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Saudi Arabia

Awesome: Obama Shifts MidEast Balance of Power Away From Israel

Obama Triples US Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia. Just like the Deficit!!

A funny thing happened along the way to ‘containing’ Iran. Israel lost its historic military edge in the Middle East, and Obama tripled the Bush arms commitment to Saudi Arabia. Haha, the joke it appears is on us. In the last year of the Bush administration the US announced 3 major arms packages.

  1. 10 year, 30 Billion dollar arms commitment to Israel.
  2. 10 year, 20 Billion arms sale package to Saudi Arabia
  3. Multi billion dollar arms sale package to US Gulf allies.

Last year, I wrote that per capita (dollars spent per person) Israel was the largest defense spender on the planet. However, in raw dollar numbers Saudi Arabia was doubling us. According to the Economist, in 2009 Israel spent approximately 16 billion dollars on arms, roughly 3 billion of it coming from US military aid. Compared to the Saudis who spent an alarming 38 Billion dollars on weapons.

Alarm bells went off

Early on in the Obama administration Israel voiced serious concerns to the US at the highest levels. Commitments to Israel regarding arms packages had been broken, and top of the line advanced US weapons were being sold to Saudi Arabia, including guided weapons, smart bombs, and advanced fighter aircraft as part of their 20 billion dollar package under Bush.

Senior sources in the current U.S. administration, and senior officials at the foreign and defense ministries in Israel, have suggested that during the last year of the Bush administration the U.S. sold advanced military equipment to moderate Arab states – Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. The Americans justified the arms sales with the need to bolster these countries against the perceived threat posed by Iran.

In an address before the National Jewish Democratic Council, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, commented on the matter. “We discovered that the qualitative edge of the IDF has been eroded,” Oren said. “We came to the Obama administration and said: ‘Listen, we have a problem.’”

According to Oren the response of the Obama administration was positive and immediate. “They said they are going to deal with this matter and ensure that the qualitative edge of the IDF is preserved,” he said. “Since then we have embarked on a dialog [on preserving the IDF's qualitative edge].” [...]

The results?

The Obama administration and democrats tried to make hay implying that Bush was not Israel’s friend, rather Obama is. They were going to fix this. This week it all came gushing out. Today Israel announced it was agreeing to pick up approximately 20 F35 JSF fighter from the US in a 3 billion dollar deal, in order to ostensibly ‘maintain our qualitative edge’.

At the same time, last week the Saudi’s were reported to have agreed to purchasing 84 new F15 fighters from the US in a 30 billion dollar arms deal. As the big fix to allay Israel, Obama had agreed to keep some of the long range weaponry destined to the Saudis out of their deal..

Wait for it.. Today the other shoe dropped.

The Saudi deal swelled, doubling to 60 BILLION DOLLARS over the next 10 years. Throwing in on top of the 84 F15s, an additional 130+ attack helicopters – Some 60 of them advanced Apache gunships, plus US Blackhawks. This will bring the Saudi air-force well above the 200 mark for advanced F15s, and dwarf Israel’s attack helicopter fleet by a factor of about 3.

Obama came through all right..

He in theory cut some of the munitions & systems going to the Saudis, and instead TRIPLED the 20 billion dollar Bush commitment turning it into a 60 billion dollar arms orgy.

One that will see Israel numbers wise outgunned, outspent, and in theory possibly outmatched in the next 15 years. Shifting the balance of power in the Middle East, a balance which was already tilting of late away from Israel toward Iran & terrorists.

Containing Iran is costing us dearly indeed, and they have not even developed the nuclear weapons yet.

Unlikely Allies: Has Iran’s Nuclear Threat Forged a Secret Israeli Saudi Détente?

Denials abound, but so do the many causal links & leaks..

Signs: Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia align

When Obama’s administration first tabled the ideology behind its mid east peace efforts, a core argument was the driving need to take advantage of what was termed ‘a rare opportunity for consensus’. The argument was that the Iranian rush to nuclear technology which must be stopped, had created a rare spot of common ground for often feuding parties all around the Middle East. I recall Senator Kerry, head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee waxing lyrically about it at the time, and the need to urgently re-examine the Saudi Peace Plan as a result.

A policy of convenient linkage was put forward by the White House quite publically - The peace process was key to solving the Iranian riddle, and as such a massive effort toward Palestinian Israeli engagement was necessary. The Saudi’s weren’t all that interested however, they rejected the notion that forging Palestinian peace was a pre-requisite to stopping Iran. They further quickly doused any talk of concessions to Israel, a key component of Obama’s linkage plan.

Israel also rejected the notion, Netanyahu in fact argued the opposite linkage. The only way to facilitate an eventual peace he said was to remove a main instigator preventing peace, Iran – World’s most prolific sponsor of terror, and patron of the Hezbollah & Hamas radical Islamic terror groups. All three openly sworn to Israel’s destruction.

