Does the Trump-Saudi deal indicate that Saudi Arabia is going to build a strong military?

Saudi Arabia actually spends a greater share of GDP on their military than the United States does.

I’ve written two answers that should help people who haven’t been paying attention come to a certain realization that Saudi Arabia and most Arabian Peninsula countries have been working to create powerful and modern militaries for many years.

“The USA led the rise [in military spending], but it was not alone. Of those countries for which data was available, 65% increased their military spending in real terms in 2009. The increase was particularly pronounced among larger economies, both developing and developed: 16 of the 19 states in the G20 saw real-terms increases in military spending in 2009.

— Sam Perlo-Freeman, Olawale Ismail and Carina Solmirano, MilitaryExpenditure Chapter 5, SPIRI Yearbook, June 2010, p.1″

This graph shows the % change in military spending over the last decade. On the right you can see how these amounts measure against one another, but the bars to the side are what are most important. They show long term pattern of growth and answer the question, “Which nations are most dedicated to growing their military?”

Many nations, such as China and India, are staying even with the %GDP spending and the growth in military spending shows a somewhat even with the economy. Others, however, such as Russia and Saudi Arabia show significant spikes even as the world at large, including the US, is showing a pattern of reduced military spending. The US? Why yes, check the bottom graph and several more throughout this post. Military spending in the United States has gone down significantly over the past few years even during a time when we were and are still involved in two different wars. What is interesting is, despite the narrative, though the US is leading the others in military reduction, it doesn’t seem to be determining how much they spend since the reduction in its spending is not matched by a proportional reduction in military spending overall worldwide.

Note the blue line, that’s the US. Since 2010 it has steadily been reducing its military spending in relation to GDP. Meanwhile many other nations have not. I used Russia and Saudi Arabia as two important examples because of how much their priorities seem to be changing and also given their precarious political situations presently.

Jon Davis’ answer to Why does the US government spend so much on military?

To fully appreciate the gravity with which Saudi Arabia wants to be a center for military strength, not just in the Kingdom, but throughout the Middle East, a person needs to also understand that they have worked together with other Arab-League nations to form a single pan-arab military force to combat the growing threats they perceive to Arab nations from terrorism and other nations, as well as creating a force capable of force projection, an important factor in international politics.

The Middle Eastern Cold War is Getting a Bit Warmer – Announcement of Joint Military Force by the Arab League by Jon Davis on The Defense Quorum

The recent news over the weekend is surrounding the announcement of a pan-Arabic defense force lead by the Arab League. The announcement came from a two day summit in Cairo, consisting of important world leaders from the 22 member states of the Arab League. The summit resolution said the newly unveiled joint Arab defense force would be deployed at the request of any Arab nation facing a national security threat and that it would also be used to combat terrorist groups. Egyptian military and security officials stated that the intention is for the proposed force to consist of up to 40,000 elite troops backed by jet fighters, warships and light armor. The force would likely be headquartered in either Cairo, Egypt or Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.

There are many questions surrounding the nature of this military confederation, many of them appearing here on Quora – Arab League Joint Military Force Announcement (March 2015). As of right now, though, there are still more questions than answers. Not much is known as most of the plans for the joint military force have yet to be made. The Cairo summit informed the AP that there will be a Chiefs of Staff meeting within the next month and a plan presented within the next four months for the implementation of the force. Whatever is delivered at that time will determine the scope of operations going forward.

So for several years Saudi Arabia has been investing heavily in its military assets and even working to create defensive works to defend against attacks and clandestine smuggling networks to their north.

Yep, a wall.

So yeah, sorry you missed the news. Saudi Arabia is preparing to be the center of a major military force in the region, most likely to counter the influence of terror, not only in the form of ISIS, but also much more so, from Iran. Due to the build-up of Iran and its funding of various terror networks across the region (to which The Iranian Quds force, for example, is in large part directly responsible for the Civil War in Yemen, among others) Saudi Arabia and many Arab countries feel that their survival relies on defense. They are also the most situated to combat terrorism in the region, far better than the Americans. So yes, they are very much building a military, and no, Donald Trump did not just come up with the idea to fund them or supply them with weapons.

