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Jul 11th 2007

Those “Moderate” Arab States: Should the U.S. sell them advanced weaponry?

This article is reprinted with permission from FLAME (Facts and Logic About the Middle East). Visit FLAME’s website, factsandlogic.org, to read every one of their excellent articles debunking common misconceptions about the history and current events of the Middle East. — Admin

A recurring topic of debate is whether or not we should sell sophisticated armaments to the so-called “moderate” Arab countries. The Administration usually favors such sales — Congress tends to be more cautious. Recently, Saudi Arabia, usually considered the leader of the “moderate” Arabs, turned to Britain for the biggest arms contract ever given to that country. Many are concerned that the U.S. Congress, being reluctant to allow unlimited arms sales to the Arabs, is depriving the U.S. of lucrative business.

What are the facts?

Concentration of armament. The Arab states boast today one of the largest, most deadly and most sophisticated concentration of armament the world has ever seen, surpassed only (and not by all that much) by the arsenals of the two super-powers. And the buildup of arms continues incessantly — making one wonder how these essentially backward countries can possibly absorb and utilize all this weaponry. Excepting the oil-rich Gulf countries, most of these Arab states can fairly be described as economic basket cases, with social and demographic problems that seem almost unsolvable. Still, they dedicate a large share of their meager resources to the acquisition of ever more deadly and offensive weaponry, instead of putting them into the service of building their countries and uplifting their populations.

Ratio of military hardware to military manpower. Saudi Arabia, the kingpin of the “moderates,” is an immensely wealthy but sparsely populated country. It fields an army of only 72,000 men, but has 190 military planes and 550 tanks — just about the largest ratio of military hardware to military manpower in the world. Until recently, the fiction was maintained that it needed this enormous arsenal in order to defend itself against the “threat of Iran.” But now that Iran is prostrate, this can no longer be alleged, and even the most naïve no longer believe it. As King Khaled put it quite bluntly: “When we build our military power, we have no designs on anybody, except those who took away our land and the holy places in Jerusalem, and we know who they are!”

Saudi Arabia has never made peace with Israel. “Moderate” Saudi Arabia has participated in every war against Israel, from the birth of the state in 1948. It has never made peace with Israel. It is the principal paymaster of Syria, Israel’s most fervent enemy, and of the PLO, which is sworn to the destruction of Israel. It is the main player in the worldwide Arab boycott of Israel, whose purpose is the destruction of Israel’s economy. Yet, Saudi Arabia, already armed to the teeth and beyond, has just acquired batteries of super missiles from China. They can reach every point in Israel within minutes and can be armed with chemical and atomic warheads. And Saudi Arabia has squadrons of fighter planes at its air base in Toburk, just one minute’s flying time from Israel.

Insatiable “defense” needs. It has just concluded an arms deal with Great Britain amounting to $27 billion, the largest ever negotiated by that country. It includes at least 40 Tornado fighter planes, 80 Westland helicopters, a minimum of six Sundown minesweepers, the construction of two major air bases, and much more. It is an enormous package and has only one purpose: to be part of the coordinated force that, it is hoped, will eventually destroy Israel. The remarkable thing is that Britain will not sell any arms to Israel, because it feels that it could “destabilize the region.”

“Moderate” Saudi Arabia is of course only one example of the relentless and single-minded drive of the Arabs to destroy Israel. Take “moderate” Kuwait, a mini-state of only 1.7 million native inhabitants, with an army of only 15,000 men (mostly for parade duty). But it has 103 fighter planes and 260 tanks. It is now negotiating with the U.S. for an enormous arms package, including 40 F-18′s. This tiny “country” will have almost as many tanks and as many military planes as NATO member Belgium. What for? The answer is clear: It’s part of the arsenal to be used in the ultimate “jihad,” the destruction of Israel and the driving into the sea of those Jews that may be left.

