Chapter 2


This section lays out the most common arguments heard in defense of the United States' role in the arms trade and provides rebuttal.


Why has the Clinton administration (as well as the Bush administration before it) not pursued efforts to rein in the arms market since the end of the cold war? Domestic political and economic reasons are the most obvious explanation, but there are a host of diplomatic and security rationales given, as well. We have collected here the most prevalent arguments used to justify the lethal business, along with our responses. By "arming" activists with rebuttal, we hope that you might be able preempt these cliches and pat arguments and more effectively engage policymakers.


"If we don't sell (fill in with weapon) to (fill in with country), somebody else will."

This amoral reasoning is a favorite rallying cry of industry, which claims that past unilateral efforts by the US government to restrain arms to a particular regime or region have simply cost US companies business, while other suppliers-usually in Europe-stepped in to make the deal. "Is there some reason you want French workers to get this job," Joel Johnson, of the Aerospace Industries Association, asks rhetorically whenever a call for restraint is made-even when the intended customer has an appalling human rights record.

Leaving aside morality, this argument implies a false dichotomy: Either US industry makes the sale, or some other supplier does. But there is a third way. The US administration could bar American firms from making the transfer and use its considerable political-economic clout to encourage its allies to reciprocate.

Meanwhile, the industry claims that it supports multilateral export control efforts. It knows, however, that multilateral agreement will not be achieved without US leadership committed to self-restraint in arms sales. If US policy sets a standard, the government can challenge others to adhere to similar standards. With ballistic and cruise missiles and anti-personnel landmines, the US government ceased exports unilaterally and then successfully encouraged others to follow suit. US leadership effectively removed these weapons from the international market. (Unfortunately, Washington has not been playing a similar leadership role in efforts to ban the use of landmines.) Given this "Catch-22" relationship between unilateral and multilateral controls, the arms manufacturers know they are safe in backing the latter.

When then-Assistant Secretary of State Reginald Bartholomew told Congressman Lee Hamilton in 1991 that others would fill the void if the United States imposed a moratorium on arms supplies to the volatile Middle East, Rep. Hamilton replied that "the problem has not been renegade suppliers. The problem has been the permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council." These five countries (the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France) historically-and currently-account for about 90 percent of the world's arms shipments (in terms of dollar volume). Unfortunately, though, aggressive post-Gulf war arms selling by these countries, and the lack of any negotiated restraint, has encouraged Israel, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey to get into the game. In the past few years these countries have become more aggressive in seeking sales, no doubt following the US government's lead.


"American arms create regional strategic balances."

According to the official conventional arms transfer policy of the Clinton White House (see p. 37), American arms exports promote regional stability by creating balances of power and building up the deterrent capabilities of US friends and allies. There are several problems with such thinking.

First, the United States-as noted above-is not the only arms supplier. American weapons shipments very often engender a response from other buyers and sellers. For example, the Pentagon has channeled billions of dollars of sophisticated weaponry to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates in the 1990s, reputedly to help these countries deter attack by Iraq or Iran. At the same time, however, Iran's threat perception has increased accordingly, spurring Tehran to seek more weaponry. Because Iran (unlike Iraq) is not under a UN arms embargo, it finds willing suppliers-principally in China and Russia. Arms sales to Iran are then said to be "destabilizing" and to warrant more arms transfers from America, again in pursuit of an elusive strategic arms balance.

Granted, the ability to create regional balances is undoubtedly facilitated by the fact that the United States is arming both sides in many regional competitions-Greece and Turkey, Persian Gulf sheikdoms and Israel, Egypt and Israel, China (to a limited degree) and Taiwan. Until their recent nuclear tests, the administration appeared ready to supply arms to both India and Pakistan.

A second problem with this argument is the fundamental relationship of weapons to warfare. Weapons are useful not only for self-defense, but also for aggression and repression. What is important, then, is the nature and stability of the regime to which the arms are flowing. US forces have been deployed several times recently to combat former US allies-and recipients of US weapons, technology and military training-in Panama, Iraq, Somalia, Haiti and Liberia. None of these states were democracies at the time of US arms supply, and all had egregious human rights records.

