Indefensible: Seven My Ths That Sustain The Global Arms Trade 9781350220737, 9781783605668, 9781783605651

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1.1 World military expenditure, 1988‒2015


1.2 15 countries with the highest military expenditure


1.3 Defense spending by region, 1992–2015


1.4 US military spending versus the rest of the world,


1.5 DoD budgets, FY 2001‒2016


1.6 US State Department budget vs. Lockheed Martin


1.7 Internationalized intrastate conflicts and battle deaths,


4.1 Companies with largest arms sales, 2014


4.2 Studies on economic impact of defense spending


4.3 Studies on economic impact of defense spending –


4.4 Job creation in the US through $1bn in spending


4.5 Distribution of jobs by wage levels in alternative US


in 2015


federal contracts 1989‒2011

comparison of studies published pre- and post-2007

economic sectors


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4.6 Research and development spending in the UK in civil


4.7 Research and development spending in the UK in civil


4.8 Wages of RMC vs. civilian wages, 2001‒2009


6.1 Derivative classification activity, FY 1996–FY 2014


7.1 Number of transnational terrorist incidents, 1968–2011


and defense sectors, 1989–2012

and defense sectors, 1989–2012 (in constant 2012 prices)

vi i

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Banca Nazionale del Lavoro


Commercial Control List


Campaign Against the Arms Trade


European Organization for Nuclear Research


Central Intelligence Agency

COTS commercial-off-the-shelf CREW

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in


Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency



Department of Justice


European Union


Federal Bureau of Investigation


Foreign Corrupt Practices Act


gross domestic product


Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index


intercontinental ballistic missile


Islamic State of Iraq and Syria



Defense Industrial Participation US Department of Defense




littoral combat ship

Massachusetts Institute of Technology UK Ministry of Defence vi ii

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Acronyms and abbreviations


North Atlantic Treaty Organization


National Security Agency







nongovernmental organizations

National Security Decision Directive Overseas Contingency Operations President’s Daily Brief

research and development rocket-propelled grenade

Rwandan Patriotic Front UK Serious Fraud Office

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and Army United Arab Emirates United Nations

US Agency for International Development Very Very Important Person


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Just before midday on 15 March 2008, an arms dump in the small Albanian village of Gerdec caught alight. The gargantuan

explosions that followed were heard nearly a hundred miles away

and continued for almost fourteen hours. The explosions killed twenty-six people, including a three-year-old, a seven-year-old who

was cycling nearby and a pregnant woman. Over 300 people were injured, 318 houses completely destroyed and 400 others damaged.

It was a tragedy designed by the international arms business

and involving the collusion of the US government, Albanian government and a contract with a shady company, AEY Inc.

The story begins in January 2007, when the US Department of

Defense awarded a $298 million contract to an upstart US company, AEY, to supply ammunition to the Afghan military. The US-backed Afghan National Army uses Soviet-designed small arms such as Kalashnikovs, as they are accustomed to them, and they are cheap

and serviceable. But (at that time), America didn’t manufacture

the ammunition for the ubiquitous AK47 assault rifle. So the DoD looked to buy what it needed from elsewhere—and faced the immediate and obvious problem that its likely sources of supply were

Chinese and former Eastern Bloc manufacturers. Circumventing such difficulties is the stock-in-trade of the arms business, and the DoD had a simple solution: to outsource the supply. xi

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The contract was won by a company that few had heard of

until that time. That’s not unusual in this business of corporate

chameleons. AEY was run by twenty-one-year-old Efraim Diveroli, who not only carried a forged driving license but had previously been arrested for domestic violence. The company’s vice-president

was a former masseur. Serial party-goers and regular pot smokers, they also dabbled in cocaine and acid.

Both AEY and its youthful president had been placed on the

State Department’s Arms Trafficking Watch List, a list that was not consulted when the contract was awarded. The Pentagon commissioned an ‘independent’ evaluation of the company that returned a glowing endorsement. The evaluation was written by an individual who was a financial backer and vice-president of AEY.

Diveroli operated at the thrift-store bargain-hunting end of

the arms business supply chain. Seeking cheap ammunition, he

turned to Albania. Until the fall of the Berlin Wall, Albania had been one of the most militarized countries in Europe, its former

dictator Enver Hoxha building bunkers and situating arms caches

across the territory of his small nation. The country had liberalized

its economy, remained poor and didn’t need all those old bullets. So Albania’s defense authorities were in the process of dismantling and repacking its old ammunition stores to be recycled or disposed of. A shady firm (not AEY) led by a small-time US dealer and a

politically connected Albanian businessman bought the ammunition and persuaded the defense minister, with the support of the prime minister, to have the army truck it for free to Gerdec, a small village

near Albania’s sole international airport. There, the ammunition was to be cleaned, sorted and repacked.

The profits from this deal would feed many mouths. Diveroli

did not buy directly from the Albanians or the ‘recycling’ firm, but

from yet another shell company, Evdin Limited, associated with xi i

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Setting the scene

the Swiss arms dealer Heinrich Thomet, also on the US State

Department’s watch list. Evdin Limited bought the ammunition for $22 per thousand rounds, before selling it to Diveroli for $40. The

difference allegedly provided kick-backs to a number of Albanian higher-ups, most likely including the defense minister and the son of the prime minister.

