MORE GASOLINE FOR THE FIRE.

Just what the Middle East needs, more high-tech weapons floating around:

The Joint Direct Attack Munition is a kit that, when added to the back end of a 500- or 2,000-pound "dumb" bomb, turns it into a lethal, all-weather "smart" weapon. The bomb can hit within four feet of a target when launched from a fighter aircraft more than 10 miles away.

The kits and bombs are a prominent part of the $20 billion U.S. arms package for Persian Gulf states that has been in the works since last summer. President Bush discussed the package with Arab leaders during his recent trip to the Gulf.

[...]

[The Congressional Research Service] notes that "significant arms sales, prolonged military training programs, material pre-positioning and basing arrangements, joint exercises and direct military interventions have characterized U.S. policy toward the Gulf region."

In short, without much public debate, the Bush administration has expanded previous multilateral cooperation with Gulf states on defense, including "discussion on securing key sites, in spite of historic sensitivities regarding sovereignty and foreign participation in the regional energy industry," the CRS report says.

I commented on the arms deal last August, noting that it represents a clear admission of failure of President Bush's Iraq-centric Middle East security strategy. It also represents an abandonment of Bush's program of democracy promotion for a return to a policy of supporting the Arab authoritarians we know, in an effort to contain the numerous, and not yet fully comprehended, bad effects of the Iraq war.

--Matthew Duss

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