It will have occurred to many that the constant peddling of US-made weapons to the Middle East oil producers willing to be American toadies in the pursuit of the war on terror has been just like tossing bags of crap at many fans. In Egypt, US-made tanks and tear gas were in the streets. The M1's didn't fire on the populace, fortunately. That was good, right?
In the case of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, it's the case of US armed militaries -- one acting as a mercenary force -- putting down the revolts aimed at getting rid of their rotten leaders. The potential also exists for the notoriously bad Saudi Arabian military to fly US-made jets in any proposed no-fly zone thought to be needed for Libya.
According to the US State Department, the Obama administration proposed $88 million dollars worth of arms to Bahrain.
Astonishingly, Singapore, the well-known wart of the Malay peninsula, received a 5.5 billion dollar sale. One supposes the arms, mostly F-15s, are thought needed to fend off invasions from Borneo or a sally from the port of Darwin in northern Australia. (No, no! They need a top rank air force to save world shipping in the Strait of Malacca from pirates!)
Mystifyingly, an expert from the Federation of American Scientists seemed to pooh-pooh the unfortunate and nationally embarrassing aspects in a recent story published by the Ventura County Star.
Look, if we don't sell arms to these crappy tyriannical countries arms, someone else will just get the business. That was the message conveyed. Which seems like no message at all except cynicism leavened with the excuse that if the sales are ours at least we can track them.
"Other defense experts cautioned that other countries would quickly move to replace the U.S. in any arms sales stopped for human rights concerns ... " read the newspaper.
Matthew Schroeder, an employee of the Federation of American Scientists, told the newspaper, "If you cut off arms sales, a client would go straight to U.S. competitors like Russia or China."
That would obviously be so bad. To force them to buy tanks and stuff from Russia and China. It would make the balance of trade even more atrocious than it already is. Bummer.
The arms manufacturers, as I've written, enjoy the benefits of private sector socialism in this business. The US middle class, unless it's actually employed in this protected industry, gets worked over twice. Think of it as a looting followed by a beating.
First, the middle class underwrites the business of US weapons-makers while it's jobs are taken to the garbage dump only to be resurrected overseas.
Second, we reap the bad publicity when it's American-made stuff seen putting down the poor locals looking for a bit of democracy.
There's a moral and logical argument to be made for letting Singapore, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates buy the gear for their token militaries from other nations. Part of it has to do with re-instituting an element of fairness to the American system.
Postscript: The title is a bit unfair to real skunks. They are very nice animals.
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