A bill pending in Congress would attempt to keep the United States from making potentially disastrous exports by identifying characteristics of less stable governments. Under the "Code of Conduct" (see p. 83), the four conditions a country must meet in order to be eligible for US weapons are: democratic form of government; respect for basic human rights of citizens; non-aggression (against other states); and full participation in the UN Register of Conventional Arms. The President may exempt a country which fails to meet these criteria, but he must notify Congress of the exemption before weapons could be exported. While this legislation might not block all dangerous sales, it would increase scrutiny on weapons supplied to those governments that may be less stable because of repressive or aggressive practices.

A third flaw with the balance of power rationale lies in the impossibility of establishing military parity among regional states that have a dramatic disparity in territory, population, financial resources and the possession of nuclear armaments. Most observers agree, for example, that the Gulf monarchies lack the population, training and military tradition necessary to defend their territories. The former Director of Naval Intelligence, Rear Admiral Edward Sheafer, said that despite "long-term plans to expand their military with the purchase of equipment..., it is doubtful that the Saudis would be able to counter threats from Iran and Iraq completely." Similarly, in Southeast Asia, several states are justifying an expensive round of military purchases on the basis of a need to deter Chinese adventurism. In reality, though, if China-the world's most populous state and a nuclear power-were determined to attack Singapore (for example), no amount of modern conventional weaponry could deter it. A better bet for Singapore would be to put its energy into strengthening diplomatic and legal means for heading off and resolving any future disputes.


"US exporters face an unlevel playing field."

This one is a justification for increased subsidies or other assistance in support of US arms transfers. Despite having cornered fully half of the world market, American industry still claims that it faces unfair restrictions or gets less subsidization than its European competitors. Citing an "unlevel playing field," US industry has sought-and received-many new forms of public assistance to promote and finance weapons exports in the past five years (including participation by US armed service personnel in overseas arms marketing shows, intervention by the President and other high-level government officials in support of weapons sales and the establishment of a new $15 billion arms sales financing program).

At the same time, European arms industries seek increased assistance to overcome what they see as unfair competition from American industry. The resulting spiral of initiatives-which make weapons cheaper and easier for customers to finance-calls into question the alleged economic benefits of arms exports. According to William Hartung's report Welfare for Weapons Dealers: The Hidden Costs of the Arms Trade, the American public paid out an estimated $7.6 billion to underwrite weapons exports in 1995. No other arms exporting country provides such massive financial support to its weapons sellers.

In a very cautious account, the General Accounting Office found in 1995 that the US arms industry enjoys support similar to that provided by France, Britain and Germany. The report considered financing, high-level government advocacy and bureaucratic support for arms exports (report no. GAO/NSIAD-95-86). And, in a December 1994 study (World-Wide Conventional Arms Trade 1994-2000: A Forecast and Analysis), the Pentagon acknowledged that US arms manufacturers face "serious competition in only a limited fraction of arms export sales opportunities, and that even then, US industry often wins." Indeed, in many sales contests, two or more US firms are the principal or only competitors.

Regulatory differences between US government-negotiated (FMS) and US industry-direct arms sales (DCS) are even played off against each other. This tactic brings legal restrictions down to the lowest common level and government assistance and subsidies up to the highest common level. For instance, when the Clinton administration proposed in 1993 to repeal "recoupment fees" on government-to-government arms sales, it argued that such a move was necessary to "level the playing field" with the commercial sales program, which did not require the fees. (The fees, which recovered from foreign purchasers part of the US taxpayer-funded research and development cost of the weapons being sold abroad, were abolished in 1996.)


"We are supplying legitimate defense needs."

The "legitimate defense" defense is a close cousin to the "strategic imbalances" rationale. In late 1993, former Undersecretary of State Lynn Davis assured then-House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Lee Hamilton that all of the more than $30 billion in arms sales the US government had just negotiated were for "legitimate security reasons." Congressman Hamilton replied tersely, "Madam Secretary, I have never heard of an arms sale being made that wasn't justified on the basis of a legitimate national security need...That is an automatic rationale for every sale."

The line between necessary and excessive armament is a subjective one, definitely in the eye of the beholder. Therefore, anything a US friend or ally seeks to obtain is almost by definition "legitimate," while any arms purchases by non-allies-such as Cuba or Iran-are "illegitimate."

