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The Arms Sale Orgy III: Doing Our Bit To Build The Anti-Iranian Front….

July 29, 2007

If you really want to have some fun and scare some people in power, especially those attached to the arms industry, just walk into a room and shout `peace’. The term makes some of them so nervous they prefer to refer to it as the `p’ word. And those precious few moments since the end of World War II when it appeared that peace and disarmament might seriously be on the agenda were moments of personal crisis for the arms industry. Afraid that peace might break out they either fabricated or greatly exagerated threats, from the Soviet Union during the Cold War, to Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein and now Iran. It’s hard to sell weapons with out enemies, threats, real or imagined. A good source on the evolution of the arms industry’ stranglehold on US policy is found in James Carroll’s House of War.

This huge arms deal $63 billion in the sale or grants of US advanced weapons systems represents nothing short the fulfillment of a neo-con political wet dream. The goal of this arms bonanza is an attempt to build a strategic alliance against Iran which the US has been trying to craft for some time now. Iran provides the needed excuse for the `enemy image’ so necessary for the US to forge together the disparate elements of its political support base in the Middle East and to implement its policies of regional control of a good portion of the world’s energy resources. The arms sales and grants to its regional allies are a part of an attempt to indicate how serious the US is about overthrowing the government in Teheran one way or another and in trying to do it in such a fashion that it can garner the international support for the effort which has been missing up until now and with which Washington stands isolated. Just as the Cold War against the USSR was accompanied by massive military spending and arms sales, so it is with the emerging Cold War against Iran.

As US allies in the region, for different reasons, seemed reluctant to join in the fray, the US sweetened the pot through this mega-arms deal. It seems like nothing helps let by-gones be by-gones than some US jet fighter planes and satellite-guided missile systems. The Bush Administration wants to encourage the political and military participation of their allies in different parts of the plan (under strict US direction of course). And they want to encourage active participation and cooperation of the two key players – Saudi Arabia and Israel – that have never been especially happy campers with each other. While obviously in some ways adversaries, in other ways both countries have long been strategic US allies in the region and have played their supportive roles well for the most part. Much of the diplomatic maneuvering of the past few months has not been about peace making but putting together the different strands of this new anti-Shi’ite, anti-Hamas military alliance.

But the pay offs to Israel, Egypt and the Saudis had to be very generous this time to get everyone on board because the risks of supporting US military plans outright are greater than in the past. In the case of the Israelis, their annual military allowance has gone from $2.2 billion a year to over $3 billion plus promises of super sophisticated new weaponry they have been drooling for, combined with promises of US purchases of Israeli high tech military equipment. In exchange, Israel appears to have agreed to call of its dogs (so to speak) and lobbyists in the US Congress and to restrain them from opposing the Saudi arms deal too strenuously. Put more bluntly, the Israelis were bought outright. In the Saudi case, the US `permitted’ the Saudis (and other Arab players in the deal) to purchase more sophisticated military equipment than ever before. Fear not – they don’t have clue as to how to use it if history is any indication – but it makes the Saudis look more powerful than they actually are and appearances are both deceptive and important.

Of course the biggest winners of all are the US arms manufacturers who have an insured income of $63 billion + over the next ten years, thus assuring the fundamental place of military industries and technology as the center piece of the US economy for decades to come. Put another way – we can’t build cars for shit but no one can match us in cruise missiles and neutron bombs. And as all that military hardware sucks up more oil and gas than virtually any other segment of the economy, the energy industries also see dollar signs (or maybe euro signs) in their eyes for generations to come, under the protective umbrella of Bush Cheney or their future clones – Democratic or Republican. It doesn’t seem to matter.

An anti-Iranian front would require of the players to subdue tensions between the allies involved and come together as a political-military unit. The Israeli-Palestinian `peace process’ – as pathetic as has been for a long time – would be frozen that much longer. Israel need not fear being pressured to end its siege of Gaza or to stop building West Bank settlements or the wall. The attention of the region and the world, now focused on the US debacle in Iraq, would be diverted temporarily at least. The Saudis, now fearful of their own people, could attempt to unite them under the banner of anti-Shi’ism. US public opinion, hostile to Iran since the hostage crisis of 1979 could possibly be diverted into supporting military action and short of that at least partially neutralized. Anti-Israeli and anti-US sentiment, both at record highs from virtually every poll taken in the region could be diverted into an anti-Iranian jihad. At least that is the goal.

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