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The Arms Trade is Big Business — Global Issues

Summarize this content to 500 words The world spends some $1,000 billion annually on the military. How is this so?As world trade globalizes, so does the trade in armsControl Arms is a campaign jointly run by Amnesty International, International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) and Oxfam. In a detailed report titled, Shattered Lives, they highlight that arms are fueling poverty and suffering, and is also out of control. In addition,The lack of arms controls allows some to profit from the misery of others.While international attention is focused on the need to control weapons of mass destruction, the trade in conventional weapons continues to operate in a legal and moral vacuum.More and more countries are starting to produce small arms, many with little ability or will to regulate their use.Permanent UN Security Council members—the USA, UK, France, Russia, and China—dominate the world trade in arms.Most national arms controls are riddled with loopholes or barely enforced.Key weaknesses are lax controls on the brokering, licensed production, and ‘end use’ of arms.Arms get into the wrong hands through weak controls on firearm ownership, weapons management, and misuse by authorised users of weapons.The Arms Bazaar, Shattered Lives, Chapter 4, p. 54, Control Arms Campaign, October 2003The top five countries profiting from the arms trade are the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: the USA, UK, France, Russia, and China.From 1998 to 2001, the USA, the UK, and France earned more income from arms sales to developing countries than they gave in aid.The arms industry is unlike any other. It operates without regulation. It suffers from widespread corruption and bribes. And it makes its profits on the back of machines designed to kill and maim human beings.So who profits most from this murderous trade? The five permanent members of the UN Security Council—the USA, UK, France, Russia, and China. Together, they are responsible for eighty eight per cent of reported conventional arms exports.We can’t have it both ways. We can’t be both the world’s leading champion of peace and the world’s leading supplier of arms. Former US President Jimmy Carter, presidential campaign, 1976The Arms Industry, Control Arms Campaign, October 2003In order to make up for a lack of sales from domestic and traditional markets for military equipment, newer markets are being created or sought after. This is vital for the arms corporations and contractors in order to stay afloat.Respect for human rights is often overlooked as arms are sold to known human rights violators.Heavy militarization of a region increases the risk of oppression on local people. Consequently reactions and uprisings from those oppressed may also be violent. The Middle East is a current example, while Latin America is an example from previous decades, where in both cases, democracies or popular regimes have (or had) been overthrown with foreign assistance, and replaced with corrupt dictators or monarchs. Oppression (often violent) and authoritarianism rule has resulted. Sometimes this also itself results in terrorist reactions that lash out at other innocent people.A deeper cycle of violence results. The arms trade may not always be a root cause, because there are often various geopolitical interests etc. However, the sale of arms can be a significant contributor to problems because of the enormous impact of the weapons involved. Furthermore, some oppressive regimes are only too willing purchase more arms under the pretext of their own war against terrorism.In quoting a major international body, six basic points harshly criticizing the practices and impacts of the arms industry are listed below, by J.W. Smith:That the armament firms have been active in fomenting war scares and in persuading their countries to adopt warlike policies and to increase their armaments.That armament firms have attempted to bribe government officials, both at home and abroad.That armament firms have disseminated false reports concerning the military and naval programs of various countries, in order to stimulate armament expenditure.That armament firms have sought to influence public opinion through the control of newspapers in their own and foreign countries.That armament firms have organized international armament rings through which the armament race has been accentuated by playing off one country against another.That armament firms have organized international armament trusts which have increased the price of armaments sold to governments.J.W. Smith, The World’s Wasted Wealth II, (Institute for Economic Democracy, 1994), p. 224But, this was not of the arms industry of today. Smith was quoting the League of Nations after World War I, when Stung by the horrors of World War I, world leaders realized that arms merchants had a hand in creating both the climate of fear and the resulting disaster itself.. And unfortunately, it also summarizes some of the problems of today, too. Justification for arms and creating the market for arms expenditure is not a new concept. The call to war and fear-mongering is an old tradition.This rush to globalize arms production and sales ignores the grave humanitarian and strategic consequences of global weapons proliferation. Already, profit motives in the military industry have resulted in arms export decisions that contravene such U.S. foreign policy goals as preserving stability and promoting human rights and democracy.Globalized Weaponry, Foreign Policy In Focus, Volume 5, Number 16, June 2000Hidden Corporate Welfare?Industrialized countries negotiate free trade and investment agreements with other countries, but exempt military spending from the liberalizing demands of the agreement. Since only the wealthy countries can afford to devote billions on military spending, they will always be able to give their corporations hidden subsidies through defence contracts, and maintain a technologically advanced industrial capacity.And so, in every international trade and investment agreement one will find a clause which exempts government programs and policies deemed vital for national security. Here is the loophole that allows the maintenance of corporate subsidies through virtually unlimited military spending.Stephen Staples, Confronting the Military-Corporate Complex, presented at the Hague Appeal for Peace, The Hague, May 12th 1999.Vast government subsidies are sought after in the pursuit of arms trading.US and European corporations receive enormous tax breaks and even lend money to other countries to purchase weapons from them. Therefore tax payers from these countries end up often unknowingly subsidizing arms sales.While there are countless examples, a recent one that made a few news headlines was how Lockheed managed to get US subsidies to help sell a lot of fighter planes to Poland at the end of 2002/beginning of 2003. This was described as the biggest deal ever in Europe at that time.Arms Trade Post September 11, 2001To counter the horrific act of terrorism in the United States, on September 11, 2001, George Bush has started a War on Terrorism. However, Human Rights Watch has argued that in the pursuit of military policies which include selling arms or providing assistance to other countries, the U.S. has expressed minimal concern about the potential side effects. That is, the increase in militarism itself is risking both the restriction of people’s rights, and the entrenching of power of those who violate human rights.In addition, the Federation of American Scientists also raise the issue that U.S. military aid has been justified around the world on the grounds of the war on terror, even though that has at times been a dubious reason. In addition, previous restrictions or conditions for military aid are being jettisoned:The relentless assault on [U.S.] military aid restrictions that began shortly after the September 11th attacks … has continued unabated. This spring the [Bush] administration attempted yet again to win blanket exemptions for aid distributed as part of the war on terror by including language in the FY2002 supplemental appropriations bill that waives most existing restrictions and reporting requirements. The administration’s second attempt was more successful. Two key Defense Department funding allocations—$390 million to reimburse nations providing support to U.S. operations in the war on terror and $120 million for certain classified activities—can now be delivered notwithstanding any other provision of the law. This means there will be none of the normal restrictions placed on this large sum of military aid.The provision on classified activities is especially troubling because it permits projects not otherwise authorized by law, in other words, covert actions. Not only is the language in the Supplemental opaque, attempts to get more information from a defense committee staffer led nowhere. He refused to answer questions about the intended use of the funds, the applicability of foreign aid restrictions, and reporting requirements on the grounds that all of that information is classified. In other words, there will be no public scrutiny of this aid, and that’s just fine with Congress.The Bush administration may also be successful in its campaign to ease restrictions on military aid and training to Indonesia despite that country’s utter failure to improve its military’s human rights practices. In May, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld proclaimed that it is time for [the restrictions] to be adjusted substantially. If the results of the Senate Appropriations committee mark up are any indicator, Mr. Rumsfeld is likely to get his wish.… This latest round of military aid has made one thing clear: the U.S. military has…

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