Rhetoric Versus Reality: the Role of U.S. Arms Transfers in Human Rights Violations

| August 29, 2001

Rhetoric Versus Reality:the Role of U.S. Arms Transfers in Human Rights Violations

'We cannot have it both ways. We can't be both the world's leading champion of peace and the world's leading supplier of arms.' So said President Jimmy Carter in 1976, speaking about America's role as the planet's primary supplier of arms.

Unfortunately, America's role as war chest to the world has only grown since then. As William Hartung reports on the World Policy Institute Web site, the U.S. in 1999 supplied 54 percent of all arms delivered--four times the amount of arms supplied by its closest competitor, the United Kingdom. While the U.S. espouses a tenet of promoting human rights, says Hartung, director of the Arms Trade Resurce Center World Policy Institute at New School University, our eagerness to export weapons forces us into the role of international hypocrite.

Two years ago, Congress passed the bipartisan International Arms Sales Code of Conduct Act, which requires that the President evaluate human rights criteria when judging arms sales and military training. But, using information from non-governmental as well as governmental sources, Hartung paints a sobering and sad portrait of a nation that continually sells arms to warring factions that violate every ethic the American people supposedly believe in.
--Al Paulson
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U.S. 'Supplier of Choice' for Weapons, by Frida Berrigan, World Policy Institute

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