Tell The U.S. Government Not To Counter Terrorism With Arms Sales!
The Bush administration and some members of Congress have been promoting arms sales and military aid as the best way to win foreign government support for the U.S. war on terrorism. For example, since September 11th , the U.S government has:
· Lifted military (and other) sanctions on India and Pakistan that had been imposed in response to nuclear tests in both countries and a 1999 military coup in Pakistan
· Provided $73 million in military equipment to Pakistan
· Offered $92 million worth of weapons to the Philippines
· Planned a new military aid and weapons package for Turkey and is considering wiping out $5.5 billion in military loans
· Dropped prohibitions on arms sales to Tajikistan
· Suspended sanctions against Azerbaijan
· Provided $42.2 million in military aid and training for Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan
· Raised the prospect for closer military ties with Armenia
· Proposed new combat and weapons training for Kenyan soldiers
Arms Sales Are Not The Answer!
Most of the states to which the U.S. government is increasing arms sales and military aid are in highly unstable regions. India and Pakistan are on the verge of a major war after Islamic militants attacked the Indian Parliament in December. Azerbaijan and Armenia are still locked in conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian-majority enclave in Azerbaijan. Turkey and the Philippines have been cited for human rights violations in their long-standing fights with rebel groups. Kenya and the Central Asian republics are have poor human rights records.
Lifting restrictions on the transfers of weapons may be politically expedient, but it is not good policy. History has shown that sending weapons and military aid to regimes in regions of conflict not only intensifies the violence in those regions, but can also boomerang back to hurt U.S. and U.N. interests. In Panama, Iraq, Somalia, Haiti, and even Afghanistan, U.S. soldiers have faced U.S.-origin weapons or technology in the battlefield. In countless other countries, U.S. weapons sold with disregard for human rights have been used to displace, repress, or kill innocent civilians.
We must tell members of Congress and the administration that we are strongly opposed to lifting current restrictions on weapon sales, which were put in place to protect lives and to support democracy and human rights. There are better ways to build an international coalition in support of the U.S. struggle against terrorism, such as economic aid packages or debt relief. These inducements are much less likely to end up arming terrorist groups or assisting state-supported repression, and could actually reduce the poverty that is often the breeding ground of terrorism.
- Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. In your letter, point out the danger of sending weapons to unstable regions and repressive states. Urge Congress to use economic and humanitarian aid, instead of military aid, as incentives for our allies in the war on terrorism. Let them know that you favor the highest possible standards for weapons exports.
- Sign an online petition to President Bush and put a link on your site to the petition. Sign a petition urging President Bush to exercise caution while exporting weapons, training and military aid to countries assisting the U.S. war on terrorism. If you have a web site, place a link to the petition in a prominent place so that even more people can tell the administration that we are concerned about the spurt of new military relationships that the U.S. is forming with countries around the globe.
Sample Letter to the Editor:
To the Editor,
Since the September 11th terrorist attacks, we as Americans have looked to our government to help us feel safe again. But over the past few months, the U.S. government has undertaken some policies that undermine the safety of individuals abroad. In the name of fighting terrorism, Washington has lifted arms embargoes against India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Azerbaijan. It has also offered increased military aid to the Philippines and Turkey and is developing closer military ties with Armenia, Kenya, and the Central Asian states.
Most of these states are either involved in, or on the verge of, violent internal or interstate conflict. By sending arms into these regions, the U.S. government may help provoke, prolong, or intensify conflicts in which civilians are often the ones who suffer most. Clearly the U.S. government needs to cement relationships with strategic partners in its effort to reduce the risk of terrorism. But economic aid or other non-military incentives would do a lot more over the long run to win the confidence of foreign citizens and to bring to them the same safety and stability we seek in this country.
As Congress begins the 2002 session, I hope Congressman/woman X (INSERT YOUR CONGRESSPERSON’S NAME HERE) will help maintain the strong export controls that help keep citizens safe – in America and abroad.