GAO Accuses Bush, Obama and Congress of Careless Arms Sales to Persian Gulf

Friday, October 01, 2010
Goerge Bush holding hands with Saudi King Abdullah
The White House and Congress should do a better job of considering the foreign policy implications of making billion-dollar arms sales to the Middle East, says the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
The report reviewed sales from 2005-2009 to the Persian Gulf states of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar, all of which are allies of the United States, but none of which meets the standards of a modern democracy. The U.S. made arms transfers to the region using two programs: Foreign Military Sales, which are overseen by the Department of Defense, and commercial sales, which are reviewed by the Department of State. For all such sales to be approved, Defense and State are supposed to prove that the sales advance U.S. foreign policy and national security goals.
However, the GAO determined that in most cases no such determination was made, and it questioned whether the deals really were in the national interest of the United States. In its report the watchdog agency remarked: “U.S. priorities are not consistently considered before such sales are authorized.”
The assessment comes at a time when the Obama administration is proposing to sell $4.2 billion in weapons to Iraq, including 18 F-16 fighter jets, Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, laser-guided bombs and reconnaissance equipment. The administration also wants to deliver an even larger package of aircraft and defense equipment to Saudi Arabia, worth more than $60 billion.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
Audit Finds Flaws in US Arms Sales to Gulf (by Daniel Dombey, Financial Times)


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