ARMS TRADE RESOURCE CENTER
U.S. WEAPONS AT WAR 2005:
A World Policy Institute Special Report
Table of Contents
This report is part of a continuing series of issue briefs on contemporary security issues being published by the World Policy Institute’s Program on Collective Security and Preventive Diplomacy. This report was researched and written by Frida Berrigan and William D. Hartung, respectively Senior Research Associate and Director of the Institute’s Arms Trade Resource Center.
The Institute would like to thank the following foundations and individuals whose support made this report possible: David Brown, Colombe Foundation, Deer Creek Foundation, Kligerman Foundation, Stewart R. Mott Fund, Ploughshares Fund, Proteus Fund, Rockefeller Family Associates, Samuel Rubin Foundation, Strachan Donnelley Trust, Town Creek Foundation and Mary Van Evera.
The authors would like to thank Michelle Ciarrocca and Lesley Heffel for research assistance, and Matt Schroeder and Rachel Stohl for their comments on early drafts.
Perhaps no single policy is more at odds with President Bush’s pledge to “end tyranny in our world” than the United States’ role as the world’s leading arms exporting nation. Although arms sales are often justified on the basis of their purported benefits, from securing access to overseas military facilities to rewarding coalition allies in conflicts such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, these alleged benefits often come at a high price. All too often, U.S. arms transfers end up fueling conflict, arming human rights abusers, or falling into the hands of U.S. adversaries. As in the case of recent decisions to provide new F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan, while pledging comparable high-tech military hardware to its rival India, U.S. arms sometimes go to both sides in long brewing conflicts, ratcheting up tensions and giving both sides better firepower with which to threaten each other. Far from serving as a force for security and stability, U.S. weapons sales frequently serve to empower unstable, undemocratic regimes to the detriment of U.S. and global security.
Among the key findings of this report are the following:
In 2003, the last year for which full information is available, the United States transferred weaponry to 18 of the 25 countries involved in active conflicts. From Angola, Chad and Ethiopia, to Colombia, Pakistan and the Philippines, transfers through the two largest U.S. arms sales programs (Foreign Military Sales and Commercial Sales) to these conflict nations totaled nearly $1 billion in 2003, with the vast bulk of the dollar volume going to Israel ($845.6 million).
In 2003, more than half of the top 25 recipients of U.S. arms transfers in the developing world (13 of 25) were defined as undemocratic by the U.S. State Department’s Human Rights Report: in the sense that “citizens do not have the right to change their own government” or that right was seriously abridged. These 13 nations received over $2.7 billion in U.S. arms transfers under the Foreign Military Sales and Commercial Sales programs in 2003, with the top recipients including Saudi Arabia ($1.1 billion), Egypt ($1.0 billion), Kuwait ($153 million), the United Arab Emirates ($110 million) and Uzbekistan ($33 million).
When countries designated by the State Department’s Human Rights Report to have poor human rights records or serious patterns of abuse are factored in, 20 of the top 25 U.S. arms clients in the developing world in 2003– a full 80%– were either undemocratic regimes or governments with records of major human rights abuses.
The largest U.S. military aid program, Foreign Military Financing (FMF), increased by 68% between 2001 and 2003, from $3.5 billion to nearly $6 billion. These years coincided with the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and the run-up to the U.S. intervention in Iraq. The biggest increases in dollar terms went to countries that were directly or indirectly engaged as U.S. allies in the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, including Jordan ($525 million increase from 2001 to 2003), Afghanistan ($191 million increase), Pakistan ($224 million increase) and Bahrain ($90 million increase). The Philippines, where the United States stepped up joint operations against a local terrorist group with alleged links to al-Qaeda, also received a substantial increase of FMF funding ($47 million) from 2001 to 2003. Military aid totals have leveled off slightly since their FY 2003 peak, coming in at a requested $4.5 billion for 2006. This is still a full $1 billion more than 2001 levels. The number of countries receiving FMF assistance nearly doubled from FY 2001 to FY 2006– from 48 to 71.
The greatest danger emanating U.S. arms transfers and military aid programs is not in the numbers, but in the potential impacts on the image, credibility and security of the United States. Arming repressive regimes in all corners of the globe while simultaneously proclaiming a campaign for democracy and against tyranny undermines the credibility of the United States in international forums and makes it harder to hold other nations to high standards of conduct on human rights and other key issues. Arming undemocratic governments all too often helps to enhance their power, frequently fueling conflict or enabling human rights abuses in the process. These blows to the reputation of the United States are in turn impediments to winning the “war of ideas” in the Muslim world and beyond, a critical element in drying up financial and political support for terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda. Last but not least, in all too many cases, U.S. arms and military technology can end up in the hands of U.S. adversaries, as happened in the 1980s in Iraq and Panama, as well as with the right-wing fundamentalist “freedom fighters” in Afghanistan, many of whom are now supporters of al-Qaeda.
At a minimum, the time has come to impose greater scrutiny on U.S. arms transfers and military aid programs. The facile assumption that they are simply another tool in the foreign policy toolbox, to be used to win friends and intimidate adversaries as needed, must be challenged in this new era in U.S. security policy. A good starting point would be to find a way to reinforce and implement the underlying assumptions of U.S. arms export law, which calls for arming nations only for purposes of self-defense, and avoiding arms sales to nations that engage in patterns of systematic human rights abuses, either via new legislation or Executive Branch policy initiatives. Equally important, the automatic assumption that arms transfers are the preferred “barter” for access to military facilities or other security “goods” sought from other nations should be seriously re-considered. Economic aid, political support and other forms of support and engagement should be explored as alternatives whenever possible.
“The only force powerful enough to stop the rise of tyranny and terror, and replace hatred with hope, is the force of human freedom…[and] America will stand with the allies of freedom to support democratic movements in the Middle East and beyond, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.”
These words, delivered by President George W. Bush in his 2005 State of the Union address, drew cheers and applause. But shaping this noble rhetoric into concrete policies will mean reversing a decades-long policy of selling weapons and providing military aid to some of the world’s worst tyrants and dictators.
This report demonstrates that under President Bush’s leadership, this trend has accelerated and freedom and democracy have suffered as a result.
The United States transfers more weapons and military services than any other country in the world. Between 1992 and 2003, the United States sold $177.5 billion in arms to foreign nations. In 2003 alone, the Pentagon and State Department delivered or licensed the delivery of $5.7 billion in weaponry to countries which can ill afford advanced weaponry—nations in the developing world saddled with debt and struggling with poverty.
Despite having some of the world’s strongest laws regulating the arms trade, almost half of these weapons went to countries plagued with ongoing conflict and governed by undemocratic regimes with poor human rights records. In 2003, $2.7 billion in weaponry went to governments deemed undemocratic by the U.S. State Department’s Huma n Rights Report, in the sense that citizens of those nations “did not have a meaningful right to change their government” in a peaceful manner. Another $97.4 million worth of weapons went to governments deemed by the State Department to have “poor” human rights records. See TABLE I: Human Rights Records of Top 25 U.S. Arms Recipients in the Developing World for more information.
It is not enough to condemn tyranny and terror. President Bush must act to remove the tools of repression from the hands of tyrants and terrorists. Al-Qaeda and other non-state actors are real threats. But, for many, the central source of tyranny and terror is their own government. The United States provides the military hardware and know-how and then all too often turns a blind eye as governments suppress rights, squash legitimate dissent and sustain repression. In all, four of the five top U.S. arms recipients in the developing world had major issues, ranging from undemocratic governments, to poor human rights records across the board, to patterns of serious abuse.
Does U.S. policy of providing military aid and selling weapons contribute to fighting the war on terrorism? Is it a sound policy for strengthening democracy and self-reliance, as U.S. documents purport? Or does this policy conflate terrorism with human rights abuses and repression by putting more money and high-tech weaponry into the hands of leaders who violate human rights, repress their citizens and wage war on their neighbors?
Weapons at War
For many, war is synonymous with Iraq or Afghanistan, but our research enumerates 25 ongoing conflicts throughout the world. In the last decade, the U.S. has transferred some $8.7 billion in arms and military services to these war zones, $970.5 million in 2003 alone. During that year (the last year for which full data is available) the United States transferred weapons and military hardware into 18 of 25 conflict zones. This is despite the fact that these transfers appear to violate the spirit (if not the letter) of the Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act, which bar the transfer of U.S.-origin military equipment into active areas of conflict.
The 1976 Arms Export Control Act stipulates that arms transfers can only be used by the recipient nation for self-defense, internal security and in United Nations sanctioned operations. The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 bars military aid and arms sales to countries that demonstrate “gross and consistent” patterns of human rights abuses. And the Export Administration Act, passed in 1979, regulates the sale of “dual-use ” items that could have civilian or military application.
While some arms transfers are relatively small– a few hundred thousand dollars– they carry significant political weight. A transfer of $301,000 in weapons to Angola, for example, does more than provide military hardware. It suggests that Luanda is an ally and that Washington supports or acquiesces in the actions of their military.
In the case of conflict zones like the Philippines or Colombia, where tens of millions of dollars worth of weapons are sold, Washington supplements military hardware with deployment of U.S. troops, advisers, military aid, or training programs, representing an even greater level of U.S. involvement in these wars.
In times of crisis, like the tsunami that killed more than 100,000 people in the last days of 2004, the American people are very generous. And they assume their government is as well. While the United States doles out billions in foreign aid every year, Washington tends to favor military aid and weapons sales over other forms of aid, deprioritizing humanitarian, health or development aid, even though these types of foreign aid have long-term constructive impact.
Since the beginning of the war on terrorism, foreign military aid has increased precipitously. The Pentagon’s largest military aid program, the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program, increased by more than one-third (34%) between 2001 and 2005, jumping from $3.5 billion to $4.6 billion over that time period. President Bush is requesting $4.5 billion in FMF for 2006.
Many countries previously barred from receiving U.S. military aid, because of nuclear testing, human rights abuses, or their harboring of terrorists, began to receive aid in 2001. Two dozen nations– including Afghanistan, Algeria, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Uruguay– either became first-time recipients of FMF during this period or were restored to the program after long absences. As a result, the number of countries receiving FMF assistance increased from 48 to 71 between 2001 and 2006—a 47.9% increase.
In that same time period, ten countries saw their aid at least triple, and seven had their FMF assistance increase by five times or more. The biggest gainers in FMF assistance in dollar terms were Jordan (+$127 million), Pakistan (+$300 million) and Afghanistan (+$396 million). None of these countries are democracies that fully respect human rights, according to the State Department’s Human Rights Report. For more details, see TABLE III.
