Bush's Middle East Arms Deals
By URI AVNERY
"The King of Siam knew how to deal with domestic opponents: he would present them with a white elephant. White elephants are rare in nature, and therefore sacred. Being sacred, they may not be put to work. But even a sacred elephant does eat, and eat a lot. Enough to turn a rich man into a pauper.....
THE MIDDLE EAST is now being invaded by a herd of white elephants.
This week it became known that President Bush is about to supply Saudi Arabia with huge quantities of the most advanced weapons. The price tag is 20 billion (20,000,000,000) dollars. Ostensibly, the arms are needed to strengthen Saudi Arabia against the Great Satan: Iran. In Saudi eyes, this is now the great danger.....
This is a merry-go-round that benefits all. Especially the Saudi princes. Saudi Arabia is blessed with a great abundance of these - some 9000 (nine thousand) princes, all belonging to the House of Saud. A prince has a lot of wives, a wife has a lot of offspring. Some of them are arms dealers, who automatically receive fat commissions from the arms billions. (It is easy to work it out: a mere one percent of 20 billions amounts to 200 million. And they would laugh at a commission of one percent.) The princes have, therefore, a vested interest in this convenient arrangement.
THIS IS where Israel enters the picture.
Every arms deal made by the White House needs the assent of Congress. In Congress, the "friends of Israel" - the Jewish and the Evangelist lobbies - rule supreme. Any senator or congressman can forget about being reelected if he offends one of these lobbies. When Israel raises its voice against an arms deal with Saudi Arabia, the White House has a problem. The more so since there is a certain logic to the Israeli objection: the Saudi airbase in Tabuk is but a few minutes flying time from the Israeli port of Eilat.
What to do? Easy: give us a present of weapons, in order to maintain "the balance of power" and our "qualitative superiority over all the Arab armies combined"....."