The Guardian: Obama administration offered $115b​n in weapons to Saudi Arabia: report

The Obama administration has offered to sell $115bn worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia over its eight years in office, more than any previous US administration, according to a new report.

The surge in sales is in part to reassure the Saudi monarchy of US backing in the wake of last year’s nuclear deal with Tehran, which raised fears in the Gulf that Washington would tilt more towards Tehran in its foreign policy.

“I think that though the Obama administration is not thrilled about the Yemen episode; it feels it can’t stay out of it, because of the need to reassure the Saudis,” Hartung said.

His report found that since taking office in January 2009, the Obama administration has offered to sell $115bn in weapons to Saudi Arabia, half of which are accounted for by deals that are still in the pipeline.

“There are $57bn in sales in formal agreements so far, which is also head and shoulders above other administrations,” Hartung said.

The report comes as concerns about the UK’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia and their implication in potential war crimes in Yemen have split MPs on parliament’s arms control committee.

Arms sales over the eight years of the Obama administration have also included combat aircraft, attack helicopters, bombs, air-to-ground missiles, warships and military training. A division of Northrop Grumman is involved in a $4bn train-and-equip programme for the Saudi Arabian national guard, which has reportedly played a key role in the Yemen intervention.

That report came out in September of 2016, before Donald Trump was even the President. So the answer by another writer on this issue, that Saudi Arabia was using weapons against Yemeni children, well if he didn’t dispute that when President Obama was doing that, then the argument loses it credibility. As far as 100 billion dollars being too much, well, $115 billion is more.

Frankly, there is much to dislike about Saudi Arabia. I’ve been a leading critic of them throughout my writing, from the barbaric traditions they allow in their culture, to their absurd apathy to Syrian refugees, but collateral damage is not murdering young children. It is the cold, hard, ugly, miserable truth that war is not a clean affair, but the fastest way to stop it is for one side to so totally dominate that the other sues for peace and comes back to the negotiation table. Saudi Arabia is positioned to bring peace to the region culturally where American military solutions fail. Does it mean that we empower a nation we often find appalling? Yes. But we have greater influence to introduce reforms when we control the source of their power than if we allow the Saudis to crumble and the entire region descend further into anarchy.

Does the Trump-Saudi deal indicate that Saudi Arabia is going to build a strong military?

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Is it Better to Own a Gun for Self-Defense, or Is That More Likely to Cause Problems

Carrying a firearm for the expressed purpose of self-defense isn’t really your best choice. I am basing this on years of weapons and self-defense training. Let me explain…

First off, a personal reference. I spent a few years in the Marine Corps as a weapons instructor. I trained hundreds in the use of standard issue rifles and pistols. I also have a black belt and trained a great deal with the Marine Corps martial arts program. The reason that this is valuable is that it gave me a great deal of insight on the nature of self-defense and weapons.

Now as far as home defense goes, you need to consider several factors.

1) A gun will only be used about .00002% of the time that you own it.

You will be keeping and storing this weapon the whole time you own it, even though you might get attacked once or twice in a lifetime. The problem with this is that at any point something with the stored weapon could go wrong, such as losing pieces or unwanted people getting into your weapon. Granted it’s hard for a pieces to suddenly go missing, but it isn’t difficult for curious children to explore.

Second, recent surveys have shown that household members were only present in about 27% of cases of break-in. You are much more likely to have a burglar take the gun from under your bed while you are at work or on vacation than to actually arrive when you are present. Think about it, if you were to rob someone, why not take your time and not get caught.

2) Weapons are actually difficult to use.

This is a shotgun, a good choice in home defense. You need to understand each piece and how it fits together as well as how to strip, clean, inspect, lubricate and reassemble the weapon. Good luck, you should only need the one shot.

Weapons like a gun have many pieces that have to be regularly maintained. You need to have training into how to take care of your gun. This doesn’t have to be in depth, but a person does have to research the information of the weapon. They have to know how to adjust the sights and zero their rifles. They need to know how to disassemble and clean their bolt or inspect their firing pins for imperfections. It takes time to figure out all this and is a lot easier to screw it up than to get it right. And if you don’t get it right the weapon might not work or even get you hurt as the burglar laughs at you.