In the conclusion of our report, we offer a number of recommendations to reverse this course and ensure that the United States lives up to its best ideals of freedom and democracy. Briefly, following and fully applying laws like the AECA and FAA (explained above) and resisting efforts by the Executive Branch to make exceptions for the sake of political expediencies like currying favor with strategically located regimes is an important starting point. Congress can also strengthen international law by spearheading the effort to pass the International Arms Trade Treaty. The convention, drafted by Nobel Laureates and supported by many non-governmental organizations, would create legally binding arms controls and ensure that governments control arms using the same basic international standards.
Adoption of these and the other recommendations outlined at the end of the report would further the Bush administration’s counter terrorism agenda much more effectively than the arms deals documented in this report.
The Canadian-based Project Ploughshares calculates that there are 36 armed conflicts being waged in 28 countries and defines armed conflict as “political conflict in which armed combat involves the armed forces of at least one state (or one or more armed factions seeking to gain control of all or part of the state), and in which at least 1,000 people have been killed by fighting during the course of the conflict.”
In the tables that accompany this report, we provide information on U.S. weapons sales and military aid to 25 nations where conflict remains active. We have adapted the Project Ploughshares list of conflicts, excluding Sri Lanka and Serbia/Kosovo because conflicts there are coming to an end. Additionally, Project Ploughshares defines the Israel/Palestine conflict as an interstate conflict between Israel and Lebanon, while we define it as an intrastate conflict. TABLE II has detailed data on U.S. weapons sales to these conflict nations.
The vast majority of countries involved in major-armed conflicts in 2003 received some military aid, training or weapons from the United States in the last ten years. In this report, we profile 12 countries involved in (or recovering from) major armed conflict which are top recipients of U.S. military aid and weapons sales. Additionally, we profile Georgia and Uzbekistan, which are not considered conflict countries, but are included because they have received large increases in FMF/military aid since the beginning of the Global War on Terror.
A Closer Look
The United States transferred defense articles to 18 of the 25 countries involved in active conflict during 2003, the last year for which full data is available. In 20 of the nations in conflict in 2003, the United States supplied weaponry some time in the last decade.
In all, the United States transferred $970.5 million in weaponry and related hardware to nations in conflict during 2003. And in the last decade, between 1994 and 2003, the United States transferred a total of more than $8.7 billion worth of military machinery and services to these countries.
While transfers to many nations were relatively small, they have an important symbolic value. Weapons sales suggest U.S. government support for or acquiescence in the actions of the governments involved in these conflicts.
While the bulk of the value of the transfers documented in TABLE II represent shipments to Israel, other longstanding U.S. customers that received major transfers of def ense articles between 1994 and 2003 include India ($128 million), Indonesia ($121.2 million), Pakistan ($429.1 million), the Philippines ($380.8 million) and Colombia ($656.5 million). Given the durability of modern weapons systems, much of this weaponry has no doubt been used in the current conflicts in recipient nations.
Acceleration of Weapons Sales and Changes in the Rules
Prior to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, 27 countries were banned from purchasing U.S.-made military equipment, including Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Sudan, Syria, and Tajikistan.
In the aftermath of terrorist attacks, bans on security assistance to many of these countries have been lifted or suspended, giving the President broad power to provide military aid and weapons to nations contributing to the war on terrorism.
The Bush administration lifted sanctions against Azerbaijan and Armenia. Tajikistan was removed from the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) list of states prohibited from receiving U.S. military goods and products.
These changes have shifted the allocation of military aid. Foreign Military Financing, the Pentagon’s largest military aid program, increased by more than two-thirds (68.4%) from 2001 to 2003, jumping from $3.5 billion to nearly $6 billion over that time period, before leveling off in 2004 and 2005 and requests for 2006 to an average of $4.6 billion (which represents a more than 30% increase over pre-9/11 levels).
Pakistan enjoyed an almost 200% increase in aid between 2002 and 2003, from $75 million to $224 million. Aid to the Philippines jumped from just over $2 million in 2001 to $49 million in 2003, an increase of more than 2,000%. For details, see TABLE III: Increases in U.S. Military Aid Between 2001 and 2003.
In October 2001, Congress passed Public Law 107-57, which included a measure to reduce the notification deadlines for weapons transfers. While the 1991 Foreign Assistance Act required that the President notify Congress 15 or more days before any transfer of emergency drawdowns and excess defense articles, the new act requires only five days advance notice if the President determines that the decision is “important to U.S. efforts to respond to, deter or prevent acts of international terrorism.” This new law dismantled an important tool enabling the human rights and arms control community to lobby against weapons sales to problem countries.
That same month, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which handles government-to-government weapons sales, announced a series of changes to their policies aimed at accelerating the process of granting weapons contracts to countries allied with the United States against terrorism.
The DSCA established the “Enduring Freedom Response Cell” to “fast track weapons requests from our allies.” Air Force Lieutenant General Tome Walters, director of DSCA, described the new mission of his agency, “If you’re an allied country, let’s say Uzbekistan, and you need radios, we’ll do whatever we can to get the job done.” Since the changes have been invoked, weapons sales, military aid, and training programs have surged.
Restrictions on U.S. arms exports to undemocratic and repressive regimes were painstakingly crafted over the last 40 years, and should not be discarded even in the interest of building a coalition to fight terrorism. As Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), observed, “We now have a floating coalition. We can’t have floating arms.”
Ignoring History: Role of Arms Trade Boomerang in Fueling Terror
A close reading of recent history would have warned the Bush administration against a policy of offering weapons, military aid and training to new allies in the war on terrorism. The last half-century is full of examples of allies becoming adversaries and political circumstances shifting much more quickly than weapons arsenals can be destroyed.
Washington transferred weaponry to successive South Vietnamese dictatorships throughout the 1960s and 70s in an effort bolster the South’s fight against the Communist North. U.S.-origin arms were often stolen from Southern barracks and after the fall of Saigon in 1975, North Vietnamese troops took possession of huge weapons caches. Massive military assistance that the U.S. provided to the dictatorship of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi in Iran was seized in the 1979 Islamic fundamentalist coup, giving the Ayatollah Khomeini control of a fleet of F-14 fighter planes and other high-tech weaponry.
More recent history is equally instructive in the dangers of the boomerang effect. The last seven times the United States has sent troops into conflict in substantial numbers: in Iraq (2003-present), Afghanistan (2001-present), former Yugoslavia (1998), Haiti (1994), Somalia (1992), Iraq (1990) and Panama (1989); they faced adversaries with weapons or military technology “Made in the USA.” The widening war on terrorism and accelerating weapons sales to coalition partners will only increase the likelihood of the boomerang effect continuing to haunt us.
Later in this report, profiles of Afghanistan and Iraq provide background on how U.S. military assistance in the 1970s and 80s outlasted the short-term political justifications for their sale or transfer. For more information on earlier examples, please see detailed case studies in the World Policy Institute’s 1995 Weapons at War report.
On the Bright Side, There is much to criticize about U.S. arms export and foreign military aid policies, but there are positive facets as well. As is mentioned elsewhere in this report, the world’s largest arms exporter has the world’s strongest laws and regulations. In addition, Washington has sometimes withdrawn U.S. military aid and arms exports to rebuke countries that violated human rights or circumvented democracy.
The Bush Administration banned arms sales to Zimbabwe in 2002 after asserting that the March national election “subverted the democratic process” and charging that long-time President Robert Mugabe’s government carried out an “orchestrated campaign of intimidation and violence” in the lead-up to the election.
The administration continues to staunchly oppose the European Union’s plans to lift a more than decade-old arms embargo on China, citing human rights abuses and the country’s tendency to re-transfer weapons related technology as among the arguments for maintaining the ban put in place after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. These are two instances in which concerns about human and civil rights trump strategic rationalizations for arms sales. Unfortunately, these instances remain the exception instead of the rule.
Foreign Military Financing: Congress appropriates grants to finance foreign nations’ purchases of American-made weapons, services and training. Between 1950 and 2005, the U.S. government has provided over $121 billion in FMF to militaries around the world.
Economic Support Fund: These grants are designed to promote “economic and political foreign policy interests of the United States” by “providing assistance to allies,” with the aim of “mitigating the root causes of terrorism.” While U.S. law makes clear that ESF is not intended for military expenditure, the grants are frequently used as a de facto military aid, with foreign governments using the funds to free up their own resources for military programs.
International Military Education and Training IMET grants are given to foreign governments to pay for military training provided by U.S. military officials and with U.S. weapons. In 2004, $91 million was allocated to train 11,000 solider/students from more than 100 countries.
The U.S. government also provides military aid in the form of Counter-Narcotics Assistance (CNA).
There are two major channels through which American arms manufacturers sell weaponry to foreign countries. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) are government-to-government agreements negotiated by the Pentagon and the purchasing country. Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) are agreements negotiated between the manufacturing company and the purchasing country and then licensed by the State Department.
Congressional approval must be sought for weapons sales of $14 million or more, and defense services and technical assistance valued at $50 million or more. In recent years, these requirements have changed for NATO allies, Australia, Japan and New Zealand, and now these countries can bypass the Congressional approval process for weaponry valued less than $25 million or technical assistance valued at less than $100 million.
Within the State Department, the Office of Defense Trade Controls maintains the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), a list of all the categories of goods that are considered munitions. ITAR also names those states ineligible to receive U.S. armaments.
The U.S. government transfers weapons from its stocks for free or at greatly reduced prices through the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program. Through the Emergency Drawdown program, allied governments can receive fast track grants of weapons to address crisis situations. Both programs are managed through the Defense Department.
“This isn’t target practice! This is about killing people!”
Overview of U.S. Arms and Aid to Africa
In the wake of September 11th, and in keeping with its interest in securing access to oil and other key natural resources, the Bush administration has been rapidly expanding U.S. military involvement in Africa. While most recent increases in U.S. arms sales, aid and military training in Africa have been justified as part of what the administration refers to as the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT), oil has been a major factor in the administration’s strategic calculations from the outset.
In his first few months in office, President Bush’s first Secretary of State, Colin Powell, stressed the need to improve relations with oil producing nations like Nigeria and Angola. Similarly, the report of Vice-President Cheney’s Energy Task Force stressed the importance of gaining and maintaining access to African oil resources, which U.S. intelligence assessments expect to increase to as much as 25% of U.S. oil imports by the year 2020.
The Congressional Budget justification underscores the strong pull of oil interests in Bush administration decision making. The entry on Equatorial Guinea notes that “over the course of the past five years, U.S. companies have invested approximately $5 billion” in the country’s oil sector. The entry for Sao Tome and Principe is more forward-looking, noting that “in the coming decade, U.S. companies are expected to participate in the development of petroleum resources in Sao Tome’s territorial waters.” Nigeria is cited for its “large oil and gas reserves,” while the entry on Angola stresses the need to “help ensure U.S. private-sector oil access to a source of seven percent of U.S. petroleum imports, a figure likely to rise in the coming years.”
