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article imageOp-Ed: US pushing more arms sales to US Gulf allies

By Ken Hanly     Dec 7, 2013 in Politics
Manama - US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was busy in Manama, Bahrain's capital, opening the door for friendly US allies in the area to buy missile defense and other weapons systems to counter Iranian ballistic missiles.
A peace deal with Iran does not mean that the military-industrial complex need worry about a slump in sales. As well as being a world leader in policing the world, the US is the leading world arms dealer. In a speech Saturday (Dec. 7) Hagel stressed that the deal to limit Iran's nuclear program did not mean that the security threat was over. No doubt a continuing arms race will act as a stimulus program for arms makers as cuts to military appropriations can be countered by increased exports. He assured the Gulf leaders at the same time that US military commitment in the area would continue.
Hagel said: "I am under no illusions, like all of you, about the daily threats facing this region, or the current anxieties that I know exist here in the Gulf. These anxieties have emerged as the United States pursues diplomatic openings on some of the region's most difficult problems and most complex issues, including Iran's nuclear program and the conflict in Syria."
However, Hagel then went on to stress that military might was the key to successful diplomacy: "We know diplomacy cannot operate in a vacuum, Our success will continue to hinge on America's military power, and the credibility of our assurances to our allies and partners in the Middle East that we will use it." If this theory is correct then the obvious move for Iran is to also increase its military might including a surreptitious development of nuclear weapons as Israel has done.
Hagel was speaking at the Manama Dialogue, an annual international security forum. At one point, Hossein Mousavian, a scholar at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs asked Hagel why he "didn't mention a single word about the major threat of nuclear bombs in the region, which is Israel." Hagel's non-answer changes the subject. He pointed out that Iran is in violation of "many United Nations resolutions." Does Hagel think that Israel is not?
In order to reassure the leaders of US commitment to the area Hagel spoke of all the US military forces in the area, including more than 35,000 air, land, and sea forces around the Gulf. These included 10,000 army troops, advanced fighter jets, as well as sophisticated surveillance and intelligence systems. The US also has a broad missile defense system including Patriot missile batteries, radar, and ships. He did not say how much all of this was costing the US taxpayer.
Hagel wants the US to be able to sell arms to the Gulf Cooperation Council(GCC). This would allow them to have coordinated radars, sensors, and early warning missile defense systems. Of course it would also tie their systems into the US military-industrial complex of suppliers. The GCC is the group that sent troops into Bahrain where Hagel was speaking to help put down protests by the Shia majority.
Hagel met with Bahraini rule King Hamad al-Khalifa but not with the opposition. He is said to have discussed with him “the importance of political inclusiveness for long term stability.” Lately, the US has played down the continuing crackdown on dissent in Bahrain and contented itself with mild rhetorical denunciations when any comment is made at all.
Khalid al-Marzooq, a senior opposition leader and member of the al-Wefaq political faction said that the government continues to crack down on dissent with impunity:“The U.S. should not build a relationship just with the ruling elite, but with the people, There has to be a clear message from the Americans to the leadership here that they have to move into a more inclusive society, a more inclusive system.”
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about Chuck hagel, US arms sales, Military industrial coomplex
 
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