Worsening Trends in Global Arms Transfers
IN FOCUS, 9 Apr 2012
Chandra Muzaffar – TRANSCEND Media Service
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has in its 2011 Report highlighted trends in global arms transfers which any sane human being would describe as “worsening.”
SIPRI shows that “the volume of international transfers of major conventional weapons was 24 per cent higher in the period 2007-11 than in 2002-2006.” The top supplier of arms during both periods was the United States of America. Its exports increased by 24 per cent in the latter period. The US accounted for 30 per cent of all arms exports between 2007 and 2011.
The US was followed by Russia whose exports increased by 12 per cent between 2002-2006 and 2007-2011. Russia accounted for 24 per cent of all exports. Germany, France and Britain were the other three big arms suppliers.
The top 5 suppliers accounted for 75 per cent of the total volume of all global arms exports.
The 5 biggest arms importers in 2007-2011 were India, South Korea, Pakistan, China and Singapore in that order. India was also the top importer in 2002-2006. Asia as a whole was the biggest importer of arms in 2007-2011, accounting for 44 per cent of imports.
However, the largest arms deal for “at least two decades was Saudi Arabia’s order for 84 new and 70 rebuilt F-15SG combat aircraft.” The beneficiary of this purchase concluded in 2011 was the US.
What is the larger significance of these worsening trends in global arms transfers?
One, global security has not increased one iota as a result of increased arms transfers. Wars and armed conflicts continue unabated. The underlying causes of conflicts and tensions in West Asia and North Africa (WANA), the Korean Peninsula, East Asia, South Asia and parts of sub-Saharan Africa remain unresolved. If anything, escalating export and import of arms may even have exacerbated tensions between states within a region—- tensions arising from a relentless arms race between neighbours.
Two, increased arms transfers are happening at a time when the global economy is mired in deep crisis. It is a crisis that has caused massive unemployment in some parts of the world, compounded national debts, aggravated inflationary trends, increased food and fuel prices, and reduced growth rates worldwide. To focus upon buying and selling arms when economies are crumbling and collapsing, and millions of people are without jobs or are struggling to make ends meet, is utterly, despicably, immoral and unconscionable. Governments and elites everywhere, including those who reap huge profits from the arms industry, should be concentrating upon those economic activities that conduce towards life, dignity and justice—- not an enterprise that promotes death, violence and destruction.
Given this conjuncture between an increase in arms transfers, on the one hand, and a global economy in crisis, on the other, citizens the world over should persuade and pressure governments and elites to reduce and eventually eliminate the production and consumption of all major conventional weapons. It goes without saying that this cannot be done on a national or regional basis. It has to be a truly global endeavour. Governments should come together and formulate a timetable for global disarmament. This is one of humankind’s time-honoured, much cherished dreams—- a world free from all weapons of death and destruction. Translating it into reality we realise is a monumental challenge which goes beyond the cessation of the production and consumption of conventional weapons. But let the citizens of the world at least demand that those who rule in their name put disarmament on the global agenda as an urgent item that requires immediate attention.
Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST).
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 9 Apr 2012.
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One Response to “Worsening Trends in Global Arms Transfers”
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Dear Dr. Chandra Muzaffar,
So happy to know you realize weapons are good for nothing except to INCREASE conflicts and INCREASE financial deficits.
Here I agree with you 100%. Where I don’t agree with you, is at your “perspective” from which you write. You seem to believe politicians would like to “decrease” both, the number or the size of conflicts and the size of their country’s debts.
Sadly, it is exactly the opposite. Instead of looking at the SIPRI figures, I’d suggest to you a study of the funds Governments provide Universities for military research. In the US alone, nearly half a million scientists receive handsome salaries from the US military budget. Alarmingly higher salaries than those payed for scientists working on medical research.
In the UK, nearly 60% of Government funds for research, are allocated to Universities willing to help Britain possess better, faster and more lethal bombs. Scientists working on improving or prolong people’s life, receive a 10th of that amount.
When Britain had an increase in unemployement, instead of decreasing it by building a new car factory, building more schools or Libraries, etc, they solved the problem by obtaining a licence from America to build Britain’s own Apache war helicopters. So British politicians have since been busy on the look-out for corners of the world where British Apaches can be deployed and used. Of course they pray for Apaches to be shot down,- if the fall kills people it doesn’t matter to them – so that the factory can be kept busy and making money.
You say Global security has nor increased an iota, but politicians are supposed to increase “insecurity” (but of course they cannot admit it).
All the underlying causes of conflict have to be made more prominent, this is why leaders of all main theistic religions are called to intervene and why Ministers of Education try hard to brainwash pupils into becoming patriotic bigots, fanatics, who are ready to die for their country.
You rightly point out “….escalating export and import of arms may even have exacerbated tensions between states within a region ….” and this is precisely what makes weapon scientists, manufacturers, dealers, Ministers of Trade and Defense, Heads in the Armed Forces, SO happy!!
You say “increased arms transfers are happening at a time when the global economy is mired in deep crisis.” oblivious to the fact that weapons transactions are made for the benefit of the politician’s pocket, not for the benefit of the country. You only have to observe how the fortunes (in money and properties)of Thatcher, Bush, Blair, Clinton, Musharraf, Sharon, Olmert, Putin, etc etc etc, increased during their terms in Office.
Politicians use their limited time in positions of power to become rich and leave others who come after them to sort out the financial mess they left their country in.
The “massive unemployment” you talk about is GREAT news in countries like Britain, USA and many other without compulsory military service, as some Department of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy or Air Force) will happily take them on and train them to kill people and go to their death
The “inflationary trends, increased food and fuel prices,” are also great news for politicians. This way they can easily help their “sponsors” (oil barons, big industrialists, Press moguls, etc) increase their gains.
These wise words of yours “To focus upon buying and selling arms when economies are crumbling and collapsing, and millions of people are without jobs or are struggling to make ends meet, is utterly, despicably, immoral and unconscionable.”, are unfortunately forgotten by politicians everywhere, but particularly by those in the very poor countries of Latin America, Africa, East Asia, etc., as for them, buying weapons is their ONLY chance in life to become rich.
What is rotten is the system and any newcomer to the political arena, no matter how idealist before being voted in, will be tempted (even forced) to accept being bribed and become rich quickly.
Of course, I wholeheartedly agree with you that “citizens the world over should persuade and pressure governments and elites to reduce and eventually eliminate the production and consumption of all major conventional weapons.” However,before this can happen, citizens mus be educated, must learn about the sacredness of life, about HOW WRONG it is for one human being to kill another, about the “equality” of ALL human beings and much more. Y
We also need economists and social economists to create a plan of action (human and economic)that will help politicians deal with the massive un-employment crisis that will be created globally if we decide to close weapon factories, dismantle Armed Forces, etc. We have to be able to propose to Governments what to do with billions of guns, rifles, millions of bombs, mortars, land-mines, thousands of air-fighters, warships, etc., etc, that cost millions to produce, in materials and in human labour.
You sensibly say “Governments should come together and formulate a timetable for global disarmament.” Sadly, Governments come together, but they formulate “Global Armament”, as this is where their business is. The hypocrites claim weapons are “for Defense”.
I think the “monumental challenge” you speak about, is “OURS”.