Thursday, September 13, 2012

Biggest Arms Dealer

Via , Tom Dispatch, this report on the US's arms trade (my emphasis):
Overseas weapons sales by the United States totaled $66.3 billion last year, or more than three-quarters of the global arms market, valued at $85.3 billion in 2011. Russia was a distant second, with $4.8 billion in deals.
So at least our trade balance is good in the war-and-death sector.

But it's more troubling than that. We, as a nation, are promoting war as the first choice to solve any problem, while simultaneously disengaging from anything beyond a rote, yellow-ribbon style of "supporting the troops". As Tom says:

It would, by the way, be a snap to construct a little quiz like this every couple of weeks from U.S. military news that’s reported but not attended to here, and each quiz would make the same essential point: from Washington’s perspective, the world is primarily a landscape for arming for, garrisoning for, training for, planning for, and making war. War is what we invest our time, energy, and treasure in on a scale that is, in its own way, remarkable, even if it seldom registers in this country.

In a sense (leaving aside the obvious inability of the U.S. military to actually win wars), it may, at this point, be what we do best. After all, whatever the results, it’s an accomplishment to send 200 Marines to Guatemala for a month of drug interdiction work, to get those Global Hawks secretly to Australia to monitor the Pacific, and to corner the market on things that go boom in the night.

Think of it this way: the United States is alone on the planet, not just in its ability, but in its willingness to use military force in drug wars, religious wars, political wars, conflicts of almost any sort, constantly and on a global scale. No other group of powers collectively even comes close. It also stands alone as a purveyor of major weapons systems and so as a generator of war. It is, in a sense, a massive machine for the promotion of war on a global scale.

We have, in other words, what increasingly looks like a monopoly on war. There have, of course, been warrior societies in the past that committed themselves to a mobilized life of war-making above all else. What’s unique about the United States is that it isn’t a warrior society. Quite the opposite.

Washington may be mobilized for permanent war. Special operations forces may be operating in up to 120 countries. Drone bases may be proliferating across the planet. We may be building up forces in the Persian Gulf and “pivoting” to Asia. Warrior corporations and rent-a-gun mercenary outfits have mobilized on the country’s disparate battlefronts to profit from the increasingly privatized twenty-first-century American version of war. The American people, however, are demobilized and detached from the wars, interventions, operations, and other military activities done in their name. As a result, 200 Marines in Guatemala, almost 78% of global weapons sales, drones flying surveillance from Australia -- no one here notices; no one here cares.


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