There was one problem: Hoxha, distrusting the Soviets, had

bought the ammunition from China, and US law prohibited the

Pentagon from using Chinese weaponry. The Albanians solved this challenge by demonstrating how easy it was to remove the ‘Made in China’ markings, and authorizing a state agency to issue false certificates guaranteeing their Albanian origin. The military attaché

at the US embassy in Albania claimed that the US ambassador at the time assisted the cover-up of the origins of the ammunition.

In late 2007, the Albanian government gave the factory in Gerdec

the go-ahead to begin dismantling and recycling the ammunition. The Kalashnikov and its ammunition are famously sturdy and will

withstand extreme conditions and long neglect—reasons, along with cheapness and simplicity, that they are favored by cash-strapped armies with poorly educated soldiers. But any ammunition needs to be handled with extreme care, especially if it is two decades or

more old and has been kept in badly maintained rural storehouses. The process of transporting, stacking, inspecting and cleaning the ammunition violated numerous safety laws. The commander of

the Albanian armed forces deemed Gerdec an inappropriate site: among other things, the job should have been done well away from any civilian habitation. Nevertheless, by mid-March 2008, 8,900

tons of ammunition had been delivered to the Gerdec site, nearly 10% of the entire Albanian military’s supply.

Most of the work was done by hand by poorly paid workers, who

were instructed to dump old gunpowder, damaged cases, thousands xi i i

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of fuses and projectiles onto a huge pile on the property. It was then bulldozed towards a nearby field. Soon two fields of about 2,000 square meters were filled with this deadly debris.

It did not take a munitions specialist to see that this was an

accident waiting to happen. All that was needed was a spark. In the explosion of 15 March 2008, Gerdec was almost entirely destroyed.

Arms dealers don’t like to advertise what their business really

involves. In this case, AEY had blown its cover, and the scam had

literally exploded in the face of its conspirators. Unusually for such a transaction, it couldn’t be concealed any longer. A few knuckles had to be rapped.

Efraim Diveroli was eventually jailed in the US for four years

for trading in Chinese munitions. The American ambassador was

cleared of any wrongdoing. Albania’s defense minister resigned, but a year later was named the country’s environment minister. No American has faced justice for the deaths at Gerdec.

The father of the seven-year-old boy who was killed because he

happened to be cycling past when the dump exploded describes his

life in Gerdec as ‘like living every minute of every day in a cemetery’.

You may say: ‘surely this is an anomaly, an outlier, a crazy deal

with unforeseen outcomes’. Sadly, it is not. It is emblematic of a global arms trade that is suffused with corruption, imperils the

vulnerable and makes us all less safe. Despite the constant messages and distortions we are bombarded with, this is the real truth of the industry. Don’t believe us? Read on.

xi v

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The global arms business—manufacture and trade—plays an over-

sized role in global and domestic politics. Military spending around

the world totaled $1,676bn in 2015,1 nearly $250 for every one of the earth’s 7 billion people.

Arms producers have direct access to the upper echelons of

power, shaping policy and exercising considerable influence in

how the world is run. Rich governments treat arms makers and

dealers with remarkable charity. They help them out with subsidies, favorable export rules and a generosity of spirit and funding that most businesspeople could only dream of. Leaders of middle-income

and poor countries who want to buy weapons are feted and lobbied by a slick industry that wheels out defense attachés, government ministers, and even royalty as testament to their political connection

and clout, not to mention generous financial subsidies and payoffs. Arms deals can be hugely burdensome on the taxpayers of both the

selling and buying countries, and they often maintain an apparatus of secrecy and repression as well. A lot of effort goes into packaging these transactions as something other than what they are.

Why does the arms business possess such influence and clout

across the globe? The answer is complex, but one of the key reasons is that arms merchants and their government supporters can turn

to a set of time-honed and well-packaged arguments to justify the status quo. They tell us that their products make and keep us all 1

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safer. They argue that the defense sector is vital to the economy and job creation. They claim that they are at the cutting edge

of technological innovation. All in all, the makers and sellers of weapons have been astonishingly successful in telling a story so

deeply embedded in public narratives and political discourse that it is simply taken for granted. The defense industry narrative is like

a set of clothes that a politician seeking office—still more so, in office—and the civil servants, academics and journalists concerned with government, put on to go to work every morning.

The inconvenient truth is that each one of the claims is either

deeply questionable or simply untrue. It’s not as though there are a few errors or misleading arguments found within a basically sound

package—a couple of slips of taste in an otherwise elegant wardrobe. No: the whole collection is flawed. The arms business needs to be undressed. Every rotten item needs to be thrown out. Then, we will find, there is hardly anything left. The arguments are nothing more

than myths, enforced by repetition and given weighty authority by the power players who trot them out whenever there is the hint of change that might be to their disadvantage.

The following chapters explode these myths, explaining how and

why the arguments made to defend the defense sector are flawed, factually wrong and logically absurd.

S E CTIO N 1 : THE RE IS NO PROBL EM In Section 1, we look at the various myths that make the arms trade

seem vitally necessary and, at key moments, a positive boon to

humanity; that try to argue there is no problem with the status quo. In the first chapter, we address the myth that higher defense

spending equals increased security. Outlining the size and most recent trends in the trade, we demonstrate how arms races have 2

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increased militarism, and provide examples of weapons purchases

by regimes (not limited to authoritarian ones) that are foremost

concerned with their self-protection against their own populations. Further, corruption and waste in the arms business often work against the interests of security: transactions may have more to do

with gaining access to public funds than responding to real threats. We also show how increased military expenditure that funds ill-

conceived wars may increase security threats: the multiplication of

threats that followed US military engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq are a good example of this. By over-sourcing our militaries and

under-sourcing other sectors, like diplomacy, aid and collaborative

efforts to counter climate change, we are failing to address today’s real threats to human security. And, because of this imbalance, the military is used to engage in situations for which it is not actually well-suited, like the public health response to Ebola.

