ARMS TRADE RESOURCE CENTER
REPORTS – Weapons at War:
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A World Policy Institute Issue Brief
Table of Contents
In a number of volatile areas the United States has been the primary supplier to governments that are involved in ongoing conflicts. In Turkey (76%), Spain (85%), Israel (99%), Morocco (26%), Egypt (61%), Chad (27%), Somalia (44%), Liberia (40%), Kenya (25%), Pakistan (44%), the Philippines (93%), Indonesia (38%), Guatemala (86%), Haiti (25%), Colombia (28%), Brazil (35%), and Mexico (77%), the United States has been the primary supplier of imported weaponry in the most recent five year period for which full data is available.
Turkey’s use of U.S.-supplied fighter aircraft, helicopters, tanks, and armored personnel carriers in its recent invasion of Northern Iraq highlights the dangers of a policy of uncritical assistance to allies engaged in ethnic or territorial disputes, as does the employment of U.S.-supplied equipment on both sides of the 1995 Peru-Ecuador border war. Since the end of the Cold War, the continuing U.S. policy of promoting weapons exports as a key element of U.S. security strategy and economic policy has accelerated the incidence of the “boomerang effect”: the transfer of U.S. weaponry to forces that end up doing battle against U.S. troops. The last four times the United States sent troops into combat in significant numbers — in Panama, Iraq, Somalia, and Haiti — they faced adversaries that had received U.S.-origin arms, training, or military production technology in the period leading up to the conflict. This is a clear sign that something is awry in U.S. arms transfer decision making processes.
Last but not least, covert U.S. arms sales have come back to haunt U.S. citizens by inadvertently strengthening terrorist organizations. Two of the men convicted in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing received weapons training in Afghanistan under the direction of fundamentalist Islamic forces that were armed and trained by the CIA. The suspects in the recent murders of several U.S. embassy employees in Karachi, Pakistan are also suspected of having ties to the CIA’s Afghan arms pipeline. David Whipple, the former had of counterterrorism at the CIA, has indicated that these are not isolated cases: “some of the people who are actual or potential terrorists in this country are former guerrilla fighters in Afghanistan.” And an Algerian official has described the existence of a “floating army” of Islamic fundamentalist fighters who were trained with CIA assistance in Afghanistan and are now engaged in organized attempt to overthrow the governments of Algeria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, among others.
As President Clinton tries to mobilize world public opinion against Iran, in part for its alleged role in supporting terrorism in the Middle East, it would behoove him to get his own house in order by clamping down on the CIA’s covert weapons trafficking operations, which all too often end up hurting innocent people, including U.S. citizens. The recent revelations that a Guatemalan colonel on the CIA payroll is implicated in the murders of Michael DeVine, an American who ran a farm in Guatemala, and Efrain Bamaca Velazquez, a Guatemalan rebel leader who was married to American lawyer and activist Jennifer Harbury, is just the latest example of a covert arms trading culture that is out of control.
Recommendation 1: Pass the arms transfer Code of Conduct bill.
Recommendation 2: Provide more detailed reporting on U.S. transfers of arms and military technology, and press for other nations to do the same. Up until the Reagan Administration, the State Department issued an annual report under Section 657 of the Foreign Assistance Act that listed most significant items of military equipment delivered from the United States to any foreign country in the prior fiscal year, ranging from rifles and bullets on up to advanced combat aircraft. The section 657 report should be reinstituted as an annual publication, to provide a tool for keeping track of potential abuses of U.S.-supplied weaponry. A full accounting of U.S. arms transfer policy must also include regular, detailed reporting on U.S. transfers of so-called “dual use” equipment — items such as advanced machine tools and computers, measuring instruments, or unarmed light helicopters and aircraft. If Congress and the public had been aware of the particulars of the nearly $1.5 billion in dual use export licenses that the Commerce Department granted to companies seeking to sell equipment to Iraq during 1985 through 1990, some of the more dangerous items on the list might not have been approved for sale.
Recommendation 3: The Pentagon and the intelligence community should publish regular reports on the use of U.S.-supplied weaponry in ongoing conflicts. All too often, U.S. weapons are supplied on a “fire ’em and forget ’em” basis: the decision to sell is made based on short-term political, strategic, or economic considerations, with little thought given to how these arms might be used a few years down the road. In an attempt to prevent this “boomerang effect” from repeating itself in the future, Representative Cynthia McKinney sponsored a successful amendment to the Fiscal Year 1995 Department of Defense Authorization bill requiring the Pentagon to report annually on how proposed arms transfers might create “increased capabilities” on the part of potential adversaries, and how they might “pose an increased threat” to U.S. forces in some future conflict.
As a further step in the right direction, the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency should be required to file annual reports on how U.S.-supplied weaponry is being put to use in current conflicts, either by the original recipients, or as the result of unauthorized transfers to third parties. These reports could serve as a running record of the consequences of past U.S. weapons trading activities, and they would hopefully inject a note of caution into congressional debates over new proposed transfers.
Recommendation 4: Outlaw covert weapons shipments. From Iran/contra to the arming of Iraq to the ongoing proliferation of weapons originally intended for Afghan rebel movements, covert weapons trafficking haw been at the center of a series of unmitigated foreign policy fiascos. As part of the effort to restructure the CIA to better meet the realities of the post-Cold War world, covert arms sales by the CIA and other government departments should be strictly outlawed.
Recommendation 5: The Clinton Administration (or its successor) should vigorously pursue a policy of multilateral arms transfer restraint designed to limit sales of conventional weaponry to regions of conflict or repressive regimes. Contrary to the findings of the Clinton Administration’s new conventional arms transfer policy, Presidential Directive 41, limiting the spread of weaponry to regions of conflict should be the paramount priority governing U.S. arms transfer decisions in the post-Cold War era. Economic and defense industrial base concerns should take a back seat to efforts to construct a multilateral arms export control regime that can serve both as a tool for preventing conflicts, and for limiting their duration and severity once they break out. At a time when the United States controls 72% of new arms sales agreements with the developing world, U.S. leadership remains an essential prerequisite for implementing any meaningful multilateral arrangement for limiting the flow of conventional armaments.
I. Introduction: U.S. Arms Transfers — Promoting Stability or Fueling Conflict?
The Arms Export Control Act states that U.S. military equipment and services shall be provided to other nations only for purposes of internal security, “legitimate self-defense,” participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations, or involvement in operations consistent with the U.N. Charter. Based in part on this legislative requirement and in part on their ingrained assumptions regarding U.S. weapons sales, several generations of executive branch officials, policymakers, and independent analysts have taken it as an article of faith that U.S.-supplied weapons are primarily used for defensive purposes. Now that the United States controls nearly three-quarters of all weapons exports to the developing world, the question of whether or not U.S. weapons are used aggressively is of more than merely academic interest.
As of early 1994, there were 50 significant ethnic and territorial conflicts under way in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. By the end of 1993, the number of ongoing wars involving more than one thousand battle-related deaths reached 34, marking the first increase in this grim statistic since the end of the Cold War. By early 1995, progress towards peace in South Africa, the Middle East, and Northern Ireland had been offset by the escalation of conflicts in North Africa (Algeria) and Russia (Chechnya),and the outbreak of a border war between Peru and Ecuador.
With the exception of Russia, China, and a few other nations that produce a wide array of weapons systems for their own use, the majority of participants in today’s armed conflicts depend upon imported weaponry. The conventional wisdom among U.S. policymakers is that the weapons that are actually used in the majority of the world’s conflicts are supplied by other, less “responsible” suppliers. To the extent that U.S. officials raise questions about arms supplies to regions of conflict, the usual targets of criticism are either Russia or China, which have historically been more willing to supply arms and military technology to “rogue” states like Iraq, Libya, North Korea, and Iran. In addition, some observers make pointed references to France’s allegedly amoral, mercantile approach to arms sales. In contrast, it has been argued that U.S. arms sales are grounded in carefully considered decisions to bolster the security of trustworthy allies in critical regions.
The notion that the United States is only arming the “good guys” has a long history. In his book The Real War, Richard Nixon, the architect of the current U.S. role as the world’s leading weapons trafficking nation, argued that U.S.-supplied weapons have rarely been used in a belligerent manner, but that “Soviet arms are the ones that are constantly used to break the peace.” Nixon’s blanket claim ignored a series of aggressive actions by major U.S. arms clients during the Nixon/Ford administrations, including Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus, Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor, Morocco’s occupation of the Western Sahara, and General Augusto Pinochet’s reign of terror in the wake of his 1973 coup d’etat in Chile.
The Reagan Administration presided over one of the most revealing incidents in the history of U.S. policy towards aggressive uses of U.S. military equipment when it responded to Israel’s June 1981 bombing of Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor. Initially, U.S. weapons deliveries to Israel were suspended until the State Department could determine whether the bombing, which utilized U.S.-supplied F-15 and F-16 aircraft, violated Israel’s pledge to use U.S. systems for defensive purposes. After a ten week review, Secretary of State Alexander Haig decided to resume arms shipments to Israel, arguing that “I think one in a subjective way can argue to eternity as to whether or not a military action may be defensive or offensive in character.” Rather than making a specific case that Israel’s bombing of Osirak was justified as a defensive act, Haig seemed to be saying, in Alice-in-Wonderland style, that a defensive use of weaponry is whatever the U.S. government and its allies say it is. Turkey’s 1995 invasion of Northern Iraq, which has been justified by Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller on the grounds that Turkish forces are in “hot pursuit” of Kurdish terrorists, raises similar questions about what constitutes a genuinely defensive deployment of U.S.-supplied weaponry (for further discussion of Turkey’s use of U.S. weapons against its Kurdish population, see section II, below).
This “see-no-evil” approach to U.S. weapons trading has survived into the 1990s. The last four times the United States has sent troops into combat they have faced adversaries that received U.S. arms or military technology in the period leading up to the conflict, yet the Clinton Administration’s arms transfer policy review stubbornly refused to take into account the very real possibility that U.S.-supplied weapons may be used for purposes contrary to U.S. interests. As if to underscore the business-as-usual tone of the Clinton approach, an official involved in the policy review has indicated that under the Administration’s new guidelines, not a single one of the hundreds of major U.S. arms sales of the past fifteen years would have been rejected. The administration’s decidedly upbeat perspective on arms sales was summed up early on by Lt. General Teddy Allen, the former Director of the Pentagon’s Defense Security Assistance Agency, during testimony to Congress in June 1993: “Many friends and allies depend on U.S. defense equipment, services, and training to deter, and when necessary, defeat, armed aggression.” When it finally released the results of its arms export policy review in February of 1995, the Clinton Administration described the five key goals of its policy as follows:
1) To ensure that our military forces can continue to enjoy technological advantages over potential adversaries;
2) To help allies and friends deter or defend themselves against aggression, while promoting interoperability with U.S. forces when combined operations are required;
3) To promote regional stability in areas critical to U.S. interests, while preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their missile delivery systems;
4) To promote peaceful conflict resolution and arms control, human rights, democratization and other U.S. foreign policy objectives;
5) To enhance the ability of the U.S. defense industrial base to meet U.S. defense requirements and maintain long-term military techno- logical superiority at lower costs.
The idea of controlling the spread of U.S. weaponry to ensure that U.S. exports do not sustain ongoing wars, fuel regional arms races, or strengthen potential U.S. adversaries is only obliquely hinted at in the Clinton Administration’s priority list; the underlying assumption is that U.S. weapons transfers go to potential “coalition partners” to be used for strictly defensive purposes. Despite recent evidence to the contrary, the possibility that today’s partner could be tomorrow’s adversary doesn’t seem to enter into the administration’s thinking.
