Here’s a question for the presidential candidates attending the YearlyKos presidential forum.
Will you lead the effort to defeat in Congress Bush’s proposed multi-billion arms deal to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other undemocratic Arab states?
Why should this deal be defeated?
While the Bushies defend the deal as necessary to counter Iranian influence in the region, they neglect to mention that Saudis compromise the largest number of foreign fighters killing US troops and suicide bombers killing civilians in Iraq.
Juan Cole notes how ridiculous the US-Saudi relationship has become:
US officials say that they are upset with Saudi Arabia for undermining the government of PM Nuri al-Maliki by charging him with being an Iranian secret agent and distributing faked documents to that effect.
On the other hand, I gather that the Bush administration is not too upset with Saudi Arabia, to which it is planning to sell billions of dollars of fancy new military equipment.
Eric Martin at American Footprints sees the deal facilitating a regional proxy war between the Saudis and Iran:
The Saudis are arming and funding Sunni insurgents currently, and those same insurgents are attacking our soldiers (and the Iraqi government they are defending). They want to confront Iran, and have been doing so already via proxy in Iraq – much to our dismay as our soldiers have been getting killed in some of that cross-fire, and Iraq has been destabilized generally speaking.
So then, how will increasing the capacity of the Saudis to wage war foster peace in the region, since it is clearly not peace that they are pursuing with their current, lesser capacity?
Martin points to Who Is IOZ?, who writes:
…this all falls under my own maxim: Don’t listen to what they say; look at what they do. In this case, category Say is “prevent a wider regional war” and category Do is “pour billions of dollars worth of arms into the fragile, quarrelsome, precarious neighbors of an escalating civil war ever percolating under an American occupation.”
Suzanne Nossel at Democracy Arsenal criticizes the deal for doing nothing to press Saudi Arabia be helpful in Iraq:
Given the importance of Saudi cooperation on Iraq, the question immediately arises as to why the weapons sales are not tied to Saudi support for the Iraqi government and the effort to stabilize that country. What’s the use of being the global superpower if that power cannot be used to leverage support for US policy goals?
The real threat is the army of contractors and U.S. service members that will have to go to Saudi Arabia to support the deal. They will just fuel more Arab anger and more terrorism.
Saudi Arabia has demonstrated over decades that it has no interest in building up its own high-tech arms capabilities. American contractors will train, maintain and even operate the new Saudi equipment. American military personnel will follow. We will buy nothing in terms of security, and we will just put our own people in danger. But most important, we will once again renew the cycle of American penetration into the heart of Islam, one of Osama bin Laden’s original and most compelling rallying points. That’s why the Saudi deal is so dangerous.
Put it all together, this deal is a furthering of the current conservative foreign policy that is destabilizing the region and strengthening Al Qaeda.
With the recent Clinton-Obama dust-up, we have the beginning of a serious discussion of the need to fundamentally change our foreign policy, and of what should replace it.
Now a major piece of the current policy will be coming up for a vote.
The easy thing to do is let this languish on the back pages, then cast a meaning opposing vote while the bill sails through Congress.
The impressive thing to do is to lead. Use the opportunity to frontally challenge this disastrous foreign policy and do all you can to stop it now.