Even as the Pentagon is engaged in two badly-run wars — Iraq and Afghanistan — and militarily involved all kinds of wars in all kinds of superfluous ways, the chief weapons merchant for the world in all these engagements is the one supposedly spreading democracy — the US.
Arming the planet keeps a certain part of the world’s economy surging.
(Illustration of Pablo Picasso’s ‘World Without Weapons‘ was found here).
According to the New America Foundation:
- The United States, which entered into over $23 billion in Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreements in fiscal year (FY) 2007 and $32 billion in FY 2008 (see table 1), is the world’s largest arms supplier.
U.S. exports range from combat aircraft to Pakistan, Morocco, Greece, Romania, and Chile to small arms and light weapons to the Philippines, Egypt, and Georgia.
In 2006 and 2007, the United States sold weapons to over 174 states and territories, a significant increase from the beginning of the Bush administration when the number of U.S. arms clients stood at 123.
Thirteen of the top 25 U.S. arms recipients in the developing world in 2006/07 were either undemocratic governments or regimes guilty of major ongoing human rights abuses.
This is a one-third reduction in the number (18) of top U.S. recipients that fit these categories when we last surveyed these trends in 2005, but the number of such recipients contrasts sharply with the Bush administration’s pro-democracy rhetoric.
Although the administration’s motivations for arming these nations-protecting oil flows, supporting antiterrorism efforts, or promoting coalition partnerships in theaters of war-are not without merit, the rationales for making these sales and their effectiveness in achieving U.S. policy goals need to be reconsidered.
Will U.S. weapons supplied to Iraqi and Afghan forces end up in the right hands or disappear into local black markets where they could just as easily end up in the possession of anti-U.S. rebels, insurgents, and terrorists?
Has the U.S. decision to arm and support Ethiopia in its recent war against Somalia helped to stabilize or destabilize the Horn of Africa? These and other questions will be addressed as appropriate in the country profiles that follow.
All of this is not to say that arms transfers do not have security benefits, particularly in the realm of fostering military cooperation.
But the level and types of exports provided to specific countries need to be subjected to much more careful scrutiny, including consideration as to whether the same benefits might be obtained through nonmilitary forms of engagement.
War and more war.
President-Elect Obama are you paying attention?