Arm Sales to Poor Nations

World Military Spending Out Does Anything Else

World military spending has now reached one trillion dollars, close to Cold War levels.

Although the Cold War came to an end over a quarter century ago, international arms sales only declined temporarily at the end of the last century. Instead, the United States under President Trump is extending its arms superiority over the rest of the world.

Meanwhile, some fast-growing developing countries are now arming themselves much faster than their growth rate. Such expensive arms imports mean less for development and the people, especially the poor and destitute who constitute several hundred million in India alone.

Arms-exporting governments are reneging on their promises by failing to take into account the impact that the arms trade has on poverty, Oxfam says in a report published this week.

Arm Sales are diverting resources from areas such as health and education.

The report, Guns or Growth, says six developing countries — Oman, Syria, Burma, Pakistan, Eritrea and Burundi — spend more on arms than they do on health and education combined.

It says governments that sell arms can assess the impact these sales will have on poverty in their client nations, and that they should agree on an international treaty to control the trade and safeguard sustainable development and human rights.

“Government failure to stick to their own promises on arms exports means that children are denied an education, Aids sufferers are not getting treatment and thousands are dying needlessly,’’ said the director of Oxfam Great Britain, Barbara Stocking.

– In 2002 weapons delivered to Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa constituted more than two-thirds of the value of all arms deliveries worldwide

Arms exporters

The five biggest exporters during 2012–2016 were the United States, Russia, China, France and Germany.

In 2002, 90% of all arms deliveries to Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa came from the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

Corrupt practices are common. The industry comes second in the “bribe payers index’’ of Transparency International.

India, the world’s largest arms importer, has more of the world’s abject poor (280 million) than any other country,

The end of the Cold War in the early 1990s had raised expectations of a ‘peace dividend’. Many hoped and expected the arms race to decelerate, if not cease; the resources thus saved were expected to be redeployed for development and to improve the lives of ordinary people.

But the arms trade has continued to grow in the new millennium, after falling briefly from the mid-1990s. And without the political competition of the Cold War, official development assistance (ODA) to developing countries fell in the 1990s. Such ODA or foreign aid only rose again after 9/11, the brutal terroristic attack on US symbols of global power, only to fall again after the global financial crisis.

As mentioned above, the War on Terror has seen the U.S. selling weapons or training to almost 90% of the countries it has identified as harboring terrorists. Yet, for decades, a lot of the arms that the West has sold has gone into the hands of military dictatorships or corrupt governments. This can have the additional intention or effect of hampering any form of democracy in those countries.

Last year the U.S. controlled half of the developing world’s arms market…. This dominance of the global arms market is not something in which the American public or policy makers should take pride in. The U.S. routinely sells weapons to undemocratic regimes and gross human rights abusers