But those bare statistics refer only to some of the so-called “moderates.” By conventional reckoning, that also includes Jordan, which shares the longest border with Israel, and which is armed to the teeth, mostly by the U.S. and Britain. Including the self-proclaimed non-moderates, tiny Israel, the size of New Jersey, faces one of the most daunting and fearsome military machines the world has ever seen. Counting only Syria, Iraq (who have perfected the art of poison gas warfare), Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Egypt, Israel faces 17,265 tanks, 15,000 armored personnel carriers, 12,300 pieces of artillery, 2,789 combat aircraft, 1,500 military helicopters, 600 SAM batteries, 96 missile boats, 20 submarines and 3 million armed men. And that is of right now — before the huge sale of military material by Britain, missile deals with the Chinese, and other weaponry in the pipeline.

The concept of the “moderate” Arab states is a myth. The Arabs are single-mindedly determined to destroy Israel. They are spending hundreds of billions of dollars in order to attain “strategic parity” with and eventually strategic superiority to Israel, and then to accomplish its destruction. Israel is the only viable strategic asset the United States has in the entire area. Those who sell weapons to Israel’s enemies — foreign countries and American companies — are playing into the hands of America’s enemies. We do not find the Soviet Union selling weapons to the enemies of its allies. Why should the United States be any less straightforward in its foreign policy? If Israel were vanquished, the Persian Gulf with its vital resources, the entire Middle East and the Mediterranean Basin would fall under the unquestioned dominion of the Soviet Union.

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27 Responses to “Those “Moderate” Arab States: Should the U.S. sell them advanced weaponry?”

  1. Curtis

    Actually it seems that Israel is bent on destroying the Arab world, contrary to what Flame says here. We arm Israel much more than we do its neighbors and wink at its nuclear weapons program. Israel has enslaved the Palestinian arabs and occupied their land illegally for 40 years now and shows no signs of complying with the demands of the international community, including those of the US.

    Yet, we swallow up their crimes given their special status with us, including the murder of US sailors on the USS Liberty in 1967.

    I do agree though that we shouldn’t be arming Arab nations over there. We shouldn’t be arming anyone period, but it is a hugely lucrative industry for our secret combination military industrial complex.

  2. doug

    Actually it seems that Israel is bent on destroying the Arab world, contrary to what Flame says here.

    I couldn’t agree more.

    I remember last year when Olmert threatened to “wipe Saudi Arabia off the map” and “drive the Muslims into the sea.”

    I can’t see why people like Travis always take Israel’s side.

  3. Curtis

    The old mistranslation ploy I see. The “wipe Israel off of the map” comment is flagrant evidence of the disingenuous nature of the Pro-Israeli group. Ahmadinejad has never said such a thing even according to MEMRI. Serious mistranslation error that has persisted for the purpose of the war drum beating in the US and Israeli media.

  4. Anybody who has never seen the moderate Arab leaders should stop by my condo on the weekends. We have a weekly poker game that also includes the Easter Bunny and my pet unicorn.

    Anyway, I am contacting conservative bloggers around the country since I am one as well. I hope this email is not an intrusion.

    I would like it very much if you would go to http://www.bloggerschoiceawards.com/blogs/show/21020
    and vote for me for best political blog and best overall blog as well, IF AND ONLY IF you feel my blog is of a high quality. I really think I have a legitimate shot at winning. If you are open to spreading the word, that would be cool as well.

    Thank you.

    eric aka http://www.blacktygrrrr.wordpress.com

    P.S. If you are open to doing a link exchange, I get some pretty decent traffic.

  5. Curtis

    For example here, Juan Cole has said,

    “I was talking to two otherwise well-informed Israeli historians a couple of weeks ago, and they expressed the conviction that Ahmadinejad had threatened to nuke Israel. I was taken aback. First of all, Iran doesn’t have a nuke. Second, there is no proof that Iran even has a nuclear weapons program. Third, Ahmadinejad has denied wanting a bomb. Fourth, Ahmadinejad has never threatened any sort of direct Iranian military action against Israel. In other words, that is a pretty dramatic fear for educated persons to feel, on the basis of . . . nothing.

    I renew my call to readers to write protest letters to newspapers and other media every time they hear it alleged that Ahmadinejad (or “Iran”!) has threatened to “wipe Israel off the map.” There is no such idiom in Persian and it is not what he said, and the mistranslation gives entirely the wrong impression. Wars can start over bad translations.

