Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Great Salvation

In recent days, we learned that the Bush administration is pursuing security arrangements with Iran to contain certain Sunni combatants in Iraq. This revelation was followed closely by a rather forceful denunciation of Saudi Arabia's efforts to target and weaken the US-backed, armed and funded Maliki government in Iraq by funding Sunni insurgents. This created the impression that the Bush administration was putting a premium on stability in Iraq, and the wider region, by accepting Iran's newfound gains and making appropriate accommodations.

That impression, however, was tethered to the logic of homo sapien. Today brings news that the transcendental Bush administration is also planning on stepping up sales of advanced military assets to....Saudi Arabia. The reality-based mind, it reels.

The Bush administration is preparing to ask Congress to approve an arms sale package for Saudi Arabia and its neighbors that is expected to eventually total $20 billion at a time when some United States officials contend that the Saudis are playing a counterproductive role in Iraq.

The proposed package of advanced weaponry for Saudi Arabia, which includes advanced satellite-guided bombs, upgrades to its fighters and new naval vessels, has made Israel and some of its supporters in Congress nervous. Senior officials who described the package on Friday said they believed that the administration had resolved those concerns, in part by promising Israel $30.4 billion in military aid over the next decade, a significant increase over what Israel has received in the past 10 years.

But administration officials remained concerned that the size of the package and the advanced weaponry it contains, as well as broader concerns about Saudi Arabia’s role in Iraq, could prompt Saudi critics in Congress to oppose the package when Congress is formally notified about the deal this fall.

In talks about the package, the administration has not sought specific assurances from Saudi Arabia that it would be more supportive of the American effort in Iraq as a condition of receiving the arms package, the officials said. [emphasis added]

This comes via IOZ, who has this to say about the overall strategy:

Anyway, this all falls under my own maxim: Don't listen to what they say; look at what they do. In this case, category Say is "prevent a wider regional war" and category Do is "pour billions of dollars worth of arms into the fragile, quarrelsome, precarious neighbors of an escalating civil war ever percolating under an American occupation." The Congresscrats make oppositional noises on this one, but like their howler monkey counterparts, they're much smaller than their voices. Never dangerous. Timid. Easily spooked.

Even under the most charitable reading - that it is designed ensure some sort of regional balance of power that would deter wider conflict - the strategy is deeply, deeply misguided for the reasons IOZ points out and more. The Saudis are arming and funding Sunni insurgents currently, and those same insurgents are attacking our soldiers (and the Iraqi government they are defending). They want to confront Iran, and have been doing so already via proxy in Iraq - much to our dismay as our soldiers have been getting killed in some of that cross-fire, and Iraq has been destabilized generally speaking.

So then, how will increasing the capacity of the Saudis to wage war foster peace in the region, since it is clearly not peace that they are pursuing with their current, lesser capacity? Reminds me of something I saw Matt Duss quote recently (in the context of us arming both internal factions of Iraq's civil war):

Blackadder Goes Forth :

Blackadder: You see, Baldrick, in order to prevent a war in Europe, two super blocs developed: us, the French and the Russians on one side, and the Germans and Austro-Hungary on the other. The idea was to have two vast, opposing armies, each acting as the other's deterrent. That way, there could never be a war.

Baldrick: Except, well, this is sort of a war, isn't it?

Blackadder: That's right, there was one tiny flaw in the plan.

George: Oh, what was that?

Blackadder: It was bollocks.

I see a similar, smallish flaw in this plan. Of course, that's assuming a less cynical strategic aim - which I do assume. If the plan is to "cauldronize" the region to the delight of "doves" like Michael Ledeen, than this is a deft move.

Neither option should instill confidence, though.

(h/t to Henley)

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?