Beyond oil, U.S. military officials have cited “a growing terrorist threat” in northern and sub-Saharan Africa to justify a program of stepped up military engagement in the region. General James Jones, head of the U.S. European command, has suggested the need to create a “family of bases” across Africa that would range from forward operating locations that would include an airfield and facilities to house 3,000 to 5,000 U.S. military personnel to “bare-bones” bases that U.S. Special Forces or Marines could “land at and build up as the mission required.”
These new facilities would not be considered “formal” bases like the growing U.S. base in the Horn of Africa in Djibouti, which has a regular deployment of 1,800 to 2,000 troops stationed there. While new basing arrangements are being worked out, a major increase in U.S. military exercises and training missions throughout Africa will be used to sustain a regular U.S. presence.
Military Aid, Training, and Sales on the Rise
While the millions of dollars being spent on U.S. military aid and sales to Africa pale in comparison to the billions being expended in the Middle East and South Asia, all of the major U.S. bilateral aid and sales programs have increased sharply in recent years.
Funding to sub-Saharan Africa under the largest U.S. military aid program, Foreign Military Financing, doubled from $12 million in fiscal year 2000 to a proposed $24 million in the FY 2006 budget proposal, and the number of recipient nations has grown from one to nine.
The Pentagon’s International Military Education and Training (IMET) program has increased by 35% from 2000 to the 2006 proposal, from $8.1 million to $11 million, and from 36 participating nations to 47. Foreign Military Sales more than quadrupled from fiscal year 2000 to fiscal year 2003 (the most recent year for which full statistics are available), from $9.8 million to $40.3 million. And Commercial Sales of arms licensed by the State Department grew from $.9 million to $3.8 million over the 2000 to 2003 period.
These bilateral programs are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of overall U.S. military aid commitments going forward. The U.S. European Command has requested $125 million over five years for the Pan-Sahel Initiative, for training and exercises with Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and other nations in the region. U.S. engagement under the program has gone far beyond traditional training to include involvement in combat operations.
Craig S. Smith of the New York Times offers the following description of the role of U.S. forces in a 2004 operation against the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, a designated terrorist organization, and its leader, Ammari Saifi: “The United States European Command sent a Navy P-3C Orion surveillance aircraft to sweep the area, relaying Mr. Saifi’s position to forces in the region. Mali chased him out of the country to Niger, which in turn pushed him into Chad, where, with United States Special Forces support of an airlift of fuel and other supplies, 43 of his men were killed or captured.”
Other major U.S. military commitments include a proposed $100 million program for military and anti-terrorist training in East Africa, and a $200 million pledge to train and restructure Liberia’s military forces. The first $35 million of this amount has been committed to a training program run by DynCorp, a private military company with a mixed record in operations in the Balkans, Colombia, Afghanistan and Iraq.
In addition to programs targeted to specific countries or regions, the ACOTA program (African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance) has received $38 million in funding over the past three years, with the stated goal of training “select African militaries to respond effectively to peace support and humanitarian crises on their continent.” Participants in the program have included Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Senegal and Botswana.
Transparency and accountability are major missing components with respect to current U.S. military operations in Africa. There is no single source that summarizes U.S. exercises or Pentagon-run training missions like the Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET program) in any detail.
Washington has much to learn from Algeria on ways to fight terrorism.
Civil war has wracked this oil-rich nation for more than 12 years, killing as many as 150,000 people. The war erupted in 1991 when the military-backed government called off elections that would have instated an Islamic government. Since then, the civilian population has been caught between Islamic insurgents and the military.
For many years, the dictatorship’s political abuses and the reality of civil war made it an international pariah, but in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, Algeria overhauled its public image.
Algerian President Abdel-Aziz Bouteflika has visited the White House three times since 2001. Richard Erdman, the American ambassador in Algiers, explains that, ” Algeria is an important ally for us in the war on terror.”
Military ties between the two countries are growing. In January 2002, Algeria began hosting U.S. naval ships and the two countries have conducted joint anti-submarine warfare maneuvers. In December 2002, Washington announced it would abandon its ten-year-old arms embargo, and the two countries have begun discussing the establishment of an American military base in southern Algeria.
An Open Door for Military Sales
Emboldened by this collaboration, Algerian officials are pushing for new U.S. military technology, such as advanced night-vision technology and all-weather combat aircraft, as well as radar and ground-based sensors. In fact, when President Bouteflika visited the United States in 2001, he met with executives from Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman at a summit organized by the Corporate Council on Africa.
Despite this warming trend, Algerian access to U.S. weaponry remains limited. All U.S. weapons transfers are decided on a case-by-case basis. In recent years, only non-lethal systems, such as radios, global positioning systems, night vision equipment and sensors have been transferred.
But, non-lethal systems still give the Algerian military a lethal advantage over Islamic guerillas. For example, an August 2002 transfer of night vision equipment aided the military in tracking and attacking insurgents.
Algeria does not receive FMF or ESF, but all signs point towards more military aid in the future. As the State Department explains in its Congressional Presentation, Algeria “has demonstrated it is an important partner in the global war against terrorism; it remains in the U.S. interest to help the Algerian military increase its professionalism, effectiveness and improve its interoperability with the U.S. and other allied forces. The threat of terrorism from internal Algerian extremist groups and those with ties to international terrorist organizations continues to plague Algeria and threaten U.S. interests in the region.”
With these goals in mind, the allocation of military training funds has been increasing in recent years. In fiscal year 2002, the U.S. provided $67,000 in IMET funding. The request for 2006 is $750,000, an increase of more than 1000% in four years. The Congressional justification explains the importance of a new relationship with Algeria by saying that the nation “shares our interest in fighting terrorism, plays an important leadership role in the Arab world, Africa, and the Mediterranean basin [and] possesses enormous gas and oil resources.”
Shared Interests? Human Rights Abuses Continue
While diplomatic and military relationships between the two countries have certainly progressed and will continue to do so, the human rights situation has not improved apace. There is no evidence that more military aid and training will bring about peace and stability.
Human rights lawyer Mostefa Bouchachi, interviewed by the BBC News says, “People are tortured systematically here. Eighty percent of my clients tell me when I visit them in prison that they have been tortured by police.”
The State Department’s Human Rights Report supports this statement, saying Algeria’s “human rights record remained poor overall… There continued to be problems with excessive use of force by the security forces as well as failure to account for past disappearances. New allegations of incidents and severity of torture continued.”
“Angola has been a terrific place to do business.”
Angola is slowly emerging from a brutal war that pitched the Marxist government against rebels backed by the United States. The ensuing calm is being heralded as a major turning point for Africa.
The civil war claimed the lives of more than 500,000 Angolans and displaced another two million, ending in 2002 when rebel leader Jonas Savimbi was assassinated. Since then, more than one million Angolans who had fled the country are returning and rebuilding has commenced.
Angola is not a major recipient of U.S. aid. The total request for FY 2006 is $30.7 million, which amounts to just over $2.00 for each Angolan. But as this nation of 14 million emerges from 30 years of war, it seems that the United States is preparing to once again take an active role in Angola’s economic, political and military trajectory.
According to Washington’s 2006 request for military aid, Angola can contribute to international peacekeeping efforts, and to “the international fight against terrorists, drug traffickers and organized crime,” because it has “one of Africa’s largest and most experienced militaries.”
To that purported end, all areas of military aid are on the rise. The White House is requesting $400,000 in FMF for 2006, after allocating $300,000 in 2005. In addition to this aid, Angola is now eligible for Excess Defense Articles and has been identified as a candidate for the African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance.
Oil Wealth: Not Trickling Down
Angola has huge oil reserves, providing the United States with more oil than Kuwait. Despite pumping more than a million barrels a day, the country’s oil wealth does not trickle down. According to Oxfam, 78% of the rural population lives in “deep poverty,” and 80% of Angolans have no access to basic medical care.
The United States is Angola’s largest trading partner, purchasing about 50% of its oil exports and providing public income that was promptly diverted away from development to sustain the long war. In a 1999 report, Human Rights Watch documents how the Angolan government paid for arms purchases with bank loans, oil profit remittances and mining concessions. Hundreds of millions of dollars were generated when the Angolan government offered oil exploration concession blocks to multinational oil companies like BP-Amoco, Exxon, and Elf. Those funds were then used to purchase weapons.
According to a January 2004 updated, HRW found more than $4 billion in Angolan oil revenues were missing and had been squirreled away into private offshore bank accounts or used to purchase military hardware.
U.S. Legacy: Support for Brutality
In 1986, President Reagan welcomed rebel leader Jonas Savimbi to the White House. He expressed his hope that the leader of UNITA, a rebel group backed by U.S. and white-ruled South Africa as a bulwark against Soviet interests in Africa, would win “a victory that electrifies the world and brings great sympathy and assistance from other nations to those struggling for freedom.”
That “freedom” proved to be brutal for Angola and extremely expensive for the United States. Like so many other African countries, Angola was a battleground for the proxy war between the U.S. and USSR.
Even prior to the 1974 revolution that ended Portuguese rule, the two superpowers had taken sides among the various Angolan independence movements. External military assistance from the United States, South Africa and Zaire supported UNITA and the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), while the Soviet Union, China and Cuba provided arms and aid to the Popular Movement for Angolan Liberation (MPLA).
Authorized U.S. aid to UNITA/FNLA began in the mid-1970s, with a first installment of $300,000. Despite passage of the Clark amendment in December 1975 that barred military transfers, covert aid included 622 mortars, 42,100 antitank rockets, and more than 20,000 rifles. But this military support remained largely concealed from the public, Congress and the media.
In the 1980’s, despite faltering international support for UNITA in response to Savimbi’s increasingly erratic behavior, the indiscriminate use of landmines, and civilian hostage-taking, U.S. continued to aid the rebels with a total of approximately $250 million in weaponry between 1986 and 1991, including highly sophisticated small arms and light weapons like Stinger aircraft missiles.
In its current Human Rights Report, the State Department acknowledges that Angola ’s “human rights record remained poor… Members of the security forces committed unlawful killings, were responsible for disappearances, and tortured, beat, raped, and otherwise abused persons.”
This man’s plan is working
For four decades, Colombia has been torn apart by civil war. The three-sided conflict has claimed the lives of at least 200,000 people and displaced another two million. Everyday, five people are forcibly disappeared.
Since the start of Plan Colombia in 2000, the United States has granted billions of dollars in military and police aid, training and weaponry, despite the government’s record of human rights abuses and its support for the vicious paramilitary group United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).