Chapter Two addresses the myth that military spending is

driven by a sound analysis of national security. The decisions to

build weapons systems, or to sell or buy them, often have little to do with defending the nation. Some arms deals are undertaken in

the name of generating economic benefits. Some deals are pure

corruption—that is, the kickbacks and access to public funds are the rationale for the deal, and the weaponry is a ruse. We examine

Saudi Arabia’s history of arms purchases in depth in this regard. Ukraine provides a different model, where the country’s military

assets were sold en masse by corrupt military leaders for private gain in the 1990s, crippling its capacity. And in the fractured independent South Sudan, an arms-purchasing spree following

independence was justified in relation to its predatory neighbor, Sudan, but the weapons were turned against the South Sudanese

people themselves. A brutal civil war was the result, a far cry from increasing security for the population. 3

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It is also a myth, as Chapter Three demonstrates, that we can

control where weapons go after they are purchased, and how they

are used. Once a weapon is sold the seller has little control over how it is used. Friends become enemies—the US’ relationship with

Afghanistan’s Mujahedin is the most obvious example, but the list also includes Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, not to mention factions in

Yemen and Libya. The cycle continues: ISIS was able to arm itself by seizing enormous troves of weaponry the US had recently given

to the unstable new Iraqi state it tried to build following the 2003 invasion. Dispersion—weapons seized and taken by new actors—is

not unique to ISIS. Somalia and Libya provide further examples. Diversion is yet another way around control systems: arms officially

intended for one state can be sold to another (or a non-state actor). Our examples of diversion include pathways through Switzerland, UAE, Jordan, Syria, Burkina Faso, Liberia and Ukraine. And even

if the weapons end up in the right place, they can be used for unforeseen purposes—the 1994 Rwandan genocide provides a stark

example. Legitimate purchases of guns in the US, too, can cross

borders into Mexico, where they empower violent drug traffickers. Those defending the trade may point to the passing of the Arms Trade Treaty by the UN in 2013, and its ratification by nearly the

entire globe thereafter, as an example of how these sorts of lessons have been learnt. Unfortunately, the Arms Trade Treaty is full of holes, and is unlikely to have any major impact on the trade at all.

Even when security isn’t the main issue, we are often told that

national arms industries are technologically innovative job creators. This is the myth that we dispel in Chapter Four. In Europe, if one factors in the size of subsidies and welfare afforded the defense

industry, their contributions pale to nothing: European defense companies are, in fact, dependent on public funds in order to

maintain their profitability. They do create jobs, but nowhere near the 4

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number of jobs that could be created if such subsidies were invested in other industries. The economics of the industry works differently

in the US, where the scale of government purchases creates a unique

set of incentives; but even here, the number of good-quality jobs

created by defense spending is less by order of magnitude than the jobs created through investment in other sectors such as energy and

education. As this all hints, there is now considerable data showing

that global defense spending has either an insignificant or negative impact on growth. What is more, increasingly civilian technologies

lead new breakthroughs, with military applications focusing on

integration and adaptation. Some defenders of the trade may point to the economic impact of ‘offsets’; we show that their estimated economic benefit is chimerical and illustrate it by reference to the

over-inflated claims that accompanied a major South African arms deal in 1999. And, as a final kicker, there is now compelling data

demonstrating that military spending is strongly correlated with poorer national economic growth: military spending can actually hurt the economy.

The next myth fantasizes that corruption is only a problem

in developing countries and marginal to the defense industry as

a whole. As our examples demonstrate, corruption in arms deals is corruption between producing and purchasing countries; the

willingness of each side makes it possible. The British company

BAE Systems provides a study in how this works, but it is not alone. Indeed, the arms trade is hard-wired for corruption for a number of reasons: the linkage to national security; the highly technical and

complex nature of the systems, which means that very few people are able to critically evaluate deals; and the close relationship between purchasing governments, the arms industry, middlemen and senior figures in the military and intelligence agencies. The ‘revolving door’ whereby the same individuals circulate between 5

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government and the private sector aligns the interests of these actors

against those of the public. The trade is also truly global, composed of massive agglomeration of once disparate companies, with long

lines of supply that are spread throughout the world, increasing the potential and scope for international corruption.

The corruption enabled by these conditions takes the form of

funds paid through middlemen, but also of political contributions, dispersing jobs strategically into multiple jurisdictions, lax oversight and management of contracts, and the use of contractors

as intelligence analysts to identify the very threats that fuel their

companies’ profits. Real victims suffer this corruption: Gerdec demonstrated this, and we further illustrate the problem with a case study of South Africa.

In Chapter Six we tackle the idea that national security requires

blanket secrecy. Secrecy is so widespread that many countries fail to even report how much the military receives in funding. Even

where budgets are disclosed, many countries allow for off-budget expenditures—for example Uganda and Nigeria. Secrecy allows

for cover-ups and makes accountability impossible. For all these

reasons, secrecy more often reduces security rather than enhancing it. Protecting whistleblowers and demanding accountability are not luxuries, they are necessities of functioning democracies.

Together, these chapters explain how the defense industry makes

us less safe, our governments and leaders more prone to corruption, and our economies dragged down by wasteful and sometimes useless

spending that could far better be used to solve the world’s truly pressing problems.

