July 30, 2005

Shots Fired in War on Drugs

Well, this was bound to happen someday:

NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico, July 29 (Reuters) - The United States is closing temporarily its consulate in this lawless Mexican border city after rival drugs gangs clashed with bazookas, hand grenades and heavy machine-gun fire. ...

Yep, bound to happen, emphasis mine:

What are light weapons?

Broadly speaking, the term refers to any weapon that can be carried by one or two people. Examples range from military-style guns---pistols, carbines, assault rifles, and light machine guns--to grenade launchers, mortars, mobile anti-tank guns and rocket launchers, and shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile launchers. Munitions used with these weapons (such as bullets, grenades and missiles), landmines, and explosives are also encompassed by the term.

... With the end of the cold war, increased attention is being paid today to the devastation wrought by armed conflict around the world. Previously referred to by official Washington as "low intensity conflicts," these wars have resulted in the death of well over one million people this decade. The vast majority of these casualties--as many as 90 percent--are civilian victims of indiscriminate warfare.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has determined that small arms are the principal cause of death in conflicts. In fact, these arms are thought to be responsible for 90 percent of recent war casualties. Small/light arms are cheap and portable, and are used by all combatants--state militaries, militias, and insurgents. It is the prevalence--that is, the widespread proliferation--of these arms, combined with their indiscriminate use, that renders them responsible for so much of the killing.

...More than 70 states produce various light weapons and ammunition. Direct sales from weapons manufacturers to foreign governments or private entities are a principal source of supply. Such sales are usually regulated (that is, licensed for export) by national governments. In 1996, for instance, the U.S. State Departments licensed over $470 million of light military weapons for export. The Commerce Department, which has jurisdiction over industry-direct sales of shotguns and police equipment, approved an additional $57 million of exports. While these amounts are small in the context of the overall arms trade (estimated at some $30 billion annually), at $100-300 per gun these figures represent enormous quantities of weapons.

Cold war-era surplus stocks are a second major source of light weapons supply today. In the past few years the U.S. military has given away or sold at discount vast quantities of excess assault rifles, carbines, .45 caliber pistols, machine guns and grenade launchers. Germany, the Netherlands, the former Soviet republics and several Eastern European countries have been unloading surplus guns on the world market.

Covert gun-running by governments to foreign governments or--more often--insurgent groups is a third source of small/light arms proliferation. Such policies are frought with danger, as evidenced by the disastrous legacy of weapons shipped by the Soviet Union and United States to combatants in Afghanistan, Angola and Central America. These weapons outlived the original purpose for which they were shipped and have since been recycled to other conflicts or to bandits. ...

Not like anyone in this administration cares. This review of treaties the US had snubbed as of 2002 explains the administration position on the Small Arms Action Plan.

At the first-ever global U.N. conference on small arms and light weapons held last July [Ed. July 2001], delegates produced a "Program of Action" outlining various measures aimed at eradicating the international black market in small arms. But because of U.S. opposition, delegates backed down on language that would have banned weapons sales to non-state actors and tightened control over civilian ownership. The busy Mr. Bolton explained that the United States is not only opposed to any agreement restricting civilian possession of small arms, it also didn't appreciate "the promotion of international advocacy activity by international or non-governmental organizations." The U.S. delegation was accompanied, however, by a good old American NGO, the National Rifle Association.

Of course that last article was quite a shock to read. After all, John Bolton is usually so gracious and sympathetic.

Meanwhile, a major blow for progress in the drug war has been struck with the indictment of a Canadian marijuana seed kingpin who has, as we know so far, never shot anyone.

Posted by natasha at July 30, 2005 11:34 PM | International | Technorati links |

And did Bolton thow in, for good measure, that all people should stop their sexual activity except during marriage when they should be forced to perform it without contraceptives?

This administration belongs in a psych ward.

Posted by: Scorpio at July 31, 2005 08:10 AM

Has this Emery guy even set foot in the U.S. before. What the hell right do we have to try him? John Walters is bordering on being a war criminal at this point.

In better news, Natasha, my game is up, check it out:

Play Zonk!

Posted by: thehim at July 31, 2005 09:21 PM