Military and Police Aid
Under President Bill Clinton, the U.S. initiated the $1.3 billion Plan Colombia, ostensibly aimed at strengthening the military to combat the drug trade. President Bush now has his own version- the Andean Counter-drug Initiative (ACI). Since its establishment in 2001, the Bush Administration has requested $1.33 billion in police and military aid for Colombia through ACI.
Colombia also receives U.S. military aid through existing programs. After allocating just $17 million in 2003, Congress agreed to increase FMF to $98.4 million in 2004 and $99.2 million in 2005. For 2006, President Bush has requested another $90 million.
Colombia also receives significant military training assistance. In 2004, Congress granted the President’s request of $1.6 million in IMET funds, up from $1.1 million in 2003. The Center for International Policy found that IMET is only a small part of overall U.S. efforts to train Colombian troops. The $1.1 million granted in 2003 trained 590 soldiers. But through this and other channels, U.S. forces have trained almost 13,000 Colombian military and police personnel since Plan Colombia was established.
According to a study by the Rand Corporation, U.S. weapons and military training have “fanned the flames of the violence in Colombia.” Their detailed report, Arms Trafficking and Colombia, traces the path of small arms and light weapons from U.S.-origin stockpiles in Nicaragua, El Salvador and other Cold War battlegrounds in Central America to Colombia, where they are used by State Department-labeled terrorist groups. These weapons have ended up in the hands of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the rightwing AUC.
In his second term, President Bush is continuing these failed policies under a new moniker- the “war on narco-terrorism.” President Bush made Colombia one of his first state visits after the November 2004 reelection, promising more than half a billion dollars in new military and police aid and praising President Uribe’s counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism agenda.
Weapons for Colombia
Between 1994 and 2003, Colombia took delivery of $571.6 million in FMS weaponry and another $84.8 million in commercial exports, for a total of more than $656 million in U.S. weapons.
In November 2004, Colombia announced it was in the market for 24 fighter jets, and defense officials began meeting with plane-makers from Brazil, China, the United States and South Korea. Given the preponderance of U.S. weaponry and military hardware in the Colombian arsenal, it is hard to imagine defense officials choosing another country’s fighter plane in this deal worth an estimated $234 million. Colombian defense officials hope to take delivery of the new planes by 2007.
War on Drugs, War on Terrorism: Same War, Same Victims
The U.S. weaponry and military aid that has fueled the brutal war in Colombia have not succeeded in stemming the flow of drugs into the United States. In fact, a study by the Washington Office on Latin America found that the cocaine is 31% cheaper on the streets of the United States than it was before Plan Colombia was initiated.
Nonetheless, President Bush is committed to continuing these failed policies in his second term. While in Cartagena in November 2004, President Bush told reporters, “President Uribe and I share a basic optimism. This war against narco-terrorism can and will be won.”
Washington has eagerly shifted from the war on drugs to the war on narco-terrorism, freed up more money for Uribe’s war and changed U.S. law to allow the Colombian president to use U.S. military assistance to directly engage the FARC.
Domestically, Uribe defines any opposition, including criticism from human rights groups, as terrorism, and has used the rhetoric of the war on terrorism and concerns about security to enact legislation curtailing citizens rights.
Political Violence and Human Rights Abuses
To be a trade unionist in Colombia is to have one foot in this world and one in the next.
Along with the FARC and the AUC, the Colombian military and police are collectively responsible for the most human rights violations in the Western Hemisphere.
According to the State Department’s 2004 Human Rights Report, “some members of the security forces continued to commit serious abuses, including unlawful and extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances. Some members of the security forces continued to collaborate with the terrorist AUC, which committed serious abuses.”
Some of the worst political violence and human rights abuses took place in areas controlled by U.S. oil companies. A portion of U.S. military assistance is designated for protecting oil businesses- specifically Occidental Petroleum. Amnesty International asserts that in 2003, $99 million in U.S. aid went to protecting the oil pipeline.
In January 2003, 60 U.S. Special Forces arrived in Arauca to train units from the 18th Brigade. Dan Kovalik, a lawyer with the United Steelworkers, visited Arauca in November 2004, and met with the head of the 18th Brigade. Writing in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, he describes the brigade as “notorious for gross violations of human rights against the civilian population,” including the assassination of three union leaders in August 2004.
INDIA AND PAKISTAN
The United States imposed sanctions on rivals India and Pakistan after their 1998 “tit for tat” nuclear tests, prohibiting the export of goods listed on the U.S. Munitions List, military financing and the transfer of certain military technologies.
But the sanctions were lifted in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in September 2001 when Washington sought allies for the war on terrorism. In the years since the attacks, Pakistan and India have benefited from billions of dollars in new military aid, training and weaponry.
While adopting the rhetoric of Washington’s anti-terrorism agenda, both countries continue to pursue their nuclear aspirations, bicker across the Line of Control in Kashmir, repress domestic opposition movements and violate human rights. It remains to be seen whether recent peace talks over Kashmir can change this long term dynamic of tension between India and Pakistan.
General Musharraf is the right man in the right place at the right time.
Despite the sheen of democracy, Pakistan remains a military dictatorship in all but name. General Musharraf’s seizure of power was legitimized by a controversial nationwide referendum in April 2002, but many observers questioned the free and fair nature of this “exercise in democracy.”
Soon after September 11th, President Bush judged that the sanctions imposed on Pakistan “would not be in the national security interests of the United States.” Thus, in early November 2001, the U.S. agreed to provide Pakistan with $73 million in “border security” military hardware, including Huey helicopters and spare parts for F-16 fighter planes.
The weapons sales have remained steady ever since. In July 2004, Bell Helicopter, a subsidiary of Textron, began delivering 26 412EP medium twin-engine helicopters and associated equipment, in a deal estimated at $230 million.
At the end of March 2005, President Bush reversed 15 years of policy begun under his father by offering F-16 fighter planes to Islamabad. Initially, Pakistan plans on buying two dozen of the Lockheed Martin manufactured planes, but Bush administration officials note there would be no limits on how many could eventually be purchased. Pakistan’s economy is not strong enough to allow Musharraf to purchase the $35 million per copy fighter planes, and so the deal will be accompanied by about $3 billion in military aid.
To stave off criticism that he is playing favorites, President Bush accompanied the Pakistan F-16 announcement with a companion decision to open India to U.S. weapons manufacturers, sparking denunciations that sales of weapons technology to the rivals could lead to a South Asian arms race.
Major increases in military aid accompany these plans for new weapons and technology sales. In 2002, Pakistan was granted $75 million in FMF, the country’s first grant in more than 10 years. In 2003, the nation’s FMF totaled $49.5 million, supplemented by an anti-terrorism grant of $175 million. For 2004, FMF totaled $74.5 million with no supplemental appropriation. Another $148 million was allocated in 2005, and President Bush is requesting $300 million for 2006.
Thus, Pakistan will have accumulated a total of $821 million in FMF support between 2002 (when FMF was resumed) and 2005. Additionally, military training funds are on the rise- from zero in 2001 to a $2 million request for 2006.
The fiscal year 2006 Congressional justification explains the thinking behind the upsurge in military aid to Pakistan, saying “a strong U.S.-Pakistan partnership remains critical to continued progress in the global war on terrorism and regional stability.”
With these aims in mind, President Bush took the relationship one step further in June 2004, naming Pakistan a “Major Non-NATO Ally.” This designation, accorded to only a handful of nations, makes Pakistan eligible for previously unavailable weapons like depleted uranium munitions, and new funding sources like U.S. government-backed loans to build up its military capability.
A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?
Even as word of this honored status was being communicated to Pakistan, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9-11 Commission) cited evidence of Islamabad’s collaboration with the Taliban before the terrorist attacks.
While Pakistan has made significant contributions to the war against terrorism, arresting a number of high-value al-Qaeda operatives, the report found that “the Taliban’s ability to provide bin Laden a haven in the face of international pressure and UN sanctions was significantly facilitated by Pakistani support.”
According to another report from the Congressional Research Service, Pakistan has turned a blind eye to the Taliban and other militants who use its porous border regions as a launching pad for attacks against U.S., NATO and Afghani troops. The report, Afghanistan: Post War Governance, Security and U.S. Policy notes that “U.S. and Afghan officials continue to accuse Pakistan of allowing Taliban fighters to meet and group in Pakistani cities.”
An anonymous Western diplomat, quoted in the New York Times, was more colorful, saying “if you talk about the Taliban, its like fish in a barrel in Pakistan. They train, they rest there. They get support. “
The real prize is India.
Once, India was allied with the Soviet Union, and roughly 70% of India’s military hardware still comes from Russia. But as military ties between India and the U.S. grow tighter, Russian influence could wane.
In 2002 and 2003, India received more than $77 million in security assistance from the United States to wage the war on terrorism. No FMF was granted for 2004 and 2005. But, India is making up for it with Economic Support Funds. As mentioned earlier, while ESF is sometimes earmarked for development programs, as unrestricted grants the funds can be used to offset arms purchases. ESF to India jumped from $10.5 million in 2003 to a request of $14 million for 2006. The country is also eligible for free or deeply discounted weapons and military equipment through the Excess Defense Articles program.
Make New Friends
Between 1994 and 2003, India purchased $128.2 million in arms from the United States, a sizable amount given that sanctions were imposed for a number of years. Now that those restrictions have been lifted, India expects more deals on military hardware.
In December 2001, right after the restrictions were lifted, the U.S. expedited the review of India’s request for radar and light combat aircraft. More systems are “in the pipeline,” including weapons-locating radar, military aircraft and engines for light combat aircraft. In August 2004, India accepted delivery of the first of 12 Firefinder weapons-locating radar purchased from Thales-Raytheon Systems. Another deal in the works is the P-3 Orion naval reconnaissance plane equipped with the latest avionics, including sensors and computerized command and control and weapons systems. 
In 2004, President Bush unveiled a new agreement to increase technical cooperation between the two countries, permitting the export of sensitive nuclear and space technology to India. In turn, India has agreed to strengthen controls on exports of sensitive technologies to other countries. Bush called the agreement “an important milestone.”
After announcing the sale of billions in F-16 fighters to Pakistan, President Bush called Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to tell him U.S. military technology like fighter planes would now be available to his nation as well. This was good news to India, which is in the middle of a push to modernize its military, but it was great news to U.S. weapons manufacturers. As a spokesman for Lockheed Martin, manufacturer of the F-16 fighter plane, said, “India is a market we want to pursue.”
Human Rights in the “World’s Largest Democracy”
Relations between New Delhi and Washington are warm, with military aid and weapons sales increasing. But, India’s human rights problems have continued apace, and tensions with Pakistan remain high.
