$1.50 November, 2000
Arms Trade: U.S.
Outsells All Others Combined
1999 Scorecard: U.S. $11.4 Billion, Rest
of World $11.3 Billion
by David Lochhead and James Morrell | Foreword by Oscar Arias
At a time of unprecedented involvement of first-world nations in the
affairs of developing countries, it is imperative for people everywhere
to take a critical look at the nature of that involvement. Certainly,
much good comes of some of these interventions: UN peacekeeping missions
work to prevent old conflicts from flaring up around the world, the
Organization of American States and other international bodies oversee
elections, thereby aiding budding democracies to start off on the right
foot, and loans from the IMF, World Bank, and other international financial
institutions contribute to human development in places where public
structure and private investment are lacking.
Yet despite so much well-intentioned and often productive activity,
an ugly practice continues to nullify progress in human development,
and that is the international arms trade. The fact is that 97 percent
of conventional weapons sold in 1998 originated in developed countries,
and 65 percent of them ended up in developing countries. The United
States is the leader of the pack when it comes to exporting weapons
to poor countries, with Great Britain, France, and Russia also doing
a brisk business in such sales. This report paints the grim picture
of an industry which is removed from democratic controls and humanitarian
standards, and which places profit and short-term strategic interests
before the value of human life, or even the ideals of democracy which
these exporting countries purport to defend.
Although arms sales to unscrupulous and undemocratic regimes have been
going on since the beginning of arms manufactures, the information contained
in this report truly ought to shock and offend anyone who is concerned
with human life. Time and time again, history has proved that the unchecked
arms trade, rather than making the world more secure, has led to millions
of unnecessary deaths. In today's armed conflicts, 90 percent of
casualties are civilians. When will we say that it is enough, and that
producing more weapons only produces more death?
The loss of life is the most obvious of the pernicious effects of the
arms trade. There are many others which also demand our attention. The
manufacture and sale of ever more sophisticated weaponry promotes regional
arms races that are costly, destabilizing, and entirely unnecessary.
Arms which are sold to today's allies often boomerang back on the country
who supplied them when that alliance no longer holds. American weapons
have killed American soldiers in Panama, Somalia, and Iraq. Additionally,
the sale of arms without regard to the record of human rights abuses
by the buyers conveys a message of tacit endorsement of illegitimate
regimes, as well as helping them to consolidate their power and extend
their illegal rule. Such has been the case with dictator after dictator,
supported with arms to defend against the "communist threat," when in
reality what they were defending was only their own power to repress
their people and murder with impunity.
The final consequence of arms trade out of control is perhaps the most
invisible, and the most insidious. Spending on arms is the best way
to perpetuate poverty. It is estimated that $780 billion was spent on
military technology and training worldwide in 1999. Just 5 percent of
that amount would be sufficient to guarantee basic education, health
care and nutrition, potable water, and sanitation to all of the world's
people. If the countries who endorse arms sales, either by their governments
or by private merchants, were truly interested in defending and promoting
democracy, they would make the much more sensible investment in eradicating
the poverty which keeps half of the world's people in a de facto state
of disenfranchisement. For it is grinding, absolute poverty that is
the true enemy of both peace and democracy. Ask any child on the streets
of India, Burundi, or Myanmar whether she would rather have bread to
eat and a school to go to or a fighter jet to protect her, and you will
have the obvious answer that national security means nothing in the
absence of human security.
As the leader in promoting arms sales, the United States is in the
unique position to take the lead in reducing arms sales, and in particular,
in subjecting arms exports to a Code of Conduct which would prevent
military technology from being transferred to undemocratic or repressive
regimes. There has been some corrective action in this vein: the 1999
McKinney-Rohrbacher Code of Conduct on Arms Transfers Act, the Leahy
laws cutting support to foreign units with human-rights abusers, and
the Transparency of Budgets amendment prohibiting loans to militaries
who won't allow audits. And yet "Plan Colombia" shows us how easy it
still is for military aid to go to armies who don't meet human- rights
standards written into the law; all that was required in this case was
the president's signature waiving human-rights requirements, in the
supposed interests of U.S. security. The figures presented in this report
make clear that the fight against unchecked arms sales and buildup is
far from over. The U.S. shows itself to be as militaristic and unilateral
in its foreign policy as ever before. It is time for the American people
to wake up and press their government to finally realize that diplomacy,
dialogue, and multilateral cooperation must always be a greater priority
than military engagement, and in fact, are the only civilized way to
deal with conflicts and ensure lasting peace in our world. It is my
hope that all who read this report will come to the same conclusion
and raise their voices in a collective call for peace.
