'Liberal' Trudeau joins blood-soaked race for arms deals with Mideast despots

Finian Cunningham
Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau © Carlo Allegri
In a remarkable spectacle of money-grubbing over arms deals, this month saw a parade of Western leaders jettisoning any pretense of upholding vaunted “liberal values” to court despotic Mideast regimes.

Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister who sent liberal hearts aflutter when he was elected in November, with his espousal of feminism among other progressive causes, is the latest Western leader to show where real priorities lie. Trudeau signed off on a $11 billion deal with Saudi Arabia to export armored vehicles to the blood-soaked repressive regime.

With astounding cynicism, the 44-year-old Canadian premier said he was duty-bound to fulfill the arms contract drawn up by the previous administration as “a matter of principle” in order to demonstrate that his country’s “word means something in the international community.”

This week also saw US President Barack Obama in Saudi Arabia where he glad-handed King Salman and other Gulf monarchs, lauding them as partners in maintaining regional stability and fighting against terrorism. Conspicuously, Obama made little or no mention of human rights violations in the oil-rich kingdom where mass beheadings are a common method of capital punishment.

Western media talked about “strained relations” between Obama and his Saudi hosts. But underlying the superficial optics it was business as usual. Big business. US military affairs publication Defense One reported that high on Obama’s agenda was securing a $13 billion contract for warships and submarine-hunting helicopters with the House of Saud.

Before Obama touched down in Riyadh, his administration had angered American families by announcing that it would veto a bill going through Congress that could enable relatives of the 9/11 terror attacks to sue the Saudi rulers for their alleged involvement in sponsoring that atrocity. The topic didn’t even arise for discussion during Obama’s visit, indicating the president’s real concerns in meeting the Saudi and other Gulf rulers.

France has also nabbed market share from Western rivals in the Persian Gulf where over the past year Paris has sold billions of dollars’ worth of its Rafale fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Similar prevarication over human rights is brazenly shown by the British government of David Cameron in its arms dealing with Saudi Arabia and the wider region. The Saudi-led war in Yemen has been a boon for British sales of bombs and missiles, even though as many as 9,000 Yemenis have been killed over the past year, many of them civilians from aerial bombing by Saudi warplanes.

Britain’s foreign minister, Philip Hammond, has dismissed condemnations by human rights groups in regard to Yemen, claiming that British weapons exports meet tough standards of international law. Britain, like Canada and other Western governments, makes the cynical claim that its military exports are not used for “internal repression” and that if it is proven that weapons are being used to kill civilians in Yemen then trade licenses will be canceled.

So what is Saudi Arabia dropping on Yemen? Cuddly British-made toys?

Duplicity of Western governments doing business with despotic regimes is nothing new. The Middle East’s absolute monarchs have long been a staple of American and other Western so-called “defense industries.” In 2010, the Obama administration signed a $60 billion weapons deal with Saudi Arabia – the biggest in US history.

During the 1980s, Britain under Margaret Thatcher won a comparable mammoth contract with Saudi Arabia known as the Yamamah deal.

Massive arms sales to tyrannical regimes give the real meaning to hackneyed euphemisms spouted by the likes of Obama, Cameron, Hollande and Trudeau, when they cite “regional partners for stability.” What they mean by stability is uninterrupted orders for weapons.

What is new, though, is the lack of discretion in how the West now pursues arms deals in the Mideast.

Western governments are apparently falling over themselves to bid for business. Yet this unseemly rush for arms selling is sharply at odds with not only intensifying repression within Middle Eastern “partner” regimes; it has also become abundantly clear that some of these same regimes are directly responsible for sponsoring terrorism in the region. The case of Saudi Arabia and its sponsorship of Wahhabi terror proxies in Syria, Libya and Iraq is perhaps the most glaring.

Part of the burgeoning Western race for arms business is related to the historical demise of their capitalist economies and the emergence of military industries as key components in whatever remains of gutted manufacturing sectors.

No doubt, critics will point out that Russia is also a major arms supplier to Middle Eastern regimes. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Russia is indeed a prominent weapons exporter to the region and globally.

However, there is an important distinction. Western governments never cease to proclaim democracy, human rights and international law as foundational policies. Washington, London, Paris and so on continually invoke such rights as criteria by which they sanction, censure and even invade other countries to ostensibly uphold.

What is therefore more transparent than ever from Western countries soliciting arms deals in the Middle East is their shameless, sordid hypocrisy.

That Canada’s fresh face of “liberal values,” Justin Trudeau, has joined the throng of Western leaders cutting deals with tyrants and dictators just goes to show how cosmetic Western noble pretensions are.

Why should citizens in these countries believe anything that their governments tell them on any issue? Their governments all too evidently do not have a scrap of integrity or principle.

Official Western treachery, duplicity and hypocrisy have become a chronic condition that is no longer veiled by lofty rhetoric, as it once was. So-called liberal values are being stabbed in the back – left, right and center.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.