State Department Buys Surface-to-Air Missiles

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State has a program to buy and destroy MANPADS (man-portable air defense systems), i.e., surface-to-air missiles, throughout the world. It makes no economic sense to me because these are manufactured in 25 or more countries and State augments the demand curve. This just augments profits of everyone in the supply chain and brings out more supply. As fast as State buys and destroys, that fast are more missiles produced and distributed. It also makes no sense in terms of national defense for the U.S. to be engaging governments throughout the world in these buy-back or buy-up efforts. The U.S. chooses up sides, siding with the existing government such as it is. It makes deals, spreads around money, becomes a partner in corruption knowingly or unknowingly, and sends funds into the hands of whoever has these arms, often the side it thinks it’s fighting. Every deal entangles the U.S. in the politics and conflicts within some far-flung region, making enemies of the U.S. right and left. State speaks of “the proliferation of illicit conventional weapons” as a big problem. A much bigger problem is the proliferation of dumb bureaucratic government programs like this one.

State justifies its program with worries that proliferation ”in regions of the world suffering from political instability and violent conflict has proven a major obstacle to peace, economic development, and efforts to rebuild war-torn societies. In places like Afghanistan, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, and Colombia, thousands of innocent civilians have been killed and tens of thousands more displaced by ethnic and civil conflicts perpetuated in large part by easy access to illicit conventional weapons…” I for one don’t want a government that taxes me at its will in order to act as a social welfare agency for the world and an incompetent social agency at that; and one that proliferates enemies and American wars throughout the world. The grotesque War on Terror provides one cover story for this endless quest for political stability. The other cover story is to spread “democracy” to all those peoples, lands, nations, weak states, unstable states, and failed states that don’t now have it. This is yet another corrupt form of forcibly bringing what one thinks is the true religion to everyone else. These efforts are naive, clumsy, heavy-handed, inept, and misguided. They are bound to backfire. U.S. government is no moral paragon for the rest of the world. A government that has a huge debt, that has brought on 10% unemployment, an insolvent banking system, social promises that cannot be kept, dangerous and expensive military engagements throughout the world, wars that drain the country, and falling living standards for huge numbers of Americans is in no moral position to spread its form of government to others.

9:03 am on December 5, 2010