Major Mariam al Mansouri’s exploits are an unintended benefit of a looser arms export regime.
Arms sales bear a bad reputation for mortgaging global political sensibilities to domestic economic interests. But as a diplomat in Washington reminded me over dinner last week, to have influence, one must be willing to talk. As sociologist Ori Swed of the University of Texas once speculated to me, French and American arms sales to the Tunisian and Egyptian Armies provided those military organizations a more Western sense of political-military relations. Later, this led to at least some restraint during the Arab Spring. The contrast with the Soviet-trained Syrian and Libyan Armies remains remarkable.