President Trump went to Saudi Arabia this week, kicking off his first foreign tour as president. His trip will take him from Saudi Arabia to Israel to the Vatican.
While at the first stop on this trip, in Saudi Arabia, President Trump signed a defense technology transfer agreement worth hundreds upon hundreds of billions of dollars with the Saudis. Under the terms of this agreement, which is one of the largest of its type ever signed in U.S. history, the United States will provide “aerostats, tanks, artillery, counter-mortar radars, armored personnel carriers [and] helicopters” to the Saudis.
This deal was held up during the Obama administration out of concern that the weapons ultimately transferred to the Saudis would be used against civilians in Yemen, where the Islamic monarchy is fighting against rebels on behalf of the Yemeni government.
Why, then, did Trump decide to push this bill through? Did his administration conclude with sufficient certainty that the weapons in question wouldn’t be used against Yemeni civilians?
Donald Trump Jr. spoke to his father’s administration’s reasoning behind this deal on Twitter, writing, “Trump delivers $350 BILLION in new biz for U.S. defense companies.” His post includes a link to the Daily Mail that features President Trump’s comments as to why he approved the deal.
President Trump commented: “Tremendous investments in the United States. Hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs.”
For Donald Trump Jr. and, more pressingly, his father to ignore the many blatant human rights abuses carried out by the Saudis in the name of “creating jobs” in the defense industry is terrible. The last time that the United States made military spending decisions based on similar reasoning, such decisions prompted the war in Iraq.
Some appropriately biting comments on Trump Jr.’s tweet point this out.