The first step in changing this is to see the truth clearly, setting

aside the myths that have allowed a dysfunctional defense industry to thrive.


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S E CTIO N 2 : THE A RMS T RADE C A N ’T B E B E AT EN In Section 2, we tackle the two myths that keep us stuck.

Chapter Seven looks at the idea that this is simply the wrong

time to tackle the arms trade: the world, so the argument goes, is more dangerous than ever, and we don’t have the luxury of critically examining the defense sector when we are confronted with clear

and present danger. This is wrong on both fronts. We show how

the first decade of the 21st century was, contrary to popular belief, the most peaceful in recorded history. The second decade has

proved appreciably more violent, though still far less deadly than previous historical eras. Today’s global security context, which

has both reasons for hope and reasons for concern, is precisely the right time to open a debate on the role of the arms producers and traders in portraying—or misportraying—the rationales for

how they conduct their business. Indeed, today is always the right

time to challenge distortions that privilege the few and increase vulnerability for the many.

In the final chapter, we challenge the myth that there is simply

nothing that can be done. While we acknowledge that confronting the arms trade, with its massive political clout and economic

influence, is a tough ask, it is not impossible. But once we clear away

the myths, we see that there are things we can do now, right now, to begin pushing back against an industry that makes our world poorer and more dangerous.


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M Y TH 1

H IGHE R DEFEN SE S PENDING EQUA L S I NCREASE D S EC URIT Y ‘If you want peace, prepare for war.’

So goes the much-repeated phrase, taken to heart around the

globe. Indeed, the world spends a great deal preparing for war: at least $1,676bn in 2015.1 With such high levels of spending, and

the innumerable threats that arms purchases are said to protect us from, it would be easy to accept this adage at face value: why on

earth else would responsible governments pour such huge sums into military spending?

Unfortunately, the reality is a lot more complicated. While

most reasonable people would agree that states should be able to legitimately defend themselves and their citizens, it is unclear that

large outlays on defense make a consistently measurable difference

in providing security to the countries that buy weapons. Moreover, there is solid evidence showing that, in certain instances, spending

money on buying weapons may actually decrease a country’s security. Just one of these is the situation referred to as the classic ‘security 11

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dilemma’ of setting arms races in motion: three others are also

explored in this chapter. For example, in states where the purchasing

government is undemocratic or corrupt, there are incontrovertible examples where a government uses weapons to the detriment of the security of citizens.

HOW M UCH IS S P ENT ? The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)

estimates world military spending in 2015 at $1,676bn.2 As a

share of global economic output (gross domestic product, or GDP), this amounts to 2.3% globally.3 This is almost certainly an

underestimate, as it excludes some countries such as North Korea where meaningful dollar figures cannot be calculated, and cannot

capture the considerable ‘off-budget’ military spending that occurs

in many countries, for example by using oil revenues to buy arms without including it in the national budget.

During the Cold War, both NATO and the Warsaw Pact spent

vast amounts on their militaries. For over forty years the US and the

Soviet Union engaged in an arms race, both conventional and nuclear. Each did so largely out of fear of the other’s intentions, seeking nuclear deterrence and the capability to win a third world war, while at the same time generating increased fears and insecurity in the

other. When the Cold War ended, the Western public discovered

that NATO had hugely inflated their estimates of the Soviet military capability. The fears were real, but they had been exaggerated.

With the end of the Cold War, there was a great deal of hope

that countries would divert defense funds into social development: what was known as the ‘peace dividend’.4 Signs were initially good: at the end of the Cold War, military spending fell significantly in

real terms (i.e. adjusted for inflation) up to the mid-1990s. But 12

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Myth 1

military spending started increasing again after 1998, and much

more rapidly after 2001, in the aftermath of 9/11 (see Figure 1.1). Between 2011 and 2014, the global economic crisis and the austerity that was attendant upon it precipitated a fall in global defense

expenditure. In 2015, however, global defense expenditure increased from its 2014 level—a sign that defense expenditure is regaining

ground lost during the economic crisis. And what was particularly

notable prior to 2015’s turnaround was how much the ‘rest of the world’ picks up the slack in defense expenditure: between 2011 and

2014, as defense budgets were reduced in the West, the ‘rest of the world’ was increasing its expenditure year-on-year.

Figure 1.1 World military expenditure, 1988‒2015 (constant 2014 US$bn) Note: The absence of data for the Soviet Union in 1991 means that no total can be calculated for that year. Source: SIPRI, Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2015. 13

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Figure 1.2 15 countries with

the highest military expenditure in 2015

Source: Extrapolated from the SIPRI Military Expenditure Database 2016. 14

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Myth 1

Despite recent falls in the West and increases in the rest of

the world, Western countries still account for a majority of global

military spending. NATO members, including the US, spent a total of $904bn in 2015, 53.9% of total world military spending.5 Other

countries that the US classes as ‘major non-NATO allies’, including

Japan, Australia and Israel, accounted for another 10% of the total. Eight of the top fifteen military spenders worldwide are either

NATO members or major US non-NATO allies. Nonetheless, countries outside the West have become more prominent amongst the major spenders, with China, Saudi Arabia and Russia now the second, third and fourth largest spenders worldwide.6

The dominance of the top fifteen spenders should not obscure

another important trend: military expenditure is growing rapidly

globally, even in some of the poorest regions of the world. Indeed, SIPRI identifies twenty-three countries that have doubled their military spending between 2004 and 2013. Among them are some of the world’s poorest nations. In Africa, for example, military spending

rose over 8% in 2013 and 5.9% in 2014—adding up to a 91% increase overall since 2005.7 Admittedly military expenditure fell in Africa in

