Fort Carson officials have decided that having a new combat aviation brigade of 113 helicopters and support troops conduct training at the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site won't do any permanent damage to the 238,000-acre training range northeast of Trinidad.
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Military Industrial Complex
Podcast Show #91: the Military Industrial Complex= the top opponent of all that is good & just
The Boiling Frogs Presents David Swanson
Author and peace activist David Swanson joins us to discuss our nation’s perpetual war status, the latest in the peace activists’ movement, and the disappearance of Anti-Republicans from peace movement since Barack Obama’s presidency. He talks about the need for overcoming Americans’ understanding of the war machine as a jobs engine and militarism as a normal way of life, and for broader understanding of the Military Industrial Complex as the top opponent of all that is good and just, broader-based opposition to not only domestic surveillance drones but also our killer drones abroad, and more!
David Swansonis an activist, blogger and author, and a founder of WarIsACrime.Org. He was press secretary for Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign, is co-founder of AfterDowningStreet.org, and a board member of ProgressiveDemocrats of America, the Backbone Campaign, and Voters for Peace. Mr. Swanson has authored several books including Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union,War Is A Lie, When the World Outlawed War, and The Military Industrial Complex at 50. To learn more about David Swanson visit http://davidswanson.org
Here is our guest David Swanson unplugged!http://www.boilingfrogspost.
By Dave Lindorff
This article was originally written forPressTV
We Americans are taught it in school. The propaganda put out by Voice of America repeats the idea ad nauseum around the globe. Politicians refer to it in every campaign speech with the same fervor that they claim to be running for office in response to God’s call: America is a model of democracy for the whole world.
But what kind of democracy is it really that we have here?
The UFC is the world's largest promoter of professional cage fighting events, many of which have been sponsored on television by the U.S. Marines.
Here is a link to a list of U.S. troops deployed to various nations around the world: PDF. These are permanent deployments openly admitted to by the U.S. military. When U.S. Special Forces drive off a bridge in Mali, as recently happened, we discover that U.S. troops are in Mali in greater numbers than we knew, but those troops aren't listed here or considered in the calculation below. No secret forces are considered here, no allied forces funded or trained or armed by the United States, and of course no drones.
Here is a link to the number of athletes participating in the 2012 Summer Olympics from countries around the world: Link.
From Senator John McCain's website: (slight changes marked)
Washington, D.C.–U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today announced the launch of their “Preserving America’s Strength” series of town hall-style meetings in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and New Hampshire highlighting the devastating impacts of the looming
defenseclean energy and infrastructure cuts now scheduled to take place under budget sequestration next year.
The three senators, all members of the U.S. Senate
Armed ServicesAtmosphere Preservation Committee, will discuss how the cuts will weaken American national security, put onetwo million jobs at risk, and break faith with the men and women of our Armed ForcesClean Energy and Infrastructure Crew and their families. The Department of DefenseEarth Protection has already agreed to reduce defensespending by nearly $500 billion over ten years. The additional militaryspending cuts called for under sequestration would add another $500 billion on top of that figure.
“President Obama’s own Secretary of
DefenseEarth Protection called the looming defenseclean energy and infrastructure cuts under budget sequestration ‘devastating,’ likening them to ‘shooting ourselves in the head,’ and yet to date, Congress and the Obama Administration have done nothing to stop them from going into effect,” said Senators McCain, Graham and Ayotte. “We look forward to visiting communities in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and New Hampshire to sound the alarm about the profound negative consequences of these cuts to our national security and economy. These communities – which provide our troopsworkers the equipment and support they need to defend our country – will bear the brunt of the defensesequestration cuts. Their voices must be heard in Washington.”
Now, such an announcement, which has been printed almost word-for-word in the nation's newspapers is, for better or worse, socialistic. Big Guvmint is taxing us in order to spend money to create jobs. Should it stop doing so, the economy and the people who live and work in it will be devastated. All of that is, in fact, true. But it is heresy in the ranks of rightwing reactionism. It is only permissible because the jobs, in the unaltered announcement, are for the war machine. The jobs are for killing human beings. That carves out a big fat exception for them. As soon as we alter the announcment to make the jobs serve a useful purpose they are transformed into foolish socialism.
The reality, of course, is that the military is so wasteful and destructive that this is not only the one type of government spending that is deemed acceptable, but it is also the one type of government spending that does not help. Were the spending to go to something useful, as in the altered announcement, then it actually would provide the economic benefits that these war-profiteering prostitutes are claiming to defend.
