Monday, July 30, 2007
GUNS FOR PEACE?
More weapons will help bring peace? When in the course of human history has building stocks of weapons ever led to a more peaceful world? The recent announcement by U.S. Secretary of State Rice to send more military aid to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Middle Eastern countries defies all logic and reason.
Our growing fear of Iran is used as the excuse to send more than $50 billion in military assistance and weapons in order to “stabilize” Iraq. They say that if we bolster the forces of moderation in the region that it will serve as a hedge against al Qaeda and Hezbollah. One cannot ask the obvious question as to where these more militant groups get their weapons and what is to prevent them from getting even more?
If history is any lesson this move must be labeled absurd. We gave the Taliban weapons to fight the former Soviet Union. We gave weapons to Panama’s Noriega. Many U.S weapons are killing people in Darfur. Probably half of the arms in Africa are American made. What ever happened to the weapons we gave to the former Shah of Iran? The build up of weapons has never, in the long term, stabilized any place on the planet.
Iran is not particularly happy over the weapons increase and Israel, even though their military assistance from the U.S. will reach record numbers, is not particularly thrilled with the arms deals either. What is to prevent any of the nations to which weapons are being given from turning those weapons on the U.S.? Will the Saudi Monarchy last forever? Is Egypt really that politically stable? It would seem a much wiser course of action to try to eliminate the shipment of all arms to the Middle East rather then to add more ammunition, literally, to the most politically unstable place on the planet.
Much of the weapons package must be approved by the U.S. Congress. It will certainly be interesting to see the reaction from this Democrat controlled institution. Will they buy into the Bush Administration approach of guns, guns and more guns? Is it even remotely possible that the Congress might decide to use funding that would go to the crazed Middle East to help the victims from Hurricane Katrina? Victims that are little better off than they were several years ago. Instead of guns, is the Congress willing to invest in food aid, housing, better jobs and health care for all? How about using some of that money towards improving our capability to respond to future environmental disasters? In my new book, RAPING LOUISIANA: A DIARY OF DECEIT (to be released by Cambridge Books late fall), a first hand account is given of the overall government ineptitude in handling responses to large scale catastrophes. Given now accepted climate change scenarios, can any of this money for more bombs and missiles be used instead to reduce greenhouse gasses and support non-polluting and renewable energy?
The end result of building and supplying more weapons has historically been the use of those weapons. Oftentimes, they are used against the supplier. If Congress approves all of these arms deals, then perhaps we deserve the fruits of our labor.