I’ve written extensively about US aid to tyrannies in the Middle East as a method to keep governments in place that will obey US demands and that will prevent the populations from interfering with policymaking. And a government ain’t a government without that essential ingredient: weapons.
This CRS report details how the US ranks first in the world in weapons welfare to dependent dictatorships. It’s an interesting read. It also explains how the world’s top weapons suppliers are responding to the economic downturn by expanding their base of buyers to additional developing nations they otherwise ignored in order to keep the military industrial complex fat and satisfied in the face of international pressure to cut budgets. But I found this list an interesting illustration of the specifics of US weapons welfare; we often hear about it, but without much detail.
Among the larger valued arms transfer agreements the United States concluded in 2010 with developing nations were: with Israel for 19 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft for $2.75 billion; with Taiwan for 60 UH-60M Blackhawk helicopters for $2.4 billion; with Saudi Arabia for M1A2 and M1AS tank support and spare parts for $384 million; with Saudi Arabia for maintenance, support, and spare parts for F-15 fighter aircraft for $250 million; with Egypt for one Fast Patrol Craft for $227 million, and for Harpoon Block II anti-ship missiles for $104 million; with Pakistan for mid-life upgrades and support for F-16 fighter aircraft for $220 million; with India for CBU-105 sensor fused bombs, and associated items, for $384 million; with Jordan for a M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket system for $182 million, and for Javelin anti-tank missiles for $124 million. Other 2010 U.S. contracts include several score of missile, ordnance, and weapons systems support cases worth tens of millions of dollars each with U.S. customers in every region of the developing world.
And the most popular quantities and types of arms the US sold to Near East nations:
- 339 tanks and self-propelled guns
- 71 APCs and armored cars
- 3 minor surface combatants
- 38 supersonic combat aircraft
- 35 helicopters
- 397 surface-to-air missiles
We’ve had the recent benefit of other detailed explanations of US weapons welfare to Mid-East dictatorships, showing blatantly the effects of these arms transfers. As Yemeni protesters were facing repression from the Saleh government, a cable from 2005 with a detailed list of the weaponry the US government gave to Yemen surfaced. Included were shotguns, machine guns, ammunition, grenade launchers, body armor, communications equipment, warships, transport trucks, etc. And direct military-to-miltary training as well. Then, as Bahraini protesters were likewise suffering under a brutal dictatorship intent on suppressing any democratic progress, the Obama administration finalized their latest arms transfer to that dictatorship. Similar murder machinery were included, like bunker buster missiles, armored vehicles, rocket launchers, and more.
So, there are some details of overweening US policy in the Middle East. In the context of the Arab Spring, of course, the US will do anything it can to prevent authentic freedom and progress in the region. This, in part, is how.