The Pentagon is giving Syria’s top arms supplier $553 million. Why? To buy thirty Mi-17 helicopters for Afghan forces who can neither fly nor maintain them.
I didn’t think this deal made sense either.
This arms sale not only wastes American taxpayers’ money, it goes against American values of freedom and democracy by benefiting the same Russian state arms dealer that has enabled Assad to slaughter Syrian civilians.
Urge Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to help end the human rights catastrophe in Syria by canceling the contract with Rosoboronexport. A bipartisan group of nine U.S. Senators have already demanded this action, but so far, the Pentagon isn’t listening.
President Obama said that stopping mass atrocities is not just a “core moral responsibility” of the United States but also a “core national security interest.” This manifestly applies to Syria. Congress agrees. It passed a 2013 defense budget bill that bans U.S. ties to Rosoboronrexport.
Yet even after the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction concluded that the arms sale is unnecessary and that Afghan forces are not ready or equipped to fly and maintain the Mi-17s, the Pentagon went through with its purchase.
In a time of fiscal austerity and a deepening crisis in Syria, the Pentagon should not be wasting money on an unnecessary arms sale from the same Russian arms dealer whose weapons have helped enable the murder of tens of thousands of Syrians.
If the United States wants to halt atrocities in Syria, it must isolate, pressure, and disrupt the enablers of mass atrocity. We can start by urging Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to cancel this arms sale with Rosoboronexport.