The State Department’s Human Rights Report found “serious” human rights problems; “extrajudicial killings, including staged encounter killings, and custodial deaths. Government officials often used special antiterrorism legislation to justify the excessive use of force while combating active insurgencies in Jammu and Kashmir… Security force officials who committed human rights abuses generally enjoyed de facto legal impunity.”
Kashmir: Valley of Tears
When India and Pakistan gained their independence from Britain in 1947, both claimed the Kashmir region. The Kashmir ruler wanted independence but when Pakistani tribesmen invaded, and uprisings threatened his rule, he called on India for help. India came to the rescue only in exchange for Kashmiri accession. Since that time, India and Pakistan have fought two wars over the province and in 1989 Pakistan began backing an Islamist insurgency to fight the 500,000 Indian troops deployed there. India constructed a huge electrified fence along the “Line of Control” in an effort to stop Pakistani incursions.
The death toll from decades of fighting is somewhere between 40,000 and 100,000, and thousands more having been displaced. The far northern and western areas of the state are under Pakistani control and the Kashmir valley, Jammu and Ladahk are under Indian control, where a Muslim majority complains of a heavy-handed and corrupt rule. As one moderate Kashmiri leader told the New York Times, “we are trapped among three guns: The militants, the occupying forces [the Indian military] and unknown gunmen.”
The two countries began peace talks in June 2004 and agreed to a series of steps aimed at resolving their disputes. The nuclear-armed rivals will notify each other before testing missiles, open consulates and aim to work towards a peace agreement over Kashmir.
I am going to use what I have. After all, I have paid already.
The war on terrorism has put intense pressure on the Congressionally-mandated restrictions on military aid and training to Indonesia, imposed in response to egregious human rights abuses by the military. Even as elements of the Indonesian military continue to kill and violate human rights with impunity, the White House is renewing military aid and training assistance to Jakarta.
One of Condoleezza Rice’s first acts as Secretary of State in the Second Bush administration was to certify Indonesia for IMET military training programs over the objections of members of Congress and non-governmental organizations.
The Bush administration’s efforts to restore ties highlight the tension in U.S.-Indonesia relations. On the one hand, as the world’s largest Muslim democracy, Indonesia is an attractive ally in the war on terrorism. On the other hand there is the sobering reality that despite its sheen of democracy, the nation’s leadership remains deeply influenced by the military.
After a devastating tsunami swept through Indonesia, killing more than 100,000- mostly in the restive province of Aceh- the pressure became even more intense.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono recently told reporters, “If we had a stronger military, we could have done a lot more,” to bring aid to tsunami victims, and called for fivefold increase in defense spending to build a “strong and modern military.”
In the wake of the disaster, the Bush administration worked around a Congressionally-imposed embargo on military sales to provide spare parts for Indonesia’s U.S. manufactured C-130 cargo planes. When then Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was in Jakarta in January 2005, he praised the “extraordinary strides” Indonesia has taken on “the path toward building a strong and functioning democracy” saying military relations between the two countries are a “resource that we need to rebuild.”
Eroding the Embargo: Step by Step
The embargo on commercial sales of non-lethal defense articles has been lifted and contact between the two militaries is on the rise. Indonesia’s military participated as an observer in military exercises in October and November 2004, which brought them into contact with the U.S. Navy.
Aid to Indonesia is on the upswing. For fiscal year 2006, President Bush has requested $800,000 in IMET, up from the $459,000 that Congress froze in 2004. Jakarta also expects to receive $70 million in Economic Support Funds and the $6 million in Anti-Terrorism Activities funds to train and equip the police SWAT-like counter-terrorism force described above. With initial funds of $12 million, ATA has trained and equipped this elite unit with Glock-17 handguns, M4 sub-machine guns, AR-10 sniper rifles, Remington 870 shotguns and high-tech communications equipment.
The Congressional Budget justification for 2006 notes that “Indonesia’s contribution to the Global War on terrorism is also a vital U.S. interest.” But John M. Miller, an activist with the East Timor Action Network, counters that the military “continues to terrorize Indonesia’s residents; the military’s human rights record remains atrocious.”
Between 1994 and 2003, Indonesia received more than $121 million in weaponry and military supplies and services from the United States through Foreign Military Sales and commercial exports. And now Jakarta is looking for more.
Military incursions in Aceh, Papua and elsewhere have depleted weapons stocks. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a former General who received military training in the United States, hosted Indonesia’s first international arms show just weeks after taking office. In his opening remarks, he noted that “international military cooperation is needed, but we want a cooperation that allows the transfer of military technology.”
Indonesia is finding support from South Korea, a close U.S. ally. In a $50 million deal that has been in the works for five years, South Korea is selling Indonesia 10 military airplanes built with U.S. technology. South Korean engineers developed the KT-1B with technology from the F-16 fighter plane, manufactured in South Korea for domestic use.
Background: A Legacy of Weapons
For many years, the U.S. was Indonesia’s largest weapons source, equipping the country with everything from F-16 fighter planes to M-16 combat rifles.
In December 1975, Indonesia invaded neighboring East Timor, which had just declared independence from Portuguese colonizers. Over the next five years, more than 200,000 people (one-third of the population) died. Declassified U.S. documents point to the United States giving Indonesian leader General Suharto the green light for invasion. In the months that followed, Washington signaled its approval by doubling military aid and preventing the United Nations from taking effective action against Suharto.
From 1975 through East Timor’s referendum for independence in 1999, the United States continued its military support, transferring over one billion dollars worth of weaponry to Jakarta.
Washington was forced to break off military relations because of the military ’s abuse of power, violations of human rights, massacres and extrajudicial killings. In 1991, military ties were suspended following the Santa Cruz Massacre where Indonesian security officers fired into a peaceful crowd of protestors, killing 271 people. The relationship was partially restored in 1995. Then, in response to military and paramilitary violence after East Timor’s vote for independence in 1999, Congress strengthened the ban, establishing a set of criteria Indonesia must meet before military ties can be resumed.
To this day, none of the criteria, including the transparency in military budget and the prosecution of soldiers involved in human rights violations, have been fully met.
We own the country for the next three years.
On February 1, 2005, King Gyanendra declared 100 days of emergency rule, dismissing the government, saying its leaders had failed to defeat Maoist insurgents. He cut Nepal’s communications to the outside world and sent the soldiers into the streets to quell dissent. The press was gagged, mobile phones rendered inoperable and human rights groups report that extrajudicial killings increased. In a March demonstration against the coup, the New York Times reported that Nepali police clubbed protesters in at least two towns and arrested 300 people nationwide.
Since 1996, ongoing conflict between Maoists and Nepali security forces has resulted in 10,000 deaths. In the past four years alone, local human rights organizations have documented 1,200 cases of disappearances at the hands of security forces. Even before the royal coup that (among other things) prohibited speech or acts that “hurt the morale” of armed forces, Nepali security forces enjoyed almost total impunity. The International Herald Tribune describes the military and police as “poorly trained… with a terrible record of human rights abuses” who are fighting a “retrograde Maoist movement that makes few apologies for its equally brutal killings and systematic intimidation and extortion.”
United States and Nepal
The United States has long supported the Hindu monarchy’s fight against the Maoists. Between 1994 and 2003 (the last year for which full data is available), Washington provided Katmandu with more than $8.3 million in weapons and services, $6.6 million in 2003 alone.
After an attack at the Katmandu American Center in September 2004, Washington ramped up its military commitment. Just a few weeks after the attack, in which no one was injured or killed, the BBC reported that a plane loaded with U.S. weapons and ammunition was delivered.
For fiscal year 2006, President Bush is requesting $1 million in FMF, down from $2.9 million in 2004 and $3.9 million in 2005. Military training funds through IMET have increased slightly from $500,000 in 2004 and $550,000 in 2005 to a request of $650,000 for 2006. Economic Support Funds are steady at an average of $4.5 million over the last three requests. The Congressional justification asserts that providing the Nepali military with the “capability to prevail against the Maoist insurgents” is a high priority and specifies that the U.S. will deliver “M-16 rifles, grenade launchers, and M-4 carbines to outfit a new ranger battalion.” In addition, Nepal will be eligible in FY 2005 to receive grant Excess Defense Articles.
While strengthening Nepal to prevail against the Maoist threat, Washington could be in danger of turning its back on the mounting human rights crisis in Nepal, undermining its ability to act to quell monarchist abuses.
Even as the international community–including the United States–condemned King Gyanendra’s coup, Nepali and U.S. soldiers were shoulder to shoulder in joint military training along with soldiers from Uganda, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and India. The troops received training in unconventional warfare in a six-week course at the Counter Insurgency Jungle Warfare School in northeastern India. A February 3 article in the Xinhua News Agency quoted the Indian commander in charge of the school as saying, “the training is in full swing and the foreign soldiers are happy with the course.” The Institute’s motto is “fight a guerrilla like a guerrilla.”
London and New Delhi both suspended military aid to Nepal following the coup. But Washington was slower to respond. U.S. Ambassador James Moriarty was withdrawn from Katmandu but the State Department took a “wait and see attitude,” postponing a decision on whether to freeze economic and security assistance until 100 days of emergency rule had passed. The period of emergency rule ended in early May 2005, but the abuses continue.
The State Department’s Human Rights Report notes that Nepal’s “human rights record remained poor… The security forces used arbitrary and unlawful lethal force and continued to abuse detainees, sometimes using torture as punishment or to extract confessions. The disappearance of persons in custody was a serious problem.”
When I first became President in 2001, I inherited a commitment of military assistance from the U.S. of $1.9 million only…. Today, that American assistance to our military support is now $400 million and still counting.
During a visit to the Philippines in October of 2003, President Bush declared the nation a “major non-NATO ally” and the second front of the war against terrorism. With this title, Bush promised an unprecedented increase in military aid to fund anti-terrorism programs and to modernize the Philippines armed forces.
This is a seismic shift in U.S.-Filipino relations. In 1992, the Filipino government amended the constitution to bar foreign troops from being stationed in the country, shuttering U.S. military bases in its territory. The U.S. responded by cutting military aid to the Philippines.
However, as a result of the Philippines’ willingness to be an active partner in the war on terrorism and the archipelago’s strategic position in the Pacific, a new and closer military relationship is developing.
Weapons have also been flowing in. The U.S. delivered $67.6 million in military equipment to the Philippines between 2001 and 2003, the last year for which full data is available.
Between 2001 and 2005, the Philippines received $145.8 million in Foreign Military Financing and another $11.5 million in military training aid, for a total of more than $157.3 million. In 2005, Manila is slated to receive $20 million in FMF and another $2.9 million in IMET for 2006.
