Thursday, January 5, 2012

U.S. signs $60 billion arms deal with Saudis..another black day in world disarmament

By Robert Sheer, January 5, 2012
He (U.S. President Obama) entered his re-election year by signing a $662 billion defense authorization bill that strips away some of our most fundamental liberties and keeps military spending at Cold War levels, and by approving a $60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

Those two actions represent an obvious contradiction, since the attack on American soil that kept defense spending so high in the post-9/11 decade was carried out by 15 Saudis and four other men directed by Osama bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi primarily using funding from his native land. Now Saudi Arabia is to be protected as a holdout against the democratic impulse of the Arab Spring because it is our ally against Iran, a nation that had nothing to do with 9/11. Saudi Arabia, it should be recalled, was one of only three nations, along with the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan, to recognize the Taliban government that harbored bin Laden before 9/11.
This is the same Saudi monarchy that rushed its forces into Bahrain last March to crush a popular uprising. But that doesn’t trouble the Obama administration; for two years it has been aggressively pushing the Saudi arms deal, which includes $30 billion in fighter jets built by Boeing. Forget human rights or the other good stuff Democrats love to prattle on about. As White House spokesman Josh Earnest put it: “This agreement reinforces the strong and enduring relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia and demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a strong Saudi defense capability as a key component to regional security.”
The rationale for the first big arms deal with the tyrannical Saudi monarchy since 1992 is that a better-armed Sunni theocracy (Saudi Arabia) is needed to counter the threat from the Shiite theocracy in Iran. Once again the U.S. is stoking religious-based fratricide, just as we did in Iraq. Only this time, we are on the side of Saudi Sunnis oppressing Shiites both at home and in neighboring Bahrain. That oppression—along with a U.S. invasion that replaced Tehran’s sworn enemy in Sunni-led Baghdad with a Shiite leadership that had long been nurtured by Iran’s ayatollahs—is what enhances the regional influence of Iran.
If Iran ever does pose a regional military threat because of its nuclear program or any other reason, real or concocted, it will be NATO forces that will take out the threat, not the Saudis, who will still be polishing their latest-model F-15s as icons of a weird conception of modernism.
The real reason for this deal is that it is the only sort of jobs program that Democrats are capable of pushing through an obstructive Congress (high-lighting by The administration boasts that the arms package will result in 50,000 jobs in 44 states, underscoring the warning from Dwight Eisenhower, the last progressive Republican president, about the power of a military-industrial complex that has tentacles in every congressional district. As Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, an Armed Services Committee member who championed this sale, put it: “The F-15 is a world-class aircraft built by hardworking folks right here in St. Louis. I am thrilled for all of the skilled men and women on the F-15 line that this important, big order that I have stood side-by-side with them in working to secure is finally happening.”
A Democrat running for re-election, McCaskill added, “These are important jobs in our community. I will continue advocating for sales of Boeing products wherever appropriate.” Being a good Democrat, she doesn’t reference Boeing’s profits, which are increasingly dependent upon arming the rest of the world.
That’s the win-win of government-generated profits and jobs on which the Democrats are counting to defeat the Republicans, both through campaign contributions from the more rational among the wealthy and the votes of ordinary people who, despite being seriously hurt in this economy, have nowhere else to turn.
Jobs at home in an election year (50,000 of them in 44 states!!), plus a well-armed Sunni theocracy as ally against a Shiite theocracy in Iran...
Is Sheer right that the U.S. is stoking religious-based fratricide?
He is certainly right that jobs, even those in a defence industry like Boeing's dependence on selling military materiel to the rest of the world (Canada has apparently agreed to purchase 65 of those same F35 Fighter Jets, also from Boeing at an estimated cost, with repairs, of some $30 billion), are the single most important ticket to the President's re-election in November 2012.
But let's look at how difficult it is, and has been for the President and the Democrats in Congress to generate support from the blockading Republicans, for any other job-creation measures, like infrastructure retrofits, rapid transit, green energy projects and even digitizing medical records, all of them solid proposals, blocked by an obstructionist Tea Party cadre of intellectual flyweights, whose single purpose in seeking election was really to defeat Obama, while they argue for NO MORE TAXES ( as their signatures on The  Norquist Pledge commits them to.)
Everything is connected to everything else. Nothing is or can be considered as a single file, unattached to any other file in Washington. It is all of a single piece, a canvas with mostly spashes of dark blue and black oil, over-riding a few red and green and yellow attempts at colour from the White House.
Maybe Paul Simon was thinking, prophetically, about the Tea Party when he wrote his song, My Little Town...
In my little town
I grew up believing
God keeps his eye on us all
And he used to lean upon me
As I pledged allegiance to the wall
Lord I recall my little town
Coming home after school
Riding my bike past the gates of the factories
My mom doing the laundry
Hanging out shirts in the dirty breeze
And after it rains there's a rainbow
And all of the colors are black
It's not that the colors aren't there
It's just imagination they lack
Everything's the same back in my little town

And yet, perhaps it is like a river running through the American psyche, as Simon also captured in the next few lines of his song....that never-ending twitching finger on the trigger of a gun and dreamin' of glory...partly because "nothing but the dead and dying back in my little town".....

In my little town I never meant nothing
I was just my father's son
Saving my money
Dreamin of glory
Twitching like a finger on a trigger of a gun

Nothing but the dead and dying back in my little town

Nothing but the dead and dying back in my little town
Nothing but the dead and dying back in my little town

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