U.S. should end Arab arms sales

March 11, 2011


For many years American policy has been to sell modern weaponry to Arab states. The reasons given are to maintain the “balance of power” in the region, but the unstated and most likely reason is to keep the oil flowing.

The Obama administration has approved billions in arms sales and transfers to Arab states, including Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. But public attitudes about arms sales to Arab countries appear to be changing, especially in light of the current upheaval in the region with some dictators using “Made in USA” weapons against their own people.

According to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal entitled “U.S. Reviews Arms Sales Amid Turmoil,” even the government now, “has launched a review of military assistance and prospective weapons sales to countries caught up in a wave of popular revolts, underlining growing uncertainty about how the turmoil sweeping the Middle East will alter fundamentals of U.S. policy in the region.”

And the review is long in coming given that Bloomberg reported way back in September 2010 that the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that “the U.S. authorized as much as $37 billion of arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf nations over five years without always documenting the potential effect on foreign policy and national security.”

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that “only 20 percent of American adults think the United States should continue providing foreign aid to Arab countries in the Middle East.” Along party lines, the survey also showed that 76 percent of Republicans, 48 percent of Democrats and 50 percent of adults “not affiliated with either major party” think this way.

On the question of continued aid to Israel, the poll found 61 percent of Republicans, 46 percent of Democrats and 34 percent of unaffiliateds in favor.

The idea of maintaining a balance of power in the region might make more sense if the Arab states had any real enemies. But their only declared enemy is Israel, which isn’t a threat, as long as it is not attacked again, as it has been many times by Arab states since 1948. There also have been, and continue to be, numerous attacks by non-states, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, all with the intention of destroying the Jewish state and eradicating the region of Jews. A “balance of power” policy against such aggression is not in the interest of our strongest Middle East ally, nor is it in America’s interest, as long as we still stand for freedom.

Two other arguments one hears most for maintaining the arms sales to Arab states are: (1) If we don’t sell them arms, other countries will; and (2) Such sales bring money back into this country. A nation that prides itself on doing the right thing should abide by a higher standard than that of other arms providers. For the high ideals we profess, but don’t always attain, consider the lyrics from “America the Beautiful,” which includes, “Till all success be nobleness and every gain divine!”

Foreign aid that produces results in America’s interest is a good thing. Helping to fight AIDS in Africa, for example, meets both American humanitarian and policy goals. Sending aid to Arab nations that teach in their schools, broadcast in their media and preach from their minbars that America and Israel are evil and must be destroyed serves neither of these objectives. At the very least, U.S. aid to Arab states should be tied to a change in ideological and theological behavior in those countries.

Lack of aid isn’t the problem. The oil resources of many Arab states give them more than enough to care for their own people. Lack of modernity is the problem. So long as many Arab states continue in their feudalistic mentality and suppression of half their population (women), prosperity and the “blessings of liberty” will not wish to pay them a visit.

No matter how these numerous uprisings turn out — and some could turn out very badly for the people of those nations and for U.S. policy — America’s policy of arms sales to Arab states definitely needs to change.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

Your premise is partially right, Cal. This would be a premise that makes actual sense--

"U.S. should end arms sales"

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

Interesting to find a Cal Thomas column that actually makes some sense to me.

jhawkinsf 7 years, 1 month ago

O.K., let's think this through. Currently there are 22 Arab countries in the U.N. There are a total of 55 counties that have Muslim majorities. And there are countless additional counties that are dependent upon middle east oil and are therefore likely to side with Arab countries should a conflict arise. One the other side of the equation is U.S.'s support of Israel both at the U.N. and in it's arms sales to Israel. If the U.S. did end arms support for Israel, would the Palestinians and all other countries hostile to Israel also stop receiving outside support? If not, wouldn't it become more likely that the Arab countries would become emboldened into trying to eliminate Israel? And when faced with possible elimination, what do you think this Israel will do with it's several hundred nuclear weapons? It seems to me that the best way to avoid a major conflict is to maintain the current level of tension, albeit a situation that periodically erupts in minor clashes. It's certainly far from a perfect situation, but better than the alternatives.

Corey Williams 7 years, 1 month ago

Yes, just like republicans fall into two categories: Closeted homosexuals and men who cheat on their wives.

