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    happy memorial day..., 2005-05-26 13:06:49 | Main | krugman v. orkent..., 2005-05-31 13:27:03

    a world of declining conflict, redux:

    per my earlier haymaking the Arms Trade Resource Center has just released its report for 2003, in which we find the US directly supplied arms to 72% of all ongoing conflicts:

    In 2003, the last year for which full information is available, the United States transferred weaponry to 18 of the 25 countries involved in active conflicts. From Angola, Chad and Ethiopia, to Colombia, Pakistan and the Philippines, transfers through the two largest U.S. arms sales programs (Foreign Military Sales and Commercial Sales) to these conflict nations totaled nearly $1 billion in 2003, with the vast bulk of the dollar volume going to Israel ($845.6 million).

    In 2003, more than half of the top 25 recipients of U.S. arms transfers in the developing world (13 of 25) were defined as undemocratic by the U.S. State Departments Human Rights Report: in the sense that "citizens do not have the right to change their own government" or that right was seriously abridged. These 13 nations received over $2.7 billion in U.S. arms transfers under the Foreign Military Sales and Commercial Sales programs in 2003, with the top recipients including Saudi Arabia ($1.1 billion), Egypt ($1.0 billion), Kuwait ($153 million), the United Arab Emirates ($110 million) and Uzbekistan ($33 million).

    When countries designated by the State Departments Human Rights Report to have poor human rights records or serious patterns of abuse are factored in, 20 of the top 25 U.S. arms clients in the developing world in 2003-- a full 80%-- were either undemocratic regimes or governments with records of major human rights abuses.

    If memory serves the number was hovering around 50% in the 90s, and this represents a significant increase in the portion of ongoing slaughter the US is happy to skim profits off of and sink investment into. This goes beyond my earlier lamentation that US arms found their way through various means, many of which the US does not control, into most ongoing conflicts worldwide, by specifying how many of them are getting US equipment direct from the source: the vast majority of them.

    One would imagine that with an official policy of supporting democracy, peace, and human rights abroad we would be primarily offering our support to countries with decent records in democracy, peace, and human rights. If you go back and count Bush probably trumpets these ideals - freedom, liberty, rule of law, etc. - almost more than he does the first order of his official business: American national security. If you don't count expressions concerning the 'global war on terror' - which is in principle the global elimination of the use of a particular, illegal tactic on the basis of international law, and not confined to only preventing the use of that tactic against Americans - then there's just about nothing there but speechifying about freedom and democracy. Which I'm OK with, those are good secondary goals that would - and Bush demonstrates a decent handle on the argument often enough - enhance the principle objective which is to protect America from foreign attack.

    Except that his administration's actual policy is directed on the basis of narrow, often antithetical concerns like whether or not aid recipients adopt our opposition to the International Criminal Court. Other actions, like the invasion of Iraq, required abandoning not only the first principle of defending American soil but entailed, progressively and almost immediately, abandoning all the pronounced secondaries - there's almost no debate to be had about that except for democracy promotion, which is the last clawing excuse of people who choose not to acknowledge that the US occupation obstructed it at every turn, and continue to obstruct on crucial matters of US policy for both American and Iraqi publics - both of which strongly agree on what the first order of business should be. The remaining list of possible reasons why our leaders were fixing the facts around the policy are either minor, petty, or, shall we say, reprehensibly evil.

:: posted by buermann @ 2005-05-27 13:27:01 CST | link

    go ahead, express that vague notion

    your turing test:

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