Related to this rationale is the argument that under the UN Charter (article 51) every country has the right to self-defense. Since many nations do not produce their own weaponry, article 51 is often cited as a requirement for arms trading. The article in no way, however, mandates that any government must provide arms to any other government.


"The health of the defense-industrial base is at stake."

Underlying all of the administration's other rationales for arms trafficking is the perceived need to keep existing US weapons production lines open in order to maintain a "sufficient" military industrial base. With the end of the cold war, the Pentagon is buying fewer new weapons today than it did a decade ago, and many arms production lines now remain open only for export orders (see box, p. 28). But even annual exports of $10-15 billion cannot supplant the $50 billion downturn in Pentagon purchases and sustain this surplus capacity for long.

At the same time, the administration recognizes that other countries' surplus arms production results in pressures to make dangerous exports. In 1994, then-Secretary of Defense William Perry traveled to Beijing to attend the first meeting of the (now defunct) US-Sino Defense Conversion Commission. The Commission was intended to facilitate the switch over of Chinese arms manufacturers to production of commercial goods, and the US government was promoting technology transfer from US firms to aid this transition. When asked by a reporter why it is in the United States' interest to aid the conversion of Chinese arms industry, Perry said: "it is to our help these countries [referring to China, plus Ukraine, Belarus and Russia] resist the pressure to make weapons even beyond their needs...And secondly, to resist the pressure for foreign arms sales. One very obvious way...of using the excess capacity in the arms industry in each of these countries is to continue to produce the same amount but then to sell the excess to other countries. And that creates...its own set of policy and security issues. So to the extent we can be useful and constructive in diverting this pressure into the production of commercial goods, then I believe it is a security benefit."

The administration apparently did not consider this advice valid for America, as the Clinton conventional arms transfer policy (see p. 37) made no reference to converting and downsizing American arms industry. Instead, it stated that decisions to sell arms would factor in the effect on preserving the US industry-including the surplus industrial capacity.

The industrial base rationale is driven in part by concern about the loss of high-paying, high-tech jobs, but more significantly, it is predicated on the belief that the United States must develop next-generation military technology, for which the present industrial base is considered necessary. (Entirely new production lines are being opened for new weapons systems, though, rather than converting existing ones.) Thus, in the name of running a military-technological race against no obvious competitor, the US government is allowing top-of-the- line weaponry to be exported. At the same time, arms sales from the United States and its closest allies (who are also its closest sales competitors) provide the most obvious way in which new military threats will emerge. Even more paradoxical, the development and production of next-generation US weapons are justified now on the basis of weapons being acquired by other states, including weapons exported from the United States. Lockheed's lobbying campaign for the future F-22 "Stealth" fighter is based on the proliferation of very capable current fighters, such as the US-manufactured F-15E, F-16C/D and F/A-18.

Pressure also emanates from Capitol Hill to export weapons in order to keep surplus weapons production lines open. On several occasions, members of Congress have pressed for arms sales that the Pentagon opposed but was forced to accede to. Otherwise, Capitol Hill would have forced the military to procure unnecessary weapons in order to keep the surplus factories open.


Open for Export Only

The following US production lines are now or will soon be producing military equipment solely for export.

F-15E "Strike Eagle" fighter-bomber (Boeing/McDonnell Douglas Aerospace, St. Louis, MO) The US Air Force and McDonnell Douglas failed to get a three-year purchase of 18 F-15Es included in the fiscal year 1996 budget but sold the USA.F. five more in 1998. Planes for Saudi Arabia (72) and Israel (25) now being built will keep the St. Louis line busy until 1999. Meanwhile, MD is aggressively marketing the jet in Greece and Turkey.

F-16 "Fighting Falcon" fighter jet (Lockheed Martin, Fort Worth, TX) LockMar is finishing some upgrades and three new aircraft for delivery to the USAF in 2001, but the line will soon be open for export only. The jet has been a perennial favorite with foreign militaries. As of 30 September 1997, 1,700 F-16s had been sold abroad to 19 countries. Current users include Bahrain, Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, South Korea, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and Venezuela. In a May 1998 White House ceremony, Vice President Gore announced a major sale to the United Arab Emirates of the most advanced version of the F-16 ever manufactured. Eleven other countries are currently pondering an F-16 purchase.

