Assignment #1: US Military Expenditures: Arms Sales in the Middle East

The United States current military expenditures in the Middle East was 22,505 millions dollars
according to the Value of Arms Transfer Deliveries, Cumulative 1994-1996 Report released
December 1998. The highest U.S. expenditures were to Saudi Arabia with 11,700 million
dollars and Egypt with 5,000 million dollars. There are two major types of arms sales,
commercial arms sales made directly by United States firms to foreign importers under
authorization of the Department of State and “Foreign Military Sales” whose programs are
administered through the Department of Defense.

Major weapons imported to the Middle East countries consisted of seventy eight percent land
armaments which are armored carriers and cars. Sixty five percent of these were supplied by the
United States. Missiles accounted for fifteen percent of imported weapons and about sixty five
percent of these came from the United States.

The United Nations and peackeeping operations have become instrumental in resolving conflicts
in the world. At the end of 1997 the world had fewer active conflicts than at any other time since
World War II. In the Middle East, conflicts are occurring with Turkey and northern Iraq and Iran
and there are also conflicts concerning religion between Israel and Lebanon. As of the beginning
of 1998, Middle East conflicts over independence were ongoing with Israel and the Palestinians
and had been since 1948. The United States has involvement in the Israel/Palestine conflict.

The United States relationships with Israel really began to develop during the Johnson
Administration beginning in 1965 when the United States agreed to sell Skyhawk combat aircraft
systems to Israel. The U.S. was beginning to recognize Israel as a major regional power that
could help U.S. interests in the Mediterranean and the rest of the Middle East. The Soviet Union
flew combat missions against the Israel Defense Forces which allowed them to gain valuable
information about Soviet weapons which was of major importance to the United States military.
When France imposed an embargo on sales to Israel in 1967, American weapons became Israel’s
sole source of major weapons. Israel was involved in the Iran arms sales affair and became a
channel for funneling American arms to Central America. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990
and the U.S. led attack on them beginning on January 16, 1991 raised the intensity of the strategic
relationship even more. Although Israel and the U.S. has differences over the international
peace conference, they listened to American’s request not to launch chemical warfare even after
they had been attacked by Iraqi missiles. The end of the Cold War altered the security of military
environments and peace missions in Washington and Jerusalem. It also gave the United States
larger arms distribution because the Soviet Union, who was a large distributer of weapons to
developing regions, was in a state of turmoil. Both countries, the United States and Israel,
wanted to bring the former Soviet Union into the Middle East as a neutral party. They continued
to have the same concerns with respect to Iraq but also had to worry about any arms deployment
by Russia in defense of Iran. They developed the U.S.-Israel project with Israel providing the
technology for the missiles and the U.S. providing the monetary support. The Clinton
Administration feels that by engaging in relationships with allies and former enemies the U.S.
will be able to lead them away from conflict and help them maintain peace.

Over the past thirty years the U.S. government has steadily increased the level of its diplomatic
activity in the Middle East. Since the Cold War the United States has been the superpower in the
world. The United Nations of which the United States is a member mandates peacekeeping
missions in Middle Eastern countries. These missions allow the United States Defense
Department as well as foreign governments to justify exporting arms to assist a number of

missions mandated by policy. By exporting arms to other countries defense budgets are
flourishing. Some of these justifications are as follows:
● The United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission is staffed by a force of 300
observers and 447 infantry and support staff who monitor the demilitarized zone
between Iraq and Kuwait and look out for any hostile action on either side.
● The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon is a force consisting of up to 6,000
troops who work to restore peace and security in southern Lebanon, confirm the
withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon, and restore Lebanese sovereignty in the
south