Since 1992, the United States has exported more than $142 billion dollars worth of weaponry to states around the world. The U.S. dominates this international arms market, supplying just under half of all arms exports in 2001, roughly two and a half times more than the second and third largest suppliers. [2 ] U.S. weapons sales help outfit non-democratic regimes, soldiers who commit gross human rights abuses against their citizens and citizens of other countries, and forces in unstable regions on the verge of, in the middle of, or recovering from conflict.
U.S.-origin weapons find their way into conflicts the world over. The United States supplied arms or military technology to more than 92% of the conflicts under way in 1999. The costs to the families and communities afflicted by this violence is immeasurable. But to most arms dealers, the profit accumulated outweighs the lives lost. In the period from 1998-2001, over 68% of world arms deliveries were sold or given to developing nations, where lingering conflicts or societal violence can scare away potential investors.
Of course, a loss of investment opportunities is not the only way Americans are impacted by the weapons trade. In addition to paying billions of dollars every year to support weapons exports, Americans may also feel the impact of increasing instability overseas. The United States military has had to face troops previously trained by its own military or supplied with U.S. weaponry in Panama, Iraq, Somalia, Haiti, and now in Afghanistan. Due to the advanced capabilities these militaries have acquired from past U.S. training and sales, the U.S. had to invest much more money and manpower in these conflicts than would have otherwise been needed.
There are few restrictions on whom the government may export arms to. One notable exception is the Leahy Law, which prohibits U.S. military aid or training to foreign military units known to have committed human rights abuses. Under the Pentagon's interpretation of the law, however, these restrictions may be lifted if the foreign government filters out the "few bad apples" in that particular unit. An International Code of Conduct on Arms Sales is also being negotiated with other arms exporters in the hopes of creating a common set of export criteria. Read on for more facts.
In 2001, total world arms transfer agreements were worth nearly $26.4 billion. The United States led the world with 45.8% of all such agreements. There are two primary channels through which U.S. arms manufacturers sell weaponry to foreign countries: Foreign Military Sales (FMS)and Direct Commercial Sales (DCS).
FY2001 total: $12.2 billion (deliveries)
FY2001 totals: $36.3 billion in licenses
FY2000 totals: $55.3 billion in licenses
For more facts:
*searchable database of license
and delivery breakdowns
*State and Defense Departments' annual "655 reports" to Congress
of required notifications to Congress on U.S.
As reported by Richard Grimmett of the Congressional Research Service (in "Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1994-2001"), U.S. weapons sales for 2001 accounted for 45.8% of all registered international arms deliveries. This was roughly than 2.5 times the value of exports by the second (United Kingdom) and third (Russia) largest exporters, 9.7 times the level of exports registered by France, and 19 times the level of exports registered by China.
For more facts:
*our links to foreign governments' annual arms
export reports and export policies
World military expenditures topped $839 billion in 2001, up from $798 billion in 2000. The United States government's military spending accounts for 36% of that amount, which does not reflect increases in spending following September 11.
For more facts:
*consult SIPRI's "Yearbook on Armaments,
*State Department tables on global military expenditures, including
levels, armed forces, GNP, and population; broken down
*our links to information on world military expenditures
On average, less than one percent of the federal budget goes to international affairs, and this pot must pay for everything from U.S. diplomacy to the Peace Corps, humanitarian aid, debt relief, the United Nations, and, of course, weaponry for foreign militaries. Of this international affairs budget, roughly a quarter - $5 billion - provides arms transfers and other military aid to Middle East allies.
The following is a partial breakdown dividing this security assistance budget among some of it's larger programs:
For more facts:
foreign security assistance programs and links
*further information on training
*U.S. Departments of State and Defense 2002 Joint Training Report
*U.S. Department of State account tables
Research & Development
The Pentagon spends over $30 billion annually in research and development ($37.9 billion in FY2001) (R&D), costs often not included in the price of arms sold to foreign purchasers.[11 ] The General Accounting Office estimated in 1995 that if "recoupment" fees were charged on all weapons exports to make up for the subsidized development costs, at least $500 million per year would be returned to the U.S. Treasury. more on R&D
Offsets are another form of economic support for U.S. arms exports. Offsets are side deals made by arms manufacturers to attract customers, usually consisting of agreements to allow a portion of the production to occur in the purchasing country. The largest recipients of U.S. military aid (Israel, Egypt, Greece, and Turkey) have been commonly known to use U.S. aid in offset deals, aid originally granted for the purchase of U.S. weaponry and services and expected to feed back into the U.S. economy by way of our arms manufacturers. However, due to offsets, this means U.S. tax dollars may actually support foreign weapons manufacturing. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that from 1993 to 1998, U.S. military contractors reported signing 279 new offset agreements valued at $21 billion. These offsets were in support of $38.5 billion in export contracts. more on offsets
The U.S. government can give away or sell at deep discount up to $425 million worth of surplus weaponry annually through the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program. The Pentagon can transfer another $200 million worth of military equipment on an "emergency" basis through the Drawdown program. more on giveaways
Top defense contractors (including sales to both U.S. government and foreign buyers):
One reason the defense industry has such influence in our government is because of federal campaign contributions. Past industry contributions as reported by the Federal Election Commission and presented by the Center for Responsive Politics:
For more facts:
*The Center for Responsive Politics reports
of campaign financing
by specific manufacturer, dollar amount,
*analysis on Defense campaign contributions
*top 100 weapons manufacturers for various years
Small Arms are the most common tool used in conflicts, repression, and crime. Having killed millions in the 1990's alone, they set a trend expected to continue into the new century. The versatility of these weapons directly correlates with the diverse and potent impact these weapons make on various regions of the world. One of these impacts is that due to their light weight and small size it is possible for combatants to compel children to become soldiers.
