REPORT FINDS: RECORD $8.3 BILLION IN U.S. WEAPONS
from Demilitarization for Democracy's internet
Washington, April 28.
A report released today says that in 1997 the Clinton administration
set a record for exports of arms and training to dictatorships.
The Washington research center Demilitarization for Democracy
identified $8.3 billion in U.S. military exports to 52 countries
where the State Department says citizens are not allowed to choose
their government democratically. The center's director, Caleb
Rossiter, said that records were also set in 1997 for overall
U.S. arms exports, at $21.3 billion, and exports to developing
nations, at $15.6 billion.
The non-democratic recipients listed in the report, Arms Uncontrol,
range from Algeria to Zimbabwe. The largest recipients are: Saudi
Arabia ($4.7 billion), Kuwait ($1.4 billion), Egypt ($1.2 billion),
Thailand ($217 million), and Pakistan ($205 million). The report
also lists 47 non-democratic regimes in which 3,908 soldiers and
officers received U.S. military training in courses and exercises
At a Capitol Hill briefing on the report, Congresswoman Nita
Lowey (D-N.Y.) discussed legislative initiatives to control military
assistance to repressive regimes: "The trend in U.S. military
exports is alarming. If the Administration doesn't put the brakes
on military transfers to dictators, Congress will."
Congressman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) recalled his involvement
in successful efforts in 1990 to help end El Salvador's ten-year
civil war: "I fear that our loose export rules may be convincing
foreign leaders that we're not really serious about democracy.
In El Salvador, our goals were undercut by our arms transfers.
I would hate to see that happen in any other country."
Jan Willem Bertens, the Dutch Member of the European Parliament
who drafted the European Union's new Arms Trade Code of Conduct,
called on the United States to join that initiative, and follow
its human rights guidelines in deciding which governments should
receive military exports. In the report's foreword, Bertens and
Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias, the former President of
Costa Rica, said: "U.S. foreign policy promises a new era
of democracy and human rights, but this promise is subjugated
to the demands of arms-exporting corporations."
The British American Security Information Council (BASIC)
and the British research center Saferworld released a memorandum
on the European Union's Code of Conduct and its success in blocking
arms transfers to unstable governments. BASIC's Kate Joseph said:
"The conflict in Kosovo shows what can happen when repressive
regimes are provided with the means of violence. Without an effective
international Code of Conduct, we will be facing more of these
crises in the near future."
Speakers at the briefing included Tom Cardamone of the Council
for a Livable World Education Fund, who presented a report on
prospects for arms trade talks in Latin America, and Amnesty International's
Steve Rickard, who presented a Code of Conduct endorsed by Amnesty
International and 16 other Nobel Peace Laureates. General Robert
G. Gard Jr. (USA-ret.) of the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation
issued a statement on the report: "These exports to shady
characters can come back to bite us, as they did in Somalia and,
more recently, in Angola, where our hopes for a settlement went
up in smoke because of rebels we armed a decade ago."
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