Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Contradictory Connections: U.S. Rhetoric and the Money Flow

So the Obama Administration is urging the leadership in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to show restraint when responding to the civil rights movements that have been pushing on across Northern Africa, and specifically in Bahrain.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has been Tunisia and Egypt, speaking to the uprisings in Bahrain specifically. From

Clinton called the situation "alarming" and said Bahrain and neighbors were on "the wrong track" by trying to quell unrest with troops instead of reform. Bahrain's majority Shia population has been chafing for years under the absolute rule of a Sunni monarchy and, emboldened by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, has begun to more forcefully call for changes.

"We have deplored the use of force," Clinton told reporters in Cairo before flying to Tunis. "We have said not only to the Bahrainis but to our Gulf partners that we do not think security is the answer to what is going on."

Clinton's focus on Bahrain stems from their government's recent crackdown on the uprisings. This from
Al Jazeera English:

Note from the video @0:45, "More than a thousand troops pouring in from Saudi Arabia." So we call for restraint on the part of these government forces, yet the U.S. has direct ties to Saudi Arabia's military.

Back in 2010, the U.S. announced plans to sell up to $60 billion worth of military aircraft to Saudi Arabia. The
rationale for the sale:

Vershbow and Shapiro both stressed that bolstering Saudi Arabia's own defense capabilities would improve U.S. security in a vital part of the world where fears are growing over Iran's nuclear program.

"This is not solely about Iran," Shapiro said. "It's about helping the Saudis with their legitimate security needs ... they live in a dangerous neighborhood and we are helping them preserve and protect their security."

Vershbow said the sale would improve Saudi Arabia's ability to coordinate with the United States on shared security challenges "so it means we may have to station fewer forces on a continuing basis in the region."

Even if this sale was for militaristic aircrafts and not smaller arms used on the ground (like those seen recently in Bahrain), one can clearly see the connections between military contractors in the U.S. with Saudi Arabia's government. The contradictions are obvious enough. If we do not want Saudi Arabia to partake in the violent crackdown on citizens who are fighting for democratic rights, we should not be selling them the means to carry out violent crackdowns.

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