U.S. merchants of death top world’s arms sales

The United States military-industrial complex tripled its arms sales last year as it sold $66.3 billion in weapons overseas in that 12-month period. This accounted for nearly 78 percent of all global arms sales in the world, which rose to a record $85.3 billion in 2011.

The U.S. clearly remained the world’s leading arms supplier, with nearly all other major suppliers seeing declines in 2011, according to the Congressional Research Service’s annual report to Congress. These other suppliers are barely significant in comparison with the U.S. Russia, which was second highest, had only $4.8 billion in sales.

U.S. weapons dealers also continued to dominate in terms of supplying spare parts and training, and in negotiating deals for future deliveries.

Washington generates a steady stream of orders for upgrades, spare parts, and ammunition and support services from year to year, even when it does not conclude big deals for new weapons systems, the report said.

The U.S. often likes to pose as an “arsenal of democracy,” but the opposite is true. In 2011, over $33.4 billion in sales — or 50 percent — went to Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy, which has one of the most reactionary, repressive regimes in the world. Bahrain, which has carried out a vicious campaign against its own citizens, was another of the larger buyers. So was Taiwan, reflecting the Pentagon and State Department’s “Asian pivot,” which is designed to put increased military pressure on China.

All of this is nothing new. The U.S. has long been the dominant arms supplier in the world, even as many of its leaders accepted Nobel “peace” prizes. Richard Nixon’s secretary of state, Henry Kissinger; former President Jimmy Carter; and more recently, President Barack Obama, have all been recipients. Each administration not only sent the U.S. into wars and interventions, but also presided over huge arms sales overseas.

These arms exports are an important part of the military-industrial complex, which combines U.S. corporations, the U.S. economy, and the U.S. military and political system together into a noxious brew.

Key U.S. weapons sales in 2011 included:

• $33.4 billion with Saudi Arabia for 84 Boeing Co. F-15 fighter jets and dozens of helicopters built by Boeing and Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies Corp.

• $3.49 billion for Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, an advanced missile shield, to the United Arab Emirates, and $940 million for 16 Chinook helicopters built by Boeing

• $1.4 billion for 18 F-16 fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin

• $4.1 billion agreement with India for 10 Boeing C-17 transport planes

• $2 billion order by Taiwan for Patriot anti-missile batteries.

These companies are also among the largest contributors to both capitalist political parties in the U.S. The five biggest U.S. arms manufacturers donated a combined $7.1 million to the presidential and congressional races by the middle of July, according to data analyzed by U.S. News & World Report. Of that amount, $6.8 million went to congressional candidates, with $4.2 million donated to Republicans.

Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics and Raytheon have given $156,182 to Obama’s re-election bid, and $116,101 to Mitt Romney’s campaign, reports the Center for Responsive Politics. General Dynamics and Raytheon were the lone two of the so-called “Big Five” that donated more to Romney’s campaign. Raytheon is headquartered in Romney’s home state of Massachusetts.

Poor and working people who live in the U.S. and those who reside in the countries which receive U.S. arms shipments, have nothing to gain by allowing their governments to divert socially needed resources to these merchants of death.

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