America’s Arms Sales Addiction

U.S. dominance of the Middle Eastern weapons trade has a 50 year history.

By William Hartung and cross-posted from Asia Times.

It’s no secret that Donald Trump is one of the most aggressive arms salesmen in history. How do we know? Because he tells us so at every conceivable opportunity.

It started with his much exaggerated “$110 billion arms deal” with Saudi Arabia, announced on his first foreign trip as president of the United States. It continued with his White House photo op with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in which he brandished a map with a state-by-state rundown of American jobs supposedly tied to arms sales to the kingdom. And it has never ended. In his years in office, in fact, the president has been a staunch advocate for his good friends at Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and General Dynamics – the main corporate beneficiaries of the US-Saudi arms trade (unlike the thousands of American soldiers the president recently sent into that country’s desert landscapes to defend its oil facilities).

All the American arms sales to the Middle East have had a severe and lasting set of consequences in the region in, as a start, the brutal Saudi/United Arab Emirates war in Yemen, which has killed thousands of civilians via air strikes using US weaponry and pushed millions of Yemenis to the brink of famine. And don’t forget the recent Turkish invasion of Syria in which both the Turkish forces and the Kurdish-led militias they attacked relied heavily on US-supplied weaponry.

Donald Trump has made it abundantly clear that he cares far more about making deals for that weaponry than who uses any of it against whom. It’s important to note, however, that, historically speaking, he has been anything but unique in his obsession with promoting such weapons exports (though he is uniquely loud about doing so)

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