Tag Archives: Arms Sales

Bombing Yemeni School Children for Profit, by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies

Here’s what’s behind the “phenomenal” run in US defense stocks. From Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies at antiwar.com:

Unfortunately, killing and maiming civilians with US weapons is a regular occurrence

As if the horrific Saudi bombing of a Yemeni school bus that killed 44 children on August 9, 2018 wasn’t bad enough, CNN reported that the bomb used in the attack was manufactured by Lockheed Martin, one of the major U.S. defense contractors. Nima Elbagir, reporting for CNN’s Situation Room, showed a map of Yemen pinpointing several other attacks where large numbers of civilians have been killed by bombs from not only Lockheed Martin, but also General Dynamics and Raytheon. It was a rare moment when a mainstream US media outlet made the connection between US weapons and the devastation they wreak.

The footage of the Yemen attack is heartbreaking, showing bloodied and screaming children (the ‘fortunate’ survivors) still wearing their blue backpacks. A global outcry for the Saudis to stop bombing civilians and for the US to stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia arose immediately. Continue reading

The ‘Merchants of Death’ Survive and Prosper, by Lawrence Wittner

There’s never been a better time to be in the arms business. From Lawrence Wittner at antiwar.com:

During the mid-1930s, a best-selling exposé of the international arms trade, combined with a U.S. Congressional investigation of munitions-makers led by Senator Gerald Nye, had a major impact on American public opinion. Convinced that military contractors were stirring up weapons sales and war for their own profit, many people grew critical of these “merchants of death.”

Today, some eight decades later, their successors, now more politely called “defense contractors,” are alive and well. According to a study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, sales of weapons and military services by the world’s largest 100 corporate military purveyors in 2016 (the latest year for which figures are available) rose to $375 billion. US corporations increased their share of that total to almost 58 percent, supplying weapons to at least 100 nations around the world.

The dominant role played by US corporations in the international arms trade owes a great deal to the efforts of US government officials. “Significant parts of the government,” notes military analyst William Hartung, “are intent on ensuring that American arms will flood the global market and companies like Lockheed and Boeing will live the good life. From the president on his trips abroad to visit allied world leaders to the secretaries of state and defense to the staffs of US embassies, American officials regularly act as salespeople for the arms firms.” Furthermore, he notes, “the Pentagon is their enabler. From brokering, facilitating, and literally banking the money from arms deals to transferring weapons to favored allies on the taxpayers’ dime, it is in essence the world’s largest arms dealer.”

In 2013, when Tom Kelly, the deputy assistant secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Political Affairs was asked during a Congressional hearing about whether the Obama administration was doing enough to promote American weapons exports, he replied: “[We are] advocating on behalf of our companies and doing everything we can to make sure that these sales go through. . . and that is something we are doing every day, basically [on] every continent in the world . . . and we’re constantly thinking of how we can do better.” This proved a fair enough assessment, for during the first six years of the Obama administration, US government officials secured agreements for US weapons sales of more than $190 billion around the world, especially to the volatile Middle East. Determined to outshine his predecessor, President Donald Trump, on his first overseas trip, bragged about a $110 billion arms deal (totaling $350 billion over the next decade) with Saudi Arabia.

To continue reading: The ‘Merchants of Death’ Survive and Prosper

In Unexpected Move, Trump Enacts Obama-era Law Opening US Arms Sales To Ukraine, by

The US government will sell arms to the corrupt and bankrupt Ukranian government that the US helped install in a coup. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

After years of covert American involvement in the Ukrainian proxy and civil war which has raged since 2014 – and which a leaked recording confirmed was precipitated by the US State Department – President Trump has decided to come off the fence regarding his prior reluctance to formally approve arms sales to the Kiev government. Late Wednesday the Washington Post first reported the bombshell news that after months of indecision over whether or not to move forward with Obama-era legislation which initially paved the way for legalizing US arms sales to Ukraine, Trump has approved the first ever US commercial sale of weapons to the war-torn country.

According to The Washington Post, “administration officials confirmed that the State Department this month approved a commercial license authorizing the export of Model M107A1 Sniper Systems, ammunition, and associated parts and accessories to Ukraine, a sale valued at $41.5 million. These weapons address a specific vulnerability of Ukrainian forces fighting a Russian-backed separatist movement in two eastern provinces. There has been no approval to export the heavier weapons the Ukrainian government is asking for, such as Javelin antitank missiles.”


Image via News Front

Though WaPo’s Josh Rogin characterizes the decision as intended to appease hawks while seeking to avoid broader conflict escalation based on “limited arms sales” (and not approving some of the heavier weaponry sought by Kiev), the move is likely to further ratchet up tensions with Russia, which is ironic for the fact that the decision comes the same week that former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be handling Trump like “an asset”. Or perhaps we will be assured this is just more 4-dimensional chess playing between Trump and Putin to prove that not Putin but the Military Industrial Complex is once again “unexpectedly” in charge?