Bernie Sanders Calls Federal Reserve "Socialism for the Rich" After $16 Trillion Secret Bail-Outs, Including Foreign Banks.
Bail-outs Included Foreign Banks
After 89 Democrats in the House voted in a victory for bipartisanship for HR 459 to audit the Federal Reserve, some jaw-dropping numbers are emerging as a result of a partial audit conducted this year. It is no surprise that the news is dropping with a dull thud in the media. That's why you should get your news from the Internet and sites like this.
Senator Bernie Sanders at his official website reports:
By Ed Kinane
The lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki belong always before us. The agony of those two cities must remain our dark beacon.
Hiroshima/Nagasaki wasn’t so much about targets as about audiences. We – or rather, the very highest reaches of the US government – annihilated a couple hundred thousand nameless, unarmed, undefended human beings to warn the world: “Don’t mess with us; we run things now.”
Thanks to its atomic prowess – showcased at H/N – for over 65 years the US has been able to hold the planet hostage. It deploys nuclear blackmail to further its corporations’ grip on the world’s resources and markets. But such gunboat diplomacy has only partially succeeded.
The Soviets soon acquired the Bomb. For nearly four decades that other evil empire terrorized us here in our previously invincible Homeland. So the pitiless logic of proliferation made us all far less safe.
The Big Lie(s)
And keep guessing some more, because pollsters are unlikely to ask that question.
A year and a half ago, a poll found that Americans drastically underestimate how high U.S. military spending is.
This fits with consistent polling showing slim majority support for cutting military spending, but strong support for major military cuts when the people polled are told what the current budget it.
World’s Largest International Naval War Games Taking Place off Hawaii
By Ann Wright
Reflecting the Obama administration’s “pivot” to Asia and the Pacific, the United States military is now hosting in the Pacific waters around Hawaii, the largest and most expensive international maritime war games in the history of the world.
Called Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC, war games, for 36 days during July and August, 2012, twenty-two countries, 42 ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are conducting amphibious operations, gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense exercises, counter piracy, mine clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal, diving and salvage operations and disaster relief operations in the Pacific.
By John Grant
Stop feeding the beast.
- Julieta Castellanos*
William Brownfield is a major architect in the current linkage between the failed Drug War and the War On Terror. He may succeed in making it an even greater failure in the future.
By Dave Lindorff
Things are getting out of hand in the Persian Gulf.
We lost 202-216 on cutting military NASCAR sponsorships. We could have used a tiny bit more push. In contrast, the proposal to cut military band $$ lost 166-250 with nobody pushing against it at all.
Sent to Congress on your dime from the National Guard:
The National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) requests that you vote “no” on the Kingston-McCollum amendment that would divert critical funding from Defense Department-wide marketing and advertising accounts to prevent the DOD from sponsoring pro-sports. This amendment would severely limit the National Guard’s ability to target and recruit soldiers and airmen with proven, effective marketing methods.
For the National Guard, pro-sports sponsorships provide a national platform to promote the National Guard’s image and aid in recruiting efforts. The recruiting and retention dollars spent through pro-sports sponsorships increase the National Guard’s prestige and visibility, as well as generate recruiting leads at events. Most importantly, sponsorships in motorsports specifically, through Indy Racing and NASCAR, illustrate a wise use of taxpayers’ dollars with a high return on investment. In 2011, the return on investment for media exposure for NASCAR and IndyCar was over 368%, and saw an estimated 7 billion impressions, or time an ad or logo were viewed. This is an over $150 million return.
We recognize the need to make important decisions in this fiscal environment, but pro-sports sponsorships are not just a matter of money. They are an effective and important marketing platform for awareness and development for targeting future potential recruits. [IN ENGLISH THAT'S CHILDREN.]
“Recruiting for our all-volunteer force isn’t what it used to be. Only one in every four young people today is even eligible to join…Today, you have to know how smart, fit young people think, where they live and play, and go to them,” said NGAUS President, retired Maj. Gen. Gus L. Hargett Jr., in a recent press release.
Innovative techniques such as sports sponsorships help DOD do just that.
Please vote against the amendment sponsored by Representatives Kingston and McCollum to prohibit DOD pro-sports sponsorships.
By Dave Lindorff
Are weaponized drone aircraft more moral than the more traditional killing machines used in warfare? In an opinion published in Sunday’s New York Times, the paper’s national security reporter, Scott Shane, argues that they are.
