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September 18, 1992 - Image 32

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-09-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Of The F-15 Sale

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JAMES D. BESSER

Washington Correspondent

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32

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 1992

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he most dangerous
aspect of the proposed
sale of 72 advanced
F-15 jets to Saudi Arabia is
that there is no strategic
need for it.
The Saudis don't par-
ticularly want the expensive
American planes and, with
the collapse of the Soviet
Union and the military
defeat of Iraq, they have no
pressing need for them.
Rather, the operative motive
here is American economics,
and thus, American politics.
The justification for this
sale has everything to do
with the sorry state of
McDonnell-Douglas, the
producers of the F-15, the
sorry state of the American
economy and the worrisome
state of the Bush campaign.
Since politics and the
economy are linked in so
many ways, the sale has to
do with presidential politics
—never a good incubator for
the creation of sound inter-
national policy.
In extensive lobbying in
recent months, McDonnell-
Douglas has argued effec-
tively that it needs the Saudi
sale to keep its assembly
lines open, thus preserving
thousands of American jobs
that would otherwise be lost.
That is a compelling
argument for aerospace
workers hard hit by massive
post-Cold War defense cut-
backs and by a recession
that just won't let go.
It is even more compelling
for their representatives in
Congress, who risk accusa-
tions that they are fostering
unemployment if they throw
a legislative monkey wrench
into the works, and for a
president who is belatedly
trying to show his concern
for American workers as he
fights for his political life.
The plain fact is that the
only justification for the cur-
rent Saudi sale — indeed,
the only justification the
administration is making
with any vigor — is the
economic one, and its polit-
ical corollary.
In the short term, the pro-
posed Saudi sale probably
does not represent a military
threat to Israel.
The F-15 package, which
has been scaled back
somewhat to ease Israeli
anxieties, will be accom-
panied by a broad effort to
develop new U.S.-Israeli
programs that will assure

Israel's qualitative military )
edge — compensation that r\_
will be well received in )
Jerusalem.
But on another level, what
really matters are
motives behind the Saudi /
sale, and the precedents it
might set.
The Saudi sale is good for
the American economy, for
American workers; if we
don't sell our F-15s to the
Saudis, countries like
England and France will
gladly supply their x
weaponry, and our economic --
problems will only deepen.
This, in turn, becomes the \,
kind of political problem E: n
/
that makes any politician's
blood run cold. Pro-Israel ac-
tivists understood these
I,
grim calculations and wisely
choose not to mount a seri- c _J
ous effort to prevent the sale. n
This is something new in r=
American foreign policy.
All arms sales to foreign
governments represent a po-
litical decision, and most
arms sales are given a boost

To what extent will
we seek to rescue F )
our ailing economy
by igniting arms
races in other parts
of the world?

by the implied economic c------(11
argument.
Are we now entering an
era in which we will sell
weapons to the highest
bidder, in the absence of any
serious strategic considera-
tions? It seems petty to say
it, but that would put us in
the select group of countries
like North Korea, who will
sell Scud missiles to any
third-world strongman with ,
some available cash.
To what extent will we 7 -,
seek to rescue our ailing
economy by igniting arms
races in other parts of the
world?
This new dimension in
American arms sales clearly
flies in the face of the ad-
ministration's contention
that arms control in ex-
plosive regions like the Mid-
dle East must become a top
priority.
But with our sputtering `--)
economy and our sputtering ,)
political system, short-term
politics and short-sighted
economics are the order of
the day. If the pattern per-
sists, the results could be
grim for the people of the
Middle East.



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