Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Guns Not Roses

One year ago Mark Benjamin highlighted the escalating arms transfers to Iraq by the United States. In testimony before the Senate Armed Service Committee General David Petraeus noted that "Iraq is becoming one of the United States' larger foreign military sales customers."

The transfer and sales of arm to Iraq and around the world have only escalated. US government-brokered arms sales are now expected to reach $34 billion for the fiscal year. It is a 45% increase from the year before. The NYT reported Sunday that “about 60 countries get combined annual military aid from the United States totaling $4.5 billion a year to buy American weapons. Israel and Egypt receive more than 80 percent of that aid.”

The United States is the largest supplier of weapons and weapons systems in the world. Arms sales have always been a key instrument of U.S. foreign policy. They are central to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and a price of alligence for other countries around the world. They also create hugh profits for the arms merchants Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co, Northrop Grumman Corp, General Dynamics Corp and Raytheon Co.

"This is not about being gunrunners," said Bruce Lemkin, the Air Force deputy undersecretary who is helping to coordinate many of the biggest sales. "This is about building a more secure world."

As part of our campaign to heal the wounds of war, and promote alternatives to war funding we promote four Peacebuilding measures.

Stop funding the U.S. military presence in Iraq
Negotiate a timetable for a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces
Withhold funding allocated for arming Iraq’s sectarian militias and armed forces
Suspend plans to implement a $60 billion U.S. arms package to the region

Mark Malan, writing for Refugees International spells out the dangers of the dominant role the military is playing in shaping US foreign policy.

“Foreign assistance represents less than one percent of the federal budget, while defense spending is 20%. The U.S. military has over 1.5 million uniformed active duty employees and over 10,100 civilian employees, while the Department of State has some 6,500 permanent employees. Although several high-level task forces and commissions have emphasized the urgent need to modernize our aid infrastructure and increase sustainable development activities, such assistance is increasingly being overseen by military institutions whose policies are driven by the Global War on Terror, not by the war against poverty. Between 1998 and 2005, the percentage of Official Development Assistance the Pentagon controlled exploded from 3.5% to nearly 22%, while the percentage controlled by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) shrunk from 65% to 40%.”

1 comment:

Tholits said...

"Foreign assistance represents less than one percent of the federal budget, while defense spending is 20%."

No wonder we feel in the Philippines that RP-US Relations is more about mutual support of wars our nations engage in, instead of mutual economic support. Is there a chance to change that? I found a shirt that says it here: http://www.cafepress.com/think_then_vote/5986899