Thus, in a most backhand manner, it appeared that there was indeed Saudi Israeli consensus. Consensus which was shared with Egypt as well, that Iran must be stopped and more effort toward that goal was needed. The quiet consensus seemingly emerged that America was not being aggressive enough toward that goal. We heard rumblings about it after expansive tours of the Gulf by Sec Def. Gates & Admiral Mullen, the senior US defense officials sent by Obama to brief Gulf leaders.

Signs: The Saudi Strike Path

Not once, but twice now we have heard rumors involving the Saudis spill over into the international press. Rumors regarding possible overflights Israel might employ to cut the distance involved striking the Iranian nuclear weapons programs.  Both rumors linked talks with Israel’s Mossad chief Meir Dagan, and the Sauds possibly turning a blind eye to any Israeli aircraft which might be headed to Iran across the vast Saudi deserts & kingdom.

On both occasions, these rumors were flatly denied by both the Saudis & Israel. Of course, that would be the case whether they were based in reality or not. If anything even in the best case scenario this would be a marriage of convenience, not love or lust that is for certain. But, against the odds another compelling sign has emerged.

Signs: Saudi Largess

The House of Saud is on a military spending binge, a world leading one at that. They are buying up tens of billions of dollars worth of military hardware, a lot of it is advanced US equipment. Israel doth protest, but not all that loudly which suggests a tacit understanding on the international level of sorts that these weapons and systems are not aimed at the holy land. This last point I am arguing may seem somewhat weak in the signs department, but I’ll up the ante and solidify the link by bringing in Russia.

Israel, assisted somewhat by the USA has been vigorously petitioning Russia not to sell Iran advanced Russian S-300 Anti Aircraft missile systems. This has been ongoing for a few years. Escalating to the point where Israel has in its own leaks & rumors threatened that such a weapons system delivery to Iran, could spur an immediate Israeli strike. Clearly, the issue is regarded with the utmost of seriousness as such weapons in Iran could remove a strike option from the table entirely. Thankfully we can suddenly add Russia to the pot of Israeli & Saudi interests seemingly converging.

The Saudi S-400s

When Israel most recently petitioned the Russians (again) about the S-300, the Ruskies were rumored to have replied something along the lines of.. ‘If you don’t want us delivering these S-300s to Iran, why don’t you buy them from us instead?

The implication being clear enough. The Iranian contract was lucrative, but the Russians might be prepared to take the billion plus dollars such a sale would ring up for them someplace else. That sticker price however is a bit steep for Israel to absorb, especially since such a system cannot be integrated into Israel’s defenses which are based entirely on Israeli & American design.


Video: Saudis Buying S-400s?

Which brings us oddly enough back to the Saudis. Their systems and the many billions of dollars more they have pledged to purchase are also mostly American designs. Which makes their recent moves to purchase a big S-400 order from Russia quite interesting. Unlike Israel, the Saudis can afford a billion here or there to prevent the delivery of said missiles to Iran. Maybe the offer was to Israel, but in the interests of détente in the face of a common threat - the Saudis have yet again come in to close the deal on keeping the pressure on Iran.

Hope & ShortChange: Obama’s Entire Foreign Policy Reset Fails to Boot (Video)

American Policy Still ‘Stuck On Stupid’

In Lebanon Hezbollah is set to return to full status-quo, and will soon be given control of at least 1/3rd of Lebanon’s government. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the US Administration to tout the glories of Obama’s Cairo speech in achieving this ‘amazing’ result however, as it is too early to celebrate because Hezbollah figures it can get even MORE!

In Syria, a flurry of diplomatic American concessions have resulted in no hope and even less change. In Israel massive pressure has failed to move the Israeli government or public toward Obama’s initiatives, if anything relations have soured. Upcoming settlement deals leave out Jerusalem entirely and look very similar from what we can see so far.. to the deal negotiated with Former President Bush, the one that Clinton & Obama claimed never existed.

There’s some success here somewhere, we just have to dig & find it

On the Palestinian side, positions thanks to Obama have hardened. The Palestinians have delusionally decided to wait for the US President to deliver Israel to them.. Good luck with that. In latin America the US has thrown a former small ally Honduras to the curb, while propping up the commie strongman Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. In Asia the North Koreans have tested a nuclear weapon, missiles, and have only just begun to test the new American president himself.

In Europe, there has been no additional support for the Afghan mission whatsoever. The Czechs & Polish are feeling slighted over Obama’s appeasement of Russia in relation to missile defense, and in return for the American appeasement the Russians have delivered zilch. Despite the bow seen round the world, the Saudis sent Mr. Obama packing and rejected Obama’s peace process reset out of hand. They followed that up by doing so on TV for all to see, at the White House yet!

