For someone who insists his administration is a friend of Israel, Barack Obama
sure has a funny way of showing it. Last month, in a move that raised plenty of
eyebrows, the US announced that it is planning a new round of arms sales to
Saudi Arabia – to the tune of $60 billion.
Under the proposed
arrangement, the Saudis will be getting some of America’s finest military
hardware, including F-15 fighter-bombers, Blackhawk and Apache helicopters,
laser-guided bombs, advanced radar systems, and Harpoon and Sidewinder missiles.
That’s more than enough firepower to make another round of Rambo
Indeed, this is by far the largest arms deal in American
history, and it will significantly improve the desert kingdom’s military
As Joshua Teitelbaum, principal research fellow at the
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, put it: “There is no doubt that the package
represents a considerable improvement in the offensive capability of the Saudi
Just consider the following: Between 1950 and 2006, the US
sold some $60 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia. Now, in one fell swoop,
Obama plans to offer Riyadh a package equal to all those decades of military
This, of course, is the same Saudi Arabia that refuses to
recognize Israel, has served as a source of funding and manpower for militant
Islamic fundamentalism, and ruthlessly represses any semblance of human rights
for its own citizens.
But the Saudis aren’t the only dubious characters
to benefit from Obama’s military marketing plan. In the past week, the Obama
administration has notified Congress of three additional arms deals with Gulf
Arab states, all of which are unfriendly toward the Jewish state. These include
the sale of $5 billion worth of Apache helicopters to that bastion of freedom
and democracy known as the United Arab Emirates, as well as a pact to send
tactical missile systems to Bahrain.
And since the summer, Washington has
also moved ahead with the proposed sale of aircraft and Patriot missiles to
Kuwait, and $3.5 billion worth of F-16s to Oman.
This is all on top of
the $13 billion in arms sales to Arab countries that Obama approved during his
first year in office.
WHAT IS going on here? Why is Obama so busy arming
Israel’s enemies? The ostensible reason is growing fears about the power of Iran
and the threat that it poses to the region.
America, say the pundits, is
aiming to send a message to the ayatollahs that it will stand by its “allies” in
the Persian Gulf to deter Iranian mischief.
But that would hardly seem to
account for the breathtaking size and pace of these transactions. If anything,
it appears that economics is playing a key role in Washington’s
After all, what better way to inject some much-needed funds
into the moribund US economy than to close a few multibillion dollar deals with
the Gulf Arab states? And that is precisely what is so worrying about all this
wheeling and dealing. In his rush to ring up the cash register, Obama might be
overlooking the effects of these sales on the military balance in the Middle
Concern over this point is so great that it has led the top
Democrat and Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee to circulate a
joint letter among their colleagues regarding the proposed Saudi deal.
the letter, Howard Berman, a California Democrat, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a
Florida Republican, questioned whether the administration has taken into account
the sale’s impact on Israel’s “qualitative military edge.”
They even cite
a report by the Government Accountability Office which found that the Pentagon
and State Department “did not consistently document how arms transfers to Gulf
countries advanced US foreign policy and national security goals.”
none of that seems to bother Obama very much.
Thus far, he and his
colleagues have rebuffed criticism of the deal and are pushing
There is something very, very wrong about all this. As much as
the US might need to start generating more jobs, selling arms to dictators just
isn’t the way to go.
Sure, the US has its own interests, and Obama isn’t
the first American president to sign on the dotted line with the likes of the
Saudi regime. But this administration seems intent on taking matters to another
level, moving quickly to arm some of the Middle East’s most dreadful regimes
with an array of dreadful weapons.
By doing so, Obama is running the risk
of upsetting the military balance, tilting it in favor of the rejectionist Arab
regimes and against Israel. And he is putting hitech US weapons in the hands of
fair-weather friends who do not share the West’s values or ideals.
just isn’t good policy. Not for America, and certainly not for Israel.