Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Guns and Money

Why are Americans so fascinated with guns and war? I'm including myself in this mix, I don't mean that I'm fascinated by war, not real war anyways, I prefer the Hollywood variety, with fake guns, fake blood, the kind where know one gets hurt, and in the end, the good guys win. I like a good action flick, ( I especially like both of the Tomb Raider films, cause wow, does Angelina Jolie look hot in those action outfits?) I much prefer action to those emotional chick flicks that my partner likes to watch. But in real life, guns scare me. People who own guns scare me. How do you know that they're not going to just flip out one day and start shooting at you? I would never own one myself, I would be too afraid I would shoot the windows out or something, or maybe shoot my foot off trying to figure out how to work it. I like to be a responsible citizen, I don’t drive drunk, and I don’t shoot guns.
Keeps the neighbors safe.
So anyway, today I log onto the Guardian, (that's a London newspaper, I read it because I can hardly ever get serious news in any of the American newspapers), and I read this article about a report produced by the Arms Trade Resource Center in New York which spells out pretty clearly that not only do Americans love their guns, but we love it when other countries buy our guns. In fact, we love selling guns so much, that we sell them to anyone, even some questionable states that might be considered, well…unstable. How do we know that these weapons will not someday be used against us? We haven’t always chosen our allies wisely, we all know that the US armed and trained Osama Bin Laden. We know that before both of the Gulf Wars, that we sold Saddam Hussein guns and WMDS. It is possible that those very same guns are the ones firing at our soldiers today.
“In 2003 alone, the Pentagon and the State Department delivered or licensed the delivery of 5.7 billion in weaponry to countries which can ill afford advanced weaponry; nations in the developing world saddled with debt and struggling with poverty.
Despite having some of the worlds strongest laws regulating the arms trade, almost half of these weapons went to countries plagued with ongoing conflicts and governed by undemocratic regimes with poor human rights records. In 2003, 2.7 billion in weaponry went to governments branded un-democratic by the State Department.”
What’s up with that?
Okay, I’m not sure if I understood this part of the article correctly, but it seems that we actually lend these countries the money to buy these weapons. I’m not sure how that makes any sort of business sense, if we lend them the money, then how are we even making a profit? Are we doing this as some sort of gesture? And the money lender, is an American military aid program called Foreign Military Financing, and I hope that it isn’t funded by American tax dollars, because that would mean…no…we’re not funding these sales are we? Because I have a real problem with selling weapons to countries like Saudi Arabia, (shit,19 of their guys killed 3000 of ours, and with our planes!) Pakistan, Afghanistan (you’ve got to be kidding!) Uzbekistan?
“Under FMF (Foreign Military Financing) recipients get outright US grants on the condition that they use the money to buy US weapons systems. The foreign countries get nearly free weapons (they incur the operating costs and additional expenses for parts and in some cases, training) and the money is churned back into the US defense industry.
I must have read this article incorrectly. There’s got to be some mistake. How can we, American tax payers, be subsidizing the sales of weaponry to a country like Afghanistan when most of the country is still controlled by warlords and the country is only one car bomb away from anarchy? We only have 18,000 troops in Afghanistan, and I sure wouldn’t want them to be looking down the barrels of a bunch of M-16’s courtesy of the American taxpayer. The same can be said for Pakistan, their leader, Musharref , (please don’t expect me to spell that correctly) has almost been blown up twice in the past year, and the Pakistan military has close ties to the Taliban. And they have nukes. So why exactly are we selling them weapons? Lending them the money to buy them? Is this some sort of insanity? A death wish? And Uzbekistan? I don’t even want to imagine.
Can somebody please tell me that I’m wrong?


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