M-1A2 "Abrams" main battle tank (General Dynamics Land Systems, Lima, OH) The US Army has been upgrading over 1,000 early-model M-1 tanks to the M-1A2 configuration. Meanwhile, the latest model tanks are being built new for export only: Kuwait has taken delivery of 218 M-1A2s and Saudi Arabia 315. GD and the Pentagon are currently pursuing major M-1A2 tank sales to regional rivals Greece and Turkey. In addition, Egypt produces M-IAI tanks under an FMS agreement.

AH-64A "Apache" attack helicopter (The Boeing Corp., Mesa, AZ) In fiscal year 1995, Congress bought six AH-64A helicopters, unrequested by the Army, in order to bridge a production gap until upgrades to the "Longbow" model of the chopper began in 1997. No significant new purchases by US forces of Apache helicopters are anticipated, but the Army will upgrade its entire fleet of 750 Apaches into the Longbow configuration. Foreign customers of the Apache include Egypt, Greece, Israel, South Korea, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The Netherlands and UK have purchased the Longbow, and Boeing is pursuing a $4 billion sale of 145 Longbow attack helicopters to Turkey, to be manufactured locally in Turkey.

MIM-23 "Hawk" air defense missile (Raytheon Corp., Andover, MA) The US Army is no longer buying the Hawk, but Raytheon has sold nearly 7,000 of the missiles to Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan and the UAE.

M-113 armored vehicles (FMC Corporation, San Jose, CA; and General Motors) The US Army plans to upgrade seven M-113 variants through at least 1999. The M-113 production line was restarted in 1993 to build armored vehicles for Kuwait. More than 85,000 M-113 vehicles were produced between 1960 and 1992. Thirty-five variants are used by more than forty countries.

Type 209 diesel-electric submarines (Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, MS) The US Navy operates only nuclear-powered submarines. Egypt wants to buy two German Type 209 diesel-electric submarines with US FMF grants, which can be used only for US-made weapons. Therefore, Ingalls will establish a production line under license from the German firm HDW to build submarines for Egypt and other countries.


"Foreign weapons sales lower the unit cost for US forces."

When a foreign military buys a weapon system that US forces are buying, the orders can be combined to create an economy of scale and lower per unit prices for all. This cost saving is possible, however, only for sales of those very modern weapons still being purchased by the US armed forces. But, as explained above, many of today's hottest selling weapons are now produced solely for export, meaning that the American military receives no direct financial benefit from foreign sales. Moreover, the export of advanced American-made arms-whether US forces are finished procuring the particular weapon or not-spurs reactions from other suppliers and buyers, as noted at the beginning of this chapter. This action-reaction cycle plays into US forces' threat perceptions, which drive US military budgets upward, costing US taxpayers dearly.


"Jobs, jobs, jobs!"

In 1990 weapons manufacturers began plying members of Congress with literature stating that if a certain arms sale was not approved, x thousand jobs would be lost. In 1992 the industry succeeded in transforming the issue of US weapons exporting from a matter of national security and morality to a jobs program, with its successful "Jobs Now" campaign in support of a bomber sale to Saudi Arabia (see p. 74 for more on this campaign).

The jobs argument has been politically persuasive and difficult to overcome. Even liberals like Senator Chris Dodd and Rep. Rosa DeLauro from Connecticut-a state with significant arms industry-have been won over. Anti-arms trade activists are usually left saying, "yes, but..." The reality is that if America restricted its arms exports, and as a result surplus weapons production lines shut down, jobs would be lost. That said, job maintenance does not justify or make it good policy to export arms to aggressive or repressive governments, any more than it justifies governments turning a blind eye to drug production and trafficking.

Moreover, in assessing the employment "benefits" of arms exports, you must factor in the public subsidies underwriting the trade. A $6-7 billion annual investment in any other industrial sector could create at least as much-if not more-employment, while stimulating the development of desperately-needed products and services in this country (e.g., environmentally "clean" industry and transportation).

When you consider the impact of offsets negotiated by the US arms industry on employment in a whole range of American industries, the net jobs impact of arms exports might in fact be negative. (See p. 22 for more on offsets.) The General Accounting Office reported in 1994 that offsets "reduce the employment, defense industrial base, and other economic benefits that normally accrue to the United States from weapons exports. Certain types of offsets have resulted in a loss of production work and business for US prime contractors and subcontractors as well as for companies in non-defense businesses." (Report no. GAO/NSIAD-94-127)

 "And the Lord said, 'They shall gradually, so as not to cause unemployment, beat their swords into plowshares.'"


