The Arms Merchants


Arms sales are not as straightforward as one might think. For one thing, Russia and the United States are both eager to maintain their respective positions as the most successful merchants of death dealing devices. That causes them to sacrifice principle to expediency.  And there’s a good reason why they are eager to sell lots of arms. It boosts their respective economies. And times were bad in 2010 and needed a boost in 2011.

In 2010 worldwide arms sales dropped by 38 percent from their 2009 levels to the lowest levels since 2003.  In 2009 $65.2 billion in worldwide arms sales agreements were signed compared with $40.4 billion in 2010.  Of those amounts the U.S. had $21.3 billion in arms sales whereas Russia had only $7.8 billion. Happily,  2011 turns out to have been a much better year.  Projections for Russian arms sales for 2011 were more than $9 billion and by year’s end it had contracts to sell approximately $3.8 billion in arms to Syria.

The United States is not happy that Russia is supplying arms to Syria, a country of whose leader, Bashar al-Assad, the United States and other Western leaders strongly disapprove.  Commenting on Russia’s selling arms to Syria,  Secretary of State Clinton said in August 2011:   “We want to see Russia cease selling arms to the Assad regime.” Russia is unaffected by her comments.  It knows that to remain competitive with the United States in the arms sale competition it needs to sell arms wherever there’s a market. Since the United States is more principled than Russia, it does not sell arms to Syria.  Instead it sells them to countries that it thinks are in tune with its goals on the international stage-like Iraq.

Iraq is the country the United States devastated in order to help it out.  Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is its Prime Minister and we are happy to sell him arms.  At the end of December 2011 it was disclosed that we were selling the Iraqi military about $11 billion worth of arms and training.  We sell to Iraq because it is our friend.  We refuse to sell to Mr. Assad because he is not our friend.  Mr. Maliki, has let it be known that  he supports President Assad even though Mr. Assad is busy slaughtering his citizens in order to keep them in line.   Mr. Maliki supports Mr. Assad because Iran, a country to which the United States has not sold arms since Mr. Reagan was president, encouraged Mr. Maliki to befriend Syria. So now the United States is arming Iraq which is allying itself with Iran and supports Syria whom the U.S. thinks Russia should not arm.

A few weeks ago it was disclosed that that United States had put on hold a planned sale of $53 million of arms to the Kingdom of Bahrain.  Bahrain has proved itself a good friend of the United States since it is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.  Bahrain’s ruthless ruler is King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. He brutally put down an Arab spring uprising that took place in Bahrain beginning on Valentine’s Day in 2011.   More than 40 of those participating in the uprising were killed by the King’s forces.  Thousands more were imprisoned and brutalized.   When news of the proposed arms sale reached members of the United States Congress, they demanded that the sale be put on hold pending a detailed report of what went on during the uprising to determine whether an arms sale to Bahrain was appropriate.  As a result, the arms sale has not yet taken place.

King Hamad was aided by Saudi Arabia in putting down the uprising.  According to a March 15, 2011 report in the Los Angeles Times, one month after the revolt began, “hundreds of troops from Saudi Arabia and police officers from the nearby United Arab Emirates. . . entered Bahrain at the request of the ruling family. . . .”  to help put down the uprising.

On Christmas Eve it was announced that the administration would sell $30 billion in fighter jets and other arms  to Saudi Arabia.  This was part of a $60 billion arms sale that was approved by Congress in October 2010. Although the sale to Bahrain was put on hold,  there was no need to put the sale to Saudi Arabia on hold since it is a REALLY good friend to the U.S. even though it helped King Hamad put down the uprising in his country.

There are some countries to which the United States will not sell arms-like Syria or Bahrain. It does not hesitate, however, to sell arms to their supporters-like Iraq and Saudi Arabia.  Go figure.