To further underscore how small a role the potential risks of U.S. weapons exports will play in executive branch decisionmaking, Clinton Administration officials have indicated that the contribution of a given transfer to the defense industrial base will now be an explicit factor in deciding whether to go ahead with the sale. This could mean that the fact that a deal might extend Lockheed’s production run for the F-16 fighter or sustain General Dynamics’ assembly line for the M-1 tank will carry greater weight than whether these weapons are being provided to unstable regimes.
Not surprisingly, the claim that U.S.-supplied arms are only used defensively has also been made repeatedly by executives and lobbyists in the defense industry. For example, Don Fuqua, president of the Aerospace Industries Association, made the following claim in a November 1994 article entitled “Merchants of Peace”: “during more than half a century, no American soldier ever faced any significant American military equipment used by a hostile power.” This industry argument has been echoed in academic circles as well, most notably in an article by Ethan Kapstein of the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard which appeared in the May/June 1994 issue of Foreign Affairs:
The question of whether U.S. weapons transfers are as overwhelmingly constructive and stabilizing as this version of the conventional wisdom claims they are deserves closer scrutiny. As the next section will demonstrate, the sheer volume of U.S. arms shipments to areas of conflict calls into question the notion that these transfers have exerted a uniformly positive or predictable influence on local, regional, and international security.
II. U.S. Weapons at War
o Of the significant ethnic and territorial conflicts going on during 1993-94, 90% (45 out of 50) of them involved one or more parties that had received some U.S. weaponry or military technology in the period leading up to the conflict;
o In more than half of current conflicts (26 out of 50), the United States has been a significant arms supplier, accounting for at least 5% of the weapons delivered to one party to the dispute over a five year period;
o In more than one-third of all current conflicts (18 out of 50), the United States has been a major supplier to one party to the dispute, accounting for over 25% of all weapons imported by that participant in the most recent five year period;
o Despite the popular perception that it is U.S. policy to cease deliveries of weapons once a conflict is under way, as of the end of 1993 (the latest year for which full statistics are available) the United States was shipping military goods and services to more than half (26 out of 50) of the areas where there were wars being fought;
The data outlined above demonstrate that contrary to the assertions of key policymakers, academic analysts, and industry lobbyists, the United States is sustaining the warfighting capabilities of a substantial number of the parties to the world’s current conflicts. In a number of volatile areas the United States has been the primary supplier to governments that are involved in either internal or regional conflicts. In cases where the United States has supplied a majority of a client government’s imported weaponry over an extended period of time, it is likely that some U.S. systems will be utilized in future conflicts involving these nations (see Table I, below).
Among the most serious conflicts in which the United States has been the primary weapons supplier are Turkey, Morocco, Somalia, Liberia, Kenya, Zaire, Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Haiti, Guatemala, Colombia and Mexico. Official U.S. weapons deliveries to Haiti, Guatemala, Liberia, and Zaire were cut off as of the early 1990s, but U.S. deliveries to conflict zones in Turkey, Morocco, Somalia and Kenya have actually increased over the past few years. In the case of Somalia, the increase is explained by the fact that a new government has been installed as a result of a UN peacekeeping mission in that nation. But continuing U.S. deliveries to Morocco, Turkey, and Kenya have no such rationale: in these cases, U.S. arms are shoring up regimes that have been intransigent in their pursuit of military solutions to sensitive ethnic and territorial disputes. Last but not least, in both Haiti and Guatemala, legislative attempts to terminate U.S. military assistance were subverted by the implementation of covert aid programs that were actually larger than the overt programs that were eliminated by Congress (see sections II and III for further discussion).
[See Table I, next page]
Source: U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers, 1991-92 and 1993-94 editions, Table III.
Notes to Table I:
While data on the total volume of U.S. weapons supplies to areas of conflict is readily available, specific information on how U.S. weaponry is being put to use in today’s wars is harder to come by. This is in part because neither the media nor the armed forces have made it their business to identify the specific types of weaponry utilized in a given conflict or to document the origins of these armaments. Even if gathering such data was a priority, the reality of warfare, particularly multi-sided civil conflicts involving light weaponry, would make it difficult to obtain comprehensive information. Nonetheless, accounts in the mainstream and specialty press have uncovered a number of recent examples of how U.S.-supplied weaponry is being put to use on the battlefield, and a number of arms control and human rights researchers have recently begun a concerted effort to gather more information on the patterns of deliveries of light weaponry to ethnic conflicts. The following examples are illustrative of the ways in which U.S. weapons are being utilized in current conflicts: a more comprehensive accounting would require more open reporting of the nature of U.S. weapons transfers to these areas.
Turkey: Turkey received over $6.3 billion worth of military equipment and services from the United States between F.Y. 1984 and F.Y. 1993. The United States supplied 76% of all weapons imported by the Turkish government between 1987 and 1991, a figure which increased to 80% for the period from 1991 to 1993. The majority of U.S. weapons supplies to Turkey have been paid for by U.S. taxpayers as part of an extensive military aid program that has provided over $5 billion in assistance from F.Y. 1986 through F.Y. 1995. Turkey has also received large deliveries of U.S. weaponry for free or at minimal cost as part of the NATO “cascading” program, which involves redistributing surplus weapons rendered redundant by the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE). Last but not least, a number of U.S. weapons systems are produced in Turkey under coproduction and licensing agreements with U.S. firms, including Lockheed’s F-16 fighter plane and the FMC Corporation’s M-113 armored personnel carrier.
There have been reports in the international and Turkish press indicating that U.S.-supplied weaponry has been used extensively by the Turkish government in its war on the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) in southeastern Turkey. A wide range of U.S. systems, including F-16, F-4, F-5, and F-104 fighter aircraft, Cobra and Black Hawk helicopters, cluster bombs, and M-60 tanks and M-113 armored personnel carriers have been used in the conflict, which has claimed over 15,000 lives since 1984.. The Clinton Administration and other supporters of the Turkish government have argued that the PKK is a terrorist organization, not a legitimate political movement. However, regardless of their views on the PKK, most independent observers agree that the politico-military strategy of the Turkish government — strafing and depopulating entire villages in the southeast — entails unnecessary suffering and repeated violations of the human rights of civilian noncombatants. Human Rights Watch has reported that as of October 1994, the Turkish government had depopulated as many as 1,400 villages and hamlets and displaced several hundred thousand people in its prosecution of the war against the PKK. Major encounters involving U.S.-supplied weaponry have included May 1993 bombing raids in the Karliova valley that utilized F-4 fighter planes and Cobra helicopters to kill 44 Kurdish fighters and a January 1994 incursion into Iraq to bombard PKK camps with cluster bombs, 500- and 2000-pound bombs dropped from F-16 and F-4 aircraft.
The Turkish government’s March 1995 invasion of Northern Iraq marks the latest chapter in its quest for a military solution to the Kurdish question. A Turkish government spokesperson proudly described the cross-border raid by 35,000 troops as “the biggest military operation in the history of the Turkish Republic.” Ironically, the Turkish attack targeted the same sector of Iraq in which the United States had been enforcing a “no fly zone” as part of the United Nations-backed Operation Provide Comfort, an effort designed to protect Iraqi Kurds in the area from Saddam Hussein’s regime. Because the United States is far and away Turkey’s largest supplier of weapons and military aid, Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller cleared the operation with President Clinton by telephone before sending her military forces into Iraq. White House spokesperson Mike McCurry reported that the President accepted Ciller’s explanation that the raids were strictly aimed at PKK “terrorist bases” in Northern Iraq, and that Clinton expressed “understanding for Turkey’s need to deal decisively” with the rebel group.
In a move that may prompt debate for some time to come, President Clinton and the Pentagon also ordered U.S. military personnel in Northern Iraq to “stand down” from enforcing the no fly zone against Turkish aircraft for the duration of Turkey’s intervention. When a reporter asked Pentagon spokesperson Dennis Boxx whether the Pentagon was “uncomfortable” over the fact that a U.S. ally was “beating up on . . . the same people we’ve been trying to protect from Iraq for a number of years,” Boxx argued that Turkey was taking great care to focus its attacks on PKK terrorist strongholds. When he was asked whether U.S. enforcement of the no fly zone would be rendered inoperative for the duration of the Turkish intervention in Northern Iraq, Boxx implied that it would, noting that “it’s simply better not to put these people at risk [U.S. military personnel involved in Operation Provide Comfort] until this has been resolved.” The chilling implication of Boxx’s remark is that the Pentagon actually feared that if U.S. forces had tried to enforce the no fly zone against the Turkish military, Turkish forces would have engaged in an air war against U.S. troops, using U.S.-supplied aircraft. It was almost as if the Pentagon spokesman was acknowledging that Turkey had intimidated the U.S. into allowing its Iraqi incursion to go forward unhindered.
As has been the case in its major anti-Kurdish operations of the recent past, Turkey’s offensive in Northern Iraq has relied heavily on U.S.-supplied equipment. Reports in the European press have indicated that Turkey’s air war against the PKK (and against a number of Kurdish settlements and refugee camps) in Northern Iraq has been conducted almost entirely with U.S.-designed fighter planes such as the McDonnell Douglas F-4, the Lockheed F-104, and the Lockheed Martin F-16. Other U.S.-supplied aircraft such as the Textron-Bell Cobra helicopter gunship and the United Technologies/Sikorsky Black Hawk troop transport have also been used in support of Turkey’s move into Iraq.
U.S. support for the Turkish intervention is based on the assumption that it is a carefully crafted defensive operation aimed at wiping out PKK bases in Iraq, with little or no negative impact on Kurdish civilians. But press reports from the area have raised serious doubts regarding Turkey’s claim that it has been mounting a “surgical strike” against terrorists. Turkey’s ongoing war against the PKK, both in Northern Iraq and Southeastern Turkey, is looking increasingly like it may become that nation’s Vietnam: a draining, divisive, and ultimately unsuccessful effort to defeat a nationalist movement by military means. An April 2nd news analysis piece by John Pomfret of the Washington Post — appropriately entitled “Turkey’s Hunt for the Kurds: the Making of a Quagmire?” — captured the dilemma faced by Turkish troops in Northern Iraq as they attempted to sort out Kurdish PKK militants from Kurdish civilians (both Turkish and Iraqi) in the area:
A western relief worker underscored the futility of Turkey’s military strategy when he told Pomfret “you can’t wipe out a terrorist operation that operates on two continents by attacking the mountains. It’s like killing a fly with a sledgehammer.” Turkish soldiers reported a conundrum similar to that faced U.S. forces in Vietnam — an inability to distinguish friend from foe. One soldier told the Post “we have a big problem because we don’t know who is a villager and who the PKK is . . . we can’t do a thing.”
Unfortunately, contrary to the soldier’s report, Turkish troops did plenty of things in Northern Iraq, including a number of documented cases of killings and displacement of Kurdish civilians. There is no way of knowing at this point whether these were isolated incidents or part of a larger pattern of abuse, because at a number of key stages in the conflict Turkish military commanders limited access to the combat zones on the part of both journalists and relief workers. At the end of March, during the second week of the Turkish invasion, residents of the Iraqi village of Beshile reported that their village had been bombed and burned to the ground by Turkish forces. Fevzi Rashid, a 43 year old farmer who witnessed the Turkish attack, described it to a reporter from Reuters news service as follows:
Turkey’s claim to be targeting only PKK terrorists has been further undercut by assertions by the Iraqi National Congress, the Iraqi Kurdish organization that controls most of the territory impacted by the Turkish invasion, that on the very first day of the invasion “Turkish soldiers . . . arrested hundreds of refugees as suspected followers of the Kurdish Workers’ Party.”