"American arms sales build interoperability."

The need for "interoperability" of weaponry is fast becoming the White House and Pentagon's most prevalent new rationale for widespread arms exports. Interoperability- commonality of arms-is a hallmark of coalition warfare, which the US built up during the cold war to contain the spread of communism. The administration's post-cold war security doctrine requires that US forces now be prepared to fight or intervene quickly anywhere in the world, in order to combat drug trafficking, terrorism, weapons proliferation and regional instability. Fast intervention capability requires forward deployed forces. Just as during the cold war, arms transfers and joint military training exercises are used to gain access to overseas bases and to establish the infrastructure necessary for interoperability and US intervention.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the 1990-91 Gulf war, the United States has established military ties with more countries around the world than ever before. Most notable in this regard are recent military training with and arms transfers to East European and former Soviet republics under NATO's "Partnership for Peace" program. The need to standardize East European weaponry with that of NATO forces is the justification cited for weapons exports to these already heavily militarized, economically depressed countries.

The first line of defense against the interoperability argument is that it assumes US troops will be intervening around the world. In addition, the irony of today's security policy is striking. Now, instead of arming allies against a discernable enemy-the Soviet bloc during the cold war-US led coalitions are arming against such abstract targets as "regional instability" and "uncertainty," according to Pentagon planning documents. The liberal transfers of sophisticated and small arms which cement these alliances are likely to contribute to the regional instability and uncertainty which they are ostensibly combating.


"Fifty percent of something is better than 100 percent of nothing."

Arms corporations say this in defense of their increasing willingness to sell weapons production technology-and jobs-overseas in order to win the sale. They claim that offsets, side deals which return some economic benefit (usually local production of some components for the weapon being sold) to the buying country as incentive for the sale, are a necessary evil for succeeding in the arms market today. Without providing offsets, they warn, American business-and workers-will lose the entire deal to foreign competitors who are willing to trade away employment and technology.

But in many cases, American firms are using offsets liberally to out-compete other American firms. Every year, the US government gives away nearly $3.5 billion of US taxpayers' money in foreign military financing (FMF) grants and loans. This money must be spent on American-made weapons, meaning that such sales are not subject to international competition-the usual rationale for offsets. In 1994 the GAO examined 48 weapons sales to the four largest FMF recipients-Israel, Egypt, Turkey and Greece-over an unspecified time period. These contracts, valued at $11.6 billion and paid for with US military aid, included offsets worth at least $4.7 billion, effectively increasing the assistance to $16.3 billion. GAO reported that, according to knowledgeable Pentagon officials, "No other arms supplier has a program that provides a combination of grant aid and allows offsets." Therefore, "it is unlikely US contractors would lose sales to foreign competitors if they could not provide offsets in sales funded with US grant aid." (Report no. GAO/NSIAD-94-127)

In addition to the negative employment impact, arms production offsets also have serious security implications. By helping spread arms industry around the world, these deals ensure that the arms bazaar will become even more saturated and competitive in the near future.


"If we supply the arms, we can control the use of the weapons."

In a creative twist, the arms industry has even cited "arms control" as a justification for aggressively selling weapons! The basic argument is that the US government and industry should corner the entire market, because they can then "pull the plug" on the use of the weapons if things go awry in the customer country. This rationale makes a false claim and is based on a faulty assumption.

In propaganda from the early 1990s, McDonnell Douglas asserted that "Arms control means controlling the arms." According to MD, a supplying corporation or government can control the use of weapons by cutting off technical support and spare parts for the system or-more exotically-by activating some secret failsafe mechanism often hinted at. Iran is always held up as proof of this theory. Withdrawal of American support and spare parts after the 1979 revolution allegedly shut down the Iranian Air Force within a year. In reality, though, American-supplied planes continue to be cited as a source of concern to US military planners-often in unexpected ways. The captain of the USS Vincennes, for instance, shot down a civilian Iranian airliner in 1988, mistakenly fearing that his radar showed a US-supplied Iranian F-14 fighter jet approaching.

photo: Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

Fort Worth, Texas, June 1992: F-16 production line workers protest a deal in which only 12 of 120 planes sold to South Korea will be made in America. The rest will be manufactured in Seoul. An F-16 production line has also been established in Ankara, Turkey.


