Selling Weapons to the World

Newsdesk.org staff report

A new report claims that America's commitment to peace and security is belied by its status as one of the world's leading arms dealers.

"U.S. Weapons at War," a study released this month by the New York City-based World Policy Institute, an affiliate of the New School University, finds that American weapons were sold to 18 nations currently involved in "active conflicts" -- from U.S.-backed operations against Islamists in the Philippines and narco-militarists in Colombia, to regional power struggles in Angola, Nepal, Algeria, Indonesia, India and Pakistan.

This comes in the same breath as a report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which finds that in 2004 the nations of the world gave $1.035 trillion to the global arms industry -- up 25 percent from 2003.

The "primary driver" was the U.S., according to the BBC, which spent $235 billion on the war on terror from 2002-2004.

The United States is also one of the leading sellers of weapons. Some of its customers -- including Egypt and Saudi Arabia -- have been deemed undemocratic and abusive by the U.S. Department of State.

The White House opposed on human rights grounds the European Union's plan to lift its arms-embargo against China, but according to the New York Times remains in a military alliance with the repressive regime in Uzbekistan.

The BBC reports that the Bush administration has confirmed "making an exception to its own embargo" on weapons sales to Haiti, and now hopes to have the ban lifted entirely, to help police there put down political violence prior to elections in September.

According to the Associated Press, Pakistan has been approved to purchase Boeing Harpoon anti-ship missiles. It also bought Huey helicopters and F-16 fighter jets.

This complements increased weapons sales to its nemesis, India.

Already on a buying spree, India's recent procurements include an American radar system, according to the Calcutta Telegraph.

Since the end of the U.S. arms embargo in 2001, India has purchased American military hardware such as missiles and combat aircraft. F-16s and nuclear technology are also on the table.

In the Middle East, U.S. arms trade with Arab nations brought complaints from Israel.

According to the New York Post, Israeli air force head Eliezer Shkedi said that U.S. sales of sophisticated weapons to Egypt and Saudi Arabia would cause his nation to lose its "qualitative edge" over Arab states.

He also expressed concern about Saudi F-15s flying near Israeli airspace, missile and bomber sales to other Arab nations, and the potential that a regime change could put the weapons in extremist hands.

Israel has had no compunctions about selling weapons to China in the past, but is holding off for now, albeit reluctantly, due to U.S. pressure.

Although France is opposed to the war in Iraq, Bloomberg.com reported that French weapons sales were the only sector of its economy to grow in 2005.

Post-Soviet Russia is one of the top five arms dealers in the world, exporting approximately $1.4 billion in weapons annually through its vast, quasi-privatized military industry.

This kind of global economy makes networks of communities dependent on the weapons industry.

Massachusetts-based Raytheon, along with Lockheed Martin, recently won a $95 million dollar deal to sell their jointly developed Javelin anti-tank missile system to the U.S., Australia and nine other countries.

Other Javelin customers include Jordan, Lithuania, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom and the Sultanate of Oman.

The weapons are manufactured around the U.S., including Waltham, Mass., Ocala, Fla., Troy, Ala., and at facilities in Texas and California.

The company also is developing a $260 million ballistic missile defense system for the U.S. government. Most of the work will take place in Tewksbury, Mass.

Meanwhile, the small English community of Harlow, where Raytheon employees 700 people, is bracing for cutbacks in the company's U.K. operations.

Some religious leaders eschew investing in the defense industry in the name of social responsibility, although they hardly represent a united moral consensus.

According to the New York Times, the Church of England directs its $7.09 billion in investments away from the defense industry, as do the Catholic Aquinas Growth Fund and the Mennonite MMA Praxis group.

But the same article reports that the Catholic Values fund, which eschews pharmaceutical companies and insurers associated with abortions, owns shares of the defense contractor General Dynamics.

The U.S.-based, evangelical Timothy Plan avoids tobacco, alcohol and much of the entertainment industry, according to the Virginian-Pilot, but does buy shares in weapons, defense and security corporations.

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"U.S. Weapons at War 2005: Promoting Freedom or Fueling Conflict?"
World Policy Institute, June 2005

Weapons spending tops $1 trillion
BBC, June 7, 2005

Washington agrees military sales to Indonesia
Financial Times, May 25, 2005

U.S. aims to lift Haiti gun embargo
BBC, June 9, 2005

Big shopper Delhi fuels arms race
The Telegraph (Calcutta), June 10, 2005

E.U. arms-sales ban `will not be lifted'
Associated Press, May 20, 2005

Diplomatic air war on arms sales
New York Post, June 10, 2005

European economies: French industry output declines

Russian military industrial complex, 1991-2000
Kommersant, December 2001

Raytheon, Lockheed win $95M weapons deal
Business Journal, May 25, 2005

Defense contractor gets $260m radar contract
Boston Globe, June 9, 2005

Sultanate of Oman to purchase Javelin anti-tank weapon system
Spacewar.com, January 7, 2005

"Lithuania, Jordan agree to purchase Raytheon-Lockheed Martin Javelin anti-tank weapon system"
PR Newswire, January 11, 2005

U.S. approves Harpoon missile sales to Pakistan
Pakistan Daily Times, May 10, 2005

Double whammy
Herts & Essex Newspapers, June 9, 2005

Religious-minded mutual funds finding converts
The Virginian-Pilot, May 20, 2005

Religious values
New York Times, June 4, 2005

Bishops denounce arms sales loopholes
Ekklesia, May 30, 2005

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