Sunday 22 Jul 2018 | 02:58 | SYDNEY
Sunday 22 Jul 2018 | 02:58 | SYDNEY

Playing defence in the Gulf


Sam Roggeveen


11 September 2009 11:46

Rodger Shanahan has a point about the quixotic task Robert Gates has set himself in trying to promote security cooperation among Gulf states. There's clearly an element of self-interest there too, since the US can use such a plan to promote the sale of its missile defence systems. But if the Gulf states insist on building up their already inflated armouries, it is preferable to see them do it with defensive systems rather than with inherently destabilising long-range strike weapons.

Of course, Jim Molan is right that self-defence weapons can be used to protect more sinister military capabilities, and that seems to be Iran's motive in acquiring the highly capable Russian S-300 system. I was only making the point that, whatever Iran's real motives in seeking this capability, they have a handy justification for acquiring it when their regional neighbours insist on buying additional offensive hardware. It would be much easier to pull that rhetorical rug from under Iranian feet if Israel and the Gulf states focused on their own missile defences rather than more deep-strike capability.

Our email correspondent, Paul Winter, seems to have read my post as an apologetic for Iran's international behaviour. It was no such thing, but while Iran's terrorist sponsorship is an appalling crime and its nuclear development continues to be of concern (though we can't yet be certain it is a weapons program), we should remember that there is currently only one Middle Eastern state with 'a means of devastating non-conventional retaliation'.

Nor is there any sense overlooking Saudi Arabia's failings. On this of all days, we should remember that Saudi Arabia has at the very least been extremely negligent about tackling the 'Islamofascists' within its borders.

Photo by Flickr user abcdz2000, used under a Creative commons license.