US Still the World Leader in Weapons Sales

The Boston Globe writer Bryan Bender provides another reminder that the US military-industrial complex is profiting from the sale of weapons to developing nations. In short, the rest of the world combined provides only 10 % more weapons than we do. Bender reports that:

The United States last year provided nearly half of the weapons sold to militaries in the developing world, as major arms sales to the most unstable regions — many already engaged in conflict — grew to the highest level in eight years, new US government figures show.

According to the annual assessment, the United States supplied $8.1 billion worth of weapons to developing countries in 2005 — 45.8 percent of the total and far more than second-ranked Russia with 15 percent and Britain with a little more than 13 percent.

Quoting a report compiled by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service:

“We are at a point in history where many of these sales are not essential for the self-defense of these countries and the arms being sold continue to fuel conflicts and tensions in unstable areas,” said Daryl G. Kimball , executive director of the nonpartisan Arms Control Association in Washington. “It doesn’t make much sense over the long term.”

The United States, for instance, also signed an estimated $6.2 billion worth of new deals last year to sell attack helicopters, missiles, and other armaments to developing nations such as the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, India, Israel, Egypt, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. Developing nations are designated as all those except in North America, Western Europe, Russia, Australia, and New Zealand.

In addition to weapons already delivered, new contracts for future weapons deliveries topped $44 billion last year — the highest overall since 1998, according to the report. Nearly 70 percent of them were designated for developing nations.
[See link to Global arms deliveries in 2005 graphic ]

Any hope that we could get international cooperation to stop this idiocy?

Washington’s desire to maintain the status quo was on display at a meeting at the United Nations on Oct. 26, when a UN panel voted to study whether a new treaty might be possible to regulate the sale of conventional arms. The United States was the only country out of 166 to vote no, though China and Russia were among a handful of countries to abstain.


But powerful interests in the global arms industry have long stood in the way of controlling the arms flow to the developing world.

After the 1991 Persian Gulf War, for example, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the United States, Russia, France, Britain, and China — pledged to limit the sale of arms to the volatile Middle East, attributing the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait to the region having been awash in high-tech arsenals.

More than a decade later, those pledges have gone unfulfilled.

[We are supplying weapons to what countries?]

But it is the United States that by far remains the top purveyor of high-tech arms to areas where analysts believe the likelihood of armed conflict remains highest. A study last year by the progressive World Policy Institute found that the United States transferred weaponry to 18 of the 25 countries involved in an ongoing war.

“From Angola, Chad, and Ethiopia, to Colombia, Pakistan, and the Philippines, transfers through the two largest US arms sales programs [Foreign Military sales and Commercial Sales] to these conflict nations totaled nearly $1 billion in 2003,” the report found.

Meanwhile, more than half of the countries buying US arms — 13 of the 25 — were defined as undemocratic by the State Department’s annual Human Rights Report, including top recipients Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Uzbekistan.


“The US would be significantly affected if there was an arms treaty that took into account human rights abuses and conflict areas,” added William Hartung , director of the Arms Trade Resource Center at the World Policy Institute in New York. “The US government still wants to be able to do covert and semi-covert arms transfers. And a certain amount of it is simply keeping factories running in certain congressional districts.”.

Could it also be that the US is also affected by continuing this kind of international trade? Or are there more folks than George Bush who think the death and destruction of the past three years will just be “a comma” in history? Because they know that there will be so many other conflicts during the coming years?

Cheney may think that torture is a ‘no brainer’. I think this qualifies as the epitome of ‘no-brainer’. The people who practice it clearly have neither brains nor hearts.

Bookmark and Share

Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to US Still the World Leader in Weapons Sales

  1. Ginny

    Of course BushCo doesn’t want to give up the lucrative weapons sales — it’s big $$$. What a bunch of sickos.

  2. battlebob says:

    If we don’t sell them, the ‘evil doers’ steal them from unguarded supply depots.
    Poor Repubs gotta make a buck somewhere.

  3. Ginny Cotts says:

    If the US limits it’s arms dealers, we lose American manufacturing and technical jobs – that are already dwindling.

    I have to wonder if they get subsidies too.

    Yeah, figuring out how to keep other countries from stepping into the vacuum if we cut back, guarding supplies and other means by which they spread would be a part of International Diplomacy. 🙄

    It all just keeps bringing Ike back to mind, For every bomb, fighter plane, boat, etc built, something of more value is not – roads, schools, hospitals. And ulitmately, it will be the people who stand up and insist on Peace. – the leaders will not get there without that.