As the world marks the 60th
anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this week, a new
report from The New America Foundation finds that U.S. arms transfers are undermining
human rights, weakening democracy and fueling conflict around the world.
"While it is critical to commemorate this historic occasion, we must use this moment to
stress that the United States cannot demand respect for human rights and arm
human rights abusers at the same time," notes William D. Hartung, the lead
author of the ground-breaking new report, U.S. Weapons at War 2008: Beyond
the Bush Legacy, which will be released at an event in Washington, DC on
Wednesday, December 10, 2008.
The full report is available online: http://www.newamerica.net/publications/policy/u_s_weapons_war_2008_0
U.S. arms sales reached $32 billion in 2007, more than three times the
level obtained when President Bush first took office. "It's not just the volume
weapons exports that matters, it is how these weapons are likely to be used,"
asserts report co-author Frida Berrigan.
The report finds that of the top 25 U.S. arms
recipients in the developing world during 2006/07, more than half (13) were either
undemocratic governments or regimes that engaged in major human rights
abuses. Transfers to these countries totaled more than $16.2 billion in
In addition, of the 27 nations engaged in major
armed conflicts in 2006/07, more than two-thirds (20) were receiving arms and
training from the United
"Not only has the Bush administration been
arming questionable regimes, but they have been using our tax dollars to make
it possible," says William D. Hartung. The report finds that during the Bush
years, the United States
disbursed over $108 billion in security assistance funding, nearly $40 billion
of which was for programs that did not even exist when George W. Bush took
office in 2001. All of these new programs are authorized and implemented by the
Pentagon, and all of them are markedly less transparent and accountable than
traditional security assistance programs supervised by the State Department.
Amongst the U.S.
arms clients profiled in the report are:
India and Pakistan,
which are in an increasingly tense standoff over the role of Pakistani
nationals in the recent terror attacks on Mumbai;
Georgia, whose ongoing tensions with Moscow
in the wake of Russia's
recent invasion will be a top issue for the incoming Obama administration;
Iraq, where hundreds of thousands of small arms destined for the
country's security forces have gone missing;
Israel, where the use of U.S.-supplied cluster bombs in its 2006 war
with Hezbollah in Lebanon
has sparked controversy;
Nigeria, where recent violence between Christians and Muslims in the
north of the country claimed over 400 lives;
Thailand, which is engaged in a longstanding war against separatist
movements in its southern region even as it has undergone its third change in
government in three years; and
Colombia, where State Department
claims of improvements in human rights have been belied by an ongoing campaign
of murders against trade unionists and human rights
"It's time for a new policy that puts human
rights concerns front and center in determining which countries the United
States will arm, and what weapons systems will be exported," says report
co-author William D. Hartung.
the executive summary online at http://www.newamerica.net/publications/policy/u_s_weapons_war_2008
Please join us for a
panel event featuring report author William D. Hartung and other speakers on
Wednesday, December 10, 2008, 12:15 - 1:45 pm at the New America Foundation
offices, 1630 Connecticut Ave NW, 7th Floor, Washington, DC.
To RSVP for this event, visit the
event page: http://www.newamerica.net/events/2008/u_s_weapons_war