How the Pentagon Is Quietly Transforming Its Overseas Base Empire and Creating a Dangerous New Way of War
By David Vine
The first thing I saw last month when I walked into the belly of the dark grey C-17 Air Force cargo plane was a void -- something missing. A missing left arm, to be exact, severed at the shoulder, temporarily patched and held together. Thick, pale flesh, flecked with bright red at the edges. It looked like meat sliced open. The face and what remained of the rest of the man were obscured by blankets, an American flag quilt, and a jumble of tubes and tape, wires, drip bags, and medical monitors.
That man and two other critically wounded soldiers -- one with two stumps where legs had been, the other missing a leg below the thigh -- were intubated, unconscious, and lying on stretchers hooked to the walls of the plane that had just landed at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. A tattoo on the soldier’s remaining arm read, “DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR.”
In Washington, both chambers of Congress and multiple federal agencies are pushing for sweeping cybersecurity legislation that would allow more information sharing between corporations and the government. But privacy advocates say the country’s intelligence gathering agency, the National Security Administration, already has too much access to US citizens’ private data, and has abused its powers by engaging in widespread warrant-less domestic surveillance. On Capitol Hill, FSRN’s Alice Ollstein has more.
Is the ideal military recruit an independent thinker who refuses illegal orders, an obedient automaton who does anything he's told, or a vicious sadist eager to rape and kill? Is courage more important or strength? Does it make the slightest difference if a soldier is gay?
We can agree to disagree. But most people are going to agree that the ideal recruit is not a drooling idiot who announces, "I want to join up because the military sponsors NASCAR drivers." Yet, the U.S. Army says that's how it gets a third of its recruits -- from motorsports sponsorships. Recruitment stations at racetracks help.
The U.S. military spends billions of dollars every year on recruitment and advertising, producing video games and movies, flying jets over football games, taking gas guzzling vehicles and inflatable soldiers to picnics, etc. I'm not even talking about military bands, which have a massive budget all their own. I'm talking about the campaign to make killing look like a cool and painless sport, a campaign funded in the way that a campaign to save our climate would be properly funded if we had one. We spend enough money attracting and recruiting each new recruit, that we could have hired him or her, and some of their friends, to do something useful. I say "we" because it's our money.
We spend $80 million a year on military sponsorships of sporting events, primarily NASCAR and primarily through the innocent-sounding National Guard. New recruits into the Guard are often falsely told they won't have to go to war.
By Dave Lindorff
There are two US presidents who have won the Nobel Peace Prize. Now one of those Nobel laureate leaders is accusing the other, though without naming him, of actions that qualify as war crimes and impeachable crimes against the US Constitution.
By John Grant
Charging a man with murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets in the Indy 500.
- Apocalypse Now
By Mark Haim, Mid-Missouri Peaceworks
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for a people to dissolve the political and economic bands which have connected them with an industry and a bureaucracy that have held sway over their lives, and to assume an equal station among the peoples of the earth, living free from permanent war in an equal station to people of other nations as the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
By Gary Lindorff
Let us bomb your neighborhood,
Let us target your neighbor
Out of our love and concern –
Not you, not your children.
Drones of love!
Won’t you love us
After the dust settles?
After the evil has been exploded?
After the crater in the market-place
Has been filled in and paved
We will explode our way into your hearts!
We might miss our intended target;
By Helen Jaccard, WarIsACrime.org
Need to test some new weapons? Bomb paradise!
The sound of bombs, missiles, and other explosions; massive attacks from the sea onto the beach; an epidemic of cancers and birth defects; soil, air, food and water contaminated with heavy metals, jet fuel and other poisons; and national and company secrets that prevent the residents from learning the truth: Is this a modern war zone? No – Sardinia is the victim of weapons manufacturers, polluting military activities and a political system that cares about power and money over the health of people and the environment.
Sardinia and it’s People
Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea – a paradise with diverse wildlife and beautiful beaches. Alice Scanu, a Sardinian environmental engineer and activist said, “We are peaceful people, poor ones maybe, but very welcoming. That's how I'd like Sardinians to be remembered, not as people involved in wars and power games.” In the rural areas are shepherds and farmers who make magnificent wine, honey, and cheese.
