Huffing and puffing on the Saudi arms sale

 We just posted a JTA story  about a bipartisan congressional letter “raising concerns and asking questions about a proposed $60 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia.”

The letter, signed by 198 lawmakers and co-authored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), the incoming and outgoing chairs of the Foreign Affairs Committee, was sent to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Could this be a sign there will be real, and not just the usual token, opposition to a big Saudi sale?

Don’t bet the rent money.

While the sale is huge and concerns about the stability of the Saudi regime are as acute as ever, there are more powerful reasons the sale is likely to go through without a big congressional commotion.

Why? How about this: the administration wants it, big defense contractors want it, even some congressmen who are “raising concerns” will vote for it when defense lobbyists make the case that cutting the sale will mean lost jobs in their states and districts, the pro-Israel lobby isn’t indicating it will fight it and Israel, worried more about Iran than anything else, isn’t unhappy about Iran’s bitterest foe in the Islamic world getting weapons to help it stand off Tehran. Oh yes, and there’s the little matter of Saudi oil and our own inability to develop a more rational energy policy.

Other than that, it will be a cakewalk for sale opponents.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.