Rather than spending the money on education, health care, infrastructure, sustainable energy or foreign aid, the U.S. government has approved $32 billion to arm foreign countries in 2008, according to this New York Times article
. This is more than double the $12 billion that it spent in 2005, and doesn't include the private American firms that sell weapons to foreign countries; those sales have increased from $58 billion to $96 billion. Here are a few quotes from the article:
“This is not about being gunrunners,” said Bruce S. Lemkin, the Air Force deputy under secretary who is helping to coordinate many of the biggest sales. “This is about building a more secure world.”
Let's not forget that it was the Pentagon that sold weapons to Saddam Hussein in the '80s, and we all know how well that turned out. The Pentagon and elected officials in Washington have demonstrated decades-long incompetence for choosing whom to give military aid. The American people have no reason to think that the countries we are supporting now won't, in Orwellian fashion, become our most hated enemy 10 years later. Military aid is not about "building a more secure world," as Lemkin said, but it is instead about creating loyalty among the countries that the U.S. sees being geopolitically important in the near future, regardless of what dictators may run them.
Travis Sharp, a military policy analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, a Washington research group, said one of his biggest worries was that if alliances shifted, the United States might eventually be in combat against an enemy equipped with American-made weapons. Arms sales have had unintended consequences before, as when the United States armed militants fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, only to eventually confront hostile Taliban fighters armed with the same weapons there.
“Once you sell arms to another country, you lose control over how they are used,” Mr. Sharp said. “And the weapons, unfortunately, don’t have an expiration date.”
“Sure, this is a quick and easy way to cement alliances,” said William D. Hartung, an arms control specialist at the New America Foundation, a public policy institute. “But this is getting out of hand.”
As of now, the two largest arms manufacturers are the United States and Russia. Both countries are arming other nations to the teeth, hoping to keep allies from joining the other side. It sounds like the Cold War because it's the same story. Just as the U.S. and Soviet Union were once able to limit the number of nuclear weapons they developed, the U.S. and Russia should join in a new treaty limiting the amount of arms they sell to foreign governments. In order to have that sort of treaty, though, the U.S. has to stop antagonizing Russia and stop our militaristic rhetoric. Neither the Democratic or Republican parties want to harm this billion-dollar industry, so we won't see any change without a Green vote.
Labels: military-industrial complex