Sale of the Century




Sale of the Century

By: Kian Mokhtari

The Saudi rearmament plan seems to have gone well enough to provide the kingdom with new fighter jets, helicopter gunships and utility helicopters. The $60 billion procurement from Washington is the biggest in America's history.

The funds provided by Riyadh will go some way in assisting the beleaguered US defense industry back into the black, not to mention provide the US government with much needed revenues to put its economic house back in order. But sixty billion dollars is a long way off from the roughly sixty trillion-dollar debts incurred by Washington.

The hardware in question has been downgraded to appease Tel Aviv, which has received similar but more capable versions of the aircraft from the US. However the problem for Saudi Arabia remains a lack of local knowledge and ability to service and overhaul the equipment in question. An overreliance on foreign specialists and technicians will remain Riyadh's Achilles heel for the foreseeable future.

Also the much more up to date and stealth air superiority US fighters like the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II are strangely missing from the Saudi kingdom's wish list; while Tel Aviv's procurement of the Lightning VTOL fighter has even been funded by Washington.

Riyadh has traditionally received the very latest in weaponry from its American and European defense industry patrons. Raptor –for all intents and purposes- looks like a revamped, stealthy F-15 Eagle. It is a very capable machine designed to operate as a cog in a complex defensive network that include military satellites and ground signal stations. It is odd that the US has limited the production of F-22 Raptors to the US Air Force requirements. Although less capable versions may in time be sold to countries like Canada and Australia, the shift away from the sales of the very latest in the US arsenal even to allies like Arabia finally signals the death nail of the "Magnificent Seven" -let's help the peasants- policy, among the US politicians.

Washington is holding back on the sales of certain hardware in its arsenal even to its closest allies and brothers in arms in the English-speaking world at a time when Raptors could help fill the fiscal void in America's defense industrial complex. This does signal fresh strategic thinking but more importantly a shift away from "let's just keep going" –at any cost- mindset that has dominated the US foreign political thinking since General MacArthur's bash in Korea, back in the early 1950s.

A very strange state of affairs is taking hold within the US war machine's workings. Fighter and bomber squadrons are being disbanded at an unprecedented rate, logistics are being cut down and certain other military projects are being abandoned. Is this a sign of the sheer scale of Washington's economic hardship at the moment or can it be interpreted as an awareness in the US of the shape of things to come in terms of its future strategic abilities?

We are staring at a global economic watershed at present and it appears from the US maneuverings that America does not have the ability to forecast its own financial future and security with a clear enough degree of certainty. We can speculate that there is a financial grand plan in the making but unlike before the idea has not originated in the English-speaking world. So its details and parameters still need to be worked out.

In the meantime a stalemated state of affairs on all fronts will prevail where there are no fully fledged and firm drives in any direction in particular. What could possibly provide an answer is the UN Security Council permanent members-wide drive for alternative and renewable fuel technologies. Money from weapons' industry cutbacks is being channeled to green energies.

In such an environment it is very likely that the Western world's next pounce for global power is likely to arrive when reliance on fossil fuels has been reduced to a bare minimum domestically. But unlike in the past, the US will not be willing to tolerate equal partners in its next grand scheme for things; not even from among the Western ranks. Washington, it appears, has decided to OPENLY declare who will be first among equals.

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