Although the Clinton Administration firmly held to its position that the Turkish invasion would be limited in duration and narrow in focus, one expected withdrawal date — Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller’s April 19th visit to Washington — came and went with no final timetable for withdrawal in sight. A partial pullback of Turkish troops in late April of 1995 still left at least 10,000 Turkish troops inside Iraq, and there is some dispute even now as to whether all Turkish troops have cleared out of the area (see discussion below). In contrast to the policy of Germany, which has cut off all weapons shipments to Turkey in response to the Iraqi incursion, the Clinton Administration’s position on the Kurdish question appears to be “Turkey right or wrong.” The U.S. arms industry has officially weighed in on the side of the Turkish government’s tactics as well, in the form of a comment by Joel Johnson, chief lobbyist for the Aerospace Industries Association, to the effect that Turkey’s military plan was no different from what other global and regional powers have done in similar circumstances:
Setting aside for a moment the obvious moral issues raised by massive bombing raids as a tool of modern warfare, it must be pointed out that Johnson’s statement glosses over a key strategic point: in two of the three examples he cites, Vietnam and Afghanistan, the “Rolling Thunder” tactic was employed by great powers that were ultimately defeated militarily and politically by smaller, better motivated nationalist forces. Even staunch allies of the current Turkish regime might find reason to advise Prime Minister Ciller to abandon her country’s current military strategy vis-a-vis Kurdish separatist forces.
In response to a growing international outcry against the Turkish government’s tactics in its war against the PKK, the Clinton Administration has repeatedly urged Turkey to stop its indiscriminate approach of bombing and depopulating entire villages. Congress has gone beyond rhetoric by withholding 10% of Turkey’s U.S. military aid for F.Y. 1995 pending a report on abuses against civilians by the Turkish military. In December 1994, Human Rights Watch published a report entitled U.S. Cluster Bombs for Turkey? which called for a reversal of a plan to provide advanced U.S.-built CBU-87 cluster bombs to Turkey on the grounds that the weapons might be used against civilians. As a result of the pressure generated by the report, the cluster bomb sale has been shelved for the moment.
Despite these efforts to restrict the flow of U.S. arms to Turkey’s war against the PKK, the United States remains Turkey’s number one weapons supplier, and Turkey’s inhumane warfighting tactics continue. As of the first week of May, 1995, Turkish officials claimed to have removed all of their troops from Northern Iraq, but Prime Minister Ciller has stated in no uncertain terms that she retains the right to invade the area again if Turkey detects further PKK activities there. So far, moves to curb Turkey’s use of imported weaponry have had no discernible impact on Ciller’s approach to the Kurdish problem: she told members of her governing coalition in early April that “we have one thing to say to those who threaten us about using their arms when they should be standing by us — we will use our right to defend ourselves under any circumstances. You can keep your weapons.” Maybe it’s time for President Clinton to take Prime Minister Ciller up on her offer.
Afghanistan: Beginning during the late 1970s under the Carter Administration and accelerating during the 1980s under the Reagan Administration, the United States supplied rebel factions in Afghanistan with an estimated $2 billion in covert military assistance. This effort has been widely cited as one of the great success stories of the Reagan Doctrine of arming anticommunist rebels, and there is no question that U.S. weapons supplies contributed to the ability of Afghan guerrilla fighters to drive Soviet forces out of their country. Unfortunately, the longer term consequences of U.S. arms supplies to Afghan forces have been far more problematic. Since Soviet troops withdrew from Afghanistan in February 1989, U.S. weapons have helped to sustain a vicious civil war amongst competing rebel organizations inside Afghanistan. In addition, systems supplied to the Afghan factions for purposes of fighting off Soviet forces are now being resold on the international market, turning up in conflicts where they were never intended to be used.
As Ted Galen Carpenter of the Cato Institute has noted, “[e]ven before they ousted the Soviet-backed government from power in April 1992 feuding mujahadin guerrilla units spent almost as much time battling each other as they did fighting the communists.” Far from setting the stage for a period of peaceful reconstruction and reconciliation, the fighting inside Afghanistan actually intensified after the Soviet-supported regime was overthrown — 2,000 people were killed in one three week period in August of 1992, and by the spring of 1994 600,000 people had been displaced from the capital city of Kabul. Much of the equipment used on each side of the Afghan civil war comes from stocks supplied to the various rebel factions by the CIA during the 1980s.
The violence sparked by U.S. weapons and training to the Afghan rebel movements extends far beyond Afghanistan. An Algerian government official has described the existence of a “floating army” of Islamic fundamentalist fighters who received weapons and training in Afghanistan starting in the 1980s, and are now mounting terrorist attacks on U.S.-backed governments in Algeria, Egypt, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. This international network of armed Islamic fundamentalists that the CIA helped to create has struck in the United States as well: two of the men convicted in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center had received weapons and explosives training from CIA-backed rebels in Afghanistan prior to their attack in New York. And these two men may not be the only examples of U.S. covert aid backfiring. According to David Whipple, the former head of counterterrorism at the CIA, “some of the people who are actual or potential terrorists in this country are former guerrilla fighters in Afghanistan.” And it now appears that the suspects in the recent murders of several U.S. embassy employees in Karachi, Pakistan are also suspected of having ties to the CIA’s Afghan weapons pipeline.
One of the most dangerous lingering side effects of the CIA’s Afghan weapons trafficking has been the proliferation of U.S.-built Stinger missiles. The Stinger, a shoulder-fired antiaircraft missile that can be used to shoot down anything from a fighter plane to a civilian airliner, has been described by Senator Dennis DeConcini as “the ultimate terrorist weapon.” Afghan rebel commanders have been putting their U.S.-supplied Stingers up for sale to the highest bidder in the international arms bazaar, and there have been reports that some of the weapons have now turned up in such unlikely places as Iran, Libya, Qatar, and North Korea. The CIA was so disturbed by these reports that they put up $65 million for a Stinger “buyback” plan; so far the program has only succeeded in driving up the price that Afghan forces can get for the missiles to two to three times their original price, while recovering very few of the missiles. The shortsighted attitudes of U.S. policymakers involved in creating the Afghan weapons pipeline were summarized by Edward Juchniewicz, the CIA’s associate director for covert operations during the Reagan Administration:
What Juchniewicz fails to acknowledge is that the Stingers that were transferred to Iran were not captured by an enemy in battle; they were provided to Iran by Afghan rebel forces that had been considered friends of the United States.
While the spread of U.S.-supplied Stinger missiles poses an ongoing threat because of their possible role in augmenting the capabilities of terrorist organizations, the tens of thousands of tons of light weaponry that the CIA funneled to Afghan factions through its contacts in Pakistani intelligence services may pose an even more serious risk to the stability of South Asia. Analysts of the Afghan conflict have reported that during the 1980s the United States purchased literally hundreds of thousands of combat rifles from such diverse sources as China, Turkey, Egypt, and Israel and passed them on to Afghan rebel groups. However, as British researcher Chris Smith has noted, many of these weapons were siphoned off along the way, because the Afghan pipeline was “extremely badly organized and poorly thought out,” to the point that it “leaked profusely and virtually ruptured.” As a result, the Northwest Frontier area of Pakistan is dotted with a series of open air weapons marts that are doing a brisk business reselling weapons that were originally intended to go to Afghan rebel forces. Pakistani intelligence officials have been running guns to Islamic fundamentalist forces in the Indian province of Kashmir, increasing the level of violence of that conflict and undermining efforts to encourage India and Pakistan to come to a diplomatic resolution of the Kashmir issue. Sikh militants fighting in the Punjab region of India have large quantities of Chinese Type 56 assault rifles of the kind that were supplied in large numbers by the CIA to the Afghan war, indicating a likely spillover of the Afghan pipeline into this conflict as well. U.S.-supplied weapons have also been utilized by Islamic fundamentalist fighters engaged in a civil war against Russian-backed government in the former Soviet republic of Tajikistan.
In reviewing the evidence of the spread of U.S.-supplied guns and ammunition that was originally intended for the Afghan war, Human Rights Watch has observed that “[t]he single most important factor in the introduction of small arms and light weapons into South Asia was the effort by the U.S. and Pakistan to arm the Afghan mujahidin resistance.” Indonesia: Governed by one of the world’s longest enduring military rulers, General Suharto, Indonesia also has one of the worst human rights records of any major U.S. weapons client. There is direct evidence that some of these human rights violations have been carried out using U.S.-supplied equipment.
In addition to restrictions on freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and labor rights within Indonesia, the Indonesian government has sustained an illegal military occupation of neighboring East Timor for nearly 20 years. In November of 1991, two U.S. journalists, Allan Nairn and Amy Goodman, witnessed a massacre carried out by Indonesian troops in the Timorese capital of Dili. The troops, armed with U.S.-supplied M-16 rifles, opened fire on a memorial mass and procession in honor of a young Timorese man who had been murdered by the Indonesian army for attempting to speak out about human rights abuses in East Timor. Human rights abuses by Indonesian forces have continued up to the present, both in East Timor and within Indonesia; a recent summary of Indonesia’s record by Human Rights Watch described “a pattern of abuse . . . characterized by military intervention in virtually all aspects of Indonesian public life and by the arbitrary exercise of authority by President Soeharto.”
The massacre in Dili and subsequent actions of the Indonesian military have sparked calls by the public and the Congress for a cutoff of U.S. military assistance, training and sales to the Indonesian government, but so far these demands have only been partially met. In October of 1992 Congress cut off U.S. assistance to Indonesia under the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program. In 1994, the Clinton administration announced that it would stop permitting arms sales or export licenses to Indonesia for deals involving small arms or crowd control equipment.
Despite these steps, there continues to be a significant flow of U.S. weapons to Indonesia, adding to the more than $583 million in U.S. weapons deliveries to that nation from F.Y. 1984 through F.Y. 1993. In 1993, the last year for which full data is available, U.S. deliveries to Indonesia through the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Sales program and commercial sales licensed by the State Department topped $34 million. And the most recent statistics from the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency demonstrate that for a five year period ending in 1991, the U.S. supplied 38% of all weapons imported by the Indonesian government; for the period from 1991 to 1993, the U.S. share of Indonesia’s weapons imports dropped slightly, to 33%. As this report was going to press, Defense News reported that the Clinton Administration was seriously considering giving clearance for a multi-billion dollar sale of F-16 fighter aircraft to Indonesia; the article reported some ambivalence within the administration, noting that “White House officials . . . realize they must tiptoe around congressional sensitivity over killings and arbitrary arrests in the former East Timor.”
Other examples: In addition to these specific examples of the utilization of U.S.-supplied weapons in active areas of conflict, there is strong circumstantial evidence to indicate that U.S. systems have either already been used or may yet come into play in a host of other wars. The mere fact that U.S. weapons have been delivered to 45 of the 50 current localities that are in the midst of significant conflicts is one strong indication that U.S. weapons are involved in many of today’s wars.
Moving from statistical evidence to actual cases, a few recent examples should suffice to demonstrate the myriad ways in which U.S. weaponry may be used in ethnic and territorial conflicts.
