by Justin Raimondo
August 1, 2007
To understand what is going on with the $60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and a number of small Gulf potentates – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE – we have to go back to Seymour Hersh’s last piece in the New Yorker, “The Redirection,” which revealed, among other things, that the U.S. is funding Sunni radical groups possibly linked to al-Qaeda in Lebanon and in the Eastern reaches of Iran. It’s all part of a new turn in American foreign policy in the Middle East, toward the Sunni “mainstream” and away from our former Shi’ite allies-of-convenience in Iraq. Having smashed the Ba’athist regime and handed Mesopotamia over to the Iranians, the Americans are taking a U-turn and aligning with their former enemies in readiness for the next war of “liberation” on the neocon agenda: the battle for Iran.If you want to know the meaning of a new policy initiative, especially one involving such substantial sums, ask yourself, cui bono? The first answer, in this case, is the American armaments industry: those U.S. “aid” dollars are poured into the coffers of major U.S. military contractors and a host of minor ones, and the money stream flows, in turn, in the direction of certain political candidates. Palms are greased, politicians are bought, and the military-industrial-neocon complex marches on. The War Party is always feeding itself: that’s why we have the most bloated military establishment in the world, with “defense” expenditures exceeding the combined military budgets of the next 30 spenders.
With billions of dollars in sophisticated satellite-guided weaponry, the Saudis obviously benefit, but there is a downside to their latest acquisitions rooted in the traditional reluctance of Saudi monarchs to maintain much of a military. The fear of a coup, or at least a rival center of power, has kept the Saudi armed forces pretty much a perfunctory affair. What the Saudis are going to do with all their new equipment is a bit of a mystery: indeed, all those new toys are a liability in another important sense. The Saudi monarchy, after all, is under attack from al-Qaeda and other fundamentalist forces and is as brittle as it ever was: if those weapons should ever fall into the hands of bin Laden or his allies, we would face the first terrorist superpower in the Middle East.
The danger of blowback is even greater in the Gulf, where the legitimacy of the ruling sheiks and emirs is shakier and fundamentalist activity (Sunni variety) is on the rise. In the case of Egypt, which is already the second biggest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, we are rewarding President Hosni Mubarak‘s recent crackdown on dissent, including the jailing of opposition candidate Ayman Nour (for “election fraud”) and blogger Abdel Karim Suleiman (for blasphemy!). So much for “exporting democracy” as the leitmotif of American foreign policy: the “global democratic revolution” has been betrayed.
Not that there was anything to betray to begin with – it was all a lot of malarkey, anyway. Our real goals in the region have little to do with “democracy” – which, if installed in the Middle East, would give us the victory of Hamas-like groups from the Nile to the Euphrates – and everything to do with exploiting the divisions in the Arab-Muslim world.
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