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US should not provide arms to Saudis

President George Bush has recently announced a $20 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia to enable the friendly regime in that country to defend itself from aggressors like Saddam Hussein. I think this is a very bad policy.

Saudi Arabia has no semblance of any kind of democracy. It is a country where brutal suppression of women is accepted as a way of life even by human rights groups like Amnesty International. It is a country with a per capita income of about $10,000, but with no good educational system or any industry or efforts to develop agriculture worth mentioning. It is a country where the king and his cronies have been gouging a large chunk of the oil income and wasting it on guns and other things that bring no improvement to the lives of the ordinary Saudis. If President Bush expects any credibility to his comment that Saddam Hussein squandered the oil income of Iraq on arms and that he brought no development to his people (which is completely true), he should not go ahead with this deal.

Even from the American strategic point of view this is a very bad move. Remember the days of the Shah, when Iran had a friendly regime? When the United States happily shipped F-14s and other defensive weapons? What happened 10 years later? Ayatollah Khomeini took over and Iran became hostile. American-made equipment was used in the war with Iraq, on whose side the United States stood for the first half of the war.

It looks like nothing has been learned. The whole problem lies in the tendency to arm the friendly side to the teeth whenever a crisis flares up. The point that today's crisis is the result of yesterday's arms exports is either forgotten or ignored.

It is unfortunate that some honest lawmakers are so shortsighted that they don't see the consequences of the arms exports of the last decade. It is disgusting that some lawmakers exploit the opportunity to make cheap money in these deals at the cost of increasing international tensions. Even if 20 percent of this deal and an equivalent one with Israel trickles down to ordinary people in this country, it is only $30 per person and that is spread over several years.

Now that Saudi Arabia is buying so much, Israel will buy even more and thus the squandering of the earnings of ordinary people by their so-called leaders will continue with US acquiescence.

Sasi K. Digavalli G->