2015 by 5.3% (the first time in eleven years) to $37bn, but this is still a

massive 68% higher than it was in 2006.8 This is matched elsewhere:

world military expenditures, despite a slight leveling in 2013, have steadily climbed over the past decade—outpacing economic growth.9

China, the nation with second highest military spending, has increased

its defense budgets by double digits almost every year for the past

twenty, well outpacing even its impressive GDP growth and sparking defense spending increases in wary regional neighbors South Korea and Vietnam.10 Further, Japan joined the top ten military spenders in 2013 and, in 2015, approved the decision to reverse its post-World

War II constitutionally engraved ban on its forces fighting overseas.11

Russia has increased its military spending 92% since 2010 alone.12 15

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Regional increases, possibly indicating arms races (where

increasing military expenditure of one country leads another to

spend more, thereby encouraging the original country to spend even more, triggering further regional spending and so on), have

occurred in the Middle East, where Saudi Arabia vastly expanded

its defense budget by 97% between 2006 and 2015; in Africa, where overall expenditures have been growing by 5‒8% annually (until a

surprising drop in 2015) with Algeria and Angola leading the way;

Figure 1.3 Defense spending by region, 1992–2015 (constant 2014 US$bn) Source: Extrapolated from the SIPRI Military Expenditure Database 2015. 16

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Myth 1

and in Asia and Oceania, which witnessed a 64% increase between

2006 and 2015 (and a 5.4% increase in 2015 alone), spearheaded by Chinese defense budget increases.13

Despite regional and global increases, the United States remains

far and away the world’s largest spender on its military. Because it

spends so much beyond any other country, it is worth a close look at the purchasing power of this super-sized budget.

Defense spending consumed 16.3% of the total US federal budget

in 2015.14 In absolute terms, its total national defense spending in

2013, even discounting funding for the ongoing war in Afghanistan, remained near what it was in 1985, the previous peak (it should

be pointed out that, as the US has become richer in the interim, defense spending as a percentage of GDP has fallen: it was 6.8% at the height of the Reagan reequipping era, 5.7% in 2011 and 4.5%

Figure 1.4 US military spending versus the rest of the world, 2000–2015 (constant 2014 US$bn)

Source: Extrapolated from the SIPRI Military Expenditure Database 2015. 17

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in 201515). In that era, of course, historically high defense spending

was deemed necessary as part of an existential struggle with the USSR (although it has subsequently emerged that the USSR’s

military capacity was often overstated).16 For the year 2016, the

Pentagon enjoys a $534.3bn base budget and the $50.9bn Overseas

Figure 1.5 DoD budgets, FY 2001–2016 Note: from 2010 onwards the category ‘Global War on Terror’ is no longer used in the accounting of the Comptroller General of Defense. The Global War on Terror is replaced by the account line Overseas Contingency Operations. This has been added to other discretionary supplements, such as spending on Hurricane Sandy relief in 2013, to produce the figure for ‘other supplemental’. Source: Extrapolated from Office of the Under Secretary for Defense (Comptroller), National Defense Budget Estimates for FY2016, United States Department of Defense, March 2015, Table 2-1, p. 22, accessed May 31, 2016, http:// Book.pdf. 18

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Myth 1

Contingency Operations (OCO) budget (a total of $585.2bn).17

Further, the US is currently on track to fund the most expensive

weapons program in human history, the F-35 fighter jet, which will cost roughly $1.4trn to build and operate over its lifetime.18

The Pentagon’s spending is in addition to the $71.6bn intelli­

gence budget for fiscal year 2016, which includes drone warfare

con­ducted in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and massive digital surveill­ ance channeled, for example, through the National Intelligence

Program, including the CIA, NSA, National Reconnaissance Office

and National Geospatial-Intelligence Program.19 If all these items

are added together (the base budget, contingency spending and intelligence) for 2016, the total is $656.8bn: a truly enormous sum.

DO E S DE FE N S E S PENDING LE A D TO S E CURIT Y? With so much being spent on defense, it is only natural that we

ask whether or not it is being well spent. Unfortunately, there are a number of ways in which spending on defense may actually make us less secure. We will discuss the most common ways here, but

there are other, more complicated, impacts that defense spending can have on security around the world, which we will address at the very end of this chapter.

T he s e cur i ty di le m m a The first way in which military spending can actually reduce

security is through what is known in international relations theory as the ‘security dilemma’,20 or the ‘spiral of insecurity’. The ‘security

dilemma’ occurs when a state with no hostile intentions believes that states around it, while not necessarily expressing any outward

enmity, could pose a long-term security threat. The state responds 19

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by increasing its own sense of security through building up its

defense capacities. However, states around it see this increase in defense spending, and come to believe that the original state now

has hostile intentions; they, in turn, increase their own defense

capacities. This cycle continues as both parties increasingly divert resources towards their own defense, leading to an arms race. This

‘spiral of insecurity’ can, in the worst case scenario, lead to actual conflict. This is not to suggest that conflict follows inexorably from

arms races; the data is much too complicated for that.21 And, as we

will demonstrate later, arms sales often have nothing to do with

perceived or real security threats. But in certain cases arms races undoubtedly play a role, such as in the case of the developments that led to World War I.

