It tells you a lot about how the Obama Administration views overseas arms sales that it announced Boeing’s $30 billion fighter deal with Saudi Arabia on Christmas Eve. The ambivalence that Democratic administrations once had about selling weapons overseas has been replaced with a recognition that arming allies is less controversial than putting U.S. boots on the ground, and a potential boost to America’s domestic economy. After signaling early-on that it would adopt a pragmatic approach to such transactions, the administration is now making them a pillar of plans to contain the regional influence of Iran and China. In the Middle East, that means selling advanced F-15 and F-16 fighters to friendly governments, not to mention missile defense systems such as Lockheed Martin’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense. In East Asia, it means selling the stealthy next-generation F-35 fighter to Australia, Japan, and other regional allies who want to buy it. This is an important development for U.S. military contractors, who face softening demand in their home market. I have written a commentary for Forbes that you can read here.
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