September 15, 2008
The Bush administration is rapidly increasing weapons sales to foreign governments in order to rearm Middle East allies, The New York Times reported.
The Department of Defense has sold or transferred $32 billion of tanks, helicopters, jets, missiles and warships this year, compared to $12 billion in 2005.
“This is not about being gunrunners,” said Bruce S. Lemkin, an Air Force deputy who is helping to coordinate many of the biggest sales. “This is about building a more secure world.”
Although concentrated in the Middle East, many more deals are with countries in Asia, Latin America, Europe and even Canada.
Officials of the Bush administration say the dozens of arms deals will help combat terrorism by strengthening military alliances.
Israel has had $330 million in weapons sales approved by the U.S. government Tuesday in three separate deals, Pakistan’s The Daily Times reported.
The Pentagon informed Congress of the bombs, Patriot missile upgrades and anti-armour weapons that the deals include.
Advocates of gun control and some members of Congress said the increasing weapons sales were becoming unreasonable.
“Sure, this is a quick and easy way to cement alliances,” said William D. Hartung, an arms control specialist at the New America Foundation, a public policy institute. “But this is getting out of hand.”
The following is an excerpt from The New York Times’ article:
The surging American arms sales reflect the foreign policy tides, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the broader campaign against international terrorism, that have dominated the Bush administration. Deliveries on orders now being placed will continue for several years, perhaps as one of President Bush’s most lasting legacies.
About 60 countries get annual military aid from the United States, $4.5 billion a year, to help them buy American weapons. Israel and Egypt receive more than 80 percent of that aid. The United States has also recently given Iraq and Afghanistan large amounts of weapons and other equipment and has begun to train fledgling military units at no charge; this assistance is included in the tally of foreign sales. But most arms exports are paid for by the purchasers without United States financing.
In related news, the Albanian government has announced an investigation into the death of an arms industry figure who was helping prosecuters probe a weapons to the United States and an explosion which killed 26 people, Reuters reported.
Businessman Kosta Trebicka was found in a remote part of Albania covered in blood and on his back on a dirt road. His damaged car was nearby.
Interior Minister Bujar Nishani told a late evening news conference that any information experts found about the man’s death would be released.
Opposition leaders said the death looked suspicious.