Guatemala has been on the front pages of American newspapers in recent months because of revelations that CIA-financed Guatemalan military officers were involved in the murders of Efrain Bamaca Velazquez (a Guatemalan rebel leader who was the husband of Jennifer Harbury, an American lawyer and anti-war activist), and Michael DeVine, an American citizen who owned a farm in Guatemala before he was killed in 1990. Ironically, it took the deaths of an American and the husband of an American citizen to focus widespread media attention on the routine use of U.S. arms to promote murder and torture in Guatemala. As R. Jeffrey Smith and Dana Priest noted in a Washington Post piece that ran after the revelations of CIA complicity in these two deaths, “while U.S. public attention was distracted by civil wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, the CIA and U.S. military trained and equipped anti-communist military forces widely believed to have killed more than 100,000 peasants during a decades-long simmering insurgency, according to U.S. intelligence, military, and diplomatic officials.” Once the Cold War aura of anti-communist “legitimacy” is removed from these activities, an objective view of the behavior of U.S.-backed Guatemalan forces reveals that they have been engaged in a campaign of systematic terror against their own people for over three decades.
As if the obscene spectacle of U.S. government funds supporting the murder of a U.S. citizen were not evidence enough that U.S. arms policies towards Guatemala have gone seriously awry, subsequent revelations about the CIA’s role in Guatemala raise even more troubling questions. From 1986 through 1991, the United States accounted for 86% of all weaponry imported by the Guatemalan military. In response to ongoing human rights abuses in Guatemala in general and the murder of Michael DeVine in particular, U.S. military assistance to Guatemala was officially suspended by the Bush Administration in 1990. As far as the public, the media, most members of Congress, the Secretary of State, and even the U.S. ambassador to Guatemala were concerned, this cutoff of military aid meant that the U.S. government’s role in arming and financing the Guatemalan military had been brought to an end. This reasonable assumption turned out to be dead wrong.
In the wake of the revelations about the Guatemalan military’s role in the murders of Michael DeVine and Efrain Velazquez, Tim Weiner of the New York Times revealed that from the moment official U.S. aid to Guatemala was suspended in 1990, the CIA immediately initiated a multi-million dollar program of payments to key Guatemalan military and intelligence officials. The payments, which were allegedly aimed at “maintaining good relations” with Guatemalan security officials, totaled $5 to $7 million per year, more than twice the level of the public U.S. military aid that was terminated by the Bush Administration. Among the recipients of CIA funds was Col. Alpirez, the principal suspect in the murders of Michael DeVine and Efrain Velazquez.
In addition to the secret CIA payments, investigative journalist Allan Nairn has uncovered documentation of 144 separate sales of rifles and pistols to Guatemala from U.S. sources, all of which occurred after the 1990 aid cutoff.
As the Clinton Administration and the Congress proceed with separate investigations of the Guatemalan arms scandal, they will have to consider new, tougher safeguards over the CIA’s role in the covert arming and financing of foreign military and intelligence services. Otherwise, there will be no guarantee that the will of the President, the Congress, or the public will be respected in future arms sales relationships. The CIA’s conduct in Guatemala brings to mind a remark made by former New Hampshire Senator Warren Rudman with respect to another covert arms trafficking scheme run amok, Iran/contra: “If you carry this to its logical extreme, you don’t have a democracy any more.”
When Mexico moved to put down the rebel uprising in the southern state of Chiapas in early 1994, they initially used some of the nearly three dozen helicopters that the United States had supplied to the Mexican Attorney General’s office for used in anti-narcotics activities. Under questioning from Congress, Assistant Secretary of State Alexander Watson acknowledged that “USG-supplied helicopters were being used in Chiapas,” but argued that their use was acceptable because “[s]enior officials assured our Embassy that the helicopters were used in a logistical, non-combat role.” Since a “logistical” function for the U.S.-supplied helicopters could include the militarily essential task of transporting troops and equipment to the front, the assertion regarding a “noncombat role” is misleading at best.
In March of 1994, the San Antonio Express-News reported that the Mexican government was “quietly importing millions of dollars worth of riot control vehicles across the Texas border, apparently in preparation for any civil unrest after the late-summer presidential election.” The systems imported from the United States included the 17-ton Cobra riot control vehicle, equipped with water cannon and dye guns that can be used to “mark” troublesome demonstrators for later identification by the police; and the 12-ton Textron armored water cannon, which can spray with an impact of 120 pounds at a range of up to 50 feet. Pro-democracy activists in Mexico roundly condemned the sale. Apparently, the vehicles have yet to be utilized to put down any major demonstrations, but given the continued political turbulence in Mexico they may yet be used for that purpose.
In February of 1995, Newsday reporter Ray Sanchez reported that U.S.-supplied Black Hawk helicopters were being used to ferry troops to Chiapas in the Mexican government’s abortive attempt to round up the top leadership of the Zapatista movement. There is a strong possibility that U.S. weaponry will be used again if there is further civil strife in Mexico: the Mexican government has taken delivery of over $300 million worth of U.S. weaponry over the past decade, and U.S. deliveries accounted for over three-quarters of Mexican weapons imports in the most recent five year period for which information is available.
The Bush Administration’s initiative to utilize military assistance to help Andean nations fight the “war on drugs” has led to a number of documented instances of the use (and abuse) of U.S.-supplied weaponry in conflicts having little or nothing to do with the problem of drug interdiction. As the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) noted in its 1991 report, Clear and Present Dangers: The U.S. Military and the War on Drugs in the Andes, under the impetus of the Bush policy “the Andean region has supplanted Central America as the main locus of U.S. military activity in the hemisphere.” In the first three years of the 1990s, Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia were slated to receive more U.S. military assistance than all of Central America combined, with the rationale of providing equipment and training that could be used to fight drug trafficking in those countries. Despite rhetoric about shifting its emphasis toward reducing demand for drugs in the United States, the Clinton Administration has carried on the Bush policy of providing substantial amounts of military assistance to Andean, Central American, and Caribbean nations for use in anti-narcotics efforts.
In Colombia, Black Hawk helicopters and Textron/Cessna A-37 counterinsurgency aircraft that were supplied as part of the Bush Administration’s September 1989 emergency antidrug aid package to that nation were used just a few months later in a series of bombing raids against the village of Llana Fria that resulted in the displacement of 1,400 peasants. The Colombian military claimed that the raids were aimed at leftist guerrilla forces — clearly not a purpose that was covered in the original rationale for the emergency U.S. weapons shipments. To make matters worse, a report by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) indicated that “witnesses claim that the attacks were not aimed at guerrilla camps, as the military said, but at civilian settlements.” In a statement that proved to be prophetic, WOLA Executive Director Alexander Wilde warned in a June 1990 congressional hearing that funneling U.S. aid to the Colombian armed forces under the guise of fighting drugs would just “further fuel the crisis of human rights abuse [in Colombia] . . . and undermine political stability, by strengthening the Colombian armed forces.” Five years and hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid later, Colombia has made little progress in stemming the flow of cocaine from its territory to the United States; in fact, in March of 1995 the Clinton Administration stopped just short of cutting off all U.S. aid to Colombia as punishment for the current government’s lackluster efforts to bring members of the drug cartels to justice.
When tensions between Ecuador and Peru erupted into a full-scale border war in January of 1995, it marked the latest case in which the United States has provided substantial amounts of weaponry to both sides of a conflict.
Ecuador received over $111 million in U.S. military equipment between F.Y. 1984 and F.Y. 1993. U.S. shipments accounted for more than 33% of all Ecuadorean weapons imports in the most recent five year period, and 50% of all such shipments from 1991 through 1993. In the five years following the announcement of the Bush Administration’s Andean antidrug initiative, Ecuador has received $21 million in security assistance from the United States, including military grants and training, giveaways of excess U.S. defense equipment, and balance of payments assistance under the Economic Suppport Fund program (ESF). A passage on the aid program for Ecuador in the 1993 edition of the joint Pentagon/State Department Congressional Presentation on Security Assistance provided an ironic foreshadowing of precisely how the U.S. weaponry provided to that nation for the fight against drugs would prove useful in its 1995 jungle border war with Peru:
This increased mobility apparently proved useful to Ecuadorean forces during the early weeks of the war, as they seized a decidedly remote border zone in the Amazon jungle.
When Peru counterattacked to win back the captured territory, its armed forces were also well equipped with U.S. weaponry. Although U.S. military aid to Peru has been an on again, off again affair in recent years due to questions raised by Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori’s imposition of martial law, the United States still managed to ship $136 million worth of military equipment to Peru between F.Y. 1984 and F.Y. 1993. In all, U.S. sources supplied 6% of Peru’s total arms imports between F.Y. 1987 and F.Y. 1991, increasing slightly to 8.5% between 1991 and 1993. Protestations over Fujimori’s record notwithstanding, the United States supplied over $293 million in security assistance to Peru between F.Y. 1990 and F.Y. 1994, mostly in the form of cash payments under the Economic Support Fund (ESF) program. A presentation to Congress on the F.Y. 1992 aid proposals for Peru provides a capsule summary of the kinds of assistance and training that the United States has attempted to provide to the Peruvian government and armed forces in the period leading up to the 1995 border war with Ecuador:
Important elements of this ambitious aid program were sidetracked in April of 1992 when President Fujimori imposed martial law, but previous U.S. weapons and training (not to mention hundreds of millions of dollars in aid provided under the Economic Support Fund program) left a substantial mark on the shape and size of the Peruvian armed forces. In a February 1995 briefing for foreign correspondents at the presidential palace in Lima, Fujimori noted that one of the Peruvian aircraft that was shot down in the air war with Ecuador was an A-37 attack plane, a U.S. counterinsurgency aircraft that is manufactured by the Cessna division of Textron and nicknamed the “Dragonfly.”
In Asia, the fastest growing arms market in the world, U.S. weapons are playing a central part in a critical conflict as well.
The government of the Philippines has been waging counterinsurgency campaignsagainst the New People’s Army (NPA) and several other indigenous guerrilla movements for over two decades. The United States has taken sides in this civil war by supplying the Philippine government with over $619 million worth of U.S. weaponry over the past decade. The U.S. supplied 93% of the Philippine government’s arms imports from 1987 through 1991, dropping to 75% for the period from 1991 through 1993.
While there has been no detailed accounting of the role of U.S. weapons and training in the civil war in the Philippines, it is clear that at least some of the equipment being supplied by the United States has direct applications to counterinsurgency, and that the United States government has gone to some effort to obscure this fact. For example, when the United States made its first report to the United Nations arms register in 1993, it indicated a delivery of nine “combat aircraft” to the Philippines, with no further description. When the Philippines reported on its weapons imports for that same year, they indicated receipt of 19 (not nine) combat aircraft, and they identified the planes as Rockwell OV-10A Broncos, an aircraft designed specifically for counterinsurgency missions. In early April, the International Herald Tribune reported that Philippine forces had used U.S.-supplied Broncos to conduct bombing raids against Muslim guerrilla forces near the city of Zamboanga. 
The war in Afghanistan is not the only instance of U.S. covert weapons assistance being misused long after the original purpose of that assistance has passed. In Angola, where the U.S. provided approximately $250 million in covert weapons shipments to Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA movement between 1986 and 1991, U.S.-supplied systems were utilized extensively in UNITA’s efforts to shoot its way into power and overturn the results of U.N.-sponsored elections. A November 1994 report by Human Rights Watch notes that “U.S.-made 106mm recoilless rifles mounted on four-wheel-drive vehicles have been particularly popular with UNITA.” The report also recounts Angolan government assertions that they have captured U.S.-made antitank missiles, mortars, and grenade launchers from UNITA forces. As in Afghanistan, UNITA forces in Angola also received Stinger antiaircraft missiles from the United States during the 1980s, although the Bush Administration apparently got the Stingers back from UNITA by swapping them for “less sensitive lethal equipment.” As of early 1995, it appeared that UNITA was finally prepared to put down its arms as part of a United Nations sponsored demobilization plan; but the question remains whether the Angolan civil war could have been ended years sooner with considerably less loss of life if the United States and other major arms suppliers hadn’t provided hundreds of millions of dollars worth of armaments to both sides in that twenty year conflict.