    It was apparently some Western wire service that mistranslated the phrase as ‘wipe Israel off the map’, which sounds rather more violent than calling for regime change. Since then, Iranian media working in English have themselves depended on that translation. One of the tricks of Right-Zionist propagandists is to substitute these English texts for Ahmadinejad’s own Persian text. (Ethan Bronner at the New York Times tried to pull this, and more recently Michael Rubin at the American Enterprise Institute.) But good scholarship requires that you go to the original Persian text in search of the meaning of a phrase. Bronner and Rubin are guilty disregarding philological scholarship in favor of mere propagandizing.

    These propaganda efforts against Iran and Ahmadinejad also depend on declining to enter into evidence anything else he has ever said– like that it would be wrong to kill Jews! They also ignore that Ahmadinejad is not even the commander in chief of the Iranian armed forces.

    Anyone who reads this column knows that I deeply disagree with Ahmadinejad’s policies and am not interested in defending him on most things. I profoundly disagree with his characterization of Israel, which is a legitimate United Nations member state, and find his Holocaust denial monstrous. But this quite false charge that he is genocidal is being promoted by Right-Zionists in and out of Congress as a preparatory step to getting up a US war against Iran on false pretences. I don’t want to see my country destroyed by being further embroiled in the Middle East for the wrong reasons. If the Israeli hardliners and their American amen corner want a war with Iran, let them fight it themselves and leave young 18 year old Americans alone.”

  6. Curtis

    For details on the above see here:

    http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/jonathan_steele/2006/06/post_155.html

  7. doug

    Curtis,

    So…venezuelanalysis.com for Chavez, and Juan Cole for the Middle East. Nice.

    I was happy to notice, however, that you don’t dispute that some want to drive the Jews into the sea (including beloved Terrorist Nobel Peace Prize winner, Yasser Arafat).

    As for the mistranslation kerfuffle…please, you can do better.

    From your very link:

    I took my translation – “the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time” – from the indefatigable Professor Juan Cole’s website where it has been for several weeks.

    In other words, Hitler didn’t want to “cook those filthy Jews” he wanted to “place the impediments of national progress in a warm oven.”

    Ahmadinejad wants to destroy Israel. How do you think he wants/plans on doing that? Giving all Israeli families tickets to EuroDisney and then not letting them back in when they try to return? After all, the Jewish population is Europe’s problem, not the Middle East’s!

    C’mon Curtis, let some of your dormant neurons fire once in a while when you’re discussing thugs like Chavez and Aquavelvajad.

    Humorously, Al-Jazeera was part of the mistranslation conspiracy, back in 2005.

    Then the Washington Post got on board after another speech in 2006 by Aquavelvajad.

    “Although the main solution is for the elimination of the Zionist regime, at this stage an immediate cease-fire must be implemented,” he said.

    Ahh…what a statesman! Mahmoud is willing to put off the elimination of Israel for a temporary ceasefire.

  8. chavez's idiot

    Doug,
    “So…venezuelanalysis.com for Chavez, and Juan Cole for the Middle East. Nice.”

    Flame for the middle east on the other hand is much more reputable.

    Ahmadinejad is no walk in the park, but he is not guilty of the aspirations you and the secret combinations in power ascribe to him. Here’s from his own mouth in an interview with him last year:

    “Q: Are you really serious when you say that Israel should be wiped off the face of the Earth?

    “A: We need to look at the scene in the Middle East – 60 years of war, 60 years of displacement, 60 years of conflict, not even a day of peace. Look at the war in Lebanon, the war in Gaza – what are the reasons for these conditions? We need to address and resolve the root problem.

    “Q: Your suggestion is to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth?

    “A: Our suggestion is very clear:… Let the Palestinian people decide their fate in a free and fair referendum, and the result, whatever it is, should be accepted…. The people with no roots there are now ruling the land.

    “Q: You’ve been quoted as saying that Israel should be wiped off the face of the Earth. Is that your belief?

    “A: What I have said has made my position clear. If we look at a map of the Middle East from 70 years ago…

    “Q: So, the answer is yes, you do believe that it should be wiped off the face of the Earth?

    “A: Are you asking me yes or no? Is this a test? Do you respect the right to self-determination for the Palestinian nation? Yes or no? Is Palestine, as a nation, considered a nation with the right to live under humane conditions or not? Let’s allow those rights to be enforced for these 5 million displaced people.”