The War on Terror has been erased from the American lexicon. It is now known as “overseas contingency operations”, lest someone who is Muslim be offended by the fact that 99.95% of all terrorism is carried out by.. fellow Muslims.

As for Iran? They have pulled their nuclear program off the table of any negotiation past present or future. Instead they have offered to have televised debates between President Obama & Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, one imagines in order to milk America for even more legitimacy than Obama has already bestowed on the rogue regime. Woohoo!

President or Avon Lady?

When one considers all this foreign policy success, the words train wreck come to mind. It may be time to Reset the Reset, as Obama’s operating system is now failing to boot completely. Jackson Diehl writes in the WP..

[...] In fact, one of the emerging lessons of the Obama administration’s foreign policy might be summed up as follows: The idea that presidential “direct diplomacy” with actors such as Chávez, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Il or Fidel Castro is feasible or likely to produce results is, well, naive.

It’s not that Obama hasn’t tried. According to reports in the Iranian media he has dispatched two letters to Iran’s supreme cleric, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He has sent multiple high-level envoys to meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. Shortly after the administration took office, a new special representative for North Korea publicly offered bilateral negotiations to Pyongyang; former president Bill Clinton later met dictator Kim with the administration’s sanction. Obama graciously accepted Chávez’s gift of a stridently anti-American book and later dispatched a new ambassador to Caracas. He lifted some sanctions on Cuba. The problem is that none of this has brought any results.

Remember When? Obama’s foreign policy in a nutshell (Video)
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Back in reality, Ralph Peters writes in the NY Post: Bam Vs Democracy

[...] if Obama thinks that handing over a “little” country he couldn’t find on a map is going to win him enduring applause and cooperative friends in Latin America, he’s crazy. What he’s actually doing is frightening our friends. If democratic governments south of the border can’t rely on US support, to whom can they turn?

The increasingly left-wing tone from the White House may be satisfying to ideological activists, but it’s doing tremendous damage to the cause of freedom in our hemisphere.

Not to worry though because the cheerleaders are still out in force despite the fact the home team is getting shellacked. The NY Times, the LA Times, the major networks, most of cable news – American media is still touting the great One! You rarely hear anything about these massive failures. Domestically these media outlets are too busy providing cover for the disastrous health-care, stimulus, and soaring deficits Obama has racked up.

American policy may be stuck on stupid, but not the American people. Obama’s polling has taken a leap off the side of Mt Rushmore. He’s falling faster in polling than any US President in history. How many more times will he be able to hit the reset button on the way down before the big splat is the big question now?

Update: I fixed the H in Jackson Diehl’s name, I keep putting it in the wrong place. This is at least the 4th time I’ve had to fix the guy’s name here in posts the last few months. Credit to him for writing good stuff worth linking. Sorry Jackson, I’d say it won’t happen again but heck it’s habit already ; )

Cost of Living: Israel Leads the World in Per Capita Defense Spending

Pound for Pound – US Aid constitutes less than 1/4 of Israeli Military expenditures..

Much is often made of the US military aid Israel receives, chiefly from Arabists and leftists who oppose all aid to Israel regardless if it is military, or economic as was previously the case. Israel and the US began phasing out all economic based aid starting in the last Netanyahu administration, quite a few years ago. Today, the USA sends Israel approx 3 billion dollars per annum in military aid, of that number 80% of the dollars must be spent with US companies which in effect provides stimulus for both Israel and the US, with the bulk of those billions going back to US military contractors and US based jobs.

As a function of Israel’s GDP, this aid constitutes a small percentage (I think the figure is 2 0r 3%) of Israel’s economic output, and as evidenced by the Economist, Israel does plenty of much needed spending all by itself as well..

Israel was the top defense spender relative to its population in 2008, with the government shelling out more than $2,300 per person, over $300 more than the US, which boasts the second largest ratio, the Economist reported on Monday. According to the report, Israel’s total defense expenditure was $16.2 billion for the year.

The US is by far the largest overall defense spender, with expenses running to some $607 billion, 41.5 percent of the $1.46 trillion spent on defense needs worldwide in 2008.

China emerged as a growing military spender, increasing its expenditure by 10% in 2008 to $85 billion to overtake other countries and become the second-largest global spender behind the US.  Saudi Arabia and the oil rich states of the Gulf also increased their outlay, with the Saudis spending $38.2 billion, which is sixth in terms of population and ninth overall

The bulk of Israel’s expenditures come out of Israel’s economy, and not US Aid as is commonly envisioned by detractors. Despite the world leading per capita figures in Israel, the Saudis outspent us by 2 to 1..  So peace is clearly just around the bend, which must be why the Saudis are calling for the USA to terminate military aid to Israel entirely in order to help out their Palestinian ‘friends’.

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