Free Markets, Free People

Hold up the tank sale until after Egyptian elections

This is just not very smart politics or foreign policy:

While everyone in Washington was concentrating on the debt crisis this week, the Obama administration attempted to slip through a questionable arms deal that requires serious scrutiny. Though it got little attention, the Defense Department officially notified Congress on Friday that it was authorizing the sale of 125 M1A1 tanks to Egypt as well as other weapons, equipment, parts, training and logistical support. While most of the military sales to Egypt have sailed through without objection in the more than 30 years since it signed a peace deal with Israel, this is the first such sale since the fall of the Mubarak regime earlier this year. Which is exactly why the sale ought to be held up until the unsettled situation in the most populous country in the Arab world is better understood.


In the wake of Mubarak’s fall from power, the Egyptian military seems to have retained a firm grip on power. But the army seems intent on sharing power with a resurgent Muslim Brotherhood movement that threatens the foundation of the relationship between the United States and Egypt. Since the 1979 Camp David Accords, the Egyptian military has gotten all the high-tech and expensive equipment it wanted so long as it was clear their new toys would not be used to threaten or attack Israel. But as Egypt lurches toward the election of a new government that will probably be made up of Islamist elements, that peace is in jeopardy.

Emphasis mine.  We have no assurance or reason to believe that won’t happen given the direction of the country and the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood, an avowed enemy of Israel whose representatives have repeatedly said the treaty Egypt has with that country must be voided.

So here we are going along as though nothing has happened and preparing to sell 125 of the world’s most advanced battle tank to a country which could conceivably turn around and use them against Israel.  Since, as I noted in another post, we seem to have little if any leverage there and it appears the Muslim Brotherhood has little desire to talk with us, I would think we’d be leery of such a deal and perhaps use it as a method of gaining some leverage.   No?

Yes, I know we might see another country try to fill the gap by offering their tanks and equipment, but such a switch (Egypt is presently equipped with US military equipment) isn’t as easy as it sounds and it would be quite expensive.  It may be worth it to a Russia or a China (given the Suez Canal, etc.) to do that.

But at the moment this sale makes no sense – at least until the political situation is much more settled than it is at the moment.  125 tanks may not be enough to get the Brotherhood to change it’s mind, but it does represent more leverage than we currently have with their military – the institution that may be able to moderate the Brotherhood’s stance on Israel.  Why give away that sort of leverage for nothing?


Twitter: @McQandO


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12 Responses to Hold up the tank sale until after Egyptian elections

  • IF we sell them anything, it needs to have that “special” reactive armor…
    the kind that’s mounted on the INSIDE of the crew-spaces…

  • So here we are going along as though nothing has happened and preparing to sell 125 of the world’s most advanced battle tank to a country which could conceivably turn around and use them against Israel


    Lets get that matzoh ball right out there on the table.  Oh, I don’t think Baracky actually wants to see a middle eastern war break out  (it would cut into his golf time) but anything that can used to put pressure on the Israelis is good in his mind.

    And don’t tell me that’s far-fetched, this is a man who armed the Mexican cartels because he wanted to implement a gun-control end around.

    • While I don’t want it to work this way, it might be a way of getting a bunch of, errrr…..slightly used, MBT’s into Israel’s inventory.
      I have great faith in our vehicles, I have…..not so much faith in the ability of the Egyptian forces to use them well contrasted against a tremendous amount of faith in the IDF.
      Still, it would be better if we didn’t make this sale at this time.

  • I don’t think we’ll regret just the sale of those.

    Having taught them how to put them together goes a long way to helping them maintain them and possibly find suitable replacement parts elsewhere.  Keeping what they do have functioning for a very long time.
    Maybe even culminating into them coming up with their own independent version.  Perhaps not as good but still worthwhile.

  • /sarc
    Not a problem, they seek only peace!  Peace!  it is the religion of Peace!

  • Some suggestions for the Program Manager’s office:
    Order, what order?
    The officer handling this transaction is on TDY. I’m sure he will get back with you as soon as he returns from Alaska.
    We’re sorry, your order was misrouted. We are tracking it down and expect to have a status for you in a month.
    The Foreign Military Sales Office assigned the wrong priority designator. We’ve sent a request to the Pentagon to have this corrected.
    That doesn’t look like one of our document numbers. Who issued that?
    Our computers are down.
    That’s the other office. I can have them call you back when they finish Equal Opportunity training next week.
    We only cut the authorization. Another office handles the transportation and I don’t have that extension.
    You want it when?

    • Yes, how difficult is it to delay an order. “We can’t get some parts from Japan.”

  • I am sure these tanks are for defensive purposes only, and why would you deny the Egyptians the ability to defend themselves against Libyan or Sudanese aggression? These tanks are desperately needed, as the Egyptian army currently has only about 1000* Abrams tanks. Besides, it means American JOBS. Why would you want to put Americans out of work?


    • Meanwhile, Taiwan is begging to buy hundreds of F-16s…and the production line about to close.
      F=16s aren’t even that new now, and we could use the jobs and exports…
      But nope. Not going to be approved. Too many state department post-retirement jobs in China are hanging in the balance.

  • Are the tanks equipped with Twitter? As we know, Twitter magically keeps people from being aggressive and automatically makes them fight for democracy, Mom and apple pie (or baklava, depending on what part of the world you are in).

    / sarc

    Just where did these tanks come from?  Are they new production, and the sale is a way of keeping the plant open and the skilled workers employed?  Or are are they surplus gee-we-don’t-need-those-because-everybody-loves-us-now tanks that really ought to stay in storage in case – somehow – the magic of Captain Bullsh*t’s personality isn’t quite enough to keep us out of a war?

    • These tanks will be equipped for the new revolution… they’ll be linked via Google+

  • Why not sell them to Egypt? I am sure the Israeli’s can find a use for gently used, slightly dented and stained M-1s.