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U.S. Weapons at War

Major New Report Details the Global Impact of Arms Sales and Military Assistance

As the world marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this week, a new report from The New America Foundation finds that U.S. arms transfers are undermining human rights, weakening democracy and fueling conflict around the world.

"While it is critical to commemorate this historic occasion, we must use this moment to stress that the United States cannot demand respect for human rights and arm human rights abusers at the same time," notes William D. Hartung, the lead author of the ground-breaking new report, U.S. Weapons at War 2008: Beyond the Bush Legacy, which will be released at an event in Washington, DC on Wednesday, December 10, 2008.

U.S. arms sales reached $32 billion in 2007, more than three times the level obtained when President Bush first took office. "It's not just the volume of U.S. weapons exports that matters, it is how these weapons are likely to be used," asserts report co-author Frida Berrigan.

The report finds that of the top 25 U.S. arms recipients in the developing world during 2006/07, more than half (13) were either undemocratic governments or regimes that engaged in major human rights abuses. Transfers to these countries totaled more than $16.2 billion in 2006/07.

In addition, of the 27 nations engaged in major armed conflicts in 2006/07, more than two-thirds (20) were receiving arms and training from the U.S.

"Not only has the Bush administration been arming questionable regimes, but they have been using our tax dollars to make it possible," says William D. Hartung. The report finds that during the Bush years, the United States disbursed over $108 billion in security assistance funding, nearly $40 billion of which was for programs that did not even exist when George W. Bush took office in 2001. All of these new programs are authorized and implemented by the Pentagon, and all of them are markedly less transparent and accountable than traditional security assistance programs supervised by the State Department.

Amongst the U.S. arms clients profiled in the report are:

* India and Pakistan, which are in an increasingly tense standoff over the role of Pakistani nationals in the recent terror attacks on Mumbai;
* Georgia, whose ongoing tensions with Moscow in the wake of Russia's recent invasion will be a top issue for the incoming Obama administration;
* Iraq, where hundreds of thousands of small arms destined for the country's security forces have gone missing;
* Israel, where the use of U.S.-supplied cluster bombs in its 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon has sparked controversy;
* Nigeria, where recent violence between Christians and Muslims in the north of the country claimed over 400 lives;
* Thailand, which is engaged in a longstanding war against separatist movements in its southern region even as it has undergone its third change in government in three years; and
* Colombia, where State Department claims of improvements in human rights have been belied by an ongoing campaign of murders against trade unionists and human rights activists.

"It's time for a new policy that puts human rights concerns front and center in determining which countries the United States will arm, and what weapons systems will be exported," says report co-author William D. Hartung.

The full report is available online:


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