Military Use of Sardinia
For over 50 years Sardinia has been used by militaries and arms manufacturers to:
· test new bullets, bombs, missiles and drones
· train soldiers and pilots
· practice war scenarios
· explode, burn and bury old weapons and dangerous chemicals
· launch bombing sorties
Seventy percent of Italian military bases are located here, and Italian, NATO, and U.S. bases occupy about 1/3 of the area of the island’s land and sea. During military practice drills, the area closed to navigation and fishing increases to about 7200 square miles, almost 2 times the island surface.
Quirra, Teulada and Capo Frasca testing and firing ranges
The worst of the pollution, cancer, and birth deformities is in the firing ranges. In these huge areas in Southern Sardinia, militaries and weapons manufacturers:
· test-fire artillery rockets, drones, and laser-guided precision bombs, including at least one depleted uranium weapon and missiles that release asbestos and white phosphorus
· test the effects of explosions and fires on armor and pipelines
· dispose of tons of old weapons and chemicals, by explosion or burial
· perform air and naval “exercises”, holding mock attacks of the coast
· large quantities of buried waste containing cadmium, lead, antimony, and napalm
· high levels of lead on several beaches and in the water
· explosions of waste and weapons from past wars affecting areas up to 2000 square meters each that no longer support vegetation – each explosion produces as much pollution as an incinerator of municipal solid waste during one year - exposing communities, shepherds, base personnel and animals to toxic dust containing thorium, lead, cerium and cadmium
· Thorium, a radioactive and highly carcinogenic heavy metal used in military targeting systems has been found in Sardinian honey, milk, and other areas of the food chain.
· Pieces of bombs, missiles, and bullets are lying on the ground and in the sea.
· Unexploded ordnance lies in and around the restricted areas, including both land and sea.
· Birth Defects: Between 1988 and 2002 fourteen children were born with severe malformations in Escalaplano, a small village of 2400 people bordering the Quirra base.
· Malformed animals: two-headed lambs, calves with deformed legs, a pig with one huge grotesque eye – problems not normally seen here. A tissue sample from a malformed lamb was found to contain depleted uranium.
· Cancer: In a village with 150 inhabitants, 12 people died from leukemia in 2002, with 63 in the past decade. In the previous decade (1990 – 2000), there had been no cases of leukemia or lymphoma among this same population. 65% of workers on seven of twelve farms located near the Quirra base are suffering from serious cancer. Rates of lymphoma, thyroid cancerand autoimmune diseases are also unexpectedly high.
John Madeddu worked in the Capo Frasca base from 1968 to 1987. He has diffuse large cell lymphoma. He remembers an area where a large number of bullets accumulated in a clearing. When it rained it created a marsh and the
water seeped into the ground. The artesian wells provide water for both the base and the nearby farms. This kind of contamination has continued to build over the years with no clean-up effort undertaken. Animal deformities are common near the bases. Cattle still graze here and even if directly hit and killed by weapons containing heavy metals these animals are being butchered and eaten.
Francesco Piras died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 27 in 2007 after serving for 10 months at Capo Teulada. At the hospital, doctors asked him if he had been in contact with radioactive materials. Dr. Antonietta Gatti, Experimental Physicist at the University of Bologna, took biopsies of Francesco’s tissues and discovered high quantities of nanoparticles of industrial heavy metals.
A shepherd analyzed the situation with clear, shocking realism: "I have leukemia, I have only a few months or years of life, I accepted it. Nobody cares about us, and we just do not count for anything. They are powerful; it is better for them if there are fewer of us.”
The sheep are still grazing on contaminated land and the local people sell sheep cheese and grapes for a living.
Investigation and Prosecution:
On May 12, 2011, State Prosecutor Domenico Fiordalisi opened a court case to stop all military use of the Quirra base. Hundreds of shepherds and farmers demonstrated against the case because they might lose use of their land. They do not want a handout for unemployment; they just want their land to be uncontaminated and available.
The nuclear physicist Evandro Lodi Rizzini of Brescia University and CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) found elevated levels of radioactive thorium 232 and cerium (proving that the thorium was man-made) in the tissues of 15 of 18 bodies of Quirra-area shepherds who died of cancer between 1995 and 2000.
On March 24, 2012 Fiordalisi indicted twenty people on charges of "willful omission of precautions against injury and aggravated disasters or because they falsely certified the absence of pollution with the aim to "hide the environmental disaster.” The documents from Fiordalisi’s investigation have now been turned over to a tribunal for prosecution.