By the beginning of the 20th century, Germany’s leaders had

come to believe that it was being surrounded by hostile forces including Russia, France and Great Britain. In response, Germany

started to build up its military forces, in particular its naval forces, which all other parties began to believe was evidence of Germany’s ill intentions. Great Britain, which had built its military power on

its navy, was particularly alarmed. The other three parties, seeing this, also increased their weapons, leading to an enormous arms race. This race created tensions between all the states; so much

so that, when a political crisis unfolded upon the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, Austria-Hungary and Russia both mobilized and Germany then invaded its neighbors, provoking one of the deadliest conflicts in human history. The arms race may not have

been the cause of World War I (human affairs are always more

complicated than that), but it was a substantial contributor to the tensions that led to war.


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Myth 1

I s Ch i na’s G row ing M il itar y Expenditure the Re sul t of the ‘S e cur ity Dilemma’? China’s rapidly rising military expenditure and capabilities are

generating considerable fears amongst some of its neigh­bors, especially Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Indo­nesia, Malaysia

and the Philippines; and all countries are all now increasing military spending in response.22 (Vietnam has been doing so

for several years, the others more recently.) These states have also sought a closer relationship with the US, believing it can offer additional security. The US, meanwhile, is seeking

to develop its regional forces to counter some of China’s

growing capabilities in areas such as ‘anti-access area denial’ (weapons systems including missiles and submarines aimed at preventing or hampering US intervention in the region).23 But China’s military spending increases and its eagerness

to modernize its military to be able to ‘win local wars under

conditions of informatization’24 are themselves arguably

a function of their insecurity in the face of overwhelming US military dominance in the Pacific, including China’s

immediate vicinity. While the US (and its allies) may view

its military power in the region as entirely benign in intent, issues such as US support for Taiwan, as well as US actions such as the invasion of Iraq and the accidental bombing of

the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during the Kosovo war, mean that China does not view it in such a light.25 While it

would be premature to see the situation in the Asia Pacific as

an ‘arms race’, there is strong evidence of a security dilemma, whereby each party’s efforts to guarantee their own security are generating insecurity in others, and ultimately failing to increase security for any party. Real issues, largely concerning

economic development, exist between Asian countries and 21

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their allies, but addressing them through an arms race only increases the risks.

In the context of the Obama administration’s ‘pivot to

Asia’, pursuing US military dominance in the region runs

the danger of increasing regional tensions and spurring an arms race with China. It is impossible to ignore the regional dimensions of the tensions in Asia, including the competition

over control of the South China Sea and its energy resources. The question is whether a militarized approach on the part of the United States will make matters better or worse. China is

seeking to become a genuine naval power in its own region. But to the extent that the United States increases its own naval presence in the area and arms local allies (often at

their own request) to create a military bloc aimed at Beijing, China is more likely to accelerate its already rapidly growing military budget. China will also continue its investment in

asymmetric forces such as anti-satellite weapons and cyberwarfare capabilities. A rapprochement between the US and

China that promoted mutual economic and environmental interests would be far more likely to reduce tensions in the region than a US military build-up.

T he re ’s no se cur i ty i n was te an d cor r uption The second way in which defense spending can decrease security is when the spending is wasteful or inflated due to corruption. Usually

this involves the perennial problem of cost overruns in the defense

sector, dragging projects years into overtime and absorbing scarce economic resources that could be spent on things that encourage security—like health, education and infrastructure.

But there is also a long history of defense spending funding the

development and procurement of weapons that are strategically 22

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Myth 1

questionable and, in the worst cases, utterly dysfunctional. When corruption enters the picture (as we will discuss in Myth 5), defense

transactions might only take place because of the illicit money to be earned, without any concern for real strategic need.

A prime recent example of wasteful defense spending is the

littoral combat ship (LCS), a multi-purpose boat designed to serve a variety of functions, from attacking other surface ships, to

hunting for mines, to moving in close to shore to insert Special

Forces into an area. There are two different versions of the ship, one produced by Lockheed Martin and the other by Austal. Both have experienced serious performance problems and huge cost

overruns, to the point where one LCS now costs over $780m, nearly double the originally projected price. In fact, the LCS program could be presented as a case study in how not to build a weapons system.26

One analyst described the LCS as ‘the warship that can’t go

to war’.27 This is because it is being asked to do so many different

missions that it does none of them well. The basic concept of the program was that the LCS would be a hull or seaframe that could

carry one of three different ‘mission modules’ that would allow it to carry out different functions. There are too many problems with

the ship to enumerate all of them here, but they include being

overweight, and therefore unable to integrate new technology as it emerges; under-armored, and therefore extremely vulnerable to widely available anti-ship missiles; and under-crewed, making it

difficult to respond to on-board emergencies or engage effectively in heavy combat. The existence of three different mission modules is useless in a crisis: it can take up to three days to change from

one mission module to another, potentially costly delays in the

case of a real emergency. The ship has also suffered hull cracks and electrical problems.


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Perhaps worst of all, six LCSs were built and billions of dollars

spent on them before they were tested in rough seas, against explosives or for basic survivability (i.e. the length of a ship’s useful service

life). The problems are so extreme that the Obama administration’s

secretary of defense has decided to cut the program from fifty-two to thirty-two ships. A further twenty ships will be built on top of

the thirty-two, but they are to be built to a substantially new design, new enough that they will now be referred to as frigates not littoral combat ships.28

A particularly dirty case that involves both wasteful and

useless military spending and allegations of corruption is the

DCNS scandal in Malaysia. In 2002, Malaysia signed a €1bn deal to purchase two Scorpene submarines from the French company

DCNS and its partner Navantia.29 Since the deal was announced, it

has been embroiled in a web of murder and corruption allegations. Soon after the deal was concluded, translator and sometime model Altantuya Shaariibuu was found murdered in the Malaysian jungle. She had been rumored to be the lover of the then-defense minister and involved in discussions around securing a substantial

commission from DCNS. In 2009, two police commanders were found guilty of the murder, one of whom claims he was ‘under orders’ from ‘important people’.30 It was later alleged that DCNS

had made a payment of at least €114m to the company Perimekar, closely linked to the defense minister and Malaysia’s governing party.31 Making matters worse, when the submarines arrived there

were such severe problems that the first submarine was declared

‘unfit for diving’,32 a crucial measure of success for any submarine.

