Thursday, January 07, 2016

It Will Make Sure Its Interests Are Met


                                                      http://danahey.com/

Stephane Dion announced this week that the deal to sell armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia will go ahead as scheduled -- presumably because Canada wants to be known internationally as a country that keeps its word. But Crawford Killian reminds us that the Saudis have played us for suckers for a very long time now:

Recall the Saudi oil embargo imposed on the West after the Yom Kippur War of 1973. America, Europe and Japan staggered under the soaring cost of oil and gasoline. Then we saw the Saudis spend their new wealth by investing in Western businesses and real estate — and by funding Wahhabist schools all over the Muslim world and the anti-Soviet fighters who evolved into al Qaida and now the Islamic State.

More recently, they’ve been fighting to control their world market share by driving down the price of oil, making American fracked oil too expensive to compete. The Alberta oilpatch has suffered the collateral damage from that move.

 We've played dumb because we wanted cheap oil. And we've tolerated just about anything to get it:

Internally, Saudi Arabia is not a nice place. The 2015 World Press Freedom Index ranks it #164 out of 180 nations. (Canada ranks #8; the U.S. ranks #49.) Death is the punishment for a range of crimes, from terrorism to “sorcery”. Like the Islamic State, the Saudis generally prefer beheading, with prison sentences and flogging reserved for less serious offences — like running a liberal blog. The religious police, known as Haia, solemnly warn Saudis that most practitioners of witchcraft are Africans.

You might think that such behaviour would have earned them a nice brisk regime change long before now, but the Saudis have our number and know our price. With a population of only about 31 million Saudi citizens, Saudi Arabia has the third- or fourth-largest military budget in the world (depending on whose numbers you prefer). The 2014 Saudi arms budget was $80.8 billion — over 10 per cent of GDP — and the Saudis spent much of it on hardware from Western defence corporations. The $14 billion they’re spending on Canadian armoured fighting vehicles over four years is chump change, but it’s enough to mute the criticism coming from Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion.

You might think that -- if we really believed our own rhetoric -- we'd cancel the deal. But, obviously, the military-industrial complex is alive and well. And, regardless of which party is in power, it will make sure its interests are met.


12 comments:

Pamela Mac Neil said...

I'm afraid you're right Owen, regardless which party is in the interests of the military industrial complex must be met.The man or woman who stands up to this complex and says no, is the kind of leader that progressive people are looking for. Their is no one on the horizon who has the courage to take this kind of stand.Fundamental change comes from challenging the military industrial complex. Every leader of 'Democratic' governments has gone along with what the MIComplex dictates at least for the last 30 to 40yrs. I don't see Trudeau and his Liberals as being any different.

the salamander said...

.. bbbbb but ... Stephen Harper told us this was not an arms deal! These were clearly transport vehicles & thus the Deal was not an Arms Deal .. and later, middle aged Justin described them as 'jeeps' ... non? I believe this kind of stuff gets written down & recorded once said a guy named Mulcair...

These are about 3 million bucks a pop .. not including any service contracts or ancillary costs a guy like Peter MacKay was oft lax in mentioning. A simple search of Wikipedia reveals the vehicle to have numerous variations - noe of which appear to include transport vehicle or masquerading as a 4 wheeled jeep, which incidentally is the base vehicle hiding underneath a Zamboni..

Maybe Mr Harper would like to book one for a weekend.. park it in the driveway and assist with relocating boxes of files and erased hard drives to public storage. Maybe the freewheelin Justin would take one offroading in the Gatineaus ? A family outing ?

Ah, good old Stephen Harper.. and his specialty... Economics propped up via Secrecy, Binding Treaties, Obstruction... and glib nonsense spewing from his mouth.. and Justin & his Ministers unwilling to admit just how they and all Canadians seem hogtied by our crafty and insidious previous public servant and PM

Dana said...

First indication that this Liberal government isn't all that different from the previous Conservative government. Too bad. Sunni ways.

Owen Gray said...

The Liberals' determination to go ahead with the arms deal is deeply troubling, Dana.

Owen Gray said...

All of this is Orwellian, salamander. Both Harper and Trudeau are defending the indefensible.

Owen Gray said...

And that willingness to bow to the complex is what is so disappointing, Pam.

Lorne said...

Here is what the Globe reports, Owen:

Federal rules oblige the Global Affairs department to conduct a special audit of requests to export military goods to countries “whose governments have a persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens.” Among other things, Ottawa must obtain assurances “there is no reasonable risk that the goods might be used against the civilian population.

Despite Stephane Dion's insistence that this deal will go ahead, he has said nothing about the above requirements. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, eh?

Owen Gray said...

The faces change, Lorne. But it appears that it's the same old/same old.

Hugh said...

We supposedly need to grow the GDP, every year, for infinity. That's part of the problem, I think.

Owen Gray said...

Absolutely true, Hugh. Building weapons -- that kill people -- is profitable.

e.a.f. said...

Saudi Arabia is not a bunch of nice royals. they are terrorists both inside and outside their country. They violate human rights every second of the day, simply by their treatment of women. How long did how many countries refuse to do trade with South Africa? Well South Africa during its apartheid years was no different from Saudi Arabia today, except perhaps South Africa kept their dirt at home. Saudi Arabia exports it.

if Canada is going to do business with Saudi Arabia, we might as well give up any pretense and start doing business with North Korea. Like which country is worse. I do understand, if you're on the correct side of things, a woman can drive a car in North Korea.

Doing business with Saudi Arabia for profit only is like keeping gun manufacturers stock in your portfolio because you want the money and to hell with how many people get shot to death.

Canada needs to cancel the contract with Saudi Arabia and not sell them any more armaments. If they pull their "investments" out of Canada, so be it. We will survive. We might want to build our own refineries so we can use the tar in Alberta for our use, not export it and not send any more money to Saudi Arabia. They will never change.

Owen Gray said...

As long as the present royal family is in place they won't change, e.a.f. And given what's happened in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria, there's no reason to believe that regime change makes things any better.