October 06, 2015
Vijay Prashad
Afghanistan, the Terrible War: Money for Nothing
Mike Whitney
How Putin will Win in Syria
Paul Street
Yes, There is an Imperialist Ruling Class
Paul Craig Roberts
American Vice
Kathy Kelly
Bombing Hospitals: 22 People Killed by US Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan
Ron Jacobs
Patti Smith and the Beauty of Memory
David Macaray
Coal Executive Finally Brought Up on Criminal Charges
Norman Pollack
Cold War Rhetoric: The Kept Intelligentsia
Cecil Brown
The Firing This Time: School Shootings and James Baldwin’s Final Message
Roger Annis
The Canadian Election and the Global Climate Crisis
W. T. Whitney
Why is the US Government Persecuting IFCO/Pastors for Peace Humanitarian Organization?
Jesse Jackson
Alabama’s New Jim Crow Far From Subtle
Joe Ramsey
After Umpqua: Does America Have a Gun Problem….or a Dying Capitalist Empire Problem?
Murray Dobbin
Rise Up, Precariat! Cheap Labour is Over
October 05, 2015
Michael Hudson
Parasites in the Body Economic: the Disasters of Neoliberalism
Patrick Cockburn
Why We Should Welcome Russia’s Entry Into Syrian War
Kristine Mattis
GMO Propaganda and the Sociology of Science
Heidi Morrison
Well-Intentioned Islamophobia
Ralph Nader
Monsanto and Its Promoters vs. Freedom of Information
Arturo Desimone
Retro-Colonialism: the Exportation of Austerity as War By Other Means
Robert M. Nelson
Noted Argentine Chemist Warns of Climate Disaster
Matt Peppe
Misrepresentation of the Colombian Conflict
Barbara Dorris
Pope Sympathizes More with Bishops, Less with Victims
Clancy Sigal
I’m Not a Scientologist, But I Wish TV Shrinks Would Just Shut Up
Chris Zinda
Get Outta’ Dodge: the State of the Constitution Down in Dixie
Eileen Applebaum
Family and Medical Leave Insurance, Not Tax Credits, Will Help Families
Pierre-Damien Mvuyekure
“Boxing on Paper” for the Nation of Islam, Black Nationalism, and the Black Athlete: a Review of “The Complete Muhammad Ali” by Ishmael Reed
Lawrence Ware
Michael Vick and the Hypocrisy of NFL Fans
Gary Corseri - Charles Orloski
Poets’ Talk: Pope Francis, Masilo, Marc Beaudin, et. al.
Weekend Edition
October 2-4, 2015
Henry Giroux
Murder, USA: Why Politicians Have Blood on Their Hands
Mike Whitney
Putin’s Lightning War in Syria
Jennifer Loewenstein
Heading Toward a Collision: Syria, Saudi Arabia and Regional Proxy Wars
John Pilger
Wikileaks vs. the Empire: the Revolutionary Act of Telling the Truth
Gary Leupp
A Useful Prep-Sheet on Syria for Media Propagandists
Jeffrey St. Clair
Pesticides, Neoliberalism and the Politics of Acceptable Death
Lawrence Ware – Paul Buhle
Insurrectional Black Power: CLR James on Race and Class
Joshua Frank
The Need to Oppose All Foreign Intervention in Syria
Oliver Tickell
Jeremy Corbyn’s Heroic Refusal to be a Nuclear Mass Murderer
Helen Yaffe
Che’s Economist: Remembering Jorge Risquet
Mark Hand
‘Rape Rooms’: How West Virginia Women Paid Off Coal Company Debts
Michael Welton
Junior Partner of Empire: Why Canada’s Foreign Policy Isn’t What You Think
Yves Engler
War Crimes in the Dark: Inside Canada’s Special Forces
Arno J. Mayer
Israel: the Wages of Hubris and Violence
W. T. Whitney
Cuban Government Describes Devastating Effects of U. S. Economic Blockade
Brian Cloughley
The US-NATO Alliance Destroyed Libya, Where Next?