Friday, November 11, 2011

The Global Arms Business

It is troubling because we have been at it for so long—the United States has been easily the largest arms exporter in the post-Cold War era—and still can’t seem to learn the ABCs of the arms trade: (A) the weapons we produce and sell or give away very often fall into the hands of people who want to use them to shoot at us; (B) the networks of arms merchants are also attracted to other forms of illicit commerce, like nuclear materials, drugs and human trafficking; and (C) the purported benefits of sustaining the “defense industrial base” by exporting weapons are grossly exaggerated. Yet none of these sturdy facts deters policymakers of all political persuasions from pushing lethal technologies onto petty tyrants and intermittent allies in Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and indeed just about everywhere else.
We spend most of our time talking about the handgun problem in the US. But, I suppose it's a lot bigger than that. The same rules apply, though. Arms manufacturers want to sell their product, just like handgun makers, and they couldn't care less who gets them as long as sales are up.

What do you think? Is that too harsh a judgment? Do gun manufacturers have a social conscience or are they as mercenary as I say?

Please leave a comment.


  1. Remember though that all international arms deals by U.S. have one thing in common: approval from the State Department.

  2. FWM, that doesn't include the illicit gun runners.

  3. Laci The Dog:

    Funny you bring up the illicit gun runners.

    I remember, back in the time of "Duck'n'cover*" going forward to about 1994 when the CIA and other "intelligence assets" of the U.S. said we had to keep arming up because the soviets, the chinese and everybody else was doing so. Turns out to have been a lot of bullshit (although the USSR's Spetnatz was apparently set to infilitrate the U.S. military and wreak havoc in the event of hostilities breaking out). But, hey, we've had a lot of neat toys to use in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Do you suppose that the "Shall Issue" guys cut their teeth in the mid-east, dealing with Israel and it's neighbors?

    * And kiss your ass 'good-bye'.

  4. "FWM, that doesn't include the illicit gun runners."

    That is true - the Justice department does most of our state sanctioned illict gun running.

    Sorry - could not resist :)

  5. "FWM, that doesn't include the illicit gun runners."

    Very true. But we are referring to legal arms dealers in this article. Or do you expect criminals to have a "social conscience" about who they sell guns to on the international scale any more than those that sell illicit guns from the back of a van in Chicago?

  6. FatWhiteMan:

    "Very true. But we are referring to legal arms dealers in this article."

    A lot of military assistance money that is "given" to whatever third world shithole oil was just discovered in is actually transmitted in the form of a paid receipt for stuff to blow shit up. The neodespot who finds himself with a surplus of stuff to blow shit up and a shortfall in the critical area of Cristal, gold toilet fixtures and the like simply does a trade for what he really wants and weapons wind up in the hands of people we really, really don't want to be getting them.

  7. What I don't understand is this. When the 2A types look at the global arms trade and realize handguns are so low on the spectrum of personal weapons, why do they content themselves with the bullshit claim that the 2A protects their right to own a handgun? Sinse they're already bastardizing the original intent of the Amendment anyway, why don't they insist on being entitled to heavier weapons.

    The coolest thing I ever fired was a grenade launcher. I don't remember the name or number of it but it was like a stubby rifle and made a neat "thump" sound when the round fired. And the explosion was incredible. Now, that was 40 years ago, imagine what they've got now.

  8. Actually, Mikeb302000, I have an SKS made in Yugoslavia that has a grenade launcher on it. I've seen devices on-line for using it to shoot golf balls. By the way, even though the Yugoslavian weapon shoots a Soviet Bloc cartridge, the grendae launcher is designed for NATO grenades. Talk about playing both sides. . .

    I do have an answer for why I don't believe that the Second Amendment is about explosives or nuclear bombs or the like. The historical background was that "arms" were the weapons that a gentleman was expected to use. We're not talking artillery pieces here.

    And please don't tell me that you have no problem with me sticking to flintlock muskets. The amendment doesn't restrict the people to outdated weapons. Flintlocks were state of the art at the time--the equivalent of a full-auto M-16 today. (Of course, I'd prefer something more powerful than a poodle shooter. . .)

  9. Mikeb302000:

    That would prolly have been an M-79. That was a popular weapon during the Vietnam War.

    I've yet to meet a gunzloon who doesn't want the biggest, baddest gunz he can affort--regardless their utility.

    Greg Camp, like a lot of other gunzloonz (sorry, Greg, you've gone over the edge in the last week or so) says he only wants the "equivalent" of the gunz that were available to the average man in the 1780's. The flintolock was not the equivalent of a full-auto assault rifle. You can conflate that until the cows come home, it won't wash with anybody that actually knows how to think.

    I really think that Greg Camp, besides having overplayed his "concerntroll" hand is unaware that nobody that was against fucking morons having unchecked access to firearms has heard anything that will convince them that they are wrong; quite the contrary.

  10. Yeah, Greg, referring back to anything at all that happened in 1790, whether it be the definition of "arms" or the entire concept of of the 2A, is pretty silly. I don't go for it at all.

    All guns should be strictly controlled. We're in the 21st century.

    Freedom of speech and religion have not changed much in these years. Everything about the 2A has.

    So, if you don't want me to tell you about the musket, I don't want you to tell me about the 1st Amendment. Fair enough?

  11. The SKS in question is a Yugoslavian Type 59/66. It's much fun.


    Freedom of speech hasn't changed much in the last two hundred some odd years? You live in Rome, Italy, correct? I live in northwest Arkansas. We ain't discussing by letter carried in a coach and then on a sailing ship.

    The government today has extraordinary power, in comparison to what even the most brutal tyranny had in 1776. In this age, we need to strengthen our Constitutional protections, not weaken them.

    I'll keep the First and the Second Amendments, thank you. In fact, I'll keep all of the Bill of Rights. (I'm not too worried about the Third, but I'll keep it, nonetheless.)