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Weapons for Oil

It seems that there’s more congressional interest than we knew in the push to scrap U.S. weapons sales to dubious autocracies — just not for the right reasons.

A group of Senate Democrats is right now (11:30 est) in the Capitol announcing efforts (a letter, actually) to have the Bush administration put more pressure on Middle-Eastern oil-producers to pump more crude, thus increasing supply and lowing prices for American consumers. Failure to do so, and the senators vow to block hundreds of millions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other OPEC nations in line to buy our weapons.

The statement announcing the announcement rationalizes the push this way:

As Americans are paying more than ever to fill up their cars at the gas station, it is clear that oil production by OPEC members is below the capacity at which they could be producing. As a result, higher oil prices are affecting U.S. consumers from the gas pump to the grocery store. The Bush Administration has refused to be tough with so-called OPEC allies and in fact continues to provide huge arms deals, despite the economic pains taxpayers are feeling.

So it’s not that the arms deals are, in and of themselves, a bad idea, it’s just that they’re the only leverage we’ve got these days in our dealings with our alleged Middle Eastern allies. As Zack Wamp (R-Tenn.) said in February, there are other reasons to withhold these weapons:

The problem with selling arms to Saudi Arabia is there is a clear pattern here of the royal family in Saudi Arabia basically aiding and abetting the enemy.

Also, no word yet on what right we’ve got to tell sovereign nations what to do with their industry (after all, how seriously would we take a call from Micronesia to lower our wheat prices because food costs too much in Asia?). But we’re looking forward to seeing the transcript.

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