Training Against Terrorism
In addition to IMET, American and Filipino soldiers participate in an annual joint “training” mission, referred to as Balikatan. Though its Constitution bars foreign troops from being stationed in the Philippines, the war games slip through loopholes created by technicalities and imprecise vernacular. American soldiers can only fire in self-defense and, until recently, were not allowed to accompany Filipino soldiers on live missions. However, all of the U.S. soldiers are armed and stationed in areas with a high concentration of rebel group members.
The State Department’s most recent Human Rights Report finds that “some elements of the security services were responsible for arbitrary, unlawful, and, in some cases, extrajudicial killings, disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention. The physical abuse of suspects and detainees remained a problem… As in past years, the constitutionally mandated Commission on Human Rights described the Philippine National Police as the worst abuser of human rights.”
I would never dance like that. He danced much better than I would have.
For a country that is slightly smaller than South Carolina, with only 4.6 million citizens, Georgia receives a staggering amount of military support from the United States.
In 1997 Georgia received its first FMF grant of $700,000. In 1998, Washington increased FMF more than 7 times over, granting $5.3 million in aid. Since those first years, Georgia has received a total of $107.7 million in FMF grants. The Bush administration requested an additional $12 million in the 2006 budget.
Additionally, Georgia has been a recipient of International Military Education and Training funds since 1994. Between 1996 and 2001, the IMET aid hovered around $300,000 to just over $400,000 per year. And then, in 2002 the funding almost doubled to $889,000. In 2003, the funding increased another 33% to $1.2 million—similar amounts were granted in 2004 and 2005. The Congressional request for $1.2 million in FY 2006 represents an almost 2,000% increase in IMET aid since 1996.
Both Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visited Georgia in 2004, pledging continued U.S. support to the country.
Georgia, an aggressive force in a number of border disputes and a state with a well-documented history of human rights violations, does not seem like an ideal candidate for U.S. military aid. Human Rights Watch says the country is, “one of the most corrupt in the world, is desperately short of money, and has a record of persistent and widespread human rights abuses.”
The State Department agrees, finding in its most recent Human Rights Report that “nongovernmental organizations blamed two deaths in custody on physical abuse. NGOs reported that police brutality continued, and in certain areas increased. Law enforcement officers continued to torture, beat, and otherwise abuse detainees.”
A Good Investment
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili is using U.S. weapons and know-how to strengthen his grip on power and rebuff Russia. Washington is taking advantage of Georgia’s strategic location just above the volatile Middle East, deploying U.S. troops and storing equipment and fuel. Georgia has granted U.S. warplanes access to its airspace and permitted joint training exercises with Georgian troops.
The result has been a cozy relationship between President Bush and President Saakashvili. Georgia is one of the few European countries that have unreservedly embraced President Bush and contributed to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
After President Bush was reelected, Georgia announced plans to increase its number of troops stationed in Iraq from 159 to 850. The Washington Times notes that given Georgia’s small population, this increase makes it one of the top contributors on a per capita basis.
President Mikhail Saakashvili praised the President, saying, “Mr. Bush is a man of great principle, a man of great understanding of the complicated issues in our region, and the personality without whom the fight against terrorism would hardly have been possible.”
U.S. military training and support appears to have helped the Georgian military expel Chechnyan rebels and Islamic fighters from the Pankisi Gorge, a narrow strip of land near the Russian border where armed militants had found refuge. While the Bush administration linked these fighters to al-Qaeda, Georgian Defense Minister David Tevzadze publicly challenged these claims, saying at a Pentagon briefing with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld that “it is very difficult to believe” that al-Qaeda is in the Gorge, because they would need to “cross at least six or seven countries… No, al-Qaeda influence can’t be in the country.”
In 2002, a San Francisco Chronicle reporter spoke with soldiers receiving U.S. training for the Pankisi Gorge exercises. Their Captain, Shalvab Badzhelidze was candid about the real objectives of the training. “Pankisi is a minuscule problem,” he said. “We are doing something much more serious. We are training for an operation in Abkhazia.” Georgia lost this tiny province to secessionist rebels in 1993, and its inhabitants live under Russian support and protection.
All About Oil
American soldiers are also training Georgian “rapid response” forces to protect the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline from terrorist attacks. Construction on the pipeline through Georgia is near completion and will connect the Mediterranean with the Caspian oil fields, which hold the world’s third largest oil and gas reserves. This will serve a number of geopolitical interests– Georgia will be less dependent on Russian oil and the U.S. will be able to lessen its reliance on Middle Eastern oil.
As the Georgia’s strategic value as a military and oil supplier grows in the coming years, it is unlikely that unconditional aid from the U.S. will encourage Georgia to clean up its human rights practices.
We consider Uzbekistan an important partner.
Anyone in the United States…who does not know the extent of the torture problem in Uzbekistan is being willfully ignorant.
Before 2001, Uzbekistan was not on the U.S.’s strategic map and received little in military assistance. All that changed with the war on terrorism and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Uzbekistan offered Washington the use of the Karshi-Khanabad airbase close to the Afghan border. The military aid poured in and the airbase is now home to more than 1,000 troops, cementing a strong relationship despite Uzbekistan’s bleak human rights record and autocratic government.
In 2003, Islam Karimov’s government received $8.6 million in aid, more than it had received in the previous six years combined. An additional $8 million was appropriated for 2004, but it not released for reasons explained below. President Bush’s requests for military aid have decreased since then, perhaps signaling Washington’s impatience with the slow pace of reform. Congress granted $10.9 million in 2005 and only $4 million has been requested for 2006.
Between 2001 and 2003 (the last year for which full data is available), the United States sold Uzbekistan more than $37 million in weapons and services, $33 million worth in 2003 alone. Washington has outfitted the Uzbeki military and border guards with “nonlethal” equipment like helmets, flak jackets, Humvee transport vehicles and night-vision goggles.
Human Rights Under Siege
The United States knows that its new ally is a brutal repressor. The State Department’s Human Rights Report estimates that between 5,000 and 5,500 people are in “prison for political or religious reasons–primarily persons the Government believed were associated with extremist Islamist political groups, but also members of the secular opposition and human rights activists.” The State Department’s report also mentions that, “The police and the National Security Service committed numerous serious human rights abuses,” they “tortured, beat, and harassed persons… Members of the security forces responsible for documented abuses were rarely punished.”
According to a May 1, 2005 New York Times article, there is growing evidence that the Central Intelligence Agency is using Uzbekistan as a “surrogate jailer,” sending terror suspects into its abominable prisons for detention and interrogation. In a recent report Still at Risk: Diplomatic Assurances No Safeguard against Torture, Human Rights Watch asserts that “Egypt, Syria, Uzbekistan, and Yemen, where torture is a systemic human rights problem” are receiving terror suspects from the United States and other countries.
A CIA official quoted anonymously in the New York Times says, “the United States does not engage in or condone torture. It does not send people anywhere to be tortured.” But, while the U.S. maintains it has sought “diplomatic assurances” that suspects would not be tortured or ill-treated, HRW notes that in countries like Uzbekistan, where “torture is a serious and persistent problem… diplomatic assurances do not and cannot prevent torture… countries that rely on such assurances are either engaging in wishful thinking or using the assurances as a figleaf to cover their complicity in torture.”
Small Step in the Right Direction
As mention above, military aid to Uzbekistan was frozen in 2004. But it was not the torture or the extrajudicial killing that forced the State Department to take action. Rather, Washington responded to President Karimov’s crackdown on international NGOs like Freedom House and the Open Society Institute. In July 2004, the State Department announced that the country would not receive certification for continued military aid from the U.S., until it demonstrated progress in the areas of human rights, independent media and courts, free and fair elections, and freedom of expression.
The State Department’s freezing of some military aid because of Karimov’s repression of civil society and democracy is a step in the right direction. But this is not enough. Despite the military aid cut-off, there are no plans to remove American soldiers stationed at the airbase near the Afghan border, and Washington and Tashkent remain allies in the “War on Terrorism.”
AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ
The United States has more than one hundred thousand troops stationed in Iraq, and a smaller force in Afghanistan. In both places, U.S. military intervention and occupation replaced repressive oligarchies and put into place fledgling indigenous governments. But, U.S. involvement began long before with weapons and aid that in different ways established, supported and maintained unrepresentative power.
Osama bin Laden, the mastermind and financier of the September 11th attacks, is more familiar to U.S. military and intelligence agencies than the Bush administration might like to admit. In the mid-1980s, bin Laden was one of Ronald Reagan’s “freedom fighters” battling Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Various rebel factions received billions of dollars worth of arms, training, and logistical support from the Central Intelligence Agency and the Saudi monarchy.
As John K. Cooley demonstrates in Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America, and Terrorism, the resurgence of right-wing Islamic fundamentalism of the sort favored by bin Laden and his cohorts was facilitated by U.S., Saudi and Pakistani support for the Afghan resistance. By promoting the concept of a global jihad against the Soviet occupiers, funneling most of their covert aid to the most conservative Afghan factions, and establishing a network of fundamentalist schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan (funded by the Saudis), the United States and its allies helped sow the seeds of today’s right-wing Islamic fundamentalist movements. The graduates of the Saudi-backed religious schools included not only tens of thousands of volunteers from around the world, but the leaders of the Taliban.
As one of the chief recruiters of international volunteers brought in to fight the holy war against the Soviet invaders, Osama bin Laden played a pivotal role in the CIA-backed Afghan resistance movement. Bin Laden worked hand-in-hand with the CIA, as he and associates from his construction company helped build a CIA-financed underground training complex in Khost. Bin Laden later built the first training camp for his own fighters within the Khost complex.
The most important benefit that bin Laden derived from the Afghan war was the ability to meet Islamic fundamentalist fighters from 43 different countries who came to Afghanistan in the tens of thousands between 1982 and 1992. The founding members of bin Laden’s terror network were selected from among this diverse group, many of whom he might never have met if the CIA had not bankrolled the Afghan resistance.
Then: U.S. Weapons in Afghanistan
When Washington planned its attack on Afghanistan, questions were raised about the dangers posed by U.S.-origin weapons left over from covert support for the Mujahedeen fighters who defeated the Soviet Union.
Throughout the 1980s, the United States supplied the Afghan Mujahedeen with more than $2 billion in weaponry and equipment, including approximately 2,000 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, manufactured by General Dynamics. The U.S. also supplied AK-47s, small and light weapons, intelligence on Soviet targets and intercepts of Soviet communications, delayed timing devices for tons of C-4 explosives, a targeting device for mortars, communications equipment, anti-tank missiles and access to data from U.S. Navy satellites.
