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« Have a nice Labor Day | Main | Chart of the Day: the much hyped Chinese lead on green technology investment »
12:04AM

Perfectly fine to arm up the Sunnis

WSJ front-pager on US selling $30B worth of F-15s to the Saudis, albeit lacking features that Israel opposes.

I'm not a fan of Saudi Arabia, even as I wish King Abdullah (and his reforms) a much longer life, but frankly, I'd sell the Saudis whatever they want in whatever amounts they want, because, once Iran gets the bomb, the Saudis will be sorely tempted to follow suit.  So the more cool we keep them in the short run, the better.

The Saudis are never going to attack Israel and wouldn't find any utility in letting others do the same.  They've grown beyond such dynamics, so why not arm them and everybody else in the region to the teeth, so as to make clear to Tehran how they gain nothing in military influence by achieving the bomb.

I still await the argument that proves how nukes ever got anybody anything--other than safe harbor from attack by other great powers.  About the best case you can make is that Ike signaled his willingness to go all the way on Korea, convincing the Soviet bloc to avoid escalation.  But even there, you're talking about a bad thing being prevented more than any victory won or influence cemented. 

All Iran does by getting the bomb is to make itself Israel's strategic equal in the region, logically triggering bilateral talks once the brinkmanship gets tiresome (less for them than for interested great powers).  To the extent that Turkey and the Saudis step into that dynamic on their own, I see less danger in proliferation and more safety in a truly regional strategic security architecture.

But meanwhile, we balance appropriately.

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Reader Comments (2)

Not to mention the French or British would be happy to step into the breach if the US denied them further F15s.

That said, nukes clearly hot North Korea a license to do crazy things like torpedo S. Korean ships with impunity. Then again, they were always a mad dog regime, as with the 1983 Rangoon bombing.

The al-Saud regime is far more brittle and unstable than the Iranians, however, and nuclear-armed Saudis would be a far more frightening prospect than either Israelis, Iranians or Turks. Or even Pakistan, for the matter.

September 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFazal Majid

Should Turkey move towards The Bomb? Or do you think the NATO umbrella provides them the same coverage without the expense? Of course, that does require Turkey to stay on reasonable terms with the US.

September 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Emery

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