U.S. Outsells All
In 1999 the United States outsold all other countries combined, selling
$11.4 billion in military hardware to Third World countries, according
to a recent government report (see Table 1). No continent was spared.
During 1996-99 (the last period for which the report differentiates
by region), the United States sold $13 billion to Asia, $27 billion
to the Middle East, $1.5 billion to Latin America, and even found the
time to do $114 million to the threadbare countries of Africa.
Again looking at the new figures for 1999, we see the other exporters
trying hard: Russia with $2 billion; France, $2.2 billion;
Great Britain, $3.9 billion; China, $300 million; Germany,
$600 million, the rest of Europe $1.8 billion; and all others,
$500 million. But all of them together could not match the United
States' $11.4 billion.
These figures suggest that all along, the United States could have
led downward without losing out to competitors. From that dominant position
it could and still can propose mutual restraint in which it retains
its share of a diminishing market. But instead, when Thailand canceled
a fighter purchase in the midst of the 1997 financial crisis Secretary
of Defense William
Source: Richard F. Grimmett, "Conventional
Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1992-1999" (Washington: Congressional
Research Service, August 18, 2000), p. 51.
1. Arms Deliveries to Developing Nations, by Supplier, 1992-99
millions of constant 1999 U.S. dollars)
|All Other European
Cohen personally flew there to try to salvage the sale. The Thais canceled
This U.S. dominance also comes at a time of such crucial shortages
of high-tech personnel that Congress has opened the doors to an unprecedented
influx of foreign workers. The United States could have cut back arms
exports without causing unemployment and, by negotiating mutual restraint,
without losing appreciable market share to competitors.
This report is the fifth in a series by our Demilitarization for Democracy
program. Our last report, "Arms Un-Control: A Record Year for U.S. Military
Exports," took the story through 1997. It reported that the United States
in that year had achieved a dubious "Triple Crown," setting records
- Total transfers worldwide: $21.3 billion.
- Total transfers to the Third World: $15.6 billion.
- Total transfers to undemocratic regimes.
The current report covers gross trends in 1999 and country details
through 1998. It goes beyond last year's in comparing U.S. sales to
activity by competitors. But also, as in previous years, we look at
While the top destinations were the Middle East and Taiwan, in 1998
the United States also sold or trained in eight of the ten poorest countries
in the world (see map).
The United States sold to or trained in seventeen of the twenty-four
countries involved in major conflicts, including Israel, Turkey, India,
Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Angola, Eritrea, Ethiopia,
Guinea-Bissau, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Colombia, and
The United States provided weapons or training to both sides of four
different armed conflicts in 1998 involving ten countries, including:
|Ethiopia vs. Eritrea
||India vs. Pakistan
|Indonesia vs. U.N. INTERFET peacekeeping
||Uganda and Rwanda vs. Zimbabwe, Angola,
Sixty-three percent of all U.S. arms sales
in 1998 were directed at the Third World. Of these Third World
recipients, 54 percent were undemocratic based on criteria in the State
Department human-rights reports (see Table 4).
The number of troops trained by Special Forces through the Joint Combined
Exchange Training (JCET) program doubled in fiscal year 1998 to 18,239.
The number trained through both the International Military Education
and Training (IMET) and JCET programs rose from 12,554 in 1997 to 22,334
in 1998 (a 78
percent increase). With the inclusion of counter-narcotics combat training
the total number of foreign troops trained went to 26,026.
Some twenty leading recipients are receiving top-of-the-line U.S. air
assets. In most cases this means fighter aircraft, but it can also include
attack helicopters, aerial refueling tankers, command-and-communications
aircraft and air-to-air, air-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles.
