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To Die For: Global Arms Sales Rise, U.S. Leads

The U.S. again led all arms sales in 2015, accounting for $23 billion of the record-setting $65 billion global total. IHS Jane’s, the defense-industry information source, reported the figure on Monday, June 19. The report also predicted that 2016 global weapons and equipment sales would rise even higher to $69 billion.

Arms sales

Saudi Arabia imports most weapons.

The increase in global defense trade – a rise of $6.6 billion from 2014 to 2015 — is being fueled by the Middle East and Southeast Asia. IHS’s Global Defence Trade Report listed these key findings:

  1. The Middle East was the largest importing region, with $21.6 billion in deliveries of defense equipment.
  2. Total defense spending accelerated in the Asia-Pacific as states bordering the South China Sea boosted defense spending.
  3. France has doubled its backlog of orders from $36 billion in 2014 to $55 billion, meaning that $55 billion worth of defense equipment has yet to be exported. This increase means that France will overtake Russia as the second-largest global defense equipment exporter.
  4. Germany moved from fifth- to third- largest exporter and the UK dropped from fourth to fifth.
  5. The largest global exporter, the United States, saw another 10 percent increase in exports over the past year, bringing the total to $23 billion (35 percent of the global total).
  6. South Korea saw exports climb again to $871 million.
  7. There was significant change in the top five importing countries, with Taiwan, China and Indonesia all dropping out of the top five and Australia, Egypt and South Korea replacing them.

Saudi Arabia Leads All Importers

The Saudis led all global purchases in 2015. In a February column, we reported about Riyadh’s advancing with global aggressive war — either violent or economic — detrimentally affecting every continent. The kingdom’s vast expansion of weaponry in 2015 indicates it plans to continue its aggressions beyond its borders to countries like Yemen, and to protect within its borders against growing threats of revolution.

Ben Moores, senior analyst at IHS, said in a company report:

The combined value of Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s defence imports is more than all of Western Europe’s defence imports combined. Saudi Arabia’s imports grew from $6 billion to $9.3 billion; an increase that is three times that of the entire sub-Saharan Africa market.

The US, Canada, France and the UK are the main exporters of defence equipment to the Middle East and beneficiaries of this spending boom.

Imports Point to “Asia Pivot” War Danger

As early as 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama appears to have begun Washington’s “Asian Pivot”, its emphasis on reigning in primarily China, and also Russia, both of whom had shown sustained economic growth which the Beltway’s neo-cons consider a threat to U.S. efforts to control Eurasia. We discussed Washington’s push for Eurasia control in our column “Obama Widens Carter’s, Bush’s Global Rule Policies”.

China and Russia, of course, have watched this U.S. effort and have been involved in manuevers to offset it. It has led to growing animosity, including nuclear-weapons buildups which we wrote about in “Nukebuild: This Will Not End Well”.

The IHS report further omens the danger of war escalating in the South China Sea area. Washington has emphasized it will control the waters there. China has countered that the U.S. will not. And now the IHS notes:

Total defense spending accelerated in Asia Pacific as states bordering the South China Sea boosted their defense spending. Between 2009 and 2016, defense imports rose 71 percent in the region.

These are imports by U.S. allies who Washington hopes will also oppose China. Obama took an extra step recently in promoting this effort by lifting weapons sanctions against Vietnam.

In the U.S., you should consider the danger of weapons sales and increased threats of war when voting in November for president, vice president, and Congress.

Roger Armbrust

Roger Armbrust's articles and columns have covered labor and management, Congressional legislation, and federal court cases, including appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. He formerly served as national news editor of Back Stage in New York City, where he also taught a professional writing course at New York University. His recent book of sonnets -- oh, touch me there: Love Sonnets -- is available from Amazon and other book sites. He is an associate curator of The Clyde Fitch Report. He is also co-founder and co-curator of reality: a world of views.

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