Now, Are We Good, or What?
by James Glaser
Strike up the band and get out the flags, 'cause the good old USA has done it again. For the eighth year in a row, now tell me if this isn't a record that will never be broken, America, the red, white, and blue is again number one.
1.That is right, NUMBER ONE, in both deliveries and new contracts for "Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations." Doesn't that do your patriot heart good? No one, not the Russians or even all those pesky Europeans put together could even come close to America's superiority when it comes to helping those little guys get the weapons that every developing nation needs so badly.
US arms manufacturers made new agreements worth $12.1 billion and delivered $9.7 billion worth of arms, capturing a staggering 45% of the whole world's total. Russia was a distant second, with a total of $9.4 billion in both new contracts and deliveries. Not even close to America's total score of $21.8 billion. Tell me now is that good old Yankee ingenuity or what? The whole world was just amazed that Bill Clinton could hold that record for seven years in a row, but there were many doubts that George Bush would be able to take over and keep this "dynasty" going. Many said that these were really impressive numbers for a first year President. Many have noted how Clinton didn't make it to the top, until his second term. Many are the whispers of the Cheney factor.
One of George Bush's real scores was the dropping of the ban on weapon sales to both India and Pakistan. What a bold move to drop those sales bans right in the middle of a crisis between these two nuclear-armed states. Russia has lodged a protest for America cutting into their longtime client relationship with India. Just about every official has called George's move, "by the book."
What makes this year's win even more impressive is the fact that global sales were down by $12 billion and US arms producers are looking for some more government support (which is totally legal in these Arms Sales Contests). The current rate of American government support for these producers is set at $7.8 billion annual subsidies, with tax dollars. There are several theories for this year's sales dip, but never fear that countries are seeing the danger and wastefulness in these purchases. There was a mammoth dip in 1997 due to Asia's financial crises and this year's economic downturn, combined with the $40 billion in sales in 2000 that slowed this year's sales figures globally.
Even in an economic downturn, some small countries can get a trophy. For 2001, the "Number One Arms Importer" goes to the State of Israel. Even in a time of sharply reduced revenues and a recession, the State of Israel has been an example to all countries on what their priorities should be. 2002 could be a record breaking year, as the United States of America makes a real effort to arm all of its partners in the War on Terrorism. US sales and military aid is strong for Columbia, the Philippines, Georgia, and Indonesia, now that these countries' insurgencies have become terrorists. This War on Terrorism gambit could keep the USA in the lead in these Arms sales for years to come. Also with the continued high sales numbers, it has been reported, there is little hope any of these developing countries will get out that category.
All facts and figures for this article came from Tamar Gabelnick's excellent article "The United States Is Still #1 In Arms Sales" published in CommonDreams.org, 8/10/02. Ms. Gabelnick directs the "Arms Sales Monitoring Project" at the Federation of American Scientists.
August 13, 2002
Jim Glaser [send him mail] is a Vietnam vet and a volunteer in veterans hospitals.
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