Small Arms kill hundreds of thousands of people every year, injuring many times more. There are approximately 500 million small arms in circulation around the world.
For more facts:
*small arms fact
to children, women, human
(state authorized) small arms imports and exports,
*information on July 2001 U.N. Conference on Small Arms
In Fiscal Year 1999, the United States delivered roughly $6.8 billion in armaments to nations which violate the basic standards of human rights (figure is conservative and based only on countries with major human rights problems).
For more facts:
*human rights records for recipients
of U.S. aid for the war on terrorism
*pending transfers of U.S.
weaponry to specific countries with
*country profiles covering U.S.
military aid and human rights
Of the active conflicts in 1999, the United States supplied arms or military technology to parties in more than 92% of them --39 out of 42. In over one-third of these conflicts - 18 out of 42 - the United States provided from 10% to 90% of the arms imported by one side of the dispute.
Between 1986 and 1995 the United States delivered $42 billion worth of armaments to parties in 45 ongoing conflicts.
U.S. arms or U.S. military technology were used by adversaries confronting U.S. soldiers in Panama, Iraq, Somalia, and Haiti. A significant portion of the $6 billion in covert U.S. arms and training sent to Afghan rebel groups in the 1980s was funneled to right-wing Islamic fundamentalist forces that now use these resources to attack U.S. allies and citizens.
For more facts:
*Above statistics on conflict collected
and reported by William D.
*SIPRI compiles yearly information on armed conflicts (on-line highlights)
Military aid and arms transfers are restricted by many provisions of law, which establish eligibility criteria for recipient states. For example, U.S. law forbids the transfer of weapons and military aid to states that have been subjects of miltary coups (Section 508 of the FY2002 Foreign Operations Appropriations Act), regimes that display a "pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights" (Section 502b of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961), or terrorist states (Section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act of 1976).
Nevertheless, the United States has a consistent record of giving military aid and weapons to governments that engage in serious human rights abuses, including Uzbekistan, Colombia, and Turkey. The U.S. government has also aided military governments. Pakistan, whose government was overthrown by a military coup in 1999, has been receiving emergency military aid as one of the U.S.'s new allies in the war on terror after a special law was passed waiving the military coup rule for two years.
For more facts:
*list of U.S. Arms Transfers Eligibility Criteria.
*list of U.S. Bills and Public Laws pertaining
transfers of U.S. weaponry to specific countries with
The International Red Cross has estimated that one out of every two casualties of war is a civilian caught in the crossfire. NISAT
Half of the world's governments spend more on defense than health care. Arias Foundation
The U.S. Arms Industry is the second most heavily subsidized industry after agriculture.
If you were to count by one number every second, without stopping, it would take you 11-and-a-half days to reach one million, and 32 years to reach one billion. (as reported by Earth Action)
Iceland has no military and no military expenditure.
The early 90's saw a post-cold war decline in world arms production. This decline has slowed considerably in the latter half of the 1990's, and military expenditure in Africa has been on the increase since 1997. SIPRI
The United Nations estimates there to be over 300,000 child soldiers around the world, now serving as combatants in over 30 current conflicts.
The Center for International Policy estimates that around 80% of U.S. arms exports to the developing world go to non-democratic regimes.
There are more landmines planted in Cambodia than people. Cambodia is just one of 64 countries around the world littered with some 100 million anti-personnel landmines.
Intended primarily to maim, landmines can lie in wait years after a conflict ends, causing 500 deaths and injuries per week. more on landminesThe U.S. government is training soldiers in upwards of 70 countries at any given time.
In the United States 32,000 people are killed per year by small arms, 13,000 of which are murders. SAWG
The United States Defense Industry is losing its share of the world market to increasingly aggressive foreign competitors.Counter-Point: The U.S. share in world arms exports rose from 35% in 1990 to 50.4% in 2000
If we supply the arms, we can control the use of the weapons.Counter-Point: When anti-independence militias organized and assisted by the Indonesian armed forces went on a violent killing spree in East Timor in September 1999, they were equipped with U.S. -origin M-16 rifles and other U.S. -origin equipment. The missiles attached to the wing of the Chinese fighter that collided with a U.S. surveillance plane in April of 2001 were Israeli Python missiles; missiles designed by studying the technology of U.S. Sidewinder missiles sold to Israel years earlier. These are just two of a multitude of scenarios in which U.S. arms exports have led to "uncontrolled" consequences.
"If we don't sell (fill in weapon) to (fill in country) someone else will." Counter-Point:: The U.S. can use its considerable political-economic clout to encourage its allies to adopt common export criteria. With ballistic and cruise missiles and anti-personnel landmines, the U.S. government ceased exports unilaterally and then successfully encouraged others to follow suit, effectively removing these weapons from the international market.
Point: Article 51 of the U.N. Charter gives every country has the right to self-defense. Therefore, since many nations do not produce their own weaponry, we are required to trade in arms. Counter-Point: The U.N. Charter in no way mandates that any government must provide arms to any other government.
Point: If we restrict arms exportation American jobs will be lost. Counter-Point: When assessing the employment "benefits" of arms exportation we must take into consideration the $7 billion plus in subsidies that underwrite the arms trade. The same investment in any other industry would create as much -if not more- employment. By moving productions jobs overseas, offsets also undercut the jobs argument.
"I have seen no evidence in my 24 years in Congress of one instance where because of American military involvement with another military that the Americans have stopped that foreign army from carrying out atrocities against their own people."-Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA)
"I would not feel any better to find American troops shot down with technology supplied by American companies if I knew there was mass marketing of those products." -Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN)
"No solution to ... the
broad challenge posed by illicit arms sales worldwide