Monday, 29 September 2008

War dividend

With the US taxpayer facing a likely $700 billion bill to bail out bankers' incompetence and greed, Congress will no doubt be delighted to hear that US arms exports have reached record levels under the second Bush administration. The Defense Department alone has agreed to the sale or transfer of $32 billion worth of weapons and equipment in 2008 – a near threefold increase on 2005. Sales by private companies, as measured by State Department-approved export licences, are approaching $100 billion – up from $58 billion three years ago.

As well as long-term customers such as Israel and Egypt (who between them receive four-fifths of the US’s $4.5 billion military aid budget annually), a big sales push has been mounted around the globe. Recent recipients of US arms include both Pakistan and India, Argentina and Brazil, and Georgia and Azerbaijan, demonstrating once again that, as true internationalists, arms dealers recognise no borders – except as an opportunity to do business with the countries on either side of them.

For the US and its military-industrial economic base, the ‘peace dividend’ that was supposed to follow the end of the cold war has been as nothing compared with the war dividend that followed 9/11. The US share of the world arms trade went up from 40 per cent of arms deliveries in 2000 to 52 percent in 2006, with the latest projections pointing to a further, similar increase by 2010. The next-largest arms dealer is Russia, with 21 per cent of the global market in 2006.

‘This is not about being gunrunners,’ Bruce S Lemkin, the US air force deputy under secretary who is helping to coordinate many of the biggest sales, told the New York Times. ‘This is about building a more secure world.’ Glad he cleared that up.


ad said...

a likely $700 billion bill

Bear in mind that it is more of a loan than a gift. They might even make a profit on the deal, if they are patient...

Angela said...

Yet, the UK is the #1 arms dealer in the world.