TELL THE U.S.
GOVERNMENT NOT TO COUNTER TERRORISM WITH ARMS SALES
ACTION ● BACKGROUND
In response to the
events of September 11, anti-terrorism legislation is currently being drafted
by the Bush Administration and the House and Senate. The current White House proposal, the "Anti-terrorism
Act of 2001," contains a provision which would lift all restrictions on
arms exports and military aid to India and Pakistan.
Legislation based on the Administration's proposal could be debated in
the House and Senate Judiciary Committees as early as next week.
Urge your members of
Congress to uphold existing laws controlling weapons exports and military
aid. In phone calls and letters, remind
your members that in the effort to reduce the threat of terrorism, the U.S. should not adopt policies which will lead to
an erosion of freedom, democracy, and respect for human life abroad.
Tell your members
that you strongly oppose lifting restrictions on arms sales to India, Pakistan, or any other country currently barred from
receiving arms. Lifting the ban on sales
of weapons to India and Pakistan could inflame long-standing tensions between
these two nuclear capable nations. In
your message, stress the importance that human rights - including respect for
democracy - be at the center of U.S. weapons export policy.
Call your member of
Congress using the Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121 or send a letter using the
Friends Committee on National Legislation's (FCNL) website to make
letter-writing easier. Start with an FCNL sample letter, personalize the
language, and then send your message as an email directly from the FCNL site
or, better yet, print it out and mail it. To view a sample letter, click on the
link below, then enter your zip code and click “Go” in the “Take Action Now” box.
To write the
President, click here:
To write your
Members of Congress, click here:
Last week, the Bush
Administration asked Congress, in the name of fighting terrorism, for authority
to waive all current laws restricting U.S. foreign military assistance and arms
exports. The proposed language, which
has since been withdrawn, could have allowed weapons transfers to countries now
barred as suspected supporters of terrorism, such as Syria and Iran, as well as to states with abysmal human
rights records, such Indonesia or even Burma.
On Monday, the
administration stepped back from this broad request, proposing instead to lift
all limitations on weapons transfers and military aid to India and Pakistan. Both
states had been under economic sanctions because of their active nuclear
weapons development programs. President Bush waived the nuclear-related
sanctions this weekend, but the proposed language would lift any other
restrictions that still apply. For example,
without this requested legislative change, Pakistan would still be barred from receiving weapons
and aid because of the military coup that took place in 1999.
It is disappointing
that in this time of crisis, the administration wanted to forgo not just
congressional oversight of foreign military ties, but also fundamental U.S. foreign policy principles. Even though the initial proposal was later
rescinded, this broad exemption could resurface in another form.
The current draft
provision on India and Pakistan would set just as dangerous a precedent by
pushing aside well-considered statutes designed to admonish states that test
nuclear weapons and militaries that overthrow democratically-elected
governments. In addition, sending arms
to India and Pakistan may do little to help us reduce the risk of
terrorism, but will surely increase the risk of inflaming long-standing
tensions between these two nuclear powers.
on the transfer 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 often boomerang back
on U.S. and U.N. interests. In Panama, Iraq, Somalia, and Haiti, U.S. soldiers have faced previously-sold U.S. weapons or technology in the
battlefield. This could happen again in Afghanistan. In
countless other states, 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 weapon sales restrictions, 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 more likely to reduce the poverty that is often the
breeding ground of terrorists and much less likely to end up arming terrorist
groups or assist state-supported repression