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Selling military hardware and technology

Now it is time to be scared. Trump is not just selling a record amount of military hardware to the Saudis, as has been widely reported, but he is also selling something more.

I am not anti-Saudi. I think their foreign minister is absolutely brilliant, and that they have legitimate reasons to be concerned about Yemen. 

But much of the new military hardware we are about to supply to the Saudis is going to be used, not for defense, but for offense in Yemen to support the regime that they prefer. 

That is not to say that the Houthi are in any way beneficial to the populace of Yemen, much less the larger world, but that any more lethal action is certainly not beneficial to the populace of Yemen either. More military hardware means more war, not less. 

As a young student son of an English professor, I was taught that “if discussion of a gun is introduced into a narrative, fictional or not, that gun must necessarily be fired.” Thankfully, that has not happened with nuclear weapons so far, but given North Korea, I worry that my mother’s admonition may still hold.

 

So the Saudis will have more bombs to drop and more ways to drop them, but that is not my biggest concern. My concern is the quietly reported but major issue that the attack helicopters they are buying are to be built in Saudi Arabia with our technology. It is unclear what other technologies are being sold as well. 

Exporting our U.S.-manufactured military hardware is already against what I consider to be in our country’s best interest, but to sell the technology needed to build these incredible devices of war to an ally who may not always be an ally is like giving your winning hand of cards over to your opponent and then betting on your own loss.

Why has the media, so good at controversy, failed to seize upon what seems to me to be a glaring issue?

 

It is by our technology and the skills to execute it that we are the greatest nation on the planet. Why would we sell this advantage for a few bucks that we will soon expend, as Rex Tillerson has already said, on more hardware for ourselves?

We need to think these things out. Even as a child I always wondered why we did not build self-destruct mechanisms into any aircraft or tank we sold to the larger world, or even those built for our own use, to protect against a rogue power using our own hardware against us. But to teach other nations how to build our amazing hardware is a version of self-castration. 

The reader should remember that the hand-held rocket launchers used in East Africa to down western aircraft were American Stingers. The same is true for much of the military arsenal used against us in Afghanistan. 

We demonstrated our own idiocy in arming the Mujahideen in their effort to combat the then-invading Russians, who eventually and wisely abandoned their attempted conquest. They did so for reasons not likely related to the hardware we provided. But the hardware remained.

The Middle East has become a chess game with no rules and too many potential moves for even IBM’s Watson to compute. It is my opinion that more gunpowder is not likely to solve any of the world’s problems, only exacerbate them. 

Teaching other nations how to make ever more powerful “gunpowder” is but an exercise in degrading our own military advantage, and not in the name of peace, which is my objective personally.

 

Philip Truax is a third-generation resident of Sharon who holds a Master’s in Divinity from Yale and built Mohawk Internet and Sharon Computer. He has four sons, all of whom attended HVRHS. He writes for a local audience from a liberal viewpoint. Address replies to The Lakeville Journal or to viewpoint@philiptruax.com.