In addition to weapons clearly transferred as part of the proxy war with the Soviet Union, more recently bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network was able to purchase U.S. weapons on the open market. In a report released shortly after the September 11th terrorist attacks, the Violence Policy Network (VPN) reveals that in 1988 or 1989 al-Qaeda bought at least twenty-five 50-caliber sniper rifles manufactured by Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, a Tennessee-based company.
Contrary to claims from Barrett Firearms, the rifles are not relics of Cold War policy of arming the Mujahedeen. VPN asserts that there is no evidence that bin Laden obtained the weapons “as part of any U.S. government program, on the contrary there is substantial evidence that he did not.” VPN’s evidence points to bin Laden exploiting the lax controls that make buying small arms and light weapons far too easy for terrorists, assassins and others criminals.
Now: U.S. Troops in Afghanistan
Many of them are former Mujahedeen or Northern Alliance fighters. They ’re not afraid to pull the trigger, they just need to learn to work together, and so far are doing really well.
The U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, launched in October 2001, often seems to escape international notice. There are fewer troops and fewer casualties than in Iraq. But efforts to rout out Taliban, al-Qaeda and other militants continue with limited success and at great cost, both in terms of lives and the possibility for a stable and democratic future for the country.
Hamid Karzai, the leader of Afghanistan handpicked by the United States, remains dependent on Washington for protection, which is provided by the private military firm DynCorp.
It is easier for him to go to Washington than to travel throughout his own country, leading many to derisively refer to him as the “mayor of Kabul” even after October 2004 elections delivered him the presidency.
Besides dependence on the U.S. for his own security, Karzai is beset by problems on all sides: warlords and militias, ongoing fighting, the snail’s pace of development and the difficulty in raising international funds.
While U.S. forces in Afghanistan continue the hunt for Osama bin Laden and Taliban leaders, Karzai has made it clear that the top priority for Afghani security is disarming and demobilizing the tens of thousands of militias operating throughout the country. Karzai is also concerned that U.S. troops are not doing enough to stem the tide of militants trained in Pakistan who are crossing the border to attack Afghanistan.
Drugs and Insecurity
While U.S. forces have their hands full with al-Qaeda, warlords and Pakistani militants, a much smaller force is trying to keep Afghanistan secure for development. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is a NATO force tasked with peacekeeping throughout the country, but it has largely been stuck in Kabul and unable to gain a foothold in the rest of the country.
The fact that international peacekeepers have a small and under-equipped force has dire consequences for human rights throughout Afghanistan. It has also slowed the pace of development and hamstrung democratization efforts. The absence of a strong international peacekeeping force has created a national power vacuum that has been filled by warlords, tribal leaders and Taliban, who have set up their own fiefdoms.
The ISAF and U.S. troops are jointly training and equipping Afghani security forces. But, both the police and the military have been dogged by reports of their involvement in militias, the drug trade and ongoing human rights abuses.
In June 2003, a lieutenant in the Afghan Army was arrested with 167 kilograms of opium, drawing attention to the widespread problem of security forces’ involvement in the drug trade. A top Afghan official, anonymously quoted in the Washington Post, recounted his conversation with a U.S. General. When the General asked for a list of political, police, and military officials involved with the drug trade, the Afghan official said, “I told him it would be easier if I listed officials who weren ’t involved. It would be a shorter list.”
Human Rights Watch has documented the military’s relationship with warlords and their record on abusing human rights with impunity. In “Killing You is a Very Easy Thing For Us,” Human Rights Abuses in Southeast Afghanistan, published in July 2003, HRW asserts that, “warlords and abusive military commanders are becoming more and more entrenched… If allowed to continue with impunity, these abuses will make it impossible for Afghans to create a modern, democratic state.”
The report criticizes the United States for helping to create the conditions in which warlords and human rights abusers flourish. “The situation today — widespread insecurity and human rights abuse — was not inevitable, nor was it the result of natural or unstoppable social or political forces in Afghanistan,” the report says. “The United States in particular bears much responsibility for the actions of those they have propelled to power.” By way of solution, HRW points to the need to expand the range and mandate of peacekeeping forces.
The Impact of U.S. Military Action
According to a 2003 International Institute for Strategic Studies survey, the success of military operations in Afghanistan has been very limited. The British-based organization estimates that about 20,000 jihadic soldiers graduated from al-Qaeda training camps by October 2001, and another 10,000 were inside Afghanistan at that time. According to their calculations, only about 2,000 have been killed or captured by coalition forces– just a small fraction of the total force.
At the same time, the war on Iraq has taken military resources away from Afghanistan that could have been focused on isolating and destroying terror networks. As the Survey found, the Iraq conflict has “focused the energies and resources of al-Qaeda and its followers while diluting those of the global counter-terrorism coalition that appeared so formidable” after the Afghan intervention. Despite more than three years of U.S. and international military presence in Afghanistan, IISS says that the al-Qaeda network was “now reconstituted and doing business in a somewhat different manner, but more insidious and just as dangerous as in its pre-11 September incarnation.”
U.S. Aid to Afghanistan
The Karzai government has asked for $27.5 billion in aid over seven years. So far, the war-torn nation has received just $4.5 billion and, according to the UK’s Independent, “much of the $2.2 billion earmarked for 2004 was diverted into military projects and emergency relief from long term development.”
U.S. aid to Afghanistan in 2005 totals more than $929 million, more than 80% of which is earmarked for the military and police. This comes on top of a similarly skewed 2004 budget of $1.7 billion, where only 10% went to development assistance and child survival and health. Taken on top of a $589 million appropriation for 2003, U.S. assistance for Afghanistan tops out at $3.2 billion and counting, with the lion’s share going to the military and police.
The case for war against Iraq, where more than 1,600 U.S. soldiers and as many as 100,000 Iraqis have died so far, raises serious questions about U.S. weapons policy.
Saddam Hussein acquired military equipment and materials that could be applied to developing weapons of mass destruction from the United States and key U.S. allies. United Nations’ arms inspectors working in Iraq during the 1990s subsequently destroyed or seized these materials.
Washington’s contribution to the Iraqi military buildup prior to the 1991 Gulf War came largely through what is known as “dual-use” technologies. Dual-use items include unarmed light aircraft or helicopters that can be adapted to military uses, instruments of torture like thumbscrews and equipment like computers, machine tools and measuring devices. Between 1985 and 1990, the Commerce Department granted licenses for more than $1.5 billion worth of dual-use exports to Iraq, more than $500 million of which was delivered before the outbreak of the August 1990 Gulf War.
In March 1991, under pressure from Congress and the public, the Commerce Department released a list of the dual-use exports licenses granted to Iraq in the five years leading up to the conflict. Even a casual perusal of the list reveals that many of these items were put directly to work in Iraq’s military research and production network. Some items were licensed for export to obvious military end users like the Iraqi Air Force or the Iraqi Atomic Energy Agency. There were also numerous licenses for equipment sent to Saad 16, a military production complex south of Baghdad, known 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. As Representative Howard Wolpe (D-MI) noted, “the bottom line here is that because we have been so lax in our enforcement of American laws we are now finding American-made technology in the hands of the Iraqi forces that are pointing their cannons at American soldiers. That’s outrageous.”
In December 2002, while the Bush administration was trying to build the case for war against Iraq, the Washington Post reported on Donald Rumsfeld’s 1983 meeting with Saddam Hussein. Rumsfeld, then President Ronald Reagan’s Middle East envoy, told Hussein to expect the resumption of diplomatic ties.
According to journalist Michael Dobbs, “declassified documents show that Rumsfeld traveled to Baghdad at a time when Iraq was using chemical weapons on an ‘almost daily’ basis in defiance of international conventions.” The same day the famous photo was taken of Rumsfeld and Hussein smiling and shaking hands, the United Nations released a report asserting that Hussein was using “chemical weapons in the form of aerial bombs,” against Iran, including mustard gas and a nerve agent known as Tabun.
The Sunday Herald reported that declassified U.S. Congressional documents revealed a history of U.S. and UK support to the Hussein regime, including the sale of chemical and biological weapons or precursors for weapons like “anthrax, VX nerve gas, West Nile fever germs and botulism to Iraq right up until March 1992, as well as germs similar to tuberculosis and pneumonia.” Former Senator Donald Riegle, a Michigan Democrat who conducted hearings on Iraq’s weapons programs, concurred, telling the St. Petersburg Times “What is absolutely crystal clear is this: That if Saddam Hussein today has a large arsenal of biological weapons, partly it was the United States that provided the very live viruses that he needed to create those weapons.”
“Let Freedom Reign”
Even after the January 2005 elections where many Iraqis voted for the very first time, economic, political and, most importantly, military power remain squarely in the hands of the occupation forces, led by the United States.
In March 2004, Coalition Provisional Authority head L. Paul Bremer issued an executive order asserting U.S. control over the new Iraqi Army, saying that, “all trained elements of the Iraqi armed forces shall at all times be under the operational control of the commander of coalition forces for the purpose of conducting combined operations.”
As part of the ceremony that put nominal control of Iraq back in Iraqi hands, the 14-year arms embargo against the country was lifted, triggering a flurry of excitement from weapons manufacturers. But, the fact that a U.S. General continues to command Iraqi forces means that U.S. taxpayers will be buying U.S. weapons to put into Iraqi hands. This is a premature and dangerous dynamic given Iraq’s volatile mix of ongoing war and occupation, civil strife and stalled political transition.
Weapons contracts for the new Iraq are coming fast and furious. Iraq bought 50,000 handguns in a $19 million contract from the Austrian manufacturer Glock for Model 19 sidearms, and defense leaders have an option to purchase an additional 50,000 handguns. A shipment of 421 UAZ Hunter jeeps was delivered from Russia; armored cars came in from Brazil and Ukraine.
In March, the CPA laid the groundwork for Iraq to purchase C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft, Iroquois helicopters and reconnaissance aircraft from U.S. manufacturers to be delivered Spring 2005. U.S. weapons manufacturers shipped tens of thousands of handguns, assault rifles and machine guns to the Iraqi security services in July and August 2004.
If Iraq is to be truly sovereign, they will need a well-equipped and professional military and police, but the United States’ methods for establishing them have so far fallen wide of the mark.
Through March 2005, the war, occupation and reconstruction of Iraq have cost a total of $232 billion.201
They said the United States policy is tilted toward Israel, and I said, “Our policy is tilted toward peace.”
U.S. press coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict often treats the U.S. government as an innocent bystander or an “honest broker.” In fact, in its role as Israel’s primary arms supplier, Washington bears some portion of responsibility for Israeli offensive operations and could exert significant leverage over the military’s behavior in the conflict, if it choose to do so.