To continue reading; In Unexpected Move, Trump Enacts Obama-era Law Opening US Arms Sales To Ukraine

Only 2% of US Politicians Actually Want to Stop Arming Terrorists — Here’s Why, by Alice Salles

Here’s a surprise: the answer boils down to money. From Alice Salles at theantimedia.org:

(ANTIMEDIA) One of the few elected Democratic lawmakers with an extensive anti-war record, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), has combined forces with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) to push legislation through both the House and the Senate that would bar federal agencies from using taxpayer-backed funds to provide weapons, training, intelligence, or any other type of support to terrorist cells such as al-Qaeda, ISIS, or any other group that is associated with them in any way. The Stop Arming Terrorists Act is so unique that it’s also the only bill of its kind that would also bar the government from funneling money and weapons through other countries that support (directly or indirectly) terrorists such as Saudi Arabia.

To our surprise — or should we say shame? — only 13 other lawmakers out of hundreds have co-sponsored Gabbard’s House bill. Paul’s Senate version of the bill, on the other hand, has zero cosponsors.

While both pieces of legislation were introduced in early 2017, no real action has been taken as of yet. This proves that Washington refuses to support bills that would actually provoke positive chain reactions not only abroad but also at home. Why? Well, let’s look at the groups that would lose a great deal in case this bill is signed into law.

With trillions of tax dollars flowing to companies such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and even IBM, among others, companies that invest heavily in weapons, cyber security systems, and other technologies that are widely used in times of war would stand to lose a lot — if not everything — if all of a sudden, the United States chose to become a nation that stands for peace and free market principles.

For one, these companies have a heavy lobbying presence, ensuring that lawmakers sympathetic to their plight are elected every two years. When the possibility of a new conflict appears on the horizon, these companies are the first to lobby heavily for action.

To continue reading: Only 2% of US Politicians Actually Want to Stop Arming Terrorists — Here’s Why

World’s Largest Arms Dealers Lecture Americans on ‘Assault Weapons’ by Will Porter

SLL recalls a Biblical injunction to the effect that you shouldn’t criticize the mote in someone else’s eye when you’ve got a humungous log in yours (okay, the Bible omitted the word “humungous”). That injunctions is appropriate here. From Will Porter at  antiwar.com:

Almost immediately after the latest mass shooting incident in Orlando, Fla. last Sunday, the typical hue and cry regarding weapons bans has again crept out from the White House and state lawmakers.

In a statement to the press on Tuesday the President expressed support for a ban on “assault weapons,” exhorting Congress to “Make it harder for terrorists to use these weapons to kill us.”

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton also weighed in with support for tougher restrictions, rolling out the mantra of “common sense gun reform.”

“Florida doesn’t regulate assault weapons or .50 caliber rifles or large-capacity ammunition magazines,” Clinton told CNN on Monday. “It doesn’t require a permit to purchase a gun. It doesn’t require any registration, whatsoever.”

Pandering and virtue signaling notwithstanding, it is the height of irony that such outrage effluxes from the mouths of two well-known political arms peddlers.

According to a December 2015 report from the Congressional Research Service, “In 2014, the United States led in arms transfer agreements worldwide, making agreements valued at $36.2 billion (50.4% of all such agreements).” That figure was up from $26.7 billion in the previous year.

While our humanitarians with guillotines wax compassionate about gun deaths in the United States, they help to flood the world with all manner of bombs, munitions, machine guns, and fighter jets.

Mother Jones reported earlier this year that, since 2009, the Obama administration has made over $200 billion in arms deals – more than any other presidency – including the sale of legally-questionable cluster munitions to the state of Saudi Arabia to be used in its ongoing war with the nation of Yemen. (The Obama administration quietly put the kibosh on those sales in late May.)

Clinton, for her part, is no stranger to weapons deals. In 2011 her State Department oversaw a $29.4 billion fighter jet sale to the Saudis, a “top priority” for the then-Secretary according to Andrew Shapiro, the former State Department Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs.

What’s more, an International Business Times investigation found that “Under Clinton’s leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation.” Those include such rights-respecting regimes as Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

“In all,” the report continues, “governments and corporations involved in the arms deals approved by Clinton’s State Department have delivered between $54 million and $141 million to the Clinton Foundation as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to the Clinton family, according to foundation and State Department records.”

The noble proclamations from two of America’s top gun controllers ought to ring hollow in the face of these facts, especially the President’s reference to terrorists. Both Obama and his former Secretary of State have shown great willingness to arm violent jihadists from Libya to Syria.

To continue reading: World’s Largest Arms Dealers Lecture Americans on ‘Assault Weapons’