Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Not standing idly by, no sir

Another dispiriting read at Glenn Greenwald's, this time on our noble refusal to "stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy" in Bahrain. It's a little chronology of what's been going on there since March, when Obama made that pledge. Pretty grim reading, especially the last bit (my italics) : a press release from The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency, September 14, 2011: 53 million dollars of vehicles, missiles, support and training which
will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a major non-NATO ally that has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.
As Greenwald notes, the president is keeping his word: we aren't "standing idly by". We're arming the tyrant.

Shades of Jon Stewart pointing out that Bush was keeping his promise not to engage in "nation building" in Iraq...

And one does wonder if this is because it's a Shia majority rising up against a Sunni monarchy. Wouldn't want the Iranians to get any more allies... Still, I imagine it's more about what this State Department note points out:
U.S. military sales to Bahrain since 2000 total $1.4 billion. Principal U.S. military systems acquired by the BDF include eight Apache helicopters, 54 M60A3 tanks, 22 F-16C/D aircraft, 51 Cobra helicopters, 9 MLRS Launchers (with ATACMS), 20 M109A5 Howitzers, 1 Avenger AD system, and the TPS-59 radar system. Bahrain has received $195 million in FMF and $410 million in U.S. EDA acquisition value delivered since the U.S.-Bahraini program began in 1993. The Bahrain Defense Force also placed orders for 9 UH-60M Blackhawk helicopters and 2 Mk-V Fast Patrol Boats. Delivery of both systems was planned for 2009.
One point four billion dollars. Two hundred million dollars in sales just in 2010. That's a lot of "not standing idly by."

(And we just can't stop... we sell arms to just damn near anybody. It's big business: 40 billion dollars in 2009. And business is the key word. After all, "If you cut off arms sales, a client would go straight to U.S. competitors like Russia or China," as one expert puts it.

And we couldn't have that now, could we?

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At 8:04 AM, September 28, 2011 Anonymous Mark had this to say...

While it is true that we sell arms to a lot of countries, and I'm sure that's a consideration in foreign policy, $1.4 billion in 11 years is just pocket change, a truly insignificant amount of money in the overall scheme of things.

At 4:44 PM, September 28, 2011 Blogger The Ridger, FCD had this to say...

It may be a small percentage of our GDP, but (1) it's a hefty profit for the companies involved, and (2) we lead the world in the business. Nobody, not even the Russians, make as much as we do at it.

And even if it wasn't, would that mean arms sales to tyrants is okay?

At 8:16 AM, September 29, 2011 Anonymous Mark had this to say...

I don't defend anything we do in the "defense" industry. I simply point out that it makes no sense to criticize the sales in terms of the amount of money involved. $200 million is a tremendous amount of money to me, and probably to you. But in terms of what the government spends on any given program, it really doesn't amount to much. And, of course, it is not really military spending, it's commercial sales. I think what you're criticizing is the fact that US companies sell military hardware to despots. The amount of profit is irrelevant. And I agree. We ought to sell things like desalination plants instead of tanks.

But in the particular world in which we find ourselves living, that's the way it is, and that's the way it's going to be, no matter who's in the White House. Because, as Ike feared, the military-industrial complex runs this country. Military equipment and, to a lesser extend, commercial airlines, are just about all we can make and sell these days.


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