After reading a letter by David Traynier to the Guardian’s Ian Black regarding a report he’d penned on the recent US arms deal with Saudi Arabia, posted at Persistence of Vision, I found the article had been reproduced by the Irish Times the next day.
Traynier has since received a fairly uninterested response from Black (captured for posterity below), where he failed to answer any of Traynier’s reasonable questions:
“thanks for your email. i would say that the phrase “any military threat” includes the possibility that there isn’t actually one. a standfirst inevitably compresses material contained in the body of the article.
I thought it was worth following up, even just to allow Black the chance to dismiss another criticism.
Dear Ian Black,
I’ve just read your report for the Guardian on the US arms deal with Saudi Arabia, which has been republished (in part) by the Irish Times, and I had a quick question I hope you can answer.
You explain at the beginning of the report that the purpose of the “biggest arms deal in US history” is to “shore up [US] Gulf Arab allies to face any military threat from Iran.” And again, towards the end of the piece you write: “Questions about democracy, freedoms and human rights in the kingdom clearly have a lower priority than security issues.”
Would it be fair to say that in describing the deal as a ‘security issue’ designed to face a ‘military threat’ you have framed the sale of weapons as a ‘defensive act’? It seems to me as though you have dismissed entirely the possibility that the sale of arms could potentially be viewed as an act of provocation.
Even if the reader accepts that Iran may well, now or at some future point, pose a military threat to the US and its allies, the arms deal could, even then, only be reasonably seen as a tit-for-tat provocation between regional powers, definitely not a simple case of ‘security’ against a ‘threat’.
I’d be interested to hear back from you on this. I’m also copying the Irish Times foreign desk.
[Update: I should have said: Israel clearly sees it a provocation, and they’re an ally!]