I'm not in the habit of taking Trump's announcements at face value, but when news broke that Trump had sold a large package of arms to Saudi Arabia, I did.
Our sales of arms to dubious customers predates Trump's reign by half a century so I had little reason to be skeptical but, in hindsight, I should have been.
According to a new report from the Brookings Institute, Trump's big arms deal doesn't really exist and it includes theoretical sales brokered by the Obama administration before Trump even declared his candidacy.
Some of the weapons included in the fake "deal," such as a new type of frigate, also don't exist yet.
There is no $110 billion deal. Instead, there are a bunch of letters of interest or intent, but not contracts. Many are offers that the defense industry thinks the Saudis will be interested in someday. So far nothing has been notified to the Senate for review. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the arms sales wing of the Pentagon, calls them “intended sales.” None of the deals identified so far are new, all began in the Obama administration.
An example is a proposal for sale of four frigates (called multi-mission surface combatant vessels) to the Royal Saudi navy. This proposal was first reported by the State Department in 2015. No contract has followed. The type of frigate is a derivative of a vessel that the U.S. Navy uses but the derivative doesn’t actually exist yet. Another piece is the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense system (THAAD) which was recently deployed in South Korea. The Saudis have expressed interest in the system for several years but no contracts have been finalized. Obama approved the sale in principle at a summit at Camp David in 2015. Also on the wish list are 150 Black Hawk helicopters. Again, this is old news repackaged. What the Saudis and the administration did is put together a notional package of the Saudi wish list of possible deals and portray that as a deal. Even then the numbers don’t add up. It’s fake news.
When Trump announced the arms sale, he touted it as some kind of jobs program. "Jobs jobs jobs" he said on Twitter.
Those jobs also don't exist.