The Bush administration’s plan to give arms to Arab nations isn’t entirely daft – with the right weapons they can reduce their exposure to Iran. The bad news is that this tells us the administration has decided not to take out the Mullahs’ nukes.
The deal (my ellipsis):
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced the formal launch of discussions over the package for Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, as well as 10-year military aid plans with Israel and Egypt, in a statement ahead of her departure for the Middle East on Monday afternoon. Israel is slated to get $30 billion and Egypt $13b.; the latter will also receive additional economic aid…
(Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns) added that the arms would be “for defensive purposes – most of it.”
But even if “most of it” is defensive, that just means the Egyptians and Saudis have to get their offensive equipment from Russia – which will be easier since the US is providing its own equipment for free.
Defenders of the plan say neither Egypt nor Saudi Arabia have committed themselves to wipe Israel of the map. But that’s most likely because these Islamic dictatorships lack the capability, not the intention. And anyway, intentions change much more quickly than capabilities – for example through Iran-style regimes taking over.
The big ray of hope is the corruption level of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which have CPI scores of 3.3, as bad as China. So much of the US aid will end up in Swiss bank accounts rather than weapons.
And what money does filter through to weapons won’t be much of a threat to Israel unless Iran manages to take out its nuclear shield with a first strike.
That brings us to the depressing conclusion. If the administration were seriously planning to take out the Mullahs’ nukes, it wouldn’t need this initiative at this time, since without nukes the crumbling Iranian economy threatens no one (except the Brit Navy).
If a strike were planned, this aid package would be deployed after the attack, to sooth Arab sensibilities.
Doing it now means no strike is intended and so the next war in the Mideast will be nuclear.