Last but not least, when a civil war erupted in Yemen at the end of 1994, reporting focused on Soviet-origin weaponry utilized by the government of Yemen, along with the possibility that some of it had been maintained with the assistance of Iraqi advisors. Less attention was paid to the fact that the Yemeni government also had access to 11 F-5E fighters, 50M60A1 tanks, and 70 M113 armored personnel carriers that it had inherited from the government of North Yemen (a former U.S. ally) when North and South Yemen merged. Despite reports that the U.S. government withheld spare parts for U.S. systems during the conflict, at least four of the F5-Es and an unknown number of the U.S.-supplied tanks and armored personnel carriers were utilized in the conflict.
III. Strengthening Potential Adversaries: The Boomerang Effect
Panama: When President Bush ordered U.S. troops into Panama in December of 1989 to capture Panamanian President Manuel Noriega and bring him back to the United States to face trial on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering, they faced a Panamanian defense force that had been to a considerable extent made in the U.S.A. Panama received $33.5 million in U.S. weaponry under the FMS and commercial sales programs during the 1980s, and the U.S. accounted for 44% of Panama’s weapons imports in the five years leading up to the invasion. Equally important, a large part of the Panamanian officer corps had been trained by the United States military: from 1950 through 1987, 6,695 Panamanian military personnel received training under the Pentagon’s International Military Education and Training program (IMET), at a cost of $8.2 million. Although U.S. troops encountered minimal resistance in their effort to capture Noriega, the Panama invasion was the first incident in a disturbing pattern that has characterized every major U.S. military intervention since the end of the Cold War: U.S. forces going into battle against forces that have been armed or trained by their own government.
Iraq: Despite recent efforts by the defense industry and the Clinton Administration to argue that the United States did not arm Iraq in the period leading up to the 1991 Gulf War, there is ample documentation demonstrating that the Reagan and Bush administrations supplied critical military technologies that were put directly to use in the construction of the Iraqi war machine. There is also strong evidence indicating that the executive branch’s failure to crack down on illegal weapons traffickers or keep track of third party transfers of U.S. weaponry allowed a substantial flow of U.S.-origin military equipment and military components to make their way to Iraq.
The differences in perception regarding the degree to which the United States government helped to arm Iraq center around the fact that the most significant U.S. contributions to the Iraqi military complex were not through direct transfers of guns, tanks, helicopters, or other finished weapons systems, but rather through supplies of so-called “dual use” technologies. This misunderstanding was at the heart of the misleading press coverage of the Justice Department’s investigation of the BNL affair, a scandal involving provision of U.S-guaranteed loans to Iraq by the Atlanta branch of Italy’s state-run Banca Nazionale del Lavoro. For example, a headline in the New York Times announced that “Inquiry Finds No U.S. Involvement in the Iraqi Arms Buildup,” and the Washington Post reported that the Justice Department’s lead investigator, John Hogan, had asserted that “Washington appears to have authorized the sale to Saddam only of some communications gear and a single pistol.” In fact, the Justice investigators made it clear in their summary of findings that their mandate was not to assess the extent to which U.S. exports may have contributed to Iraq’s military production capabilities but rather to “determine whether chargeable crimes could be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.” The report went on to note that “[b]ecause our inquiry was limited in that way, this report is not intended either to criticize or to approve of any policy decisions.”
To craft a policy for the future that avoids “another Iraq,” it is necessary to undertake precisely the task that the Justice Department’s investigators viewed as outside their purview: a critical analysis of the policymaking process regarding transfers of militarily useful equipment to the Baghdad regime during the period from 1985 through 1990. As for the types of equipment that were approved for sale to Iraq, the Justice Department report acknowledges that hundreds of dual use items with applications to military production were approved for export to Iraq in the five years prior to the Gulf conflict of 1990-91. The Iraq issue was never about pistols — it has always been about the transfer of weapons production technology.
The first step in understanding the United States contribution to the Iraqi military buildup prior to the 1991 Gulf War is to look at the concept of dual use technologies. Dual use items include everything from unarmed light aircraft or helicopters that can be adapted to military uses, to instruments of torture like thumbscrews, to equipment like computers, machine tools, and measuring devices that can be applied to the production and testing of civilian or military products. Between 1985 and 1990, the U.S. Department of Commerce granted licenses for more than $1.5 billion in dual use exports to Iraq, more than $500 million of which was delivered before the outbreak of the Gulf War in August of 1990. Under pressure from Congress and the public, in March 1991 the Commerce Department released a list of the dual use licenses it granted for exports to Iraq in the five years leading up to the conflict. Even a casual perusal of the list makes it evident that many of these items were put directly to work in Iraq’s military research and production network. In addition to items that were licensed for export to obvious military end users like the Iraqi Air Force or the Iraqi Atomic Energy Agency, the list included numerous licenses for equipment that was being sent to Saad 16, a military production complex south of Baghdad that is known, among other things, as the center for Iraq’s research and production work on ballistic missiles. Congressional investigators later learned that even this list, which revealed significant U.S. contributions to Iraq’s defense industrial base, was incomplete and misleading; at least 68 entries had been changed to obscure their military applications.
While the Commerce Department’s licensing process provided the most direct channel for U.S. assistance to Iraq’s military buildup, there were also significant transfers of U.S. military technology and knowhow through indirect channels. When Chilean arms dealer Carlos Cardoen decided to sell Iraq $400 million worth of cluster bombs along with the technology for Iraq to build its own cluster bomb factory, he apparently did so with the acquiescence of several agencies of the U.S. government. According to Nasser Beydoun, a Lebanese-born arms dealer who worked as Cardoen’s U.S. representative, the CIA was aware of the deal but “looked the other way” because Cardoen and his associates had been helpful in a covert CIA plan to provide missile technology to South Africa. In addition, investigators for ABC News discovered that in 1986 the U.S. Patent Office had improperly granted Cardoen a patent for his own version of a U.S. cluster bomb design, at a time when Chile was ineligible to receive cluster bombs from the United States. Howard Teicher, who served on Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council from 1982 to 1987, has made even more explicit charges of U.S. involvement in Cardoen’s scheme to ship cluster bomb technology to Iraq. In a recent sworn affidavit filed in federal court in Miami, Teicher asserts that under the direction of William Casey, the CIA “authorized, approved, and assisted” Cardoen’s effort to give cluster bombs to Iraq, because Casey believed that the weapons would be “the perfect force multiplier” for Iraq to fight off Iran’s strategy of sending “human waves” of attackers against Iraqi positions during the Iran/Iraq war. Whether due to oversight or wilful negligence, U.S. government agencies helped smooth the way for Cardoen’s transfer of U.S.-origin cluster bomb knowhow to Iraq.
Another major source of weapons for Iraq was Canadian-born artillery specialist (and naturalized U.S. citizen) Gerald V. Bull. During the 1970s Bull ran his firm, the Space Research Corporation, on a 10,000 acre site on the Vermont/Canadian border. It was here that he developed the technology for the G-5 155mm howitzer, a state-of-the-art artillery piece notable for its extensive range. Bull received considerable help at key stages in his career from various agencies of the U.S. government. Before he set up his U.S.-based company, he was granted U.S. citizenship under a rare special act of Congress sponsored by Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ). During the period when Bull was perfecting his howitzer design, Space Research benefitted from millions of dollars worth of contracts from the U.S. Army. According to former CIA Angola station chief John Stockwell, in the mid-1970s Bull was assisted by the CIA in setting up a lucrative deal to supply howitzers, artillery shells, and howitzer production technology to South Africa for use in its war against the government of Angola. When this deal was uncovered, Bull was prosecuted for violations of U.S. arms export laws and served four and one-half months in the U.S. federal prison at Allenwood, Pennsylvania. However, the Customs Service investigator who made the case against Bull has argued that the Justice Department let Bull off relatively easily because his illegal acts were linked to a CIA covert operation.
After Bull was released from prison in 1980, he set up shop in Belgium, marketing his howitzer technology to a customer list that included both China and Iraq. Because Bull was a U.S. citizen and his howitzer technology was developed in the United States, he was required under U.S. law to receive clearance from the State Department’s Office of Munitions Control in order to market this system internationally; despite his prior conviction for violating U.S. export laws, the State Department readily granted Bull clearance to sell his guns on the world market. Iraq ended up purchasing Bull-designed G-5 howitzers from both South Africa and Austria. In the case of the Austrian sales, U.S. officials were aware that the guns were being sold to both Iran and Iraq, but lodged protests with the Austrian government only with respect to the sales to Iran. Bull’s most ambitious project, helping Iraq to build a “supergun” that would allegedly have been capable of launching a projectile from Baghdad to Tel Aviv, was cut short when he was assassinated in March of 1990.
One final example of U.S. government complicity in the arming of Saddam Hussein is the case of Sarkis Soghanalian, who for years worked as an arms dealer for Iraq out of offices based at the Miami airport. Among the deals that Soghanalian worked on from his U.S. base were a successful scheme to send 26 Hughes MD-50 helicopters to Iraq and a failed deal to procure Romanian uniforms for Iraqi military forces. Soghanalian has maintained publicly that his arms deals with Iraq were not challenged during the 1980s because key U.S. government agencies were “in on the deal,” a claim that is lent some credence by the fact that he operated so openly as an arms procurement agent for Saddam Hussein without any interference from U.S. intelligence or law enforcement agencies. He was finally convicted on charges of illegally selling helicopters to Iraq in the fall of 1991, long after his services as one of Saddam Hussein’s most valued arms brokers had been rendered irrelevant by Iraq’s defeat in the Gulf War.
When he learned of the details of U.S. government acquiescence in Gerald Bull’s various illegal arms transactions at the height of the Gulf conflict, Rep. Howard Wolpe (D-MI) reacted angrily, with a statement that could just as easily been applied to the whole executive branch approach to private arms dealers and producers like Cardoen, Bull, and Soghanalian:
Somalia: The U.S. arms supply relationship with Somalia presents a textbook case of what can go wrong when short-term political interests outrank long-term strategic considerations in U.S. arms transfer decisionmaking. From the end of the Carter Administration in 1979 through beginning of the Bush Administration in 1989, the regime of Maj. Gen. Mohammed Siad Barre received roughly $1 billion in U.S. military and economic aid, including $154 million in weapons deliveries under the foreign military sales and commercial sales programs. U.S. arms deliveries accounted for 31% of Somalia’s arms imports from 1985 to 1989, making the United States Somalia’s top weapons supplier during the period leading up to the overthrow of the Barre regime and the outbreak of clan warfare in Somalia.
