Myths Of Mideast Arms Sales

Published on, by William D. Hartung, 12 August, 2007.

The Bush administration’s proposal to send $20 billion worth of arms and $43 billion in military aid to U.S. allies in the Middle East has been promoted by repeating a series of time-worn myths that should have long since been abandoned. With a shooting war in Iraq and a war of words with Iran well under way, the last thing the region needs is a new influx of high tech weaponry.

The suggestions of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that this flood of armaments will be “stabilizing” in the short term while underscoring the U.S. commitment to “moderates” in the region over the longer term is a prime example of this historical amnesia.

Take Saudi Arabia, which continues to pursue policies that are moderate in name only. Not only is Riyadh one of the most undemocratic regimes in the world, but it has more often than not used its financial resources to promote extremism and repression elsewhere. From financing fundamentalist madrassahs in Pakistan to supporting Sunni insurgents in Iraq, the regime has a long track record of opposing the values of democracy and moderation that the Bush administration claims are the overarching principles of its foreign policy. It’s hard to see how selling Saudi Arabia more military equipment will change this pattern, any more than arming the Shah of Iran in the 1970s and the Afghan rebels in the 1980s promoted stability in those countries … (full text).

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