While the Pentagon and the arms industry argue that in each case the
United States retains air superiority and that in some cases these allies
are conducting missions alongside our forces, the general threat environment
for U.S. forces has obviously become more sophisticated as a result
of this aggressive U.S. export policy. Further, military-industry lobbyists
use U.S. transfers of high-tech combat aircraft to justify the need
for expensive U.S. aircraft upgrades. In its brochure for the $80-billion
F-22 next-generation fighter program, one of Lockheed-Martin's key selling
points was, "Sophisticated fighter airplanes and air defense systems
are being sold around the world." Lockheed-Martin will also be producing
the fighters for the United Arab Emirates, thus contributing to the
very problem it proposes to solve. Should a corporation be allowed to
promote a global arms race?
Arms manufacturers ran sophisticated lobbying campaigns which are more
responsible for the gross volumes of sales than Pentagon and State Department
strategy. Throughout the 1990s, political-action
committees associated with the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA)
and its member corporations contributed between $6 to $10 million to
political candidates and parties in each two-year election cycle. A
number of AIA campaigns actually overturned existing U.S. security policies.
In 1997 the AIA achieved its longstanding objective of ending the moratorium
on high-tech weapons sales to Latin America. Only a financial downturn
prevented Chile from purchasing F-16s this year in what will certainly
be the beginning of a new arms race in the region. Even before it came
off the assembly line, U.S. Air Force officials advocated the export
of the F-22 fighter jet because, as one official said, "We've been feeling
the heat from Lockheed."
Sources and Definitions
Chief sources for this report:
- Richard F. Grimmett, Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing
Nations, 1992-1999 (Washington: Congressional Research Service,
August 18, 2000). Authoritative government report based on latest
unclassified data. The Congressional Research Service is an arm of
the Library of Congress. This report has been compiled yearly since
- U.S. Department of Defense, Security Assistance Agency, Foreign
Military Sales, Foreign Military Construction Sales and Military Assistance
Facts as of September 30, 1998.
Deliveries Vs. Agreements
This report's 1999 figures measure deliveries of arms to the
Third World based on the Grimmett report, pp. 50-52. The Grimmett series
also reports on agreements. Neither method is intrinsically
superior. Agreements show the most recent trends in arms-contract activity
by major suppliers. Deliveries reflect implementation of sales decisions
For our predecessor 1999 "Arms-Uncontrol" report, deliveries were used
as the more objective measure. This was on the advice of Mr. Grimmett
after a consultation with him, for which we remain grateful. The same
method is used for this report.
The finding that the United States outsold the rest of the world rests
on the razor-thin margin of 50.15 percent. Grimmett is right in cautioning
that these data should be used to assess only general trends in seller-buyer
activity. The fact that the United States outsold all others on a delivery
basis in 1999 does not mean that it did so every year or that it did
so on an agreements basis. These data do show that the United States
is by far the biggest arms seller to the Third World, easily outselling
Russia and most major European countries year after year, and indeed
in this one year outselling them all.
Undemocratic Vs. Democratic
A democratic country is defined by the Code of Conduct on Arms Transfers
Act as one that:
- was elected by and permits free and fair elections;
- promotes civilian control of the military and security forces, and
has civilian institutions controlling policy, operation and spending
of the armed forces, law enforcement, and other security institutions;
- promotes the rule of law, freedom of speech, freedom of association,
and expression, the judiciary remains independent;
- promotes the strengthening of political, legislative, and civil
institutions of democracy, as well as autonomous institutions to monitor
the conduct of public officials, and combats corruption.
We determined which countries were democratic by using U.S. Department
of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1998 ,
with special attention to "Respect for Political Rights: The Right of
Citizens to Change Their Government."
Military-assistance totals in this report are more complete by virtue
of including data on Excess Defense Articles and Joint Combined Exchange
Training (JCET) programs, hitherto excluded because of the difficulty
in establishing reliable values. Also tabulated are:
The Foreign Military Sales delivery total is the total dollar value
of defense articles and defense services delivered to
a foreign government or international organization by the United States
in any fiscal year after the implementation of an FMS agreement. All
values used in the charts and tables are deliveries, not agreements.