The rationale for U.S. arms aid to Somalia was pure Cold War geopolitics. The Carter Administration decided that Somali ports and airfields would be useful as stepping stones for a potential military intervention in the Middle East by the new U.S. Rapid Deployment Force (since renamed and reorganized as the Central Command). The Carter and Reagan Administrations justified this new arms relationship with Somalia (which was a Soviet arms client during the 1970s) as a straight quid pro quo: U.S. arms were swapped for access to Somalia military facilities such as the port of Berbera. An added argument for supplying the Somali regime was the fact that Somalia’s larger neighbor, Ethiopia, had recently fallen out of the U.S. orbit and allied itself with the Soviet Union. A run through the executive branch’s justifications to Congress from the 1980s for shipping weaponry to Somalia provides a virtual catalog of wishful thinking regarding how U.S. arms supplies might somehow turn around what was obviously a rapidly deteriorating security situation. Time and again, despite mounting human rights abuses and an emerging civil war, Pentagon and State Department officials justified the arms flow to Siad Barre’s regime on the grounds that it would “foster stability.” The most unintentionally ironic statement of the U.S. policy of ignoring instability in Somalia and pressing ahead with military-related assistance was offered by the Bush Administration in a 1991 presentation to Congress:
This analysis was offered in support of offering U.S. military training to the new Somali govern- ment. A new round of fighting within Somalia ensued shortly thereafter, and a year and one-half later President Bush sent U.S. troops to Somalia as part of a United Nations force charged with imposing some semblance of order upon rival armed factions that were threatening the delivery of humanitarian relief to a beleaguered and malnourished Somali populace. From 1991 to 1993, the United States has supplied 100% of all new weaponry imported by Somalia’s governing coalition.
When Siad Barre was overthrown in January of 1991, much of the weaponry that the United States had so diligently supplied to his government during the 1980s fell into the hands of the rival factions that carried on the civil war that served as the rationale for the dispatch of U.S. troops to that nation in December of 1992. Despite the usual assertions that U.S. weapons deliveries to Somalia were largely “defensive” or “nonlethal” equipment, the U.S. provided significant quantities of small arms, including 4,800 M-16 rifles, 84 106mm recoilless rifles, two dozen machine guns, 75 81mm mortars, and an unspecified quantity of land mines. Larger weaponry included 24 M-113 armored personnel carriers, 18 155mm towed howitzers, and 448 TOW anti-tank missiles. The smaller items on this list, including the M-16s, machine guns, recoilless rifles, and land mines, were precisely the kinds of weaponry that were utilized by the forces of the warlord Mohammed Farah Aideed and other Somali factions in their fighting with U.S. and United Nations troops posted to Somalia. While the U.S. was far from the only supplier to add to the atmosphere of armed chaos that took hold of Somali society, U.S. weapons delivered during the 1980s played a significant role, first in supporting the regime of Siad Barre in its campaign of terror against his own population, and then in supporting the warfighting capabilities of the Somali factions involved in the civil war that carried on after Barre was overthrown.
Haiti: When President Clinton decided to dispatch U.S. troops to Haiti in late 1994 to clear the way for the restoration to power of Haiti’s elected leader, Jean Bertrand Aristide, most of the media attention was focused on the last minute shuttle diplomacy carried out by former President Jimmy Carter, retired Gen. Colin Powell, and Senator Sam Nunn. There was very little discussion of the historic U.S. role in arming and training the Haitian military and intelligence forces that United States troops were sent to keep in check. From F.Y. 1984 to F.Y. 1993, the United States delivered $2.6 million worth of weaponry to Haiti under the FMS and commercial sales programs. This seemingly modest amount was significant by the standards of Haiti, which maintains 7,000 personnel in its armed forces and spends on average only about $50 million per year on its military budget. Of equal importance, during the past ten years the United States has trained 164 members of the Haitian officer corps. In addition, from 1986 through 1991, U.S. intelligence agencies were secretly arming and training key military and intelligence officials in Haiti at a cost of up to $1 million per year, allegedly for the purpose of assisting in the interdiction of illegal narcotics. Taking into account these secret weapons shipments, total U.S. arms deliveries to Haiti during the period from 1987 through 1991 exceeded 25% of total Haitian arms imports. Key U.S.-designed equipment in the Haitian military’s inventory include six Cadillac Gage V-150 Commando armored personnel carriers (a vehicle specially tailored for “riot control”), two Cessna 337 aircraft armed with rockets, and a variety of naval equipment and small arms.
While the Haitian mission proceeded remarkably smoothly, with minimal U.S. casualties, the question remains whether past U.S. supplies of arms, training, and intelligence resources to a series of military-dominated regimes in Haiti may have unnecessarily complicated Haiti’s transition to democracy, calling forth an intervention that might have been prevented if sounder arms transfer decisions had been made by the United States during the 1970s and 1980s.
IV. Taking Control: Reforming the Arms Transfer Decisionmaking Process
Recomandation 1: Pass the arms transfer Code of Conduct bill. In February of 1995, Senator Mark Hatfield (R-OR) and Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) reintroduced legislation calling for the establishment of a Code of Conduct for U.S. weapons transfers (bill number H.R. 772 in the House and bill number S.326 in the Senate). Under the Code, governments that engage in aggression against their neighbors, violate the human rights of their own citizens, come to power through undemocratic means, or refuse to participate in the United Nations arms register would not be eligible to receive weaponry from the United States. If the President wanted to make an exception for a specific country on national security grounds, he would have to ask Congress to pass a bill providing an exemption for that nation.
The benefits of the Code of Conduct would be twofold. First, it would place considerations about the character of a given arms recipient and how that nation might use U.S. weaponry up front in the arms transfer decisionmaking process, preventing sales to unstable regimes in the process. Second, even in cases where the President sought an exemption, members of Congress would be forced to go on the record for or against, providing a measure of public accountability that rarely occurs under current law.
Under current procedures, if a major arms sale does not involve the provision of U.S. assistance, Congress can choose whether or not to vote on the deal; failure to vote signals acquiescence in the sale. Of the 50 to 100 major arms sales notified to Congress each year, the vast majority of them are not subjected to a vote, scrutinized in hearings, or debated on the floor of the Congress. And in the more than twenty years since Congress first acquired the power to vote down arms sales, it has never successfully done so. There have been a few “close calls” such as the 1981 Saudi AWACS sale. There have also been a few cases where the executive branch has withdrawn a deal or reduced it in size to avoid a battle with the Congress, such as the 1986 decision by the Reagan Administration to forego additional sales of F-15 aircraft to Saudi Arabia (a decision which was reversed by the Bush Administration when it offered the Saudis 72 F-15s in 1992). But on the whole, the current system has allowed tens of billions of dollars in arms sales to be made every year with very little in the way of congressional scrutiny or public input. The Code of Conduct bill would correct this deficiency by stimulating the kind of vigorous public debate that should be a fundamental requirement for making decisions on transfers of weaponry that can be have dangerous and unforeseen consequences for United States and international security.
Recomandation 2: Provide more detailed reporting on U.S. transfers of arms and military technology, and press for other nations to do the same.
Although the United States generally discloses more information on sales of arms and military technology than any other major weapons supplying nation, there are still a number of significant gaps in reporting that make it difficult (and in some cases impossible) to assess the potential impacts of U.S. transfers to a given regime.
At the high end of the trade, prospective sales of fighter planes, tanks, advanced attack helicopters, and other sophisticated systems are routinely reported to the Congress for its approval or disapproval. However, this information is not always made readily available to the public in a timely fashion. During the 1970s, the unclassified portions of all major proposed arms sales were routinely reprinted in the Congressional Record, thereby allowing interested members of the public to inform themselves about prospective weapons exports and make their voices heard to the Congress when it would still make a difference (Congress currently has thirty calendar days to disapprove or acquiesce in a given sale). This practice was discontinued in the early 1980s, allegedly because of Pentagon concerns that releasing this data would reveal too much information about the “order of battle” of U.S. weapons clients. In the interests of stimulating an informed debate, Congress should return to the practice of printing the details of all major arms sales proposals in the Congressional Record.
At the mid-to-low end of the trade, there is no longer any regular U.S. government reporting on the trade in small arms or “light weaponry” — the rifles, mortars, light vehicles, land mines, and ammunition that are frequently the weapons of choice in today’s ethnic conflicts and civil wars. This was not always the case. Up through fiscal year 1980, the State Department issued an annual report under Section 657 of the Foreign Assistance Act that listed every item of military equipment delivered from the United States to any foreign country in the prior fiscal year, ranging from rifles and bullets on up to advanced combat aircraft. The report was discontinued during the Reagan Administration, but the information upon which it was based is still regularly collected by the Pentagon’s Defense Security Assistance Agency and the State Department’s Office of Defense Trade Controls. The section 657 report should be reinstituted as an annual publication, to provide a tool for keeping track of potential abuses of U.S.-supplied weaponry by undemocratic regimes or nations at war with their neighbors. The report should be widely disseminated in the Congress, the media, and among interested members of the general public.
Finally, a full accounting of U.S. arms transfer policy must include regular, detailed reporting on U.S. transfers of so-called “dual use” equipment — items such as advanced machine tools and computers, measuring instruments, or unarmed light helicopters and aircraft. These items can either be adapted for military use, or, more importantly, utilized to build advanced weapons systems. If Congress and the public had been aware of the particulars of the nearly $1.5 billion in dual use export licenses that the Commerce Department granted to companies seeking to sell equipment to Iraq during 1985 through 1990, some of the more dangerous items on the list might not have been approved for sale. In keeping with the findings of a 1991 Congressional review of U.S. export procedures in the wake of the Persian Gulf War, legislation should be passed requiring the Commerce Department to make public the details of its dual use licensing decisions, including the type of equipment and company involved, the value of the proposed sale, and the institution within the recipient country slated to receive that equipment.
If these steps toward greater transparency regarding U.S. transfers of weapons and militarily useful technology are implemented, the United States will be in a much stronger position to press for increased reporting by other major suppliers.
The United Nations arms register currently excludes reporting on important categories such as small arms and dual use technologies. The Clinton Administration should press to have small arms added to the UN arms register, so that the weapons of choice in today’s ongoing wars are covered by this important international monitoring mechanism. For dual use items, in addition to pressing for consultation on sales of major items in the context of developing a successor regime to the Cold War-era Coordination Committee on Multilateral Export Controls (Cocom), the administration should press for some form of international, public reporting system on dual use sales. This might take the form of an annual report by the members of a Cocom successor regime detailing major dual use licenses granted during the previous year, or a voluntary reporting mechanism that could run in parallel to the United Nations arms register.
Recomandation 3: The Pentagon and the intelligence community should publish regular reports on the use of U.S.-supplied weaponry in ongoing conflicts.
All too often, U.S. weapons are supplied on a “fire ’em and forget ’em” basis: the decision to sell is made based on short-term political, strategic, or economic considerations, with little thought given to how these arms might be used a few years down the road. The classic cases of this syndrome are the “runaway weapons” that U.S.-backed Afghan rebel forces have been putting up for sale on the world market during the 1990s and U.S. arms supplies that fell into the hands of eventual U.S. adversaries in Panama, Iraq, Somalia and Haiti (see sections III and IV, above). In an attempt to prevent this “boomerang effect” from repeating itself in the future, Representative Cynthia McKinney sponsored a successful amendment to the Fiscal Year 1995 Department of Defense Authorization bill requiring the Pentagon to report annually on how proposed arms transfers might create “increased capabilities” on the part of potential adversaries, and how they might “pose an increased threat” to U.S. forces in some future conflict. The amendment also requires the Pentagon to “present alternative strategies for regional security based on mutual reductions in the size, spending, and capabilities of forces and among agreements among arms supplying nations to join the United States in reducing or halting military cooperation activities.” Representative McKinney’s amendment represents an important first step towards shifting the terms of the debate over U.S. arms transfers toward consideration of the long-term dangers of unrestrained weapons trading rather than the apparent short-term political and economic payoffs of a given arms deal.
