Selling Weapons to the World 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.

A Back-Door Draft?

By Martin Leatherman,
On May 12 the Pentagon won the latest in a series of legal battles over its “stop-loss” policy, which keeps soldiers on active duty after their contracts have expired. Critics call the policy a “back door draft,” since volunteers must serve against their will. The U.S. 9th district Court of Appeals ruled (PDF) that Emiliano Santiago, a National Guard Reserve sergeant, had to follow orders to remain with his unit after completing his eight year contract. The court said that since Santiago’s unit was mobilized before his contract expired, it was legal to keep him. An executive order activated stop-loss in November 2002, according to

‘Nuclear Earth Penetrators’

By Martin Leatherman,
The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty meeting at the U.N. this month has spurred contentious debate about America’s pursuit of new, smaller nuclear weapons. The treaty was signed in 1968, and went into effect in 1970. President George H.W. Bush enacted a moratorium on nuclear testing in 1992, but the current Bush presidency’s 2002 Nuclear Posture Review paved the way for today’s efforts to fund new testing. The president’s 2006 budget asks for $8.5 million — split between the departments of Energy and Defense — for research into a nuclear bunker buster. Supporters say Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrators would be useful in the war on terror against hardened targets such as bunkers or underground chemical weapons arsenals.

Military Prison Abuse

Research by Allison Bloch, Intern 
Get the latest on this story. Not too long ago, there was no escaping Abu Ghraib. The prisoner abuse scandal dominated the news, the photos looming suddenly from every TV screen, newspaper and magazine. Since then, the issue has retreated from media’s front burner, displaced by the parade of political conventions, the autumn presidential campaign, even the Scott Peterson trial and steroid-abusing sports stars. But the larger issue has remained simmering in the background.