May 25, 2005

Spreading freedom around.

Oh, does Dubya's administration ever like to spread freedom.

According to a report from Arms Trade Resource Center of the World Policy Institute, the majority of US arms sales and materiel transfers since 9/11 have gone to countries that the State Department rates as 'undemocratic' and/or as having poor human rights records. As if that isn't enough, the study also says that US-made arms are being used in every major military conflict on the planet.

According to report co-author Frida Berrigan, arming undemocratic governments often helps to enhance their power, and exacerbates conflict or enables human rights abuses. In addition, it undermines efforts to cut off financial and political support for terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda. Says Berrigan: 'Arming repressive regimes while simultaneously proclaiming a campaign against tyranny undermines the credibility of the United States and makes it harder to hold other nations to high standards of conduct on human rights and other key issues.'

The report's other co-author, William Hartung, points out that US arms sales could have unintended consequences: 'Billions of U.S. arms sales to Afghanistan in the 1980s ended up empowering Islamic fundamentalist fighters across the globe. Our current policy of arming unstable regimes could have similarly disastrous consequences, with U.S.-supplied weapons falling into the hands of terrorists, insurgents, or hostile governments.'

In 2003, the last year for which full information is available, the United States transferred weaponry to 18 of the 25 countries involved in active conflicts. From Angola, Chad and Ethiopia, to Colombia, Pakistan, Israel and the Philippines, transfers through the two largest U.S. arms sales programs (Foreign Military Sales and Commercial Sales) to these conflict nations totaled nearly $1 billion in 2003.

In 2003, more than half of the top 25 recipients of U.S. arms transfers in the developing world (13 of 25) were defined as undemocratic by the U.S. State Department?s Human Rights Report: in the sense that "citizens do not have the right to change their own government." These 13 nations received over $2.7 billion in U.S. arms transfers in 2003, with the top recipients including Saudi Arabia ($1.1 billion), Egypt ($1.0 billion), Kuwait ($153 million), the United Arab Emirates ($110 million) and Uzbekistan ($33 million).

When countries designated by the State Department?s Human Rights Report to have poor human rights records or serious patterns of abuse are factored in, 20 of the top 25 U.S. arms clients in the developing world in 2003 — a full 80% — were either undemocratic regimes or governments with records of major human rights abuses.

The press release for the Arms Trade Resource Center's report is here.

You can read the full report if you go here.

Posted by Magpie at May 25, 2005 11:38 AM | International | Technorati links |