The problem: it had developed faults in two separate systems. Malaysia had to wait for DCNS to fix the problems before they could be safely deployed.


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Myth 1

Wars can make you less secure in the long ter m The third way in which defense spending can actually decrease

security is when military spending funds wars that, despite their intentions, worsen a country’s security situation.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the US wars in Iraq and Afghan­

istan. It is arguable that the two largest US military engage­ments

of the 21st century so far have actually left the United States and the world less secure than if they had never been undertaken. Not

only did the conflicts cost trillions of dollars and cause hundreds of

thousands of casualties, but they have contributed to an increase in terrorist activity and capabilities in areas well beyond the boundaries of the two states.33

The war in Afghanistan—the longest war in US history—is in

one respect a response to the ‘blowback’ from US military inter­

ventions of the 1980s.34 The CIA spent hundreds of millions of

dollars arming and training Afghan mujahidin forces to help them fight off the Soviet occupation of their country. A significant portion

of this aid was diverted by Pakistani intelligence, which used it to support Islamic extremist groups that have engaged in terrorism in South Asia and beyond. Aid that did reach Afghanistan often ended up in the hands of foreign fighters and forces that had an anti-US

orientation.35 Once the Soviet occupation had been repelled, and a

nasty civil war was concluded, these groups turned their attention

to attacking the United States and its interests. Following the civil

war, many of them became part of the original cadre of Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaida organization, which was hosted by the Taliban government in Afghanistan.36 The Taliban itself has received

substantial support from Pakistani intelligence.37

As a result, when the United States invaded Afghanistan in

October 2001 to root out Al Qaida, it was in part addressing a

problem of its own making. And the mission of driving Al 25

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Qaida out of Afghanistan soon morphed into a large-scale

counterinsurgency effort designed to defeat the Taliban and

remake Afghanistan as a pro-US ‘democracy’ (or at least a proUS regime, democratic or not). Fifteen years later the Taliban remains a major force in Afghanistan, the regime in Kabul is rife

with corruption, and Al Qaida has entrenched itself in Pakistan. As we saw at the very beginning of this book with the case of

Gerdec, Afghanistan has also become the site of spiraling defense

corruption. This is what the United States and the world got for

Washington and Europe’s investment in a trillion-dollar military undertaking in Afghanistan.

The case of Iraq is, of course, even more striking, in that it

was without question a war of choice, and it has spawned a new generation of militant extremists, notably ISIS, who largely use military equipment supplied to the country by the US itself.

Mil ita r y spe ndi ng i sn’t always intended to p rote ct c iti z e ns The fourth way in which defense spending can decrease the security of citizens is that in undemocratic states, military spending can

make citizens less safe. Indeed, spending on one’s military in many cases does not mean protecting the country, but rather protecting

the ruling elite from its people or discontented groups within the population, rather than protecting the people as a whole from

external or internal threats. Even in more democratic, or partially democratic countries, the military may suppress legitimate dissent among citizens and marginalized groups.

There is strong data to show that military spending as a

percentage of GDP is likely to be higher in countries with poor democratic records. The research group Freedom House provides

an annual scoring of countries according to different levels of 26

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Myth 1

political and civil freedoms, with three broad classifications of ‘Free’, ‘Partially Free’ and ‘Not Free’. In 2013, amongst countries in the

SIPRI Military Expenditure Database, sixty-five were classed as ‘Free’, fifty-four as ‘Partially Free’ and forty-eight as ‘Not Free’.38

Comparing ‘freedom’ with military spending reveals that the less free a country is, the more it tends to spend on the military.39

S a udi A rabi an De f e nse S pending and the M a in te nance of Di ctator ship Saudi Arabia became the world’s fourth largest military

spender in 2013, at $67bn, and is currently the largest

importer of weapons in the world. Its spending has increased by 118% since 2004 in real terms. At 9.3% of GDP, Saudi

Arabia has the second highest military burden of countries

for which SIPRI had data in 2013, after neighboring Oman. Moreover, the official figure probably excludes significant off-budget spending on arms imports, which in some cases

are purchased directly with oil revenues, or indeed in oil for arms swaps such as the Al Yamamah deals with the UK in the 1980s and 1990s.

While Saudi Arabia has significant tensions with its

neighbor across the Gulf, Iran, the latter is a far weaker

military power with little ability to launch a successful attack on Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations. Years of sanctions

on Iran have increased the costs of acquiring and maintaining

weapons systems, and it often has to make do with running older systems that would be massively outgunned by a fraction of Saudi power. Indeed, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies stated in 2015 that ‘Iran has been

unable to compete in terms of both investment and access to

advanced foreign systems’ compared to other Middle East 27

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nations.40 It also outlined how Iran’s navy and air force were

both reliant on heavily outdated and largely obsolescent equipment they can barely maintain.

