“It’s the oil, stupid.”
In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal of 10th June, Edward J. Markey asks rhetorically “Why Is Bush Helping Saudi Arabia Build Nukes?” He points out that if at all the Saudis need more energy — even after sitting atop the world’s largest oil reserves — then the US should be helping them out by selling them solar technology. Solar technology makes sense in a country three times the size of Texas, and where the desert sands see around 300 days of sunshine every year. He says, “For a country with so much oil, gas and solar potential, importing expensive and dangerous nuclear power makes no economic sense.”
Quite right. It makes no economic sense for the Saudis to import nuclear technology, a technology which Markey points out the Saudis are ill-prepared for. But it does make immense strategic sense for the Saudis to import nuclear technology. Markey points out that it is probably the first step for the Saudis to create Sunni nukes that will balance the potential Iranian Shia nukes.
I think that it makes immense sense for the US government to go around spreading weapons of mass destruction technology. Every country that has, or attempted to have, WMD ultimately has to thank the US for the capability. Why does the US do it? Because, first, the US makes money from selling the technology. The US is not the greatest arms exporter in the world for nothing. Selling weapons and weapons technology is its bread and butter. Second, it gives the US the opportunity to later go in and invade countries that it disagrees with under the pretext that WMD should be destroyed. Just one example out of many: the US gave WMD technology to Iraq and then invaded Iraq when it thought that the time was ripe. Another example (which Markey cites) is how the US transferred nuclear technology to Iran before the Shah was overthrown.
All indications are that one of these days the US will have to take action against Iran for their ambition to develop nukes. In the meanwhile, the US is putting the next country — Saudi Arabia — in the pipeline for the same old routine: sell them technology, and then go invade them and take over the oil fields under the pretext that they have WMD.
It’s quite impressive. I am not only impressed by the American strategy but also impressed by the foolishness of the countries that fall for it.
Related post: The care and feeding of the permanent arms industry–part 2.