Monday, October 1, 2007

US Spouts Peace, Sells Most Arms in the World

American cognitive dissonance suffers a massacre by peaceful ironies packing M-16s. The superpower nation that conceived of a United Nations, is selling arms throughout the developing world while sitting on the UN Security Council trash talking nations that use force to maintain their rule. Diplomacy via ammunition, guns and a half price sale on last year's plastiques - how American sold. A big recipient of the American arms trade is Pakistan, a nation originally supporting the Taliban, providing a potential serene vacation spot for Osama bin Laden, and home to a nuclear arsenal under the command of a president who took office at the end of a gun, in a military coup. India is aghast that Pakistan is one of the world's recent largest purchasers of the latest weapons goodies.

But anxieties over Iran's nuclear program may have put Moscow off significant new conventional arms deals with Iran in 2006, deals that could be viewed as overly provocative while the UN Security Council debates new sanctions on Iran.

The study also point out that the US has signed sales agreements with nations whose records on democracy and human rights are questionable.

The announcement of big new arms agreements with Pakistan last year renewed debate over whether the Bush Administration was elevating its counterterrorism priorities above its pledge to spread democracy around the world.

Pakistan was a major recipient of American arms in 2006.

US arms dealers have increased their take by more than $3.4 billion dollars since 2005. That has certainly spurred Britain, France and Russia to escalate their sales incentives to garner a bigger share. Russia signed da bomb of an arm deal with Iran, but feels a tad puckish about shooting the Iranians an official email saying their goods are in transit. Maybe its just me, but the permanent 5 nations with the only veto rights on the UN Security Council are also the top providers of the worlds guns and expect smaller nations to trot off to battle to do the world's peacekeeping with weapons sold by them. Amazing.

American weapons sales accounted for 42% of the global market, a total of nearly $17bn in sales, up $3.4bn from the previous year. The boom in US sales appears to have been partly fuelled by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have made neighbouring countries nervous. Pakistan, India and Saudi Arabia were the biggest buyers.

Russia is the world's second biggest dealer with sales of $8.7bn in 2006, nearly 22% of the market. Britain is third on list, with $3.1bn in sales. Those sales figures are almost certain to be boosted this year with Saudi Arabia's confirmation of a purchase of 72 Eurofighter Typhoon jet fighters, worth £4.3bn, part of a sales and maintenance package worth up to £20bn.

However the controversy around a previous Saudi order for Tornado aircraft, which is still the subject of a US justice department investigation into alleged bribery, may ultimately diminish the clout of the arms lobby.

Saudi Arabia has close ties with ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service. india just signed a nuclear agreement with the US. Russia has a president who is seriously considering a new title of premier. The international arms race and trade are inextricable tied to national security and citizen safety, but not if arms deals are in jeopardy.

President Pervez Musharraf famously refused to answer a question while at a White House press conference because his book was coming out the next day and his publisher would not be amused. It is with appreciable irony, he entitled his book, In the Line of Fire: A Memoir.

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