 

 

 

 

3) Guns don’t shoot themselves.

No. You can’t “curve the bullet”. It doesn’t matter how much you try.

I know that if you have ever seen a movie you know how to shoot, right? No. It is actually very difficult to learn how to shoot and hit the thing you are aiming at. You have to understand how the weapon’s sights work. You have to learn how to focus on only the sights while placing it in front of your target, without ever looking directly at the target. If you think that not focusing on the target makes no sense then you’re more of a danger to yourself than to the bad guys. In any case, learning how to accurately fire the weapon is very difficult and takes a great deal of time to master. If you ever want to get a weapon you need a great deal of professional education in one-on-one training in controlling your weapon and placing your shots where you intend them to go. This absolutely isn’t something you can teach yourself or your cousin Billy Bob can teach as you shoot stuff down by the river. You will only develop bad habits that will do you no good when you need it. Also, turning the weapon sideways doesn’t help, at all.

(If you’re curious you should check out the question Why do gangsters hold their guns sideways? for some interesting theories on why people do this, besides that they have never been trained.) 

I have been trained by the best weapons instructors in the United States Marine Corps. I’ve literally shot thousands of rounds from several different weapons systems and even in a completely stress free environment; a nice indoor range with my family just practicing, and I still don’t always hit where I want to. If you have never fired before then how well do you think you are going to do when you really need it?

(Heads up: This is going to end badly. Don’t quite see what’s wrong? Notice how she has the scope right against the eye, but the buttstock isn’t seated properly in her shoulder to absorb the recoil of the weapon? Think about it.)
“If only he had his gun…”

4) Emergencies never happen in the way that you can be prepared for.

I know that many people get hyped up with stories of dangerous encounters like someone breaking in at night, but this doesn’t happen as much as you would think. Some things to consider, there is more than one guy, the guy could be a child, the guy has a bigger gun, the guy attacks outside when you are in the city, the guy comes in the day when you are gone (and you just gave him a gun.)

The point is that you can’t say that you will be prepared and safe because you have a gun. You never know what you might be facing. You will be able to hedge your defenses much better if you instead invest in a very good security system. It will scare away predators under most situations, call for backup from police and help give you peace of mind even if you aren’t home or suck at shooting.

 

5) Guns are dangerous by design.

Shocker right? I know if you are reading this it makes it seem a bit patronizing. If you are considering a gun at home you need to think about the fact that at any point, it is always a gun. There is no safety that can’t be overcome, by a six year old. This stuff does happen.

Consider this horrifying scenario, what if you are disarmed because you aren’t ready to use the weapon. Now your weapon is his weapon, and you are worse off than if you just got a dog. What you can do is buy yourself a weapon with special biometric locks, but they’re expensive and rare. You could buy a gun safe and gun locks and all sorts of other things. These are great, but if you haven’t noticed, you will be fumbling and stumbling around in the middle of the night making noise and unable to even get the thing that is supposed to save you in the first place. These are things that take a great deal of time when you should be on the phone to the police anyway.

Yes, it’s still dangerous, yet adorable.

6) You shouldn’t ever “carry” a weapon for personal self-defense.

As a side note, I also have a serious grievance with those who think that they can use a weapon for personal self-defense outside the home. The fact is that if you are considering carrying a weapon in your pocket or purse, you are literally endangering everyone around you with virtually no chance of being of any use to anyone. First, a weapon that is not holstered is one of the most dangerous things a person can do to those around them. There are many ways that a weapon floating around can go off. If you carry one like this, I hate you. You’re going to hurt someone. Secondly, please imagine a time when you might need the weapon.

 

A robber comes up to you late at night beside your car. He pulls a knife and demands your purse with your car keys.

“Oh hold on just a second and let me find my gun.”

A few seconds go by. The robber impatiently reminds you of his presence.

“I’m very serious, about this you know. I am robbing you.”

“I know, I know. Just give me a second. I know it is over here somewhere.”

A few more seconds pass. The robber is getting very impatient.

“You see that I have a knife, right?”

“Just be patient.”

“I’m truly sorry, but I really must be going. I’ll be taking your purse now.”

