NOTHING TO BE PROUD OF: THE REAL AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM – SELLING WEAPONS TO THE WORLD

Dec 30, 2015 by

Soldiers of the 82nd Airborne march in a division review ceremony attended by the U.S. President George W. Bush at Fort Bragg, North Carolina May 22, 2008.     REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque   (UNITED STATES) - RTX61O8

Soldiers of the 82nd Airborne march in a division review ceremony attended by the U.S. President George W. Bush at Fort Bragg, North Carolina May 22, 2008. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES) – RTX61O8

Nothing to be proud of: The real American exceptionalism is selling the most weapons in the world — by far
By selling weapons at alarming levels, the U.S. is further fueling the extremism it purports to be fighting
Ben Norton   SALON.COM

 

(Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

American exceptionalism — the notion that the U.S. is somehow an exceptional country, with no parallels in the world — is largely a myth. There is, however, one way in which it is absolutely true: The U.S. sells more weapons than any other country.

The U.S. has just 5 percent of the global population, but sells more than half of its weapons. And this number is increasing.

A new congressional study found that foreign arms sales by the U.S. increased by almost $10 billion in 2014 — up 35 percent.

No other countries even come close to the U.S. in weapons sales. As much as politicians and the media fear-monger about Russia, it sold just $10.2 billion in weapons in 2014 — a decrease from 2013. This pales in comparison to the $36.2 billion in arms sales the U.S. made in the same year.

That is to say, the U.S. sold over 3.5 times more weapons in 2014 than Russia, the world’s second-largest arms dealer.

Sweden came in third, with a bit over half of Russia’s arms sales. France and China followed with $4.4 billion and $2.2 billion, respectively.

Who is receiving the many billions of dollars of U.S. weapons? Primarily South Korea, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

South Korea bought $7.8 billion in weapons in 2014. According to the report, this is more than any other country — but this may be an underestimate, compared to U.S. deals with the Gulf monarchies. South Korea, a close Western ally, is building up its arsenal as tensions escalate between it and North Korea.

Iraq reportedly purchased the second-most, at $7.3 billion. This is unsurprising, considering the U.S. destroyed the Iraqi government after its 2003 invasion and subsequently built a new Iraqi government and military that is largely reliant upon it.

What is much less discussed, however, are the rapidly accelerating arms deals between the U.S. and Gulf monarchies. Saudi Arabia and Qatar, in particular, are buying more and more American weapons.

In the past five years, the Obama administration has done well over $100 billion in arms deals with the Saudi monarchy. From 2010 to 2014, the U.S. sold more than $90 billion in weapons to the Saudi regime. In October 2015, the Obama administration approved over $11 billion more. Less than three days after the November Paris attacks, the U.S. sold another $1.3 billion of bombs to Saudi Arabia.

The implications of this growing relationship have been largely glossed over in media reports.

Ben Norton is a politics staff writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.

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