Profits over people: Trump White House backs arms dealers

Saudi Arabia’s war against the Houthi movement in Yemen has little relevance to U.S. national strategic interests. Yet the U.S. continues to support a Saudi-led war on an impoverished country increasingly devastated by COVID. Why? The undue influence of U.S. arms manufacturers in the White House.

The revelation that the administration is advancing an additional arms sale to Saudi Arabia prompted anger over Trump’s insistence on benefitting the arms industry regardless of congressional resistance and Yemeni misery. News of the second major arms deal came just 12 days after Trump fired State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. One of the reported subjects of Linick’s investigation, the “emergency” sale of U.S.-made weapons to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other countries despite congressional resistance in May 2019, emphasizes a problem exemplified by, but not limited to Trump: the power of the defense industry to influence the U.S. government’s foreign-policy decisions.

In a memo last May, Secretary of State Pompeo claimed that the weapons sales were necessary to counter the threat posed by Iran, thereby invoking an emergency waiver so as to sidestep the 30-day congressional review mandated by the Arms Export Control Act. Linick was investigating why Pompeo had, for the first time ever, invoked this state of emergency justification despite the fact that available intelligence revealed no heightened threat from Iran.

That Linick’s investigation of the arms sale seems tied to his ouster reaffirms the likelihood that the alleged danger posed by Iran was inflated in order to force the sale through. Although Pompeo claimed that the weapons were needed to defend against Iran, the sale actually provided Saudi Arabia with additional U.S. weapons to use against the Yemeni people, as well as additional money for the weapons manufacturer Raytheon.

Read the full article in The American Prospect.