Is the Trump/Saudi Arabia Arms Deal Good or Bad for the U.S.?
President Eisenhower said the following over 50 years ago about the military-industrial complex.
"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist."
President Trump just signed a 350 billion deal to provide arms to Saudi Arabia for the next 10 years of which 110 billion will start immediately. Is this the new military-industrial complex that Eisenhower was talking about?
What Is the Purpose of This Deal?
The purpose of the deal is twofold. One, it provides arms to Saudi Arabia to defend themselves against their enemies and threats and two, it is supposed to create thousands of jobs for Americans. The 110 billion that will start immediately is earmarked for Air and Missile Defense: Systems such as Patriot and THAAD that will help Saudi Arabia protect itself and the region from missile or other airborne attacks.
What Is the THAAD Missile System?
THAAD stands for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense. It is a medium range missile that brings down incoming missiles when they reach their terminal altitude by colliding with them. It does not carry a war head, therefore; it is called a "kinetic kill" technology. Currently, the U.S. is deploying them in South Korea as a defense against North Korea's missiles.
Lockheed Martin in Alabama is the prime contractor for THAAD with many subcontractors supporting the program. It is not known at this time how many new jobs this will create here or in Saudi Arabia.
Eric Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, sealed the deal between The Saudi's and Lockheed Martin by getting a discount on the cost of the systems.
What Is Included in the Deal?
The following is from Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson's official web site:
- "Border Security and Counter Terrorism": Capabilities such as aerostats, tanks, artillery, counter-mortar radars, armored personnel carriers, helicopters, and associated training that will enable Saudi Arabia to secure its borders against terrorist and other threats.
- Maritime and Coastal Security: Capabilities that will enable Saudi Arabia to defend freedom of navigation and to deter and defend against maritime attacks or incursions. Systems include Multi-Mission Surface Combatant ships, helicopters, patrol boats, and associated weapons systems.
- Air Force Modernization: Systems, sustainment, and training that will enable Saudi Arabia to maintain airborne surveillance, secure its airspace, and provide close air support with improved precision targeting capabilities and processes. Systems include transport, light close air support, intelligence-gathering aircraft, and continuing support for its existing platforms.
- Air and Missile Defense: Systems such as Patriot and THAAD that will help Saudi Arabia protect itself and the region from missile or other airborne attacks.
- Cybersecurity and Communications: Equipment that will modernize Saudi Arabia's command and control networks across its military to improve its overall cohesion and operational effectiveness."
The Good and the Bad
From all of my research, it is unclear at this time how many new jobs will be created here or in Saudi Arabia as a result of the deal. Although Trump has stated, it will create thousands of new jobs, it is hard to get any kind of commitment or hard numbers from the contractors involved according to my research.
What Trump has done is trade arms for money. Some of Obama's deals with the Saudi's have not been fulfilled as of yet, but Obama wanted to stay at a distance with the Saudi's because he did not want to jeopardize the Iran Nuclear Deal. Trump on the other hand has taken sides with the Saudi's against its enemies.
Who Are the Saudi's Enemies?
To understand who the Saudi's enemies are you need to know how the major religious groups are aligned in the Middle East. There are three major religious groups: Sunni, Shia, and Kurds.
Sunni - Saudi Arabia, Syria, ISIS, and Palestine
Shia - Iraq, Iran, Yemen
Kurds - Parts of Iraq and Syria
Jewish - Israel
Notice, that the Saudi's and ISIS are both Sunni's. Notice also that Trump has taken sides with Saudi's, but that our enemy is ISIS. How is that going to be handled? Also, Trump has stated that the common enemy for all countries in the region is Iran. How is that going to work for the Iran nuclear deal?
Currently, the Saudi's use our military supplied arms to attack the Houtis in Yemen who are Shia. Iran are also Shia. It should be noted, that these countries don't pay allegiance to their countries borders, but to their religious sects. With Trump taking sides, with the Saudi Sunni's and ISIS being Sunni's, there is a definite conflict of interest. We can't be allied with Saudi Arabia Sunni's and at the same time taking out the ISIS Sunni's...or can we?
Flashback to the 1960's
In the 1960's, the cold war with the Soviet Union was at its peak. Many defense contractors were in the business of building weapon systems to detect and defend any type of Soviet invasion.
Defense contractors employed literally millions of people who were paid to build these systems and then spend part of their earning in the mainstream of the economy. This helped bolster the economy. Is Trump's plan to do the same thing with the 350 billion or is he going to use it to build his wall? We will have to wait and see how this unfolds.