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General News    H3'ed 5/25/21

Tomgram: William Hartung, Selling Death

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This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

Think about this: on Saturday, May 12th, with barely an hour's notice, Israel took out the al-Jalaa Tower, a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed the Associated Press, al-Jazeera, and other media outlets. That act of destruction, among so many others, caused shock globally and protests not just by those media groups but by previously Israeli-supporting Democrats in Congress. As it happens, the weapon that destroyed that tower was a GBU-31, a Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM (aka a "smart bomb") that was manufactured in the United States. Not only that, but in the midst of the ongoing carnage in impoverished, increasingly devastated Gaza (as well as in Israel), the Biden administration has been pushing through a new $735-million package of just such weaponry for Israel, ensuring more of the same to the horizon.

This has even disturbed key pro-Israeli congressional figures like Representative Gregory Meeks (D-NY), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who, according to the New York Times, "told Democrats on the panel" that he would ask the Biden administration to delay a $735 million tranche of precision-guided weapons to Israel that had been approved before tensions in the Middle East boiled over." Later, he would pull back on his threat, but Bernie Sanders has actually introduced a resolution in the Senate aimed at halting the future delivery of that weaponry (as several Democrats have already done in the House).

As the invaluable Pentagon specialist and TomDispatch regular William Hartung notes today, the U.S. leads all other nations on this planet by a country mile in selling the latest weaponry globally, as has been true for almost three decades. In other words, this country has been number one (U.S.A.! U.S.A.!) when it comes to such weapons sales (and so future destruction) forever and a day. In the case of Israel, those sales, however, are a secondary matter. For years, the U.S. has annually been giving yes, giving nearly $4 billion in military aid to Israel, a relatively wealthy country. Since 2001, Israel has, in fact, received more than half of all the "military financing" approved by this country. Imagine what those tens of billions of dollars might have done had they been used instead for America's fading infrastructure or other domestic investments.

In other words, Washington is complicit in the ravaging of Gaza in these last weeks, just as it has been in the devastation of Yemen in these years (thanks to similar sales of weaponry to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates). It's a money-making, military-industrial tale from hell and Hartung tells it today in all its grim horror. Tom

America Dominant Again (in Arms Sales)
And Again" and Again" and Again

By

When it comes to trade in the tools of death and destruction, no one tops the United States of America.

In April of this year, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) published its annual analysis of trends in global arms sales and the winner as always was the U.S. of A. Between 2016 and 2020, this country accounted for 37% of total international weapons deliveries, nearly twice the level of its closest rival, Russia, and more than six times that of Washington's threat du jour, China.

Sadly, this was no surprise to arms-trade analysts. The U.S. has held that top spot for 28 of the past 30 years, posting massive sales numbers regardless of which party held power in the White House or Congress. This is, of course, the definition of good news for weapons contractors like Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin, even if it's bad news for so many of the rest of us, especially those who suffer from the use of those arms by militaries in places like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, the Philippines, and the United Arab Emirates. The recent bombing and leveling of Gaza by the U.S.-financed and supplied Israeli military is just the latest example of the devastating toll exacted by American weapons transfers in these years.

While it is well known that the United States provides substantial aid to Israel, the degree to which the Israeli military relies on U.S. planes, bombs, and missiles is not fully appreciated. According to statistics compiled by the Center for International Policy's Security Assistance Monitor, the United States has provided Israel with $63 billion in security assistance over the past two decades, more than 90% of it through the State Department's Foreign Military Financing, which provides funds to buy U.S. weaponry. But Washington's support for the Israeli state goes back much further. Total U.S. military and economic aid to Israel exceeds $236 billion (in inflation-adjusted 2018 dollars) since its founding nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars.

King of the Arms Dealers

Donald Trump, sometimes referred to by President Joe Biden as "the other guy," warmly embraced the role of arms-dealer-in-chief and not just by sustaining massive U.S. arms aid for Israel, but throughout the Middle East and beyond. In a May 2017 visit to Saudi Arabia his first foreign trip Trump would tout a mammoth (if, as it turned out, highly exaggerated) $110-billion arms deal with that kingdom.

On one level, the Saudi deal was a publicity stunt meant to show that President Trump could, in his own words, negotiate agreements that would benefit the U.S. economy. His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a pal of Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS), the architect of Saudi Arabia's devastating intervention in Yemen, even put in a call to then-Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson. His desire: to get a better deal for the Saudi regime on a multibillion-dollar missile defense system that Lockheed was planning to sell it. The point of the call was to put together the biggest arms package imaginable in advance of his father-in-law's trip to Riyadh.

When Trump arrived in Saudi Arabia to immense local fanfare, he milked the deal for all it was worth. Calling the future Saudi sales "tremendous," he assured the world that they would create "jobs, jobs, jobs" in the United States.

That arms package, however, did far more than burnish Trump's reputation as a deal maker and jobs creator. It represented an endorsement of the Saudi-led coalition's brutal war in Yemen, which has now resulted in the deaths of nearly a quarter of a million people and put millions of others on the brink of famine.

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Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute's Tomdispatch.com ("a regular antidote to the mainstream media"), is the co-founder of the American Empire Project and, most recently, the author of Mission Unaccomplished: Tomdispatch (more...)
 

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