Decimomannu, the largest NATO air base contaminating the water supply
Decimomannu in Southwest Sardinia has the largest NATO air base in the world, used since 1954 as collaboration between Italy, Germany, Canada, the United States and NATO. From here they support transport aircraft of the Military Airlift Command from the United States to the Middle East and Africa. A total of 4 F-18s, along with a single Boeing 707 refueling aircraft was deployed to Decimomannu Air Base on the island of Sardinia for operations over Libya.
The military base of Decimomannu has been contaminating the environment with jet fuel and other poisons. Jet fuel contains xylene, benzene and lead, highly dangerous and carcinogenic substances. Mayor Louis Porceddu in February 2011 prohibited the use of the local wells. The authorities deny responsibility and expertise. An alleged reclamation has already cost 900,000 Euros, although no problem has been solved. Monica Pisano of the Decimomannu Civic Committee “Su Sentidu” said, “It is absolutely ineffective, since it is useless to reclaim the territory if the spill continues!”
La Maddalena / Santo Stefano islands
La Maddalena is an archipelago located 2 km Northeast of Sardinia. The population of 17,000 swells to 75,000 during the summer, when the tourists come to enjoy the campgrounds, beautiful beaches and lovely hiking trails.
From 1972 to 2008 a U.S. / NATO base on Santo Stefano Island served as the home port for nuclear submarines. In 2003 the nuclear powered submarine U.S.S. Hartford struck a rock and damaged its rudders, sonar and electronics. However, residents suspect that even greater damage was done.
Massimo Zucchetti, Professor at the Department of Energy at the Torino Polytechnic and his team analyzed algae in the archipelago. The presence of radioactive alpha particles and plutonium traces were found, sometimes in high concentrations. This contamination is due to either a continuous loss of pollutant from the submarine base, or to environmental releases that took place during the USS Hartford accident.On January 20, 2004, the “schwäbische Zeitung”newspaper reported that there was an alarming high amount of radioactivity in the waternear La Maddalena Island.
Cause of Cancers
Dr. Antonietta Gatti, Experimental Physicist at the University of Bologna, found nano-particles of iron, lead, tungsten, and copper in the tissues of citizens and sheep. She said, “Rain leads to the contamination of the soil. Through air pollution, other areas that are not involved in the testing are contaminated as well… The sea is polluted. Local governments do not warn people when there are testing activities; they do testing even at night.”
Fernando Codenesu, Professor at the Department of Energy at the Torino Polytechnic, explained that Sardinia has rocks that are very fragile and contain heavy metals. An explosion breaks the rocks into micro and nano-particles containing these heavy metals. These in turn are blown in the wind, contaminate the groundwater; people and animals breathe them into their bodies.
Health Effects of Depleted Uranium and Thorium
What are effects of depleted uranium and thorium - elements that emit alpha particles on the body?
Dr. Rizzini said, “One micro-gram, that is, one millionth of a gram is sufficient to kill a person. It causes a rise in atomic disintegrations; with a production of 2000 alpha rays a day, nuclear radiation is most damaging.”
Demands of the people
· Transparency and truth – reveal what chemicals and metals have been used.
· Close all of the bases and radar facilities – completely de-militarize the island.
· Clean and decontaminate the bases and land, aquifers and sea around them.
· Provide health care to all people affected by military activity on the island
· Provide financial assistance and clean land and sea to farmers and fishers
Cagliari – Monthly Rally with Cancer Victims and their Families
There is a monthly rally against the bases on the 15th of each month in Cagliari. It is organized by victims of cancer and their families and those opposed to military use of Sardinia.
Committee of Parents of Fallen Soldiers in Times of Peace
Parents of deceased children (who had done their military service in Sardinia and in the Balkans) founded the organization “Comitato Genitori Vittime uranio impoverito” (Committee of Parents of Fallen soldiers in times of peace). Giancarlo Piras (father of Francesco) says, “Here in Sardinia, we are confronted with war victims but in a peaceful area. We like to call this area the zone for preparing new wars”. He points out that existing law is that the government needs to know what kind of weapons/materials have been tested in the bases. The reality is that none of the armies give information about the tests and hide under the umbrella of ‘military secrecy’.
Protests Prevent New Radar Installations
There are about 15 radar stations on the island, on the top of the mountains surrounding the bases. Many fear that the electromagnetic radiation emitted by them is dangerous and want their use stopped.
People are now demonstrating against construction of several more radar sites. Local officials and the Italian Party Partito Democratico have now spoken against some of the proposed radar sites as well. As a result, plans for four of them have been abandoned.
