US-Saudi Arms Deal is a Deal of Death

President Trump’s recent $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia on Saturday was a continuation of a terrible U.S. policy. It is common for the US to sell its old military arsenal to other countries in order to get a sort of return on the taxpayer investment. This practice of selling old equipment works out to our strategic advantage because, while other countries may have the equipment, we have all the spare parts. And while it is not impossible to reverse engineer these parts, it isn’t as easy simply being on good terms with the US.

But this practice of selling arms to Saudi Arabia in the vain hope that they will be an effective proxy against Iran is both a waste of money and a serious moral evil. Saudi Arabia is not only a country rife with horrifying human rights abuses, but it is a country that has repeatedly gone against our national interests. Following in the missteps of Bush and Obama, Trump has continued one of the chief reasons that peace in the Middle East is not possible.

Bush gave the Saudis Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMS) or “smart bomb” technology. While these munitions allow for greater precision in strikes to allow the preservation of civilian populations, the recent civil war in Yemen proves that the Saudis have little interest in using this technology for anything except total war.

Obama sold the outgoing F-15 fighter to the Saudis and would have sold more JDAMs if he hadn’t tried to pressure them into refraining from their rife human rights abuses in Yemen. And why would Obama sell arms to the Saudis? Ostensibly to prop up the local coalition against ISIS.

Since 1986, American presidents have justified selling arms to the Saudis. In the 80’s it was to gain a foothold in a Middle East dominated by Soviet hegemony. After 2001, the go to excuse is combating terrorism. This argument is immensely absurd when you consider that Saudi Arabia is the largest exporter of the extremist Wahhabi Salafist ideology that fuels terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda.

When conservative media complains about radical Sunni clerics in the West, those clerics are often students of Saudi Wahhabi Salafism and even bankrolled by the Saudi government. That is right: the Saudi government pays people to spread their extremist views on Islam everywhere. Saudi trained clerics have been found to have inspired many people who are now terrorists. Whether they intended it or not, the Saudis have been one of the biggest supporters of terrorism in the world.

The moral implications of handing more munitions and technology to a country that does not even share our basic values is one thing; handing them to a country that is contributing to the refugee crisis is another. Over 3 million people have been displaced by the Saudis deliberate targeting of civilian populations in Yemen. The US, especially Trump, tarnishes our nation’s reputation of being morally upright not only by indirectly increasing human suffering in the Middle East, but by giving duplicitous responses to similar humanitarian violations.

Trump has shown that he will take action when Syria uses chemical weapons against civilians, but he shows no resolve when it comes to sanctioning the Saudis for doing the same, albeit with conventional weapons. This degrades the moral credibility of the entire nation and shows the world that we will uphold what is right…if it is in our interests.

Finally, Trump declares he has a great respect and admiration for Israel, but here he has increased the capabilities of one of Israel’s key adversaries. When you give arms to a country that has, on numerous occasions, sought the total destruction of Israel, you cannot boast about your commitment to Israeli security or peace in the Middle East. The single most important thing that the Israelis rely on besides US support for their defense is the technological edge. This arms deal threatens to blunt that edge and return the Middle East to the situation before the Yom Kippur War. When the Arab League has the same technology as their long time foe, a new Arab-Israeli war is not far off.

The US needs to cautious when selling arms to a country. For countries like France, the U.K., South Korea, Japan, and others who share our commitments to ethical warfare and global peace, selling arms is a matter of mutual defense and aid. But when we sell arms to states that have not only acted against our interest but provided aid and comfort to those who have attacked us, selling arms is a moral evil. The Middle East, moreover, is destabilized enough without the US provided certain nations technological advantages.


College Tuition Kills! Reduce the Cost Now!

Skyrocketing rates of college tuition constitute a major problem which threaten to damage the American economy as well as impose an onerous financial burden on the majority of American citizens. Urgent public action is necessary to reverse this trend and to mitigate the extent of the damage it will cause.


Trends in Tuition Rates

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the rise in college tuition costs greatly outstripped inflation in the economy as a whole over the past 10 years. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a measure of the general cost of living in the United States, based on the price of commonly purchased goods such as housing and groceries, and thus a rough benchmark for the income needed to support oneself. From January 2006 until July 2016, the CPI as a whole rose by 21%. In the same time period, the CPI for college tuition rose by 63%, meaning that college costs have been increasing at three times the rate as other goods within the economy.


Why It Matters

These trends are negative, and potentially ruinous, for several reasons. We will address three of these reasons below: personal finances, educational achievement, and the health of the overall economy.


Personal Finances

According to data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income in the U.S. rose from $46,326 in 2005 to $56,516 in 2015. In roughly the same time period as college tuition costs rose by 63%, nominal household income only increased by 22%, closely tracking the CPI as a whole. Put simply, the cost of college is growing three times as quickly as the median American household’s ability to pay for it. If this trend continues, a great number of American citizens who could have afforded an education in the past will find it to be prohibitively expensive and drop out of the system.


Educational Achievement

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, undergraduate enrollment increased by 37 percent between 2000 and 2010, funding the considerable and costly expansion under way at many universities. However, between 2010 and 2014, enrollment decreased by 4 percent. Many observers fear that we have a higher education “bubble” which will burst soon because of the ever increasing costs and decreasing benefits for students entering into an oversaturated higher education market. The dropping enrollment numbers could be one of the first signs for the impending collapse. The health of the nation depends on having slow, steady increases in college enrollment over time as population increases rather than a perpetual boom-bust cycle which leaves some generations well off and others jobless, skill-less, and uneducated. Preventing bubbles of rapidly increasing education costs is the primary means to achieve this goal.


Health of the Economy

Widely respected, non-partisan sources such as the Brookings Institute and U.S. Treasury Department assert that having a highly educated workforce is vital to the well-being of an economy. Not only does quality education spur economic growth as a whole but it leads to lower unemployment and greater wealth for a nation’s hard-working citizens. Out-of-control costs in the form of rapidly rising tuition and fees threaten to damage our economy by making a higher education inaccessible to a large part of the populace. An unskilled, uneducated workforce makes for a dreary economy and hard times for businesses and workers alike.


The Next Step

In order to keep our economy strong, our businesses thriving, our higher education system respected world-wide, our future workforce skilled and unencumbered by onerous levels of debt, and our citizens free to pursue any profession or occupation which suits their interests and personal strengths regardless of socioeconomic class, it is necessary to curb the soaring costs which characterize today’s higher education market. The American Solidarity Party is committed to enacting common-sense policies which will assist those already encumbered by debt to thrive in our economy as well as to keep college costs down in the future. By doing so, we can ensure a better and brighter future for all Americans.