American arms deals didn’t come up in the “foreign policy debate” held during the presidential campaign just ended. Yet it’s hard not to view them as a major plank in U.S. foreign policy.
Consider: As President Obama weighs approaches to increasingly boxed-in Iran, as civil war rages in Syria, as Israelis, in the wake of hostilities in Gaza and a showdown at the UN, launch a provocative settlement campaign in the West Bank, as the new-era Cairo streets roil again with protests and crackdowns, as the Middle East and North Africa in general continue on a slow burn of volatile change, U.S. leaders have decided to pour high-tech weaponry into the region.
Nick Turse at TomDispatch today provides an eye-popping one-paragraph summary of recent deals that have been made public.
According to November notices sent by the Pentagon to Congress, the Department of Defense intends to oversee a $300 million deal with Saudi Arabia for spare parts for Abrams Tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and Humvees, and another for $6.7 billion in new advanced aircraft. Add to this a proposed sale of $9.9 billion in Patriot missiles to Qatar, a $96 million deal with Oman for hundreds of Javelin guided missiles, and more than $1.1 billion in Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missiles for the United Arab Emirates. And this was on top of deals struck earlier in the year that include a $63 million sale of Huey II helicopters to Lebanon, $4.2 billion in Patriot missiles for Kuwait, a $3 billion agreement to arm Qatar with advanced Apache attack helicopters, more than $1 billion in upgrades for Abrams tanks belonging to Morocco’s military, and the sale of $428 million worth of radar equipment and tactical vehicles to Iraq.
That comes as part of an introduction Turse writes for an essay by Pepe Escobar on the frozen thinking in Washington in regard to Iran. The predominant stalled approach, he deadpans, is narrow and hawkish and “not exactly a raging success.”
That approach, based in the desire to enhance long-term U.S. security, comes as part of package with the decisions to sell cutting-edge war machinery to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Lebanon, Kuwait, Morocco and Iraq.
[ Image of January 2011 Egyptian protest via Flickr by oxfamnovib. ]