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American Soldiers Are Not Bodyguards for Saudi Royals

December 5, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

President Donald Trump believes in America First except when it comes to the Saudi royal family. Then it is Saudi Arabia first.

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At the end of November, U.S. military leaders were in Riyadh negotiating the employment terms for the royal’s new bodyguards. That is, the plan for an expanded American military presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), including Patriot missiles, Sentinel radars, a THAAD air defense system, fighter aircraft, and other equipment, as well as personnel, who will eventually number around 3,000.

Why is the president, who has loudly insisted that allies do more to defend themselves, even more determined to handle Saudi Arabia’s security?

Of course, the royals themselves want American backing. Having grabbed control of their people’s wealth, they long have hired others to do the hard, unpleasant, and dangerous work—including the U.S. military.

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The status-conscious KSA spends lavishly, especially on modern fighter jets. Last year Riyadh devoted $83 billion to the military. In 2017 defense expenditures ran $89 billion. That put the Kingdom in third place globally, after America and China. Alas, possession of fine equipment alone is not enough to ensure its good use.

In 2015 the Saudi regime attacked neighboring Yemen, one of the poorest nations on earth. De facto ruler Mohammed bin Salman, who became crown prince two years later, decided on war to reinstate a friendly ruler. Unfortunately, a campaign that was supposed to take a few weeks has lasted almost five years. Saudi pilots proved highly competent at slaughtering civilians, bombing weddings, funerals, hospitals, school buses, and markets. Humanitarian groups figure that three-quarters of the estimated 12,000 civilian deaths have resulted from air attacks—delivered by KSA aircraft provided, armed, guided, and, until recently, refueled by the U.S. The destruction of critical infrastructure has resulted in mass malnutrition and disease, which may have taken another 150,000 lives.

Nevertheless, the royals may prefer not to have a capable military, as it could threaten a system in which the few mulct the many. After all, who other than …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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