backed power-sharing government,” the New York Times reports.
The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad is unabashedly acting as a middleman between the Iraqi government and arms merchants like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. On the shopping list are knickknacks like F-16 planes and M1A1 Abrams tanks.
This seems to be the Obama Administration’s idea of a jobs program.
And as bad as Maliki’s government is, it doesn’t hold a candle to the other regime that the United States has recently moved forward on an arms contract with. A $30 billion (notice how a billion ain’t what it used to be?) deal involving eighty-four F-15 fighter jets has been clinched with the Saudis as part of a $60 billion transaction negotiated with the country last year.
Where does one start in describing the virtues of the Saudi monarchy? It is the most sexist regime in the world. Period. The nation has virtually no independent civil society. Not content with keeping its regressive brand of Wahhabi Islam at home, the regime has spent wads of petrodollars around the world spreading its poison and undermining syncretic, tolerant versions of Islam (such as Sufism). The monarchy’s bedrock doctrine is the very fountainhead of Al Qaeda’s hateful ideology. And the country has played a terrible negative role in the Arab Spring, spearheading an invasion of neighboring Bahrain to safeguard the monarchy there. (Speaking of the Bahraini regime, a proposed U.S. weapons sales to that government was thwarted only due to vociferous protests by human rights organizations.)
Note that this is not all about generating employment (though the Obama crowd proudly cites all the jobs that will supposedly be created). The deals are also a way to counter Iran, the bugbear of the United States in the Middle East. Now, the Iran issue is a complicated one requiring a complex approach. (I have dealt with it elsewhere.) But, surely, the way to a resolution is not to increase tensions by arming the region to the hilt (and exacerbating Shia-Sunni tensions to boot).
The U.S. obsession with foisting weapons on other nations has caused it to get annoyed with even key ally India. The Indian government has had the temerity to select European arms manufacturers over their U.S. counterparts for a 126-plane purchase, making the United States fret and fume. (Of course, neither the United States nor any European nation publicly pointed out the tragedy of a nation with so many unmet social needs blowing its money on such unnecessary expenditures.)
The United States seems to be addicted to peddling death. A report earlier this year by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has it as the leading global purveyor of weapons over the past five years.
The Obama Administration needs to stop making the export of mayhem and destruction as a cornerstone of its economic and foreign policies.
If you liked this article by Amitabh Pal, the managing editor of the Progressive magazine, please check out his article entitled "The Year the Protester Took Center Stage."