August 3, 2007:
One reason the
United States has, over the last half century, accounted for over a third of
all arms exports, is because of the heavy use of these sales to further political
goals. Case in point is the recently announced plan to sell Saudi Arabia $20
billion worth of weapons over the next ten years. These would be used to
bolster Arab defenses against Iran. At the same time, Israel is getting a 25
percent increase in American arms exports, from $2.4 billion to $3 billion a
year, for at least the next ten years.
The Saudis are buying their
weapons with oil money, Israel is getting most of their for free, as part of a
long term effort to keep Israel the strongest military power in the region.
This offends many Arabs, who openly complain about the thriving Israeli
democracy and economy, making them and their neighbors look bad. But with the
growing threat from Iran, many Arab nations, particularly those along the
Persian Gulf, are starting to see Israel as an ally. Iran openly calls for the
destruction of Israel, something many Arabs would agree with. But if it came to
choosing between a hostile Iran, and a peaceable Israel, the enemy of my enemy
is my friend.
Unlike when past U.S. arms
sales to Israel and Saudi Arabia were announced, neither nation condemned the
deal the other got.