As a further step in the right direction, the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency should be required to file annual reports on how U.S.-supplied weaponry is being put to use in current conflicts, either by the original recipients, or as the result of unauthorized transfers to third parties. These reports could serve as a running record of the consequences of past U.S. weapons trading activities, and they would hopefully inject a note of caution into Congressional debates over new proposed transfers. The institution of this reporting mechanism would mark a sharp break from past practice, which indicates that in some instances the intelligence community hasn’t even been keeping close tabs on its own covert weapons shipments, much less reporting them to the Congress or the public. For example, the Justice Department’s final report of its investigation of the U.S. role in arming Iraq contained the following troubling description of the CIA’s handling of information on its arms sales activities: “In one instance, it took the CIA two months to identify the intended recipient of weapons shipped at the CIA’s request.”
Recomandation 4: Outlaw covert weapons shipments. From Iran/contra to the arming of Iraq to the ongoing proliferation of weapons originally intended for Afghan rebel movements, covert weapons trafficking has been the driving force behind a series of unmitigated foreign policy fiascos.
Whatever rationale there may have been for covert weapons trading during the Cold War, it is no longer a viable policy instrument in today’s unpredictable international security environment. The cases of covert weapons trading gone awry that have been documented in this report — Afghanistan, Iran/contra, Iraq, Guatemala, and Haiti — provide ample indication that secret wheeling and dealing in weapons does more harm than good, both by subverting the democratic conduct of U.S. foreign policy and by damaging U.S. credibility and standing in the international community. As part of his restructuring of the CIA, President Clinton should shut down its covert operations directorate and press for legislation outlawing all forms of secret weapons trading by any U.S. government agency.
Recomandation 5: The Clinton Administration (or its successor) should vigorously pursue a policy of multilateral arms transfer restraint designed to limit sales of conventional weaponry to regions of conflict or repressive regimes.
Contrary to the findings of the Clinton Administration’s new conventional arms transfer policy, Presidential Directive 41, limiting the spread of weaponry to regions of conflict should be the paramount priority governing U.S. arms transfer decisions in the post-Cold War era. Economic and defense industrial base concerns should take a back seat to efforts to construct a multilateral arms export control regime that can serve as a tool for preventing conflicts, and for limiting their duration and severity once they break out. At a time when the United States controls 72% of new arms sales agreements with the developing world, U.S. leadership remains an essential prerequisite for any meaningful multilateral arrangement for limiting the flow of conventional armaments.
2. Richard F. Grimmett, Conventional Arms Transfers to the Third World, 1986-1993, (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, July 1994).
3. The list of fifty conflicts was compiled by the author, drawing upon the following sources: Ted Robert Gurr, “Peoples Against States: Ethnopolitical Conflict and the Changing World System,” International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 38, No. 3, September 1994, pp. 347-377; Peter Wallensteen and Karen Axell, “Major Armed Conflicts,” in SIPRI Yearbook 1994 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), pp. 81-95; and David Binder and Barbara Crossette, “As Ethnic Wars Multiply, U.S. Strives for a Policy,” New York Times, February 7, 1993. The list utilized in this study includes all “major conflicts,” defined by SIPRI as “prolonged combat between military forces of two or more govern- ments, or of one government and an organized armed group, and incurring the battle-related deaths of at least 1,000 people during the entire conflict. This study also covers all but a handful of the smallest wars covered in Gurr’s list of “Serious and Emerging Ethnopolitical Conflicts in 1993-94.” Gurr’s list uses a more inclusive standard, namely deaths incurred “directly through fighting or massacres or indirectly through starvation, disease, and displacement, from the beginning of its current phase through mid-1993.”
4. Wallensteen and Axell, op. cit., p. 80.
5. Because the Peru-Ecuador border war erupted in January of 1995, it is not covered in the statistical appendix, but it is discussed in the text (see section II, below).
6. Outside of the major producers in the developed world — the United States, Russia, Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom — there are only a handful of nations that can be considered self- sufficient (or nearly so) in armaments production. If one considers only smaller, less sophisticated systems such as rifles, mortars, and light military vehicles, the number of countries with significant indigenous production capabilities increases to perhaps two to three dozen. But even in these cases it is clear that arms imports have a substantial impact on the levels at which violent conflicts can be sustained. Unfortunately, trade in small arms (also referred to as “light weapons” by some analysts) is the least well documented aspect of the international arms trade, even though it probably accounts for the bulk of the weapons systems that are actually utilized in current ethnic conflicts. For two recent accounts of the state of the small arms trade, see Jeffrey Boutwell, Michael T. Klare, and Laura Reed, editors, Lethal Commerce: The Global Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons (Cambridge, MA: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1995); and Swadesh Rana, Small Arms and Intrastate Conflicts (New York: United Nations Centre for Disarmament Affairs, February 1995). In addition, the Arms Project at Human Rights Watch has done pathbreaking case studies on the trade in small arms that have been used in massacres and systematic human rights violations, most notably Arming Rwanda: The Arms Trade and Human Rights Abuses in the Rwandan War (New York: Human Rights Watch Arms Project, January 1994).
7. This narrow emphasis on preventing transfers to “rogue states” is at the heart of the Clinton Admini- stration’s approach to arms sales, as embodied in Presidential Directive 41, which was released in February of 1994; in addition, the Clinton foreign policy team has maintained the Bush Administration double standard of denouncing Russia and China for particular weapons deals they have entered into in the Middle East and Asia at the same time that the United States dominates the overall arms market in each of these regions. For a critical analysis of the “rogue state” strategy, see Michael T. Klare, Rogue States and Nuclear Outlaws: America’s Search for a New Foreign Policy (New York: Hill and Wang, 1995).
8. It is a commonplace in discussions with representatives of U.S. industry and arms sales policymakers in Washington to hear the refrain that “the French will sell to anybody,” or words to that effect. While criticism of French arms transfer policy is certainly justified by France’s recent record of providing arms that were used in devastating wars such as the 1991 Gulf conflict and the slaughter in Rwanda, Paris is hardly the only world power that needs to reexamine its weapons export practices.
9. Richard M. Nixon, The Real War (New York: Random House, 1980), p. 197.
10. On aggression by U.S. arms clients during the Nixon era see William D. Hartung, And Weapons for All, (New York: HarperCollins, 1994), pp. 25-26.
11. Steven R. Weisman, “Reagan Lifts Ban on Sending Israel 16 Jet War Planes,” New York Times, August 18, 1981; and Lee Lescaze, “Reagan Lifts Ban on Delivery of 16 Jets to Israel,” Washington Post, August 18, 1981.
12. On this point see Chapter 13, “Clinton Policy: Arms Control or Business As Usual?” in William D. Hartung, And Weapons for All (New York: HarperCollins, paperback edition, 1995).
13. Statement of Lt. Gen. Teddy G. Allen, Director, Defense Security Assistance Agency, before the Subcommittee on International Economic Policy, Trade, Oceans, and Environ- ment of the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, June 16, 1993.
14. Wording of the administration’s policy goals is taken verbatim from “Fact Sheet: Conventional Arms Transfer Policy,” White House Press Office, Washington, DC, February 17, 1995.
15. Ibid. See also Thomas E. Ricks, “Arms Sales to Take Into Account Effect on Industry,” The Wall Street Journal, November 16, 1994.
16. Don Fuqua, President, Aerospace Industries Association, “Merchants of Peace,” Aerospace Industries Association Newsletter, Volume 7, Number 5, November 1994, p. 3.
17. Ethan Kapstein, “America’s Arms Trade Monopoly,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 73, No. 3, May/June 1994, p. 18.
18. See appendix A, Table I for details on U.S. transfers to fifty current conflicts. Data used for this analysis is drawn from two principal sources: U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Security Assistance Agency, Foreign Military Sales, Foreign Military Construction Sales, and Military Assistance Facts as of September 30, 1993 (Washington, DC: DSAA, 1994), tables 2 and 6; and U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers, 1991-92 (Washington, DC: U.S. GPO, 1994), Table III. For further details on sources, see the footnotes to Table I in Appendix A, below.
19. See Appendix A, Table I.
20. Human Rights Watch Arms Project, U.S. Cluster Bombs for Turkey?, (New York: Human Rights Watch, December 1994), p. 9.
21. Ibid., p.11; see also British American Security Information Council, Fueling Balkan Fires: The West’s Arming of Greece and Turkey, Project on the Arms Trade Report 93.3, (Washington, DC: BASIC, 1993), and British American Security Information Council, “US-German Arms Exports and Greece at a Record High,” May 20, 1994.
22. For an overview of Turkey’s military industrialization drive and the role of U.S. and other foreign firms in helping to sustain it through coproduction and licensing deals, see Gulay Gunluk-Senesen, “An Overview of the Arms Industry Modernization Program in Turkey,” in SIPRI Yearbook 1993: World Armaments and Disarmament (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 521-532.
23. For the best review of the evidence on the Turkish armed forces use of U.S.-supplied systems against the PKK, see U.S. Cluster Bombs for Turkey?, op. cit., pp. 4-6.
24. Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, Turkey: Forced Displacement of Ethnic Kurds from Southeastern Turkey, (Washington, DC: Human Rights Watch, October 1994), p. 4.
25. “Turkey Unleashes a Massive Raid on Kurdish Bases in Turkey,” International Herald Tribune, March 21, 1995.
27. Department of Defense News Briefing by Dennis Boxx, March 21, 1995, official DoD transcript.
28. “Turkey Unleashes,” op. cit., note 25; “Turkish Army Readies Final Assault on Kurd Pockets,” International Herald Tribune, March 25-26, 1995; and John Barham, “Turkish Army Invades Iraq to Strike at Turkish Bases,” Financial Times (London), March 21, 1995.
29. John Pomfret, “Turkey’s Hunt for the Kurds: The Making of a Quagmire?”, Washington Post, April 2, 1995.
31. “UN Evacuates Kurds from Path of Turkey’s Offensive,” International Herald Tribune, March 27, 1995; “Turkey Plays Down Criticism of Assault,” International Herald Tribune, March 29, 1995; And Pomfret, “Turkey’s Hunt,” op. cit.
32. Suna Erdem, “Iraqi Kurds Say Turkey Torched Their Town,” Washington Post, March 30, 1995.
33. “Turkey Unleashes,” op. cit.
34. “Germany Withholds Materiel Over Drive on Kurds,” International Herald Tribune, March 30, 1995.
35. David Morrison, “Turkish War Concern for America,” National Journal, April 15, 1995.
36. U.S. Cluster Bombs for Turkey, op. cit., pp.9-10; and Thomas W. Lippman, “Rights Group Seeks to Block Proposed Cluster-Bomb Sale to Turkey,” Washington Post, December 28, 1995.
37. “Turkish Aide Says Troops Have Left Iraq,” New York Times, May 5, 1995. The article actually cites conflicting reports from two different Turkish officials — Turkish Defense Minister Mehmet Golhan is quoted as saying “We have no one there . . . We have withdrawn them all and we only have security measures on the border.” However, the article goes on to indicate that “Deputy Prime Minister Hikmet Cetin said . . . that a few troops still remain in Northern Iraq, but he did not give details.”
38. John Pomfret, “Turkish Premier Assails Kurdish Attack’s Critics,” Washington Post, April 5, 1995.
39. Kenneth Katzman, “Afghanistan: U.S. Policy Options,” Congressional Research Service Issue Brief, November 29, 1993, p. 15.
40. Ted Galen Carpenter, “The Consequences of Afghanistan,” World Policy Journal, Vol. XI, No. 1, Spring 1994, p. 77.
41. Jim Hoagland, “No More Frankensteins,” Washington Post, July 13, 1993.
42. Tim Weiner, “U.S. Will Try to Buy Antiaircraft Missiles Back From Afghans,” New York Times, July 24, 1993; on the ties of the World Trade Center suspects to Afghan weapons training camps, see Caryle Murphy, “U.S. Policies Trouble Egypt,” Washington Post, August 1, 1993 and Tim Weiner, “Blowback from the Afghan Battlefield,” New York Times Magazine, March 13, 1994.