This argument assumes that other supplier countries would not stop selling arms when America's interests become threatened or when the arsenal is used in an unacceptable manner. In reality, though, US interests are thoroughly intertwined with those of the other leading exporters (Britain, France, Germany and even Russia to a large extent), and it is unclear that there is much substantive policy difference between the United States and the other leading suppliers in this regard (although the United States and Europe have split over technology and weapons exports to Iran in the 1990s).

Related to this argument is the idea that if the United States supplies the weapons, US forces-familiar with the weaponry-will know how to defeat it in battle, if necessary. Rear Admiral John Snyder, deputy director of the Navy's arms sales office, said in a 1995 presentation at the State Department that the United States should seek even greater dominance of the international arms market. "I'd much rather go to war against a country that has bought US equipment, than a country that's bought comparable equipment from France, or from Russia, or from Israel, or from any other country. If they got equipment from the United States, I know damn well what they got in their inventory, I know what their readiness is...I also know what their tactics are, and I know how to defeat their weapons." Harkening back to our first rationale, Snyder said, "if a country's going to get technology anyway, let's make it US technology." American troops facing US-supplied and/or US-trained foes, and their families, would likely find Mr. Snyder's attitude a bit cavalier.

Terms and Conditions

US exports are theoretically subject to the following stipulations of law, but each has been violated with impunity in recent years. Perpetrators are in parentheses.

No Retransfer Section 3(a)(2) of the Arms Export Control Act requires that countries obtain approval from the US government before retransferring US-supplied weapons to another country.

(Israel, Saudi Arabia, South Korea...)

No Aggression Section 4 of the AECA authorizes provision of military equipment and services only for internal security, "legitimate self-defense," participation in UN operations or operations consistent with the UN Charter.

(Israel in Lebanon, Turkey in Iraq, Indonesia in East Timor)

Respect Human Rights Section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) requires that "no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights."

(Turkey, Indonesia, Colombia...)

No Nukes Section 620E(e) of the FAA mandates that "no military equipment or technology shall be sold or transferred to Pakistan" unless the President certifies that Pakistan does not have a nuclear weapon.

(Commercial arms sales continued to Pakistan)


"Arms transfers provide us with 'influence' over foreign governments."

Along with economic and security factors, diplomatic rationales have long been used to justify arms trading. Proponents claim that arms sales allow suppliers to gain and maintain "influence" with recipients. Over the years, Congress has attempted to exert this leverage by placing conditions on US weapons exports. However, these human rights, non-aggression and non-proliferation requirements have often been tepidly enforced or blatantly ignored, and US clients have acted in opposition to American laws or policies, largely with impunity (see side bar).

In today's hyper-competitive market, suppliers are shying away from even attempting to influence buyers' behavior. Customers threaten to turn elsewhere if they dislike conditions attached to a sale. Thus, manufacturers pressure their governments to renounce all conditions which might offend customers, making many people wonder "who's influencing whom?"

A recent example demonstrates how buyers are calling the shots today. When several European governments criticized Turkey for human rights abuses in its war against Kurdish nationalists, the Ankara government announced it would no longer buy arms from those countries. Turkey placed vocal critics Austria, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland on a prohibited or "red" list; less critical Norway and the Benelux countries were placed on a "yellow" list, meaning that arms purchases would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. America-for remaining uncritical-was on the "green" listing.

Related to the diplomatic influence argument is the "commitment" rationale. In January 1997, US military participated at a marketing show in Singapore. According to the official justification for this expenditure of public money to market arms, the USS Blue Ridge and its personnel were on display in order to "demonstrate our commitment to the security of the region." The next month, the Pentagon marketed arms in Melbourne, also necessary, according to the Department of Defense, in order to show the United States' unflagging commitment to Australia. In March, the Pentagon was able to show its steadfast commitment to the Persian Gulf sheikdoms by participating in an arms bazaar in the United Arab Emirates. And so on.

There are other ways to say that we care.



Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, June 1996: A fuel truck was used to blow up a building that housed US service members. Nineteen people were killed and over 200 were wounded in the attack. Several months later-in November-a second US military complex was bombed in Saudi Arabia.