Maybe this is the new big plan for the economy: sell as many weapons to the Middle East as possible. Let a million Rosie the Riveters bloom. That this buildup endangers an entire region, one holding the keys to the current energy infrastructure of the world, is just a sidelight to this, I guess.
First, the military announced an $11 billion sale to Iraq, despite concerns.
The Obama administration is moving ahead with the sale of nearly $11 billion worth of arms and training for the Iraqi military despite concerns that Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is seeking to consolidate authority, create a one-party Shiite-dominated state and abandon the American-backed power-sharing government.
The military aid, including advanced fighter jets and battle tanks, is meant to help the Iraqi government protect its borders and rebuild a military that before the 1991 Persian Gulf war was one of the largest in the world; it was disbanded in 2003 after the United States invasion.
But the sales of the weapons — some of which have already been delivered — are moving ahead even though Mr. Maliki has failed to carry out an agreement that would have limited his ability to marginalize the Sunnis and turn the military into a sectarian force. While the United States is eager to beef up Iraq’s military, at least in part as a hedge against Iranian influence, there are also fears that the move could backfire if the Baghdad government ultimately aligns more closely with the Shiite theocracy in Tehran than with Washington.
So perhaps to balance the possibility that the arms sales go to a Shiite-backed government in Baghdad, the military turned around and sold $30 billion in arms to the Sunnis in Saudi Arabia.
Fortifying one of its crucial allies in the Persian Gulf, the Obama administration announced a major weapons deal with Saudi Arabia on Thursday, saying it had agreed to sell F-15 fighter jets valued at nearly $30 billion to the Royal Saudi Air Force.
The agreement is part of a broader 10-year, $60 billion arms package for Saudi Arabia that Congress approved a year ago. But its timing is laden with significance, with tensions over Iran mounting and the United States pulling its last soldiers out of Iraq.
Yay, we’re arming both sides of a potential regional conflict!
Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest came right out and said that this sale would “positively impact the U.S. economy and further advances the president’s commitment to create jobs by increasing exports.” Military stimulus can work, of course. The buildup during World War II finally generated enough demand to get the country out of the Depression. But that money can go to so much of a more productive use. And if on the off chance that it sparks a conflagration in that volatile part of the world, the resulting disabling of oil infrastructure would cause much more harm than good. This is just a dangerous game.