    Additionally, Ahmadinejad has said:

    “As the Soviet Union disappeared, the Zionist regime will also vanish and humanity will be liberated.”

    The USSR wasn’t attacked by anyone. They vanished because they weren’t viable anymore. Iran’s Pres. thinks that the Zionist regime will vanish the same way and he has never threatened to attack Israel. This is different from Israel and it’s handlers who threaten to attack Iran on a regular basis. Just today Israel was at it again:

    “Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman said on Tuesday that he received the tacit blessing of Europe and the United States for an Israeli military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

    “If we start military operations against Iran alone, then Europe and the US will support us,” Lieberman told Army Radio following a meeting earlier in the week with NATO and European Union officials.

    Lieberman said the Western powers acknowledged the severity of the Iranian nuclear threat to the Jewish state, but said that ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq are “going to prevent the leaders of countries in Europe and America from deciding on the use of force to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities,” even if diplomacy ultimately fails.

    The message Lieberman said the NATO and EU officials conveyed to him is that Israel should “prevent the threat herself.”

    And, the fellow who really runs the foreign policy of Iran, the Ayatollah, has said this:

    “We have no problem with the world. We are not a threat whatsoever to the world, and the world knows it. We will never start a war. We have no intention of going to war with any state.”

    Using neurons can show folks that there is no good reason for more war on this earth.

  9. For those defending Ahmadinejad here…please respond to the following since you are hung up on a “mistranslation.”

    Do you deny that Iran is/has:

    1) Using Hezbollah to destabilize Lebanon and attack Israel by various means?

    2) Developing Nuclear “Fuel,” which scares the doodoo out of the UN Security Council?

    3) Held Holocaust Inquiry Conferences questioning the validity of historical claims of 6 million Jews killed during WWII?

    4) Linked to weapons being used in Iraq against US troops? Oh, and suspected in Afghanistan too?

    5) Planning or training those that carry out attacks in Iraq in which US troops have been abducted?

    6) Ahmadinejad never once denies Iranian involvement with regard to weapons from Iran in Iraq?

    Since you can’t really deny this…at least a rational person cannot…wouldn’t it seem rather silly to defend him on a “mistranslation” given the mountain of evidence showing Ahmadinejad to be an extremely dangerous world leader?

  10. doug

    Flame for the middle east on the other hand is much more reputable.

    Their analysis does seem to align with reality better than Juan Cole, yes.

    Ahmadinejad is no walk in the park, but he is not guilty of the aspirations you and the secret combinations in power ascribe to him. Here’s from his own mouth in an interview with him last year:

    Interesting interview snippet. Do you honestly read that and interpret it as evidence of Aquavelvajad’s non-desire to destroy Israel?!?!

    Perhaps there is “no such idiom in Persian”, but he could have just said:

    “No, of course Israel shouldn’t be wiped off the map.”

    But he didn’t say that. He wants Israel destroyed.

    And, the fellow who really runs the foreign policy of Iran, the Ayatollah, has said this:

    “We have no problem with the world. We are not a threat whatsoever to the world, and the world knows it. We will never start a war. We have no intention of going to war with any state.”

    He said it. Must be true! Iran would never, never (never!) fund terrorism in other countries like, for example, Israel.

  11. Curtis

    Ryan,

    1) I don’t know the level of support Hezbollah receives from Iran, but surely there is some sort of assistance. Agreed.

    2) Iran’s nuclear program scares some members of the UN Security Council, but doesn’t seem to be of much concern to nations like China and Russia. Remember, back in the 70′s, Cheney encouraged Iran’s developement of nuclear energy.

    3) Agreed. They did hold an assinine conference on the holocaust.

    4) Apparently elements in Iran are sending arms to Iraq and Afghanistan. There is zero evidence that this is coming from the Iranian government.

    5) If there is evidence for this, it has not been linked to the Iranian government.

    6) The Iranian defense minister denied it in February:
    http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/iraq/2007/02/iraq-070214-irna01.htm

    Now, to take a few of these points a little deeper.

