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Posts Tagged ‘Saudi Arabia First’

Realism & Restraint American Soldiers Are Not Bodyguards for Saudi Royals

Posted by M. C. on December 6, 2019

Doesn’t anyone remember these are the people that did 9/11?


President Donald Trump believes in America First except when it comes to the Saudi royal family. Then it is Saudi Arabia first.

At the end of November, U.S. military leaders were in Riyadh negotiating the employment terms for the royal’s new bodyguards. That is, the plan for an expanded American military presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), including Patriot missiles, Sentinel radars, a THAAD air defense system, fighter aircraft, and other equipment, as well as personnel, who will eventually number around 3,000.

Why is the president, who has loudly insisted that allies do more to defend themselves, even more determined to handle Saudi Arabia’s security?

Of course, the royals themselves want American backing. Having grabbed control of their people’s wealth, they long have hired others to do the hard, unpleasant, and dangerous work—including the U.S. military.

The status-conscious KSA spends lavishly, especially on modern fighter jets. Last year Riyadh devoted $83 billion to the military. In 2017 defense expenditures ran $89 billion. That put the Kingdom in third place globally, after America and China. Alas, possession of fine equipment alone is not enough to ensure its good use.

In 2015 the Saudi regime attacked neighboring Yemen, one of the poorest nations on earth. De facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman, who became crown prince two years later, decided on war to reinstate a friendly ruler. Unfortunately, a campaign that was supposed to take a few weeks has lasted almost five years. Saudi pilots proved highly competent at slaughtering civilians, bombing weddings, funerals, hospitals, school buses, and markets. Humanitarian groups figure that three-quarters of the estimated 12,000 civilian deaths have resulted from air attacks—delivered by KSA aircraft provided, armed, guided, and, until recently, refueled by the U.S. The destruction of critical infrastructure has resulted in mass malnutrition and disease, which may have taken another 150,000 lives.

Nevertheless, the royals may prefer not to have a capable military, as it could threaten a system in which the few mulct the many. After all, who other than a prince receiving a state subsidy has much incentive to defend the corrupt, repressive, and decrepit monarchy? It might be worth joining the armed forces to collect a paycheck, but certainly not to risk one’s life on behalf of some man or woman (very) distantly related to the desert bandit named al-Saud who long ago defeated his rivals.

For the regime, the National Guard is most important, since its role is to protect the princely rulers from internal enemies. Also critical is the Pakistani military, which deploys upward of 20,000 troops in Saudi Arabia on “security duties.” Islamabad has found the arrangement to be profitable.

Although Trump criticized the Kingdom during the campaign, on taking office he promptly turned U.S. policy over to Riyadh. He apparently viewed the royals’ checks to munitions makers as de facto compensation for the Pentagon playing bodyguard. Yet the revenues are minor compared to America’s overall economy and offer little benefit to most Americans. Worse still, military cooperation entangles the U.S. in regional conflicts and Sunni-Shia confrontation, of which Yemen is the latest manifestation.

Now the U.S. role is further expanding. President Trump promised that the KSA would pay “100 percent of the cost” of the new deployment, but that doesn’t include the expense of creating the units being deployed. Even if it did, the Pentagon should not hire out personnel to rich states. The role of Americans in uniform should be to protect America, not to act as foreign mercenaries...

Washington’s tight embrace of the Saudi royals always was a mistake. The justification for even a looser association has dissipated over time. Today the relationship is frankly criminal, given the horrors being committed by Riyadh with U.S. assistance in Yemen.

The U.S. should bring its forces home from the Kingdom and shift Saudi Arabia’s defense burden back where it belongs, on the royal regime. If the president really believes in America First, he should stop putting Saudi Arabian interests before those of the U.S.

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Currency Rate in Pakistan: US Dollar, UK Pound, Saudi ...

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Trump Keeps Putting Saudi Arabia First – The Atlantic

Posted by M. C. on June 5, 2019

Israel…Saudi Arabia…Who’s on first?

It’s not US.

As President Donald Trump’s critics focus anew on whether he obstructed justice to thwart Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, a more flagrant abuse of presidential power is unfolding in plain sight.

For weeks, Trump has continued America’s involvement in the war in Yemen, siding with Saudi Arabia against Congress, the body that the Constitution vests with the power to declare war. The House last month approved a resolution, 247 to 175, directing the president to withdraw the U.S. from the war on Yemen. A bipartisan Senate majority had already approved the same resolution. And the American public has no appetite for a long war in Yemen.

On its own, waging war after an official call from Congress to stop doing so ought to be regarded as a violation of the Constitution that warrants impeachment.

But there’s even more to the Trump administration’s “Saudi Arabia First” foreign policy: Citing a provision in the Arms Export Control Act that allows the president to bypass the legislative approval process in an emergency, the administration is circumventing a block on arms sales to the Saudis.

“We have the constitutional duty to declare war and the responsibility to oversee arm sales that contravene our national security interests,” Democratic Senator Chris Murphy has complained. “If we don’t stand up to this abuse of authority, we will permanently box ourselves out of deciding who we should sell weapons to.”

Congress ought to eliminate the emergency provision. But the provision’s existence does not justify its invocation when there is no actual emergency. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the weapons are needed to deter Iran, but that hardly amounts to an immediate crisis.Daniel Larison notes:

The weapons that the U.S. sells to the Saudis and the UAE won’t be used to defend against a supposed Iranian threat, and they won’t be used for deterrence. We know very well that the Saudi and Emirati governments will use the weapons they obtain from the U.S. to continue waging an atrocious war against Yemen, and those weapons will very likely end up being used to kill civilians as so many other U.S.-made weapons have been. Trump is helping to fuel Saudi coalition aggression against a poor country that they have been wrecking and starving for more than four years. This will not avert a war with Iran, but it will help to keep the war on Yemen going.

Put succinctly, the Trump administration unlawfully defied Congress to extend American participation in a war in Yemen, and now it is defying America’s elected representatives again to funnel more weapons to that war’s ringleader.

It’s the legislature’s move.

Perhaps a lawsuit of the sort urged by some legal scholars who believe votes against wars cannot be constitutionally vetoed by the president would prove effective.

“I’m confident these new arms sales provides new momentum for pursuing legal action and legislation that would end U.S. involvement in the war,” Democratic Representative Ro Khanna stated on Twitter. “The lawsuit is important to uphold Congress’ constitutional War Powers & challenge President Trump’s veto of our Yemen WPR.”

But there is a more direct remedy available to Congress. So long as some of its members are invoking alleged obstruction of justice to justify impeachment proceedings, they ought to invoke abuse of the war power, too. The prospect of being removed from office is far more likely than even a successful lawsuit to deter this president and his successors from usurping the legislature’s authority.

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VIDEO: Abbott & Costello's "Who's on First" (Yu is ...


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