If it's an act of war for the Iranians to help the Iraqis against us, why is it not an act of war for Bush to peddle arms to every Tom, Dictator, and Harry to slaughter their enemies? After all, Bush is selling record numbers of attack helicopters, guided missiles, warplanes and small arms to firebrands and crackpots everywhere.
In 2005, the U.S. peddled nearly half of all weapons sold to militaries in the developing world, "as major arms sales to the most unstable regions --- many already engaged in conflict ---grew to the highest level in eight years," the Boston Globe reported last November 13th. The U.S. sold $8.1-billion worth of weapons, 46% of all, with Russia a poor second at 15%, and UK at 13%.
Globe reporter Bryan Bender said a 2005 World Policy Institute study found the U.S. "transferred weaponry to 18 of the 25 countries involved in an ongoing war." (Gee, which seven got left out? Did Bush hurt their feelings?)
And 13 of those countries were defined as undemocratic in the State Department's own annual Human Rights Report, including top recipients Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Uzbekistan, Bender said.
"We are at a point in history where many of these sales are not essential for the self-defense of these countries and the arms being sold continue to fuel conflicts and tensions in unstable areas, the Globe quoted Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association in Washington as saying. Kimball added, "It doesn't make much sense over the long term." (Or the short term, pal.)
In October of last year, a UN panel voted to consider whether a new treaty might regulate conventional arms sales. Of 166 countries, the U.S. was the only one to vote "No."
Please note the Big Winners tend to be sited in the Middle East or close by, where they can help achieve the cherished goal of successive U.S. administrations from Eisenhower to the present of controlling the region's hydrocarbon resources. (See "Destroying World Order" by Francis Boyle, Clarity Press.)
When the sale of F-16 warplanes to Bush ally Pakistan was seen as a major threat by India, Bush decided to offer them to India as well. Never mind the warplane's ability to carry atomic warheads may intensify the fear and hysteria felt by the people of both nations. The sales will keep a Ft. Worth, Tex., factory humming.
President Bush's Most Favored arms recipient is ally Israel. It has received a total of 378 F-16s, plus 200 other fighter types supplied by the U.S. Israelis purchase them at $45-million a pop with some of the $2.-billion-plus they get each year U.S. taxpayers, Inter Press Service News Agency said. In 2005, Lockheed Martin got a $29.8-million contract just to provide their spare parts.
IPS quoted Stephen Zunes, professor of politics at the University of San Francisco, that the U.S. Arms Export Control Act requires military items transferred to foreign countries be used "solely for internal security and legitimate self-defense" but that Israel's attacks against Lebanon's "civilian infrastructure and population centers clearly go beyond legitimate self-defense." Zunes said the U.S. "is legally obliged to suspend arms transfers to Israel." (What's with the legal-shm-eagle, Stephen?)
Amnesty International(AI) charged the Israeli attack on Lebanon's infrastructure last summer was on "a catastrophic scale," as Israeli forces "pounded buildings into the ground, reducing entire neighbourhoods to rubble and turning villages and towns into ghost towns," killing 1,183 persons, wounding 4,054 more and displacing 970,000.
Using predominantly made-in-USA weapons, the Israelis "launched widespread attacks against public civilian infrastructure, including power plants, bridges, main roads, seaports and Beirut's international airport." They also took out everything from water pumping stations to supermarkets, AI said, noting two government hospitals in Bint Jbeil and Meis al-Jebe "were completely destroyed in Israeli attacks and three others were seriously damaged."
Much of the country remains blanketed with unexploded, and illegal, cluster bomblets.
Getting back to Iran's alleged crimes in Iraq, it may be recalled the CIA employed Kermit Roosevelt, grandson of President Teddy, in 1953 spread a million bucks around to street gangs and military types to overthrow Iran's elected president Mohammed Mossadegh after he nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. (now BP).
CIA-paid thugs installed the brutal Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlevi on the throne, whose SAVAK arrested, tortured, and murdered, thousands. This may have something to do with why, after the Shah was deposed, angry Iranians stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. President Carter denounced this, rightly, as violating diplomatic conventions. But isn't it also illegal to overthrow another country by force and violence? (What's with the legal schm-eagle, Sherwood?)
Let's also recall Carter's successor, the avuncular Ronald Reagan, okayed the sale of poison gas to Saddam Hussein, who used it in his war of aggression on Iran to kill and maim thousands of troops. Will somebody tell me, puh-lee-yuz, why the Iranians might think we have it in for them?
I haven't a clue if the Quds Force actually furnished the deadly weapons, but I'm inclined to believe Mr. Bush on grounds it takes one to know one. That's right. When it comes to peddling weapons of war, the hypocritical gentleman in the White House remains the world's uncrowned Hardware King. He's probably just too modest to admit it.
(Sherwood Ross is a columnist who has worked for major dailies and wire services. Reach him at email@example.com)