    1) How is this different from the US funding numerous guerilla groups over the years to destabilize various governments? Iran is a mere fetus in comparison with the US when it comes to funding groups in order to attack and destabilize it’s enemy governments.

    2) Whether it scares the US and Europe or not, it is their right under the NPT, an international agreement signed by the scared nations. Whether they intend to build nuclear weapons is not clear either. They say no. However, they would be foolish not to with the threats of the nuclear weapon armed US and Israeli governments against them and the fact that the US doesn’t attack nuclear weapon armed nations as seen with North Korea.

    3) Ahmadinejad’s point is: why should we use the Holocaust to allow Israel to stomp all over Palestinian Arabs? I think it was a ridiculous thing to do, but it doesn’t mean he’s a danger to anyone.

    4 & 5)Here’s a recent US General in Afghanistan on Iranian arms to that country:

    “McNeill, a 60-year-old, four-star general from North Carolina who has fought in most American conflicts since Vietnam, said he had no hard evidence the Iranian government has helped the Taliban. He said munitions, particularly mortar rounds found on Afghan battlefields, “clearly were made in Iran,” but said that does not prove the Iranian government is formally involved.

    “If I had the information, I would have no reservation about saying it,” he said.”

    Again, from the Contras of Nicaragua to Fatah of Palestine, we’ve worked tirelessly to disrupt and attack democracies around the world for many years. Iran is definitely not up to par with the US, and there is no evidence that the government is involved.

    Summary) There are definitely elements in the US government that want to go to war with Iran, namely Cheney’s group. Iran has never attacked another country in it’s entire existence. It defended itself against Saddam in the 80′s in a war funded by the US where a million people died. It sufferred a coup by the Shah in the 50′s against the popular goverment of Mossadegh under the guidance of the CIA. However, it has never attacked another country. The US and Israel on the other hand have attacked numerous countries recently and have funded and armed numerous rebellions. Both have nuclear arms and have threatened to use them on Iran! Both are in violation of the spirit of the NPT (though Israel is not a signator). It would seem that the dangerous nations in the world are the US and Israel and not Iran. To believe otherwise is to succumb to the lies of the US government secret combinations and it’s lapdog media. Look closely at the facts and you’ll see things differently.

  12. doug

    It would seem that the dangerous nations in the world are the US and Israel and not Iran.

    Is there a Persian idiom for intellectual chutzpah?

  13. Curtis, I’m not sure what chances there are of convincing you of my point of view. Your opinion of America and Israel as well as the completely different interpretation of world events certainly contrast with my own.

    If you are willing to believe that Iran will be good stewards of Nuclear Weapons Energy, so be it.

  14. Curtis

    Ryan,
    I don’t know that they would be good stewards of nuclear weapons. Their history is about as benign as it gets with regard to armed conflict with other nations. Figure what you will from that. The US on the other hand is the only nation that has ever used a nuclear weapon on another nation, and is the only nation that is currently threatening another nation with nuclear weapons! Iran has done neither of those things.

  15. Curtis

    Doug,
    It is completely naive to believe that Iran truly wants to destroy Israel. The only threats against Israel from Iran have been threats to defend themselves if Israel attacks. Juan Cole is not the only person to object to the mistranslation. MEMRI itself has translated it differently. So has the BBC and NYTimes interpreters. Yet, it serves the purposes of inciting the public to support another war, just like the false claims of the Bush administration which served to manufacture the consent of the American people to go to war with Iraq, but it is just plain false.

    “He said it. Must be true! Iran would never, never (never!) fund terrorism in other countries like, for example, Israel.”

    And the US would never fund terrorism in places like Israel either then eh? We give them 3 billion dollars a year to beat up on the palestinians and have recently funded Fatah, a terrorist organization by our own accounting. Iran is doing nothing more or better than the US has done for a long time.

  16. Mike

    Curtis:

    Everything you have said amounts to an idiotic defense of a terrible people.

    In light of the Middle East’s hatred toward the States, I am now going to refer to “Kabob” as “Freedom Kabob.”

  17. Curtis

    Mike,
    Wow, you’re arguements are indefensible. You should try running for President.

  18. doug

    Curtis,

    For the love of all that is holy and logical, I plead with you, make up your mind.