Fishermen Bring Naval Exercises to a Halt
Since the 1990s fishermen have been pushed out of their profession by NATO naval exercises and have become activists for their right to use the sea. There were acts of civil disobedience at the port, the base entrances, and at sea. Stubbornly, daily, when the wind allowed it, the fishermen challenged the restrictions and the bombs, directing up to 42 boats into the heart of the war game area and threw their fishing nets in a prohibited sea saturated by war ships. Fortunately, it only takes one civilian boat to stop a naval exercise.
Their demands are simple: the right to safe work, to have the stolen sea back, and to have a clean sea and environment.
2005 was the last year of protest. The fishermen are now paid to stay out of the water and many have abandoned their profession.
Italian Democratic Party (Partito Democratico) calls for closure or conversion of bases
In an encouraging new development in March 2012, Senator Gian Piero Scanu called for closing the bases in Capo Frasca and Capo Teulada, and for changing the Quirra base back to its previous designation as a technical-scientific research center. This letter was signed by over 100 Senators of many political parties.
The Sardinian newspapers have published articles about the deformities and high rates of cancer, so everyone on the island is aware of this problem. L’Union Sardo has been particularly good about publishing articles regarding the cancer, birth defects, contamination, and military use of Sardinia.
What can you do?
· Spread the word about Sardinia. More information is available here where the original 7500-word research document is stored. Also here as a PDF.
· Contact your congressional representatives and demand the closure of the Sardinia NATO bases.
· Carry signs or flyers at demonstrations demanding that NATO stop bombing Sardinia.
· Contact Helen Jaccard at Helen.Jaccard@gmail.com to discuss ideas.
By John Grant
Vietnam, a story of virtually unmitigated disasters that we have inflicted on ourselves and even more on others.
-Bernard Brodie, 1973
Bruce Gagnon describes U.S. and NATO plans in the works to militarily surround and threaten both Russia and China. Gagnon is co-founder and coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space at http://space4peace.org. He blogs at http://space4peace.blogspot.com He's the author of Come Together Right Now, and of a chapter in The Military Industrial Complex at 50.
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.
Syndicated by Pacifica Network.
Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!
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- The United States is set to far surpass previous records for defence sales this year, according to U.S. officials.
“Despite the global economic strain, demand for U.S. defence products and services is stronger than ever,” Andrew J. Shapiro, an assistant secretary in the U.S. State Department, said on Thursday.
He confirmed that the U.S., long the world’s largest weapons exporter, has already seen more than 50 billion dollars in government-to-government military sales this fiscal year.
“This represents at least a 20-billion-dollar increase over fiscal year 2011, and we still have more than a quarter of the fiscal year left,” Shapiro said, speaking with reporters. The current fiscal year will end in September.
“To put this in context, fiscal year 2011 was a record-setting year at just over 30 billion. This fiscal year will be at least 70 percent greater.”
Observers noted the administration’s evident pride at the high numbers.
“An Obama arms bazaar is going on – this is further evidence of that,” Jeff Abramson, director of Control Arms, an international civil-society alliance based in Washington, told IPS.
“This administration has made defence trade an economic rather than just a security issue – part of the agenda in terms of keeping the U.S. economy going. I think human rights issues should trump those concerns. Selling to countries such as Saudi Arabia, people need to ask whether the U.S. is living up to its promises on rights obligations.”
Shapiro, who noted that the U.S. only allows a sale “after we carefully examine issues like human rights”, spoke a week after the launch of the newest edition of the 655 Report, an annual compilation of defence products and services authorised for export.
Many have cautioned that the U.S. defence trade is notoriously difficult to estimate, given the numerous ways available to calculate the figure. Several point to a lower number of 30 billion dollars worth of actual transfers, rather than the larger sales number, not all of which may ultimately take place.
The latest figures are particularly buoyed by two contracts, with Saudi Arabia and Japan. The former was particularly significant, accounting for 29.4 billion dollars and including up to 84 advanced fighter aircraft. The Japanese sale, also for fighter aircraft, is worth around 10 billion dollars.
In a major priority for the U.S. government today, Shapiro noted that the Saudi Arabia deal alone would support more than 50,000 jobs.
The United States also recently concluded a first-of-its-kind military trade agreement with the United Kingdom, aimed at easing the bureaucratic red tape that typically surrounds U.S. military deals.
A similar agreement is in the offing with Australia, while new export plans being pushed by President Barack Obama’s administration could facilitate weapons sales to a host of other countries.