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To Hell with Gandhi and Jesus, We've Opted for Attila

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I know all about realities of the times and military parity and supporting our dwindling allies, so don’t accuse me of being a peacenik (although there are worse things to be called). According to Robin Wright of the Washington Post,

The Bush administration will announce next week a series of arms deals worth at least $20 billion to Saudi Arabia and five other oil-rich Persian Gulf states as well as new 10-year military aid packages to Israel and Egypt, a move to shore up allies in the Middle East and counter Iran's rising influence, U.S. officials said yesterday.

Another bad idea from the administration from hell, the guys (and women) who have proved themselves unable to get anything right. As a sort of ‘so long, see ya later’ gesture on their way out of the Oval office, they’re going to arm Saudi Arabia to the teeth and balance off the Bobbsey Twins of Middle East stability--Israel and Egypt--against each other. An additional $20 billion in armaments for the hornets we stirred up. In case they run out of Stingers.

That ought to win George Bush the Nobel Peace Prize.

Our soldiers and Marines are being killed on a daily basis in Afghanistan and Iraq by armaments we sold those countries not all that long ago. The piles of weaponry looted from unguarded Iraqi arms depots were put there on a handshake from Donald Rumsfeld. The IEDs that have become the weapon of choice for killing our troops are mostly put together from the stuff we gave Saddam during the Iraq-Iran war. That’s an inconvenient truth that Bush tries to deflect by pointing at Iran.

Lest I be criticized as merely anti-Bush, Democratic presidents have been piling this same stuff into the hotspots of the world ever since WWII. Equal-opportunity criminality on the part of past and present administrations. The cold war was blamed and then, when the cold war got over with and we had that brief argument about what to do with the ‘peace dividend,’ the armament boys panicked and convinced Washington that everyone was a threat and we better get back to business as usual.

Business as usual put AK-47s in the willing hands of 12 and 14 year-old kids in Africa, where you can now be knocked off for the shoes you’re wearing, to say nothing of a car, wristwatch or wallet. Somalia is such a hotspot we only send Ethiopian troops there and Darfur in the Sudan has become Nicholas Kristof’s life project. We run when our Marine barracks in Lebanon is blown up because everyone there has a gun and everyone there hates us.

It makes me nostalgic for the good old days of British colonial rule. Colonialism, for all its bad press, was more about plundering resources, cricket and polo than it was murdering the natives. The Brits (never NRA types) didn’t believe in arming the natives and if ‘natives’ offends you as being politically incorrect, what the hell else would you call the Sunni-Shiite madmen of the Middle East?

The arms deals, which include the sales of a variety of sophisticated weaponry, would be the largest negotiated by this administration. The military assistance agreements would provide $30 billion in new U.S. aid to Israel and $13 billion to Egypt over 10 years, the officials said. Both figures represent significant increases in military support.

$20 billion, plus an additional $43 billion, who knows? Only a paragraph apart and the numbers double, triple, quadruple. Children will be killing each other (and us) as far into the future as an Ayatollah can see.

U.S. officials said the arms sales to Saudi Arabia are expected to include air-to-air missiles as well as Joint Direct Attack Munitions, which turn standard bombs into "smart" precision-guided bombs. Most, but not all, of the arms sales to the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries -- Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman -- will be defensive, the officials said.

What the hell kind of outright lie is that? A ‘smart bomb’ as a defensive weapon? Leave me alone or I’ll defend myself by sending this thing down your chimney. We no longer have government by democratic process. We are lied to consistently and unendingly by this paranoid White House crowd we are unable to tame. Defensive, the officials said. And we swallow that and go out to the Wal-Mart to pick up a couple of six-packs for the weekend.

"This is a big development, because it's part of a larger regional strategy and the maintenance of a strong U.S. presence in the region. We're paying attention to the needs of our allies and what everyone in the region believes is a flexing of muscles by a more aggressive Iran. One way to deal with that is to make our allies and friends strong," said a senior administration official involved in the negotiations.

The regional strategy we have followed for the past six years has
• damned near destroyed the Middle East,
• built up al-Qaeda,
• put Israel and Iran in a state of hysterical tension and
• wrecked whatever was left of chances for reconciliation between Israel and Palestine.

And you mean to tell me we’re going to allow Dick Cheney and George Bush to give us a larger regional strategy? Someone tie these men to their chairs until January 19, 2009.

The Saudis, who we are about to bless with $30 billion in armaments, supplied 15 of the 19 terrorists that attacked us on 9-11 and continues to provide 55% of the foreign insurgents in Iraq who are killing our troops. Not to put too fine a point on it, but not a single 9-11 terrorist came from or was connected to Iraq.

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Jim Freeman's op-ed pieces and commentaries have appeared in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, International Herald-Tribune, CNN, The New York Review, The Jon Stewart Daily Show and a number of magazines. His thirteen published books are (more...)
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