The Staggering Amount of Money That's
Been Spent to "Defend" the Gulf
So Trump says that while he’s thinking of “severe” punishment for Saudi Arabia he doesn’t want to lose the $110 billion arms deal with the Saudi princes and the “500,000 jobs” it would create in the U.S. The New York Times looked into his claim and noted that Trump’s own Pentagon says the amount of new signed orders with Saudi Arabia was $14.5 billion and Trump’s State Department said the number of jobs created by these orders was in the tens of thousands. So Trump fudged it a little. He merely exaggerated by a multiple of ten or 15.
Let’s leave all morality aside here (like big tough politicians and think-tank “strategists”) and not worry [bitter sarcasm] about the murder of one measly Washington Post columnist (remember as Trump reminds us Khashoggi was a non-citizen of the U.S., only a resident). Let’s not worry about the tens of thousands killed by the Saudi-Obama-Trump war on Yemen.
Let’s just be “realists” and consider only dollars and cents.
Certainly arms sales bring profits to the corporations involved and they do create jobs, but what about the COSTS of doing business with the Gulf, “protecting the oil” and the kings, and emirs, princes, princelings and other royals? Recall just recently Trump said the Saudi King wouldn’t last “two weeks” without U.S. support.
Chuck Hagel, who was one of Obama’s Defense Secretaries, said in 2013 that the U.S. would keep 35,000 military personnel in the Gulf region, some 10,000 of whom were army soldiers with armor or helicopter gunships. In addition, some 40 US naval vessels then patroled the Gulf waters, including an aircraft carrier battle group. We have bases in Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain. Sometimes we go to war. To “liberate” Kuwait and give it back to the al-Sabah family we warred on (admittedly nasty) Saddam Hussein in 1991 and then a decade later Bush (George W.) launched “shock and awe” to protect the region and “the world” from Saddam’s (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction and that cost what, $3 trillion, $6 trillion (not to speak of American lives lost because we’re not bleeding hearts).
Back in 2011 Princeton professor Roger Stern estimated that we had spent $8 trillion to protect the “oil flow” from the Persian Gulf over 35 years. How much more now, another trillion or two? The funny thing is the USA doesn’t even use that much of the oil. Stern established the U.S. was the destination of less than 10 percent of the oil. That was in 2011. Now with fracking and the gargantuan amount of oil pumped out in the U.S. (and deadly greenhouse gases liberated) the U.S. needs even less of Persian Gulf oil.
So you hard-boiled, heard-headed, stone-for-hearts realists, look at all the dollars and cents, the losses as well as the gains. Is protecting the royal tyrants worth it?
In 2013 professor Juan Cole wrote a blog post about this noting that then Sec. of Defense Hagel said, "Hagel said that the "US had and would keep 35,000 military personnel in the Gulf region, some 10,000 of whom were army soldiers with armor or helicopter gunships. In addition, some 40 US naval vessels patrol the Gulf waters, including an aircraft carrier battle group. Cole's post was entitled "Solar would be Cheaper: US Pentagon has spent $8 Trillion to Guard Gulf Oil" Cole argues that not only would it be cheaper, it's absolutely necessary to drastically limit oil use because of what global warming gases are doing to the climate.
This oil industry website uses the $8 trillion figures and quotes Stern as noting that only 10% of the oil from the Gulf actually comes to the U.S.
In May of 2015 Ali Al Ahmed of the Institute for Gulf Affairs wrote that the hyper spending on military for the Persian Gulf was the result of the "Carter Doctrine" which he says should be abandoned..
Based on the work of a study by Princeton professor Roger Stern, Time magazine wrote that as of 2007 the U.S. had spent $6.8 trillion "to protect the flow of oil" from the Persian Gulf. As of 2011 Stern estimated over $8 trillion had been spent. He regards it as waste. Stern believes "Iran and other nations in the region have just as much, if not more, need to keep the oil flowing than the U.S." Here's a link to Stern's study.