Thursday, 2 August 2007

Why America's Mideast military aid is bad news

Countering the spread of Iran and terrorism in the Middle East is tricky business. That's why the Bush administration has decided to give Israel US$30 billion, Egypt $13 billion, and Saudi Arabia [see post], Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and UAE a shared $20 billion in a new arms deal (BBC).

George and Condi's ill-reasoned idea
"Rice says Mideast military aid will counter Qaeda" (Reuters). Yes, throwing money at terror-sponsoring states like Saudi Arabia will surely help defeat al-Qaeda... I wouldn't expect any finer logic from the Bush administration.

How will this military aid help stem the spread of Iran's influence? Won't it make them just want to bolster their military strength? So far the aid doesn't seem to be promoting stability; it is only invoking cries of favoritism and, if anything, destabilizing the fragile state of Mideast diplomacy.

Is instability the new 'stability'?
In some ways I see how this military aid can bring stability, but only if it's used in the right way. Does anyone honestly think Israel or Saudi Arabia will use this military aid in a way that reduces tensions and terrorism? Begin on the policy level, then move on to aid; you don't approve a budget before you see what you're budgeting and the planned end product, right?

America needs assurance these military gifts will be used in a positive manner. Not only that, but we've seen what military force does in the Middle East (and elsewhere). Force is countered by more force, and sometimes breeds terrorism and destabilizes relations. Military force led to increased support for Hezbollah following its skirmish with Israel last summer. Force led to the Iraq war and to — decades ago — the rise of state-sponsored militant groups like what became the Taliban and Hamas. Thinking that military force will bring about peace is the same kind of twisted logic implemented by America and other nations that has resulted in the disaster that is much of the Mid-East.

Buying allies
The NYT reported about the White House's request that Congress approve this aid package. It also touched upon the issue of whether this is such a good idea.

Mr. Burns insisted that the arms package isn’t an attempt to trade weapons for a more cooperative Saudi policy toward the Maliki government in Baghdad.

“There are no formal quid pro quos in this, but it figures that we would want our friends to be supportive of Iraq,” he said.

So the US is buying support... but not really? If Saudi Arabia was a true friend it wouldn't need billions in military aid to keep it a non-enemy. Non-enemy doesn't necessarily equal friend either.

'B' in Rhetoric, 'F' in Logic
Just by looking at history as a guide — throwing even common sense aside (not Bush's strong point anyways) — is even the Bush White House too blind to recognize the follies it is still committing? It's almost like giving disturbed children guns, when you know perfectly well nothing good will come of it. It also makes the US look worse. The charge of favoritism is yet another thing states like Iran and groups that use terrorism will certainly use against the United States, especially since it is so publicly and so largely supporting the 'Zionist enemy' in its quest for world domination over Muslims (their thoughts, not mine). The last thing America needs is more bad PR.

I really do hope Rice is right when she says this deal will not destabilize the Middle East. But a glimpse at reality can bring about quite a different view than the one seen by the secretary of state. Over $60 billion is also a lot of money to give away, considering it probably won't be spent wisely, plus many of the recipients are human rights-abusing, malevolent regional actors. Is this their reward?

Continuing the trend of buying Saudi Arabia's half-hearted support is not the wisest of choices. How will they react, though, when America takes away their allowance? With more terrorism, perhaps...

Also, what will Congress say? It's they who carry the purse.

Reposted. Still in California.

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