The Senate Basically Just Voted to Arm ISIS with Your Tax Dollars
Jack Hunter / The Washington Examiner
(June 13, 2019) — Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said on the senate floor Thursday, before a vote that would bar US arm sales with three Arab states: “The facts are not contested. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Bahrain have allowed US arms to be funneled to radical Islamist groups throughout the Middle East.”
Paul is right. No one really contests this.
President Trump, who supports the arms sale, agrees that these countries have supported extremists. If Hillary Clinton had been elected president, apparently she knew too. President Barack Obama knew.
Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state made clear the US was backing countries that aided our enemies. As Paul observed in his floor speech Thursday, “Even Hillary Clinton admitted in an email to John Podesta: ‘We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to Isis and other radical groups in the region'” (emphasis added).
Paul also noted that in 2009 — a decade ago, because, yes, this is how long this has been going on — Hillary Clinton sent the State Department a cable that read, “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaeda [and] the Taliban.”
Al Qaeda. The very group that attacked the US on Sept. 11 and who most Americans probably think we are still trying to fight. Also, the Taliban, the entire reason we went to war in Afghanistan in 2001 — apparently US foreign policy had indirectly bolstered both?
Again, these are not secrets. These leaders knew.
Congress knows. But that didn’t stop them Thursday from voting 43-56 to proceed with these arms sales.
The only Republicans who voted to stop this were Sens. Paul, Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Jerry Moran, R-Kan. Every other Republican voted to give arms and aid to countries that have histories of coddling terrorists.
Every Democrat voted to stop arms sales, except for seven: Sens. Doug Jones, D-Ala., Angus King, I-Maine, Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Mark Warner, D-Va.
These seven Democrats apparently agree with the overwhelming majority of Republicans that allowing US weapons to end up in the hands of ISIS and al Qaeda is worth whatever security benefit the United States allegedly gets from these exchanges.
The senators who support this insist it is to guard against Iranian influence in the region, which is a lazy rationale at best. “Maybe we should consider a peace plan that doesn’t include dumping more arms into a region aflame in civil unrest, civil war, and anarchy,” Paul said on the floor.
“The argument goes that we must arm anyone who is not Iran. We are told that because of Iran’s threat, the US must accept selling arms to anyone who opposes Iran, even bone-saw-wielding countries brazen enough to kill a dissident in a foreign consulate.”
“What would happen if we just said no?” Paul asked. “What would happen if we simply conditioned arms sales on behavior?”
Great question. In addition to arming ISIS and Saudi Arabia murdering a US-based journalist last year, the American-backed Saudi war in Yemen continues to yield a civilian death toll so high we don’t exactly know what that number is.
One April statistic put it at 70,000, mostly from starvation, though our “allies” continue to kill hundreds of children with US weapons. In August, a US-supplied bomb killed 40 kids riding a school bus.
Just one of these horrors should be enough to at least question why we keep sending arms to these countries. The mere fact that these states have helped in the past, and no doubt continue to embolden, the groups that attacked the US in 2001 and carry out other acts of terror around the world should be enough to stop it.
But not in Washington. You can bet the majority of senators who voted for this deal today were more annoyed with Rand Paul asking all these questions than they were with terrorism, human rights abuses, and dead children.
Only in Washington.
Jack Hunter (@jackhunter74) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is the former political editor of Rare.us and co-authored the 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington with Sen. Rand Paul.
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