Your analogy is just as stupid.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

Why not offer support for both sides in arriving at a just solution to the problem, rather than support for violence?

jhawkinsf 7 years, 1 month ago

Sounds good. What would that just solution look like? The people in that region have been rejecting solutions long before Israel was even created. (see the Peel Commission Report). It's hard to imagine a solution that hasn't been discussed and rejected.

jafs 7 years, 1 month ago

My best guess is that the majority of people on both sides want and would welcome a solution, rather than continued fighting.

It's the extremists on each side of the conflict that undermine this process.

If we found a way to tie our aid to each side not allowing the extremists to undermine that, we might have a chance.

And, obviously, the best we could do is to divide the country in half somehow.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 1 month ago

The problem, especially when it comes to Saudi Arabia, is that like many of the corporations bailed out over the last couple of years, the Royal Family (business partners of the Bush Crime Family, btw) is also too big to fail.

They are just as oppressive as most of these other Arab autocracies, and they will not go quietly. They'll use every dime's worth of the $billion of US-supplied weaponry to retain their iron grip on power, even if it means shutting down oil production-- something that would immediately plunge the world into a full-fledged Great Depression II.

Abdu Omar 7 years, 1 month ago

Its your money, and you need it now!!

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

The US Government arms the world then in some cases send our troops him after doing so?

  1. Bush Reagan Iran – Contra Secret Weapons Affair



Did it ever stop? Nope! We still arm those evil dictators



"A $7 billion missile-defense system for the United Arab Emirates. An estimated $15 billion potential sale of Lockheed Martin’s brand-new fighter plane to Israel. Billions of dollars in weaponry for Taiwan and Turkey. These and other recent deals helped make the United States the world’s leading arms-exporting nation.

In 2007, U.S. foreign military sales agreements totaled more than $32 billion — nearly triple the amount during President Bush’s first full year in office.

The Pentagon routinely justifies weapons sales as “promoting regional stability,” but many of these arms end up in the world’s war zones. In 2006 and 2007, the five biggest recipients of U.S. weapons were Pakistan ($3.5 billion), Iraq ($2.2 billion), Israel ($2.2 billion), Afghanistan ($1.9 billion) and Colombia ($580 million) — all countries where conflict rages.

In Pakistan, the fighting ranges from communal violence and state repression, to attacks against India, to deadly battles between Pakistani military and al Qaeda forces in the northwest provinces. Israel has used U.S.-supplied weapons in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as in the 2006 invasion of Lebanon. Colombia uses U.S. weaponry to fight the drug war. Of the 27 major conflicts during 2006 and 2007, 19 of them involved U.S-supplied weapons.

While full data is not yet available for 2008, the United States continues to flood warzones with more destabilizing weapons. In 2008, the Pentagon brokered more than $12.5 billion in possible foreign military sales to Iraq, including guns, ammunition, tanks and attack helicopters. "

The we are told we have no money for public education,higher education and IMPROVED Medicare Insurance for All

Flap Doodle 7 years, 1 month ago

Woo Hoo! Iran-Contra sighting! Haven't seen that link in at least a day. I was afraid you'd worn it out by copy/pasting it so often.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 1 month ago

But how can we test our weapons systems unless we sell to both sides and watch them use them against each other? We cannot start enough BS wars (two and counting) to get a good field testing environment in all the different settings in which wars may take place. Cutting off arms sales to all outside our borders makes sense, but too many jobs are at stake. There is a good reason why the MIC makes sure at least something is made in all 425 districts. You got this one half-right, Mr. Thomas. Keep up the good work.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 1 month ago

The Mythic Past: Biblical Archaeology And The Myth Of Israel. Thomas L. Thompson === KUrolls: Good point. The book noted here is fascinating and explains in detail how: "Israel" as promoted in myth never existed in the sense most of her supporters suggest, and the historical data is, to say the least, flawed in building this argument. If if the myth didn't lead to serious distortions of our foreign policy and economy, it wouldn't matter so much. The public would likely be outraged if a similar myth were put forward to promote, for example, Biame [Australia.] The "Great One" and creator who lives in the heavens.

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