    Do you hate America’s foreign policy (or just America) so much that you excuse Iranian terrorist activities?

    Or can you bring yourself to condemn Iranian terrorism?

  19. chavez's idiot

    Doug,
    How is Iran’s support of Hezbollah any different than the US support of Saddam in the 80′s? How is it different than US support of the Contra’s in Nicaragua? How is it different than our support of Israel in their merciless pounding of their neighbors? Logic begs one to stand back and take a look at the whole picture instead of just us against them. We’re just as bad and in my opinion worse than Iran in support of terrorism around the world.

  20. travis

    cole: It was apparently some Western wire service that mistranslated the phrase as ‘wipe Israel off the map’, which sounds rather more violent than calling for regime change.

    response by daniel treiman:

    There has, indeed, been a great deal of debate over how to translate Ahmadinejad’s now-infamous remark. University of Michigan historian Juan Cole and others have argued that “wiped off the map” is a mistranslation — a mistranslation, moreover, that is being used to beat the drums of war against Iran. “I smell the whiff of war propaganda,” Cole warned The New York Times.

    But if it is a mistranslation, it is one that is not the exclusive province of those who are concerned about the Iranian regime’s intentions and nuclear ambitions. In fact, as the Times’s Ethan Bronner noted, “All official translations of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s statement, including a description of it on his Web site (www.president.ir/eng/), refer to wiping Israel away.” (Bronner’s thorough analysis of the debate over Ahmadinejad’s words can be read in full here.)

    In any case, the most likely alternative translation would seem to be that Ahmadinejad actually called for Israel to be “wiped from the pages of time,” which is hardly more comforting.

    This whole debate, though, begs the question: Are there more benign interpretations of popular Iranian regime-endorsed chants like “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!”?

    i’m sure there are some benign persian idioms that would serve as better translations for those last — arguably troubling — chants.

    video of the ever-peaceful ahmadinejad leading his people in chanting the latter is here.

  21. chavez's idiot

    “Death to Israel” sounds horrible I admit, but it doesn’t mean Iran will do the killing. It means they look forward to the demise of the Zionist government which they believe will necessarily occur as a natural course of a malignant government that oppresses its’ Arab neighbors. Look at the whole picture and you’ll get it right.

  22. doug

    Death to Chavez’s Idiot!! Death to Chavez’s Idiot!!

    Of course, I do not wish any harm upon Chavez’s Idiot.

    I only look forward to the demise of the naive commenter on my blog, which will necessarily occur as a natural course of events.

    Inexperienced in the real world, you will find upon venturing outside your home that evil exists and bad people will take advantage of you. Unfortunately, by the time you are robbed, maimed, and left for dead it will be too late.

    Death to Chavez’s Idiot!! Death to Chavez’s Idiot!!

    Again, I only celebrate the inevitable, and do not wish you any harm.

    All the best,

    Doug

  23. Curtis

    Match the rhetoric with the facts on the ground and you’ll find that Iran is doing nothing to destroy Israel while Israel is doing much in preparation for destroying Iran. Get your head out of Flame and maybe you’ll learn something.

  24. Curtis

    At least Kucinich and Paul agree with me against the entire remainder of the US Government:

    “Dennis Kucinich, the colorful Cleveland congressman and longshot presidential candidate, has outraged Jewish leaders in Northeast Ohio by insisting that Iran’s anti-Zionist leader is not seeking to exterminate Israel.

    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is regarded by many in the western world as a menace with nuclear ambitions, who recently called for supporters of Israel to, among other things, “burn in the fire of the Islamic nations’ fury.” Kucinich, however, says another translation of that and other statements is that Ahmadinejad merely wants regime change in Israel, not death to its people and supporters.

    Jewish leaders say such a translation might be acceptable only if Kucinich ignored Ahmadinejad’s behavior, which includes torture of his own people, and Middle East history since Israel’s founding in 1948.”

  25. doug

    At least Kucinich and Paul agree with me against the entire remainder of the US Government

    No strings! No strings!

  26. Curtis

    You must be referring to the strings that AIPAC holds over the rest of the puppets in government. Astute observation.

  27. doug

    No, I was referring to this: