Sunday, November 21, 2010

U.S. $60 billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia Single Q&A with Noam Chomsky

a U.S. $60 billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia has been in the news lately, and given the dominance of the U.S. over most nations in the middle east, it appeared at first, to be a significant shift away from the U.S. imperial framework that we use to maintain control over the energy resources in the gulf. The core roles of the U.S. energy system is that Israel is our #1 client--they police the region, and the Saudis were given the role established by British planners prior to the 2nd world war. With other state power systems coming in and out of fashion but managed by the U.S. at various points in time. Given the established role of the Saudis to maintain a weak central government which could be protected by "gendarmes" in the case of attack or an internal revolt, I wondered if this 60 billion dollar arms deal would be a major shift away from the dominant order

I asked Noam Chomsky on this topic, and here was the response:

ER: It's my understanding that the weapons are not as advanced as what we send to Israel, but does this undermine the imperial framework established by the Franco-British empires and... inherited and expanded by the U.S? Is the tension between Israel and Saudi Arabia significant given their respective roles in the system? Is it a major policy shift to allow the Saudis greater internal military control?

NC: You’re right that the arms are not as advanced as what is sent to Israel, which doesn’t object to them. And it’s doubtful that they have any purpose beyond internal repression and tying Saudi Arabia more closely to the US, with more control by the US (training, logistic support, repair, etc.). It strengthens the imperial framework, in this sense. Israel and Saudi Arabia have been tacit allies since 1967, with rare shifts.