43. William D. Hartung, “Proliferation’s Profiteers,” CEO/International Strategies, February/March 1993.
44. Molly Moore, “Missile Buyback Stumbles,” Washington Post, March 7, 1994; and Tim Weiner, “U.S. Will Try to Buy Back Antiaircraft Missiles from Afghans,” op. cit.
45. David Rogers, “U.S. to Buy Back Some of Missiles Held by Afghans,” Wall Street Journal, January 15, 1993.
46. Weiner, “U.S. Will Try to Buy Back . . .,” op. cit.
47. Human Rights Watch Arms Project, India: Arms and Abuses in Indian Punjab and Kashmir, (Washington: Human Rights Watch, September 1994), pp. 5-11.
48. Christopher Smith, “Light Weapons: The Forgotten Dimension of the International Arms Trade,” in Brassey’s Defence Yearbook 1994 (London: Center for Defence Studies, 1994), pp. 280; and Human Rights Watch, India: Arms and Abuses, op. cit., pp. 12-13; and Kenneth Katzman, “Afghanistan: U.S. Policy Options,” op. cit., p. 8.
49. Human Rights Watch, India: Arms and Abuses, op. cit., p. 5.
50. Matthew Jardine, “Weapons for Genocide in East Timor,” San Francisco Examiner, May 31, 1993; and Allan Nairn, “A Narrow Escape from East Timor,” USA Today, 11/21/91.
51. Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Watch World Report 1995 (New York: Human Rights Watch, December 1994), p. 157.
52. Ibid., p. 162; and Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Watch World Report 1993 (New York: Human Rights Watch, (New York: Human Rights Watch, December 1992), pp. 177-178.
53. For the sources of the statistics cited in this paragraph, see appendix, Table I; for the quote on the potential sale of F-16s to Indonesia see “F-16 Sale to Indonesia Gains Wider Support,” Defense News, May 1-7, 1995.
54. R. Jeffrey Smith and Dana Priest, “In Washington: Covert Aid Undermined Public Outrage,” Washington Post, April 2, 1995.
55. Tim Weiner, “Guatemalan Agent of CIA Tied to Killing of American,” New York Times, March 23, 1995; Tim Weiner, “CIA’s Workaday Cloak,” New York Times, April 5, 1995; and Tim Weiner, “Retracting Words, White House Halts CIA Money to Guatemala,” New York Times, April 5, 1995.
56. Alan Nairn, “CIA Death Squad,” The Nation, April 17, 1995.
57. The Warren Rudman quote is cited in Michael T. Klare and Peter Kornbluh, Low Intensity Warfare: Counterinsurgency, Proinsurgency, and Antiterrorism in the 1980s (New York: Hill and Wang, 1988), p. 19.
58. “Mexico: The Uprising in Chiapas and Democratization in Mexico,” Hearings Before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives, February 2, 1994 (Washington, DC: U.S. GPO, 1994), p. 103.
59. John MacCormack and Carmina Danini, “Mexico Importing Riot Control Vehicles,” San Antonio Express-News, April 27, 1994.
60. Ray Sanchez, “Mexican Army Maneuvers In — Crackdown Overshadows Elections,” New York Newsday, February 13, 1995; see also Appendix Table I.
61. Washington Office on Latin America, Clear and Present Dangers: The U.S. Military and the War on Drugs in the Andes, (Washington, DC: WOLA, October 1991), p. 1.
62. Testimony of Alexander Wilde, Executive Director, Washington Office on Latin America, to the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs, Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. House of Repre- sentatives, June 6, 1990; Daniel Williams, “Colombia Remains Ally in Drug Fight,” Washington Post, March 2, 1995; and “No Hail to Colombia,” (unsigned editorial), Washington Post, March 6, 1995.
63. Data on U.S. aid and arms transfers to Ecuador is from U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Security Assistance Agency, Foreign Military Sales, Foreign Military Construction Sales, and Military Assistance Facts as of September 30, 1993 (Washington, DC: DSAA, 1994); and U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers, 1991-92 (Washington, DC: U.S. GPO, 1994), Table III.
64. U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Defense, Congressional Presentation on Security Assistance, F.Y. 1993, (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of State/Department of Defense, 1992), p. 156.
65. Information on U.S. military assistance and arms transfers to Peru is taken from appendix Table I; data on assistance under the Economic Support Fund program is taken from U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of State, Congressional Presentation, op. cit., editions for F.Y. 1990 through F.Y. 1994.
66. U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Defense, Congressional Presentation for Security Assistance, F.Y. 1992 (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of State/Department of Defense, 1991), p. 252.
67. James Brooke, “Ecuador and Peru Trade Air Strikes Along the Border,” New York Times, February 12, 1995.
68. See appendix Table I.
69. United Nations Register of Conventional Arms: Report of the Secretary General (New York: United Nations General Assembly, October 11, 1993), pages 83 and 111.
70. “Philippine Planes Bomb Guerrillas,” International Herald Tribune, April 21, 1995.
71. Human Rights Watch Arms Project, Angola: Arms Trade and Violations of the Laws of War Since the 1992 Elections (New York: Human Rights Watch, November 1994), p. 47.
72. Philip Finnegan, “Yemen’s Iraqi Use Irks U.S.,” Defense News, December 5-11, 1994.
73. U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Security Assistance Agency, Foreign Military Sales, Foreign Military Construction Sales, and Foreign Military Assistance Facts as of September 30, 1990 (Washington, DC: DSAA, 1991); and United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers, 1990 (Washington, DC: U.S. GPO, 1991), Table III.
74. See statements by Joel Johnson and Don Fuqua of the Aerospace Industries Association (referenced in footnotes 16 and 17, above.
75. John M. Hogan, BNL Task Force Final Report — Report to the Attorney General, (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, October 21, 1994 — released to the public in January of 1995); Neil Lewis, “Inquiry Finds No U.S. Involvement in the Iraqi Arms Buildup,” New York Times, January 24, 1995; and Serge F. Kovaleski and R. Jeffrey Smith, “Justice Department Finds No BNL Conspiracy,” Washington Post, January 24, 1995.
76. Michael Wines, “U.S. Tells of Prewar Technology Sales to Iraq Worth $500 Million,” New York Times, March 12, 1991.
77. U.S. Department of Commerce, “Fact Sheet on Export Licensing for Iraq,” with attached computer printout, March 1991.
78. Statement of Henry Gonzalez, Chairman, Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives, at Hearings Before the Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives, on the Issue of Appointing a Special Counsel on Matters Relating to Iraq, June 2, 1992, p. 7; and Congressional Record, March 16, 1992, pp. H1274-H1282.
79. Andy Pasztor, “Investigators Say Chilean Dealer Smuggled U.S. Weapons to Iraq,” Wall Street Journal, November 20, 1991; ABC News Nightline, show 2609, transcript, May 23, 1991; Kenneth Timmerman, The Death Lobby: How the West Armed Iraq, (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1991), pp. 167-170 and 250; and ABC News 20/20, “Made in the U.S.A.,” February 1, 1991.
80. Dean Baquet, “U.S. Supplied Arms to Iraq, Ex-Aide Says,” New York Times, February 5, 1995.
81. For a capsule history of Gerald Bull’s arms trafficking activities and his relationships with various U.S. government agencies, see William D. Hartung, And Weapons for All (New York: HarperCollins, 1994), pp. 195-197 and 235-236.
82. Hartung, op. cit., pp. 189-90 and 236-237.
83. “The Man Who Made the Supergun,” Frontline transcript, (Boston, MA: WGBH-TV, February 12, 1991).
84. William D. Hartung, “Somalia and the Cycle of Arms Sales,” Christian Science Monitor, February 22, 1993; U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers 1990, op. cit.; and Richard F. Grimmett, “Somalia: Arms Deliveries,” Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, October 28, 1993.
85. U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Defense, Congressional Presentation on security assistance programs, op. cit., editions for F.Y. 1980 through 1992.
86. Congressional Presentation, op. cit., F.Y. 1992 edition, p. 273.
87. See Appendix A, Table 1; and Grimmett, “Somalia: Arms Deliveries,” op. cit.
88. See Appendix Table I; Tim Weiner, Stephen Engelberg, and Howard French, “CIA Formed Haitian Unit Later Tied to Narcotics Trade,” New York Times, November 14, 1993; and Jane’s Defence Weekly Global Update: Flashpoints and Conflicts, August 1994, pp. 21-24.
89. For a brief history of Congressional procedures for reviewing arms sales, see Chapter 3, “Congress Steps In,” in William D. Hartung, And Weapons for All, op. cit. pp. 45-62; and Richard Grimmett, Executive-Legislative Consultation on U.S. Arms Sales (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, 1982).
90. As of the early 1980s, it was still possible to construct a list of major U.S. arms sales proposals by tracking the announcements of new letters of offer that were reprinted in the Congressional Record; for an example of an analysis conducted using this data, see William D. Hartung “Weapons for the World Update — 1982,” New York, Council on Economic Priorities, 1982; it is still possible to track major U.S. arms sales through a combination of Pentagon press releases and notices in the industry press, but this method can result in time lags that limit the ability of the public to learn about major sales proposals and make their views known to Congress before the 30 day period within which Congress can vote down a sale has passed. For current efforts to track major arms sales, see the “Deals in the Works” section in Lora Lumpe, ed., Arms Sales Monitor (Washington, DC: Federation of American Scientists, published 8 to 10 times per year); and Sarah Walkling, ACA Register of U.S. U.S. Arms Transfers, (Washington, DC: Arms Control Association, February 1995).
91. The idea of reinstituting the section 657 reports has been put forward in recent years by a number of non-governmental organizations, including Human Rights Watch, the British American Security Information Council (BASIC), and the Project on Demilitarization and Democracy. See Natalie J. Goldring and Ottfried Nassauer, “Available Sources and Data: The Trade in Light Weapons,” paper prepared for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Conference, “International Trade in Light Weapons,” February 24-25, 1994; and Stephen D. Goose and Frank Smyth, “Arming Genocide in Rwanda,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 73, no. 5, September/October 1994, pp. 86-96.
92. Strengthening the Export Licensing System: First Report by the Committee on Government Operations (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1991), pp. 40-53.
93. Lora Lumpe, editor, Arms Sales Monitor, No. 27, (Washington, DC: Federation of American Scientists, November 30, 1994), p. 9.
94. John M. Hogan, “Addendum to the BNL Task Force — Final Report,” (Washington, DC: United States Department of Justice, 1995), p. 3.
95. Caleb Rossiter of the Project on Demilitarization and Democracy suggested prohibiting covert arms supplies and training in his February 22, 1994 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on International Economic Policy, noting that “[C]overt aid programs corrupt the recipient precisely because they are covert and have no leverage . . . If we are to engage in aiding foreign forces, we should do so openly.” A summary of Rossiter’s testimony appears in Lora Lumpe, editor, Arms Sales Monitor, No. 24, (Washington, DC: Federation of American Scientists, March 15, 1994), pp. 4-5.
96. See White House Press Office, “Fact Sheet: Conventional Arms Sales Policy,” and “Fact Sheet — Criteria for Decisionmaking on U.S. Arms Exports,” February 17, 1995; and Richard Grimmett, Conventional Arms Sales to the Third World, F.Y. 1986-F.Y. 1993, op. cit.