According to Project Ploughshares, more than 120,000 people have been killed in more than five decades of clashes between Israel and Palestinians in the occupied territories. The Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group estimates that since September 2000 when the Second Intifada began and March 31, 2005, 4,754 people have been killed on both sides.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died in November 2004, and in January 2005 elections Mahmoud Abbas prevailed, stepping up as President. There is hope that he can help initiate new peace talks. But even in this period of transition, Washington continues its failed policy of speaking for peace and arming for war.
Military and Economic Aid
Israel had been the largest recipient of U.S. foreign assistance for almost 30 years, and since 1985 has received about $3 billion in military and economic aid each year. In fact, as much as 17% of all U.S. foreign aid is earmarked for Israel. And, U.S. foreign military financing makes up 20% of Israel’s defense budget.
In 2004, Israel received $2.14 billion in FMF. In 2005, the nation’s military received an additional $2.20 billion. President George W. Bush’s budget request for 2006 includes $2.28 billion FMF aid for Israel.
According to a July 2004 Congressional Research Service report, Israel: U.S. Foreign Assistance, this FMF increase is offset by a decline in Economic Support Funds (ESF). In 1998, the U.S. and Israel agreed to reduce Washington’s economic assistance to zero over ten years, while increasing military aid from about $1.8 billion to $2.4 billion each year. Thus, since FY 1998, economic aid to Israel has dropped by $120 million and military aid has increased by $60 million each year.
On top of regular military aid, Israel has been the recipient of a number of supplementals, including a Fiscal year 2000 appropriation for $1.2 billion of military support under the Wye agreement, $28 million in FY 2001 funding to purchase U.S. manufactured counter-terrorism equipment, and a $200 million anti-terrorism appropriation in FY 2002.
Weapons Sales and Grants
Israel is one of the United States’ largest arms importers. Between 1994 and 2003, Israel took delivery of $6.9 billion in U.S. weaponry and military equipment, including more than $6.7 billion through the Foreign Military Sales program, and another $158.5 million in commercial exports.
Israel has more F-16s than any other country besides the U.S., currently possessing more than 200 jets.212 In November 2003, the first of an additional 102 F-16s for Israel rolled off the production line in Texas. The $45 million per copy F-16I Sufa (Storm in Hebrew) are part of a $4.5 billion deal between manufacturer Lockheed Martin and Jerusalem. The Israeli defense company Lahav will customize much of the avionics.
Weapons that Kill
The United States has a significant interest in a stable, democratic, and economically and militarily strong Israel at peace with its neighbors.
But Israel is not “at peace with its neighbors.” A bloody war is being waged between the Israeli Defense Force and Palestinian militants, and Israeli and Palestinian civilians are caught in the crossfire. According to the State Department’s Human Rights Report, in 2004 “76 Israeli civilians and four foreigners were killed as a result of Palestinian terrorist attacks in Israel and the occupied territories, and 41 members of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were killed in clashes with Palestinian militants. During the same period, more than 800 Palestinians were killed during Israeli military operations in the occupied territories.”
In the second Intifada, the IDF has adopted aggressive new tactics to combat Palestinian terrorism, including indiscriminate attacks on civilians, extrajudicial executions and home demolitions. International groups like Amnesty International and Human Rig hts Watch, as well as Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups, have documented Israel’ s use of “disproportionate, excessive, and lethal force.”
The State Department’s 2002 Human Rights Report cites U.S.-origin helicopters, fighter aircraft, anti-tank missiles, and flechettes as weapons used to commit indiscriminate attacks. The use of U.S. weapons in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian authority appears to be a clear violation of the U.S. Arms Export Control Act prohibiting U.S. weapons from being used for non-defensive purposes. Throughout the course of U.S.-Israeli relations the State Department has issued statements warning that Israel ” may have violated” the provisions of the Arms Export Control Act and the Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement four times.
Curt Goering, the Deputy Executive Director of Amnesty International’s U.S. section, calls on the U.S. government to “provide guarantees that their arms transfers are not being used to violate human rights.” The father of a boy killed by the IDF is more direct, saying, “one word from the U.S. government would stop all of this.”
Torture remains common in Turkey today.
Washington sees Turkey as “a major coalition partner in the global war on terrorism, an active ally and partner in the reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan, and a pro-Western democracy in a troubled region.”
Turkey is so valuable that Washington turns a blind eye to human rights abuses and lack of democracy, and supports the country’s bid to become a member of the European Union despite the objections of leaders within that body.
In 2002, Turkey sought membership in the European Union (EU), but was turned down for a number of reasons, primarily its poor human rights record. Before Turkey can join the EU, it must comply with the Copenhagen criteria, including “democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and, protection of minorities.” Turkey has not been able to fulfill the criteria in the past, and does not seem to have made much headway recently. In December, the European Union agreed to open negotiations with Ankara over EU membership. These meetings will begin in October 2005.
Military Aid and Weapons
As a member of NATO and Washington’s ally in the war on terrorism, Turkey is the third largest recipient of U.S. military aid, behind Israel and Egypt. Between 1994 and 2004, it received well over $1.3 billion in FMF and another $21.4 million in IMET. Congress granted another $33 million in FMF and $4 million in IMET in 2005. The President’s request for 2006 is more modest– $25 million in FMF and $3 million in IMET.
In the midst of a thirty-year plan to modernize its military, Turkey purchases an enormous quantity of weapons and other military equipment from the United States. Between 1994 and 2003, Turkey took delivery of more than $6.8 billion in U.S. weaponry and services.
Turkey and Iraq
Throughout the course of the U.S.-led war against Iraq, military relations between the U.S. and Turkey have been strained. Ankara was unwilling to allow use of Turkish territory as a Northern front for intervention into Iraq and refused the U.S. military access to its Incirlik base. This was a shocking reversal as the U.S. had the privilege of using this base for the past 50 years.
Recently, Ankara has been more amenable to Washington’ s requests, and the two countries are discussing housing 72 F-16 fighter planes on the base. According to a senior Turkish military official, “the bottom line is that we will gain nothing by rejecting the U.S. request. Plus a failure to accommodate the request could be unnecessarily costly. So Turkey’s final response should be a yes.”
Human Rights: Still a Problem
The government does not respect human rights, particularly in the southeast Kurdish areas. There, law enforcement officials are routinely implicated in extrajudicial killings, torture and beatings. According to the State Department’s 2003 Human Rights Report, “security forces reportedly killed 43 persons during the year; torture, beatings, and other abuses by security forces remained widespread… Security forces continued to use arbitrary arrest and detention… The rarity of convictions and the light sentences imposed on police and other security officials for killings and torture continued to foster a climate of impunity.”
Ankara disrespects and abuses religious, political and ethnic minorities. It has also aggressively taken part in two conflicts: against Greece over the island of Cyprus and against the Kurdish population in the southeast portion of the country.
The country’s long-running conflict with the Kurdish minority is rife with human rights abuses. The conflict stems from a 1980 uprising by the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK) over the desire for political and cultural rights based on a Kurdish identity. Many Kurds were forcibly evacuated from their villages by Turkish armed forces and are unable to return due to ongoing threats from the military, landmines, paramilitary fighters, or lack of resources to rebuild their homes.
Reversing the Trend: Reforming Arms Transfers and Curbing Military Aid to Abusers
U.S. arms transfer and military aid policies undermine our efforts to counter terrorism effectively. Since September 11, 2001, funding to foreign militaries has increased and restrictions on military transfers have been waived at an unprecedented rate. Many countries whose militaries are implicated in serious human rights abuses are now allied with Washington and receive U.S. aid and weaponry.
This section makes concrete and specific recommendations aimed at promoting greater accountability in arms and military aid transfers. Adoption of these recommendations would further the Bush administration’s counter terrorism agenda much more effectively than the disastrous arms deals documented in this report.
Follow U.S. Law
The United States has some of the most comprehensive laws regulating the sale and transfer of weaponry in the world. As mentioned earlier in the report, the Arms Export Control Act requires that U.S. arms transfers are used only for self-defense, internal security and in United Nations sanctioned operations. The Foreign Assistance Act bars military aid and arms sales to countries with poor human rights records. And the Export Administration Act safeguards and regulates the sale of “dual-use” items with both civilian and military application.
These three laws include strong wording about how U.S.-origin arms and funds should be used and by whom. But neither the FAA nor the AECA define exactly what qualifies as a “pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.” Thus, in many instances, the arms industry is able to follow the letter of the law, while violating the spirit of these eligibility criteria. Nonetheless, strict adherence to these laws would significantly curb arms sales and military aid to dictatorships, human rights abusers and countries in conflict.
Ratify the Organization of American States Firearms Convention
The United States was instrumental in drafting the OAS convention, and was one of the first countries to sign the document, but the Senate has yet to ratify it. The Convention creates a mechanism for exchanging information, cooperating on investigations, and ensuring that law enforcement personnel are adequately trained. It would also increase regional capacity to identify, investigate and prosecute illicit firearms manufacturers and traffickers.
California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Security and Fair Enforcement in Arms Trafficking Act of 2004 would require the State Department to submit an annual report on U.S. efforts to achieve universal ratification and implementation of the OAS convention. The bill, S. 2627, was referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in 2004, and a 2005 version is forthcoming.
Cooperate with Other Nations to Ratify International Arms Trade Treaty
An international campaign to promote adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty is gaining momentum and should be supported. The Arms Trade Treaty would create legally binding arms controls and ensure that all governments control arms to the same basic international standards. The strength of the treaty is that it reinforces governments’ existing obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law in regards to arms transfers. As enumerated in the treaty, existing international law prohibits governments from transferring arms:
To countries under UN Security Council arms embargoes;
Enact Senator Richard Lugar’s Conventional Arms Threat Reduction Act
The bill, known as CATRA, would give the United States new tools to eliminate the threat posed by vulnerable stockpiles of conventional weapons. These include tactical missiles and man portable air defense systems (MANPADS). If passed, the law would authorize the State Department to seek out surplus and unguarded stocks of conventional armaments for elimination or safeguarding.
As Richard Lugar (R-IN) notes, “Too often, conven-tional weapons are inadequately stored and protected. This presents grave risk to American military bases, embassy compounds, and even targets within the United States. We must develop a response that is commensurate with the threat.”
The bill was introduced November 16, 2004 and Lugar expects to reintroduce a new version during the 109th session of Congress.
Increase Transparency and Accountability through Better and More Timely Reporting
The Pentagon and U.S. Intelligence agencies should publish regular reports on use of U.S. weaponry in ongoing conflicts and assess how arms transfers are affecting counter-terrorism operations.