Foreign Policy News Stories
United States: The World's Leading Merchant of Death
SYNOPSIS: In the 1980s, global arms-spending rocketed to nearly
$1 trillion annually-or about $2 million a minute. The two leading
arms merchants were the United States and the former Soviet Union.
Now the Soviet Union is gone, but its place has been taken by
others with the U.S. leading the pack.
With the end of the Cold War, some Americans hoped U.S. arms
production and sales would be reduced and arms plants converted
to civilian factories. This has not happened; instead, the U.S.
has kept its arms factories humming with exports. Some facts from
the Center for Defense Information include the following:
The U.S. is the world's top weapons supplier.
1) The U S. has provided more than $128 billion in weaponry
and military assistance to more than 125 of the world's 169 countries
2) The U.S. continues to provide arms to a number of nations
with chronic records of human rights violations.
3) In Latin America, El Salvador's bloody regime garners the
largest share of U.S. military sales.
Meanwhile, there are reports of increasingly hostile world
opinion against militarization, which the U.S. appears to be ignoring.
Critics say the continued pathology of U.S. arms-spending, exacerbated
by the decline in U.S. productivity in the '70s and '80s, can
only further intensify the problems in America.
UPDATE: A well-documented analysis by the British Medical
Journal (10/14/95) reported, "In 1986 the United States accounted
for 13 percent of worldwide arms exports, but today its share
of the weapons market is an astounding 70 percent. Furthermore,
66 percent of all United States arms exports are to developing
nations, many with fragile autocracies that are easily destabilized."
The Journal also noted that the risk of worldwide mass violence
can be reduced if global arms sales are restricted. This is something
the President can do unilaterally. The New York Journal (8/22/95)
reported that the United States Arms Export Control Act of 1976
gives the President the power "to control the import and
the export of...defense articles and defense services."
Pentagon's Post-Cold-War Black Budget is Alive and Prospering
SYNOPSIS: Today, and every day, close to $100 million flow
through underground pipelines from the U.S. Treasury to the Pentagon
to fuel the national-security machinery of the United States.
The "Black Budget" is the secret treasury of the nation's
military and intelligence agencies. It is appropriated and spent
with only the scantiest public debate or media scrutiny.
Of the roughly $36 billion in the secret budget, about $5
billion goes to build and develop weapons programs, many of which
remain so highly classified that only the two most senior members
of the congressional armed services and appropriations committees
know anything about them.
Why isn't there more publicity? After all, public pressure
and congressional anger forced the lid off the now infamous B-2
bomber. But the realization that the Cold War has ended apparently
has not yet penetrated the inner catacombs of the Pentagon.
The solution is not difficult. Congress could demand disclosure
of data on the cost and character of secret programs but has only
done so on a piece meal basis, nor has Congress ever confronted
the underlying fact that the secrecy system itself defies the
Constitution, which requires the government to publish a complete
and accurate account of all federal spending.