Foreign Military Construction Sales (FMCS) Deliveries
FMCS deliveries refer to the total dollar value of disbursements against
design and construction services provided to a foreign government in
any fiscal year. These sales are authorized under section 29 of the
Arms Export Control Act and include the necessary construction equipment,
materials, engineering services, and construction contract management
services. FMCS is more commonly referred to as Military Construction.
Design and construction services refers to actual military-support
infrastructure the United States builds. Real-property facilities built
include airstrips, air bases, port docking, and other maintenance infrastructure
that facilitate military operations. See Legislation on Foreign
Relations Through 1997, Arms Export Control Act in chapter 2A,
section 29 and chapter 4, section 51.
Commercial Exports Licensed
Commercial exports refers to the total dollar value of deliveries made
against purchases of munitions by foreign governments directly from
U.S manufacturers. The Defense Department's Defense Trade Controls office
and the State Department compile the relevant data.
The data used in our report from the Commercial Exports Licensed category
are likely much lower than the actual. Information from the DSAA is
known to be far lower than the actual as the reporting requirements
on these sales do not insure full and accurate accounting.
The International Military Education and Training program (IMET), created
in 1976, is a financing arrangement through the foreign-aid appropriations
and authorizations process. Through the IMET program, the United States
pays for the professional training and education of foreign military
students and a limited number of civilian support personnel. The vast
majority of those trained are officers. This training takes place primarily
in the United States. The U.S. government receives no dollar reimbursement
for the cost of training aids and materials. This program is considered
fully delivered when funded.
The data for foreign military-sales deliveries, foreign military-construction
sales deliveries, commercial exports licensed, and international military
education and training programs are from Foreign Military Sales,
Foreign Military Construction Sales and Military Assistance Facts as
of September 30, 1998, produced by the Department of Defense Security
Assistance Agency (DSAA).
Excess Defense Articles are surplus military items owned by the United
States but not originally procured for anticipated sales or assistance
programs elsewhere. Equipment delivered ranges in scope from uniforms
to more complex field equipment such as artillery and warships.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) Tracking Report on EDA
lists two separate dollar values for specific line items delivered to
each country, acquisition value and current value. Current value ranges
from 50 percent to as low as 5 percent of acquisition value. For example,
Australia got SH-2F helicopters with an acquisition value of $41.8 million
for $9.3 million. Morocco got M85 machine guns with an acquisition value
of $22.1 million for $1.4 million. In this report we use current values.
Research for this section was also carried out from the EDA On-line
Bulletin Board, Defense Security Cooperation Agency, (703) 601-3718.
Data were compiled from "Excess Defense Articles-Tracking Report for
FY 1998" from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
Joint Combined Exchange Training consists of combat exercises combining
Special Operations Forces (SOF) unit training and an overseas presence
in countries throughout the world. During this training, units exchange
ideas, techniques, and experiences in unconventional military operations
with foreign counterparts. The Defense Department says JCET exercises
"sharpen critical SOF mission essential task list skills and enhance
host nation skills." The department adds that as a
bonus, the United States benefits from "long-term . . . influence in
the participating countries." The State Department decides which countries
may join in JCET exercises.
The Defense Department says JCET exercises have the primary purpose
of training U.S. forces.
Data compiled here are divided by U.S. Special Operations Commands:
- U.S. European Command (SOCEUR)--one of the larger SOF command regions,
spanning Europe and Africa. Some forty countries took part in exercises
in this command, including: Austria, Botswana, Bulgaria, Cameroon,
Cote d'Ivoire, Czech Republic, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia,
France, Germany, Greece, Guinea Bissau, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania,
Macedonia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Netherlands,
Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Senegal, Spain, Swaziland,
Switzerland, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom, Zambia
- U.S. Atlantic Command (SOCACOM)--covers the continental United States
and the Atlantic theater. Only one country, the Dominican Republic,
participated in exercises.
- U.S. Central Command (SOCCENT)--the Middle East and Horn of Africa.
Nine countries participated in exercises: Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt,
Eritrea, Jordan, Kenya, Oman, Pakistan and Qatar.
