Friday, November 16, 2018

American International Arms Sales and the New Conventional Arms Transfer Policy

In a recent posting entitled "How the United States Exports War", I looked at the sales of arms to foreign nations by the United States for fiscal 2018 (which ended on September 30, 2018).  According to data source from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency in that posting, the United States military-industrial complex sold a total of $59.384 billion worth of materiel and services that are designed to kill and maim humans to governments around the world.  While that may seem like a very significant expenditure, Washington is doing its best to ensure that the United States has the ability to sell even more weapons to the international market.

In July 2018, the United States Department of State announced that it was implementing a new Conventional Arms Transfer (aka CAT) policy that would align America's conventional arms sales with its national security and economic interests but very little detail was released at that time as you can see here:

The plan was to have a three-pronged approach which are little more than motherhood statements:

1.) prioritize strategic competition

2.) organize for success

3.) create conducive environments

After consulting with Congress, the military-industrial complex and the non-governmental community (whatever that is), on November 8, 2018, the Department of State announced a "fleshed out" Conventional Arms Transfer policy Fact Sheet as follows:

In case your eyes glazed over while reading the Fact Sheet, here are a few key points:

1.) the United States will seek to convince its allies and partners around the world that its products are better alternatives than what it's foreign competitors can supply.

2.) the United States will expedite and prioritize arms transfers that are deemed critical to the United States foreign policy and its national security.

3.) the United States will increase the competitiveness of American-built weapons systems that are in high demand.

4.) the United States will ensure that its arms products are both exportable and are interoperable with the arms used by its allies and partners.

5.) the federal government will improve its role as an advocate for American-built arms so it can "apply the full weight and influence of the United States in support of defense exports that are in its national interest".  Along with this, it will improve trade promotion with the goal of supporting American defense manufacturing.

6.) financing options will be developed that will support foreign procurements of American-built arms.

7.) missile technology will be modernized to reflect changing technologies with the goal of constraining the proliferation of systems that can deliver weapons of mass destruction.

Obviously, an announcement of this type would be welcomed by America's defense industry.  The Aerospace Industries Association, a trade association that represents the United States aerospace and defense industries on Capitol Hill released the following missive on the same day as the new CAT policy was announced:

Note the first sentence of the last paragraph:

"History shows that American military strength plays a vital role in keeping the world prosperous and stable".  

Apparently the writer of the press release seems to have forgotten all about the Korean War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Afghanistan War, the Iraq War plus numerous smaller "skirmishes" in Libya and Syria among others.

As well, Eric Fanning, President and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association made the following remarks in response to the CAT policy announcement:

"U.S. industry looks forward to continuing to work in partnership with the government on a modern defense trade system that supports America and our partners and allies as we face the threats of the 21st century.”

Apparently, Washington can never sell too much war to too many nations at a rapid enough rate and the military-industrial complex can never make enough profit from its inventions that kill and maim.

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