4. United States: the World’s Leading Merchant of Death

by Project Censored
Published: Last Updated on

Sources: World Press Review, 200 Madison Avenue, Ste. 2104 New York, NY 10016, Date: September 1992, Title: “The World’s Top Arms Merchant,” Author: Frederick Clairmonte; The Human Quest, 107423rd Avenue, N. St. Petersburg, FL 33704, Date: July/August 1992, Title: “War ‘Dividends,  Military Spending Out of Balance with Needy,” Author: Tristram Coffin

SYNOPSIS: In the 1980s, global arms­ spending rocketed to nearly $1 trillion annually-or, about $2 million a minute. The two leading arms merchants were the United States and the former Soviet Union. Now the Soviet Union is gone, but its place has been taken by others; with the U.S. being the grand trafficker leading the pack.

With the end of the Cold War, some Americans held out hope that U.S. arms production and sales would be reduced and arms plants converted to civilian fac­tories. This has not happened; instead, the U.S. has kept its arms factories humming with exports. The DefenseMonitor’s head­line reads: “We Arm the World: U.S. Is Number One Weapons Dealer.”

Some facts from the Center for De­fense Information include the following:

– The U.S. is the world’s top weapons supplier.

-The U.S. has provided over $128 billion in weaponry and military assistance to more than 125 of the world’s 169 coun­tries in the last decade.

-The U.S. continues to provide arms to a number of nations with chronic records of human rights violations.

-In Latin America, El Salvador’s bloody regime garners the largest share of U.S. military sales.

Meanwhile, there are reports of in­creasingly hostile world opinion against militarization, which the U.S. appears to be ignoring. Critics say that the continued pathology of U.S. arms-spending, exacer­bated by the decline in U.S. productivity in the Seventies and Eighties, can only fur­ther intensify the problems in America.

Former President Dwight Eisenhower tried to war America of the dangers of this entrenched addiction and depen­dence on military production and sales:

“Every gun that is made, every war­ship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense a theft from those who are cold and are not fed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the wealth of its workers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”

As Frederick Clairmonte writes in the World Press Review:

“This was [Eisenhower’s] warning against the menace of frantic proliferation that he branded `the military-industrial complex,’ a Frankenstein monstrosity whose growth in the decades to come Eisenhower could only dimly have con­ceived. In every year from 1951 to 1991, military outlays exceeded the combined net profits of all U.S. corporations.”

While the world can take comfort from the exit of the Soviet Union from the first rank of death merchants, it is dismayed that the U.S. military-industrial complex has rushed to fill the vacuum.

Tristram Coffin, editor of the Wash­ington Spectator, urges instead that “the U.S. should take the lead in organizing a cutback of arms shipments to small na­tions …. The administration should prepare to repair the long-neglected infrastructure ­bridges, roads, sewers, water supply sys­tems. This would offer jobs to arms plant workers dismissed in cutbacks.”

The American people should know that we alone are now the world’s leading merchant of death and that the price to both America and the rest of the world is a costly one.

 SSU Censored Researcher Amy Cohen

COMMENTS: Linda Rogers, editor of the World Press Review responded to Project Censored on behalf of author Frederick Clairmonte, who resides in France.

“There is never enough coverage of what the United States is doing in this realm [international arms sales]. In 1992, when the Bush administration should have been using its considerable influence to promote peace, the U.S. was moving into position as the dominant arms merchant worldwide — as total world arms sales were declining.

“This development rated a few para­graphs in the major media, following a report from the Congressional Research Service, and then pretty much died as a story. But the foreign press was paying attention, so we put it on our cover.

“The public would benefit from wider exposure of this subject by being better informed about what the government, the military establishment and arms manufac­turers are up to — and by translating the information into, for example, voting pat­terns.

“The Bush administration’s promo­tion of overseas arms sales benefited by the limited media coverage. Bush was talk­ing out of both sides of his mouth by challenging the Mideast to freeze its arms trade and reduce stockpiles (in the May 1991 “Middle East arms initiative”) while preparing a huge arms transaction with Saudi Arabia. Our sources reported that more than $20 billion in U.S. weapons sales to the Mideast were arranged after Iraq invaded Kuwait -a large portion of it after the May 1991 arms initiative. Obvi­ously, arms manufacturers also benefited from the scant media coverage.”