- U.S. Pacific Command (SOCPAC). Sixteen countries took part in exercises
including: Australia, Bangladesh, Fiji, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia,
Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore,
Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, and Vanuatu.
- U.S. Southern Command (SOCSOUTH)--this command encompasses thirty-three
countries and fifteen dependencies in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Nineteen countries exercised: Bahamas, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa
Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala,
Guyana, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
Data derived from U.S. Department of Defense, "Report on Training of
Special Operations Forces, Under 10 U.S.C. section 2011," April 1, 1999,
and "Foreign Military Training & DoD Engagement Activities of Interest,
In Fiscal Years 1998 and 1999," jointly presented by the Department
of Defense and the Department of State.
Information on counter-narcotics and humanitarian de-mining is from
"DoD Engagement Activities, Unified Command Activities, De-mining and
Counter-Narcotics" of the Foreign Military Training report to Congress,
FY 1998 and 1999.
To determine the total number of foreign troops trained under the IMET,
JCET, counter-narcotics and de-mining programs, "Civilian Unexploded
Ordinance Personnel" were excluded.
The data used below are for U.S. fiscal years (FY)
running from October 1 of the previous calendar year to September 30
of the following year. The overall values include Pentagon categories
that are not attributed to specific countries: classified and regional,
representing $496 million (3 percent) of the total $16 billion in total
U.S. military assistance in FY 1998.
The Code of Conduct legislation would help the executive branch use
military assistance as an incentive for democracy, a supposed cornerstone
policy of the Clinton administration. However, the legislation includes
a national-security waiver.
2. Countries Receiving U.S. Military Training, FY 1998
Australia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech
Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece,
Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Norway, Poland,
Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine,
Countries, of which:
|Benin, Botswana, Cape Verde, Ghana,
Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Namibia, Sao Tome & Principe,
Senegal, South Africa, Zambia, Fiji, South Korea, Mongolia, Papua
New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Thailand, Vanuatu, Bangladesh,
Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas,
Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica,
Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala,
Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St.
Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Suriname,
Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, Uruguay, Venezuela
|Cameroon, Central African Republic,
Chad, Camoros, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea,
Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho,
||Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda,
Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Bahrain,
Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar,
||Tunisia, Yemen, Indonesia, Malaysia,
Singapore, Tonga, Maldives, Guyana, Belarus, Croatia, Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
Table 3. U.S.-Trained Foreign
Military Personnel, FY 1998
Table 4. U.S. Military Exports,
FY 1998 (in thousands of dollars)
To Undemocratic Regimes
| Sub-Saharan Africa
||East Asia and the Pacific
|Near East and North Africa
| Sub-Saharan Africa
|Sao Tome &
|Near East and
|East Asia and
||St. Kitts &
||St. Vincent and
||Trinidad & Tobago
||Turks and Caicos
Table 5. U.S. Arms Sales and Military Training
to the World's Ten Poorest Countries, FY 1998
|Central African Rep.
||FMS, IMET, JCET
||FMS, IMET, JCET
Determination of the poorest is based
on the U.N. Development Program's 1999 Human Development Report.
Its human-development index is a composite of life expectancy, educational
attainment and income. Ranked more to least developed.
Table 6. U.S. Arms Sales and Military Training
to Countries in Conflict, FY 1998.
||Battle Deaths, 1998
||100 (mil), 50 (civ)
||Combined total of >
Definitions are from the Stockholm International
Peace Research Institute's SIPRI Yearbook 1999, Armaments, Disarmament
and International Security (New York: Oxford University Press,
1999). SIPRI defines a major armed conflict as the "prolonged
use of armed force between the military forces of two or more governments,
or of one government and at least one organized armed group, incurring
the battle-related deaths of at least 1,000 people
Now in paperback
National Insecurity: U.S. Intelligence
After the Cold War
Edited by Craig Eisendrath • Foreword by Senator
Temple University Press, 2000 • A project
of the Center for International Policy
"Veteran diplomats, former congressional
staff members and journalists who specialize in intelligence coverage
join forces in this collection of essays to call for a total overhaul
of U.S. intelligence strategy." --James M. Wall, Christian Century