News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Sale to Pakistan may come back to bite us

Good news for Boeing, but is it good news for the United States?

Boeing Co. got a contract for a $62.5 million sale to Pakistan of 50 Harpoon anti-ship missiles Thursday. Good money for Boeing and a nice reward for Pakistan, a loyal ally in the fight against terror since 2001.

The unfortunate fact is that weapons often last longer than alliances. It's a fact that has had disastrous consequences for the United States for decades.

The classic case is Iraq. We provided the country with massive amounts of weaponry when it was fighting our enemy-of-the-day, Iran. We even sold it $1.6 million in arms in 1990 — one year before we had to face those arms to get Iraq to relinquish its hold on Kuwait.

Afghanistan is another example of our short-sighted benevolence. We poured weapons into the country when it fought our previous Cold War enemy, the Soviet Union.

It's tough to find an unstable government that has not enjoyed U.S. arms. We sell, or have sold, arms to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Colombia, Turkey, Greece, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Panama, Angola, Chad and Ethiopia. Even as we sell arms to Pakistan, we sell them to its archenemy India. We sell them to Taiwan, knowing full well those sales may force us into a conflict with China.

Selling long-life arms to short-life dictatorships has come back to bite us in the past and will do so again. The warm fuzzies we feel from Pakistan come not from its people but from its dapper president. Long after his Armani suits are forgotten, those weapons will still be lethal.

Our alliance with Pakistan, and with most other countries in the Middle East, are indisputably of the short-term variety. That means selling them weapons is a mistake.

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