“Oh, just one more second!”

He takes the purse and steals your car. Then as you stand there contemplating how the gun should have solved your problems, as you did when you bought it in the first place, the robber rolls down your window and throws your gun out to mock you. You hear Janie’s Got a Gun by Aerosmith playing on radio that used to belong to you. As you stand alone in the empty parking lot, you reflect on the song’s irony and how this didn’t play out the way you thought it would.

“…Damn.”

As a final note, if everything goes perfectly right, you might just have to kill someone.

The idea that you can bluff your way out of situation is not a good tactic, especially if you are dealing with someone truly violent. If you have a gun it needs to be for the purpose of killing someone when the need comes. If they view that their future lies in keeping you quiet, or if they feel that their life is being threatened (by your gun) they may attack you. In that case you will have to be able to kill him. There is no “shoot the knife out his hand or shoot him in the leg stuff.” It sounds nice, but you will be lucky to hit him in the chest like you’re supposed to (see point #3).  Do a self-analysis and ask, “Could I deal with killing someone, even if they are going to steal my stuff or hurt my family?” Yeah your first response is easy to say, “You bet I would,” but would you really?

I have been to Iraq twice and have had to think long and hard about what it would be like if I had to kill someone. Could I live with myself? Could I look at my wife the same again? I saw it in many of the other Marines who had. It is a traumatic experience that changes a person. If you really think you can’t do that, figure out a strategy you can honestly deal with without a moral breakdown. To add to your moral dilemma, according to Bureau of Justice statistics, you should also know that offenders were known to their victims in 65% of these cases. Consider, now, that that robber won’t be some random thug that you are doing the world a favor by wiping from the surface of existence. Instead, think about that target being your brother, cousin, friend or neighbor and then ask please ask these questions again.

What should you do?

My advice is that you think about prevention. It sounds cliché, but statistics support this. Of the break-ins that occurred, about a third happened because of an open or unlocked door or window. Installing a security system also makes you about 300% safer, as it hardens the target for burglars and scares away most when the alarm goes off before any people or property can be damaged. A good one can even send in the police when a break-in occurs. In this case, the best defense is actually a good defense.

house-alarm-system-install

I know that questions like this are often asked out of fear. People want to have a great deal of control over their situation, but when others put you in danger you can almost always never get it back. If you have recently experienced danger, I feel for you I really do, but moving without caution or reason isn’t the solution to your insecurities. The best bet is to rationally consider your options before a situation occurs.

The odd thing is that I actually support gun ownership. I agree with the purpose of the second amendment and have a few myself. I enjoy them and like to go to the range to practice the art, but I doubt I will ever need to use them again in my life. Most of my motives for this post, like I have said before, are that I really don’t think people think about all that goes into the reality of weapons ownership. I don’t think people who are afraid really consider the better defensive options to guns. I don’t think that they do the proper research and put in the time to practice, give respect to the safety rules, take proper care of their weapons or put enough effort into making sure the wrong people don’t use them. I don’t think they have the ability to protect themselves in such a case as this question and do think they would probably be putting themselves or others they love in danger.

In reality, I blame these individuals for much of the problems in the gun world. Have you ever wondered where so many of the unregulated guns come from? Many trace their roots to frantic people who just need to have a gun to protect themselves, then decide three weeks later that they just don’t want a gun in their house then dispose of it in whatever haphazard manner they come up with in another fit of fear. These weapons, lost in rivers, sold at unregulated pawn shops, or just given to some guy, are many of the weapons that enter the unregulated weapons stream and into the hands of those who would do wrong to good people. These are, often, the weapons that members of the gun regulation lobby advocate need to be restricted. This does little to the underground market for weapons, but much to punish those responsible gun owners who house and use their weapons legally. After all, it isn’t they who will be breaking the law with the weapons later on down the road.

california-guns-lawmakers-target-620x412

In closing, I really wish more people took more time before buying their first weapon. I wish it was a decision that more first time gun owners entered into with a rational mind, rather than with a reactionary, emotional mindset. I wished they did more research on weapons and spent more time training in their use. Sadly, this isn’t the case, so the best I can do is at least give people something to think about.