The U.S. exports billions of dollars worth of weapons each year. Sectarian conflicts and ancients resentments burst into flame. The U.S. is called to help put out the fire. American forces face American-made weapons. U.S. soldiers are wounded or killed by weapons made by U.S. citizens.
"From 1985 to 1995, parties involved in 45 of 50 world conflicts have received more than $43 billion in U.S. weaponry," writes William Hartung, director of the World Policy Institute's Arms Trade Resource Center, in his book And Weapons For All. Among the recipients were Morocco, Somalia, Liberia, Zaire, Chad, Indonesia, Haiti, Guatemala, Colombia and Mexico-all of them countries that are either convulsed by internal turmoil or engaged in military occupation of conquered lands. In volatile East Asia, the U.S. delivered arms from 1987-1994 to Japan ($8 billion); South Korea ($2.4 billion); Taiwan ($2.3 billion); Singapore ($1.7 billion); and Malaysia ($2.8 billion).
Randall Forsberg, director of the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies, comments that "the American military now defines its role as being able to protect U.S. interests in two simultaneous regional conflicts. It seems absurd to be spending $250 billion a year to accomplish that goal while selling billions of dollars in exports to areas where those conflicts are likely to break out. We end up fueling the conflicts we seek to contain."
Larry Smith, former counselor to Defense Secretary William Perry, agrees that "it is one of the major issues of security for the next ten years. To continue exporting weapons without a coherent strategy is... ill-advised. It is a problem that needs the country's attention. Unfortunately, it is not getting it."
To get the full picture, read "The Selling of U.S. Weapons," a devastating and illuminating special report in the Feb. 11 Boston Globe. It details the Clinton administration's domestic policy concerning the export of sophisticated weaponry worldwide.
Lawrence Korb, former assistant secretary of defense under Reagan and now senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, contends that "the brakes are off the system.
"When we armed our surrogates [during the Cold War] it was a defensible position. You could also argue, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, that the policy succeeded. But now there is no coherent policy on the transfer on arms. It has become a money game, an absurd spiral in which we export arms only to have to develop more sophisticated ones to counter those spread out all over the world. It is a frightening trend that undermines our moral authority in the New World Order. It is very hard for us to tell other people-the Russians, the Chinese, the French-not to sell arms, when we are out there peddling and fighting to control the market."
At the recent Dubai Air Show, U.S. companies staffed by top-gun pilots cut $5 billion in military deals with Arab nations. "The furious pace of business," explains the Globe, "underscored the fierce competition in foreign commerce, a war for profits that has eclipsed the ideological confrontation between East and West that had defined trade since the end of World War II."
The national competition to supply weapons is easily rationalized. "If we don't do it," explains Dov Zakheim, a former deputy secretary of defense with close ties to the Israeli lobby, "the French will; and if not them, the Israelis and then the British, and the Chinese and the Soviets."
Besides sheer greed, the catalyst of this deadly competition is the anarchy among competitive nations.
"The problem is that the issue is now viewed only in very parochial terms," says Paul Warnke, director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency under President Jimmy Carter. "Congressmen don't want to lose jobs in their districts. Defense companies see the profits in exports. The export boom just becomes one last desperate attempt for the industry to cash out."
McDonnell Douglas even led an industry consortium public relations campaign called "U.S. Jobs Now." It is generally seen as the opening push in a campaign to change the focus of the arms sales debate from foreign policy to domestic economic concerns.
The classic example of military boondoggling to protect jobs is Electric Boat's Seawolf bonanza. The Navy does not want another of these extravagantly expensive submarines; it already has two. The Pentagon does not want it either. Even Congress does not want it. And the taxpayers, God knows, do not want it. But General Dynamic, which owns Electric Boat and obtains 100 percent of its contracts from the military, wants it-in order, ostensibly, to protect the jobs of welders, engineers and designers waiting to begin work on the next line of nuclear subs in 1998.
The Seawolf's cost? A mere $2.8 billion.
Michael T. Klare, an arms proliferation specialist at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass, writes that China's current leaders, having closely observed the Gulf War, concluded that "you can't be a major military power without smart conventional weapons." Equipped with obsolete, low-tech MiG-17s and -19s, no match for Taiwan's recently purchased F-16s, Beijing bought advanced Sukhoi-17 jet fighters from Russia and seeks to procure more advanced MiG-29s and -31s from the same source. "China seems prepared to pursue arms sales opportunities...wherever they present themselves," noted a recent report on the arms trade by the Congressional Research Service.
"It is the greed of the arms trade that threatens our common future," he and other Nobel winners declared in a joint statement. "In a world where 900 million adults do not know how to read or write, and one billion people do not have access to potable water, the arms merchants bear much of the blame for this poverty."
Joseph Rotblat, 1995 Nobel Peace Prize Laureat, said in his acceptance speech, December 10, 1995: "I did not imagine that the second half of my life would be spent on efforts to avert a mortal danger to humanity caused by science. If all scientists heeded the call (to stop developing weapons of mass destruction) there would be no more nuclear weapons, no French scientists at Mururoa, no new chemical and biological poisons. The arms race would be thoroughly over."
International pressures have increasingly spotlighted attention to women's active presence in the halls of power-much of the pressure coming from the U.N. world conferences of the last two decades.
Examples of women moving out of their traditionally assigned roles and challenging the political status quo come from Africa.
Specioza Wandira Kazibewe, a year ago, was one of three women ministers in Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's cabinet. Then, unexpectedly, last November she became vice president; and now, at 40, she is the highest-ranking woman politician in Africa.
Sarah Jibril, the 50-year-old mother of four, shook up the political world by running for president in Nigeria. Her name went down in African history as the first woman to attack the male bastion on the presidency, even though she did not make it past the primaries.
Sylvie Kinigi in Burundi and Agathe Uwilingiyimana in Rwanda each led their countries' governments as prime ministers for several months. Uwilingiyimana was assassinated in April 1994.
Let us look forward to the time, under a world government, of world law, when 51% of the women will be holders of public office-a time when the most widespread attitude will not be one of surprise or hostility because the attitude of most men and many women consider the male monopoly on politics to be "natural."
Yet although Prime Minister Shimon Peres declared that "terrorism knows no borders, so borders must not restrain action to smash the terrorist snake," and Chairman Arafat claimed that "we are not alone because the powerful will of the whole world is backing us up," and President Clinton asserted that "the world looks to us for action...," no leader even hinted that maybe terrorism was a symptom of anarchy, which, in global terms, those same national leaders tacitly support.
Terrorism, as World Citizen News has pointed out, is outside the law....national law, that is. The very word connotes lawlessness. But no national leader can eliminate world anarchy, nor even admit the connection.
World anarchy is the antithesis of world law. And world law is the sine qua non of world peace.
No, it was not a "Summit of Peacemakers," but rather a disparate group of frustrated, angry and confused state leaders who unwittingly confessed their impotence to the world public as to terrorism's causes and cures.
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This page last updated Friday, July 5, 1996 - 5:16:49 PM
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