Instead, the primary purpose of Saudi Arabia’s armed

forces over the years has been regime protection—ensuring

the continuing rule of the House of Saud that has treated the nation as its family fiefdom since coming to power in 1932, ruthlessly suppressing all dissent. The Saudi regime

has one of the worst human rights records in the world. It maintains several parallel armed forces (such as the

National Guard as well as the regular army) to ensure that no single force can become too powerful and itself pose a threat to the ruling family.

Saudi Arabia’s major weapons systems are not directly

utilized for domestic repression, of course. But corruption has

been a standing feature of arms purchases by Saudi Arabia from foreign suppliers, and the vast military budget—with

barely any democratic controls or oversight—provides a

massive opportunity for self-enrichment by elites. And this in turn enables the protection of the ruling elite through

patronage. By distributing wealth through positions and contracts for families and friends, not just its armaments, the house of Saud sustains its power.

U s ing the mil itar y to sol ve the wor ld’s secur ity is s ue s is n’t al ways the be s t bet The fifth way that military spending can decrease security is that

massive military expenditure can increase the tendency to seek

military solutions to non-military problems. One example of this has been the decades-long US ‘war on drugs’ which has been used

to justify aid to death squads and repressive regimes abroad and 28

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Myth 1

mass surveillance and incarceration at home. For example, the multi-billion US ‘Plan Colombia’, designed to help the Colombian government dismantle the drug cartels there, included aid to

a corrupt military that regularly abused human rights and aerial

application of pesticides in large parts of the country. To the extent that Plan Colombia helped undermine the drug cartels there, the

drug trade was merely displaced to Central American countries like

Honduras and Mexico, where high levels of violence by drug gangs have become the norm. Other suggested approaches, like reducing drug demand in the US by expanding treatment programs and

providing alternative forms of employment in impoverished areas, have received only modest resources relative to the sums spent on military methods of fighting drugs.41

Another example of militarized approaches to non-military

problems was the international approach to tackling Ebola. Global

public health was identified as a threat to international peace and security by the UN Security Council in 2000, following a US National Intelligence Council assessment.42 However, the risk that

pandemic diseases—HIV/AIDS, influenza and tropical diseases

such as Ebola—might lead to state crisis in developing countries

and catastrophic disruptions to international travel and world

trade was not matched by commensurate spending. Certainly, international donors increased their assistance to health fourfold in

the following decade, and in 2012 $28bn was spent annually on global assistance programs for public health, with the US government as the largest contributor.43 But this amount pales into insignificance

compared to the spending on weapons. And in the hard-hit country of Liberia, the US prioritized rebuilding the country’s armed forces over rebuilding its health services.

This spending differential meant that when the Ebola epidemic

struck West Africa in 2014, those countries, the United Nations 29

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and the world were ill-prepared. In September, President Obama

announced Operation United Assistance, and dispatched the 101st Airborne Division to Liberia. He said:

Our forces are going to bring their expertise in command and

control, in logistics, in engineering. And our Department of

Defense is better at that, our armed services are better at that, than any organization on Earth. We’re going to create an air bridge to get health workers and medical supplies into West Africa faster.44

His words are surely true—after all, the largest defense budget in the world should buy some impressive logistics—but a military-

led response proved cost-inefficient and ineffective. The operation

cost $330m over six months,45 compared to the approved budget of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response of $49.9m.46

Unfortunately, many of the shelters that the US built took too

long to erect: in January 2015, the Washington Post reported that

the shelters were put up just as the Ebola infection began to abate. Some shelters have not seen a single Ebola patient. The Liberian

government’s chairman for Ebola management, Moses Massaquoi, commented that ‘if they had been built when we needed them, it wouldn’t have been too much. But they were too late’.47

Large amounts of military spending can also draw funds away

from other non-military ways of increasing security: effective

diplomacy and cooperative action. In the US, the Pentagon budget

is roughly fourteen times the budget of the US State Department. This is truly remarkable: in its relationship with the outside world, the US devotes 1,400% more to projecting military power than it does on building alliances and finding non-military solutions to

conflicts. In fact, the State Department has, over the past decade, received roughly similar levels of funding as the DoD’s number one 30

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Myth 1

contractor, Lockheed Martin (see Figure 1.6). As for peacekeeping, the US contribution to UN peacekeeping efforts is less than 0.5%

of what it spends on military activities. If the United States devoted a tiny fraction of what it spends on its own military to support

the cost of the United Nations and multilateral peacekeeping, a robust international capability could be on call to enforce peace

agreements, protect potential victims of repression and genocide, and separate warring parties.48

Figure 1.6 US State Department budget vs. Lockheed Martin federal contracts ($bn)

Source: Extrapolated from Susan B. Epstein, Marian L. Lawson, and Alex Tiersky, “State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2016 Budget and Appropriations,” Congressional Research Service, November 5, 2015, Table 2, p. 5, accessed June 1, 2016, 31

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There is, of course, a counter-argument: if states spend on their

military, it enables them to get involved in disputes that threaten

human rights or democracy, shutting down the worst abuses and ending wars. Unfortunately, there is strong data showing that the

involvement of more than two parties (where outside countries

become involved) in a conflict tends to increase the length and deadliness of wars: just look at Figure 1.7. Note that this is

Figure 1.7 Internationalized intrastate conflicts and battle deaths, 1989‒2011

Military intervention to support one side in a civil war is associated with high death tolls—nearly 1500 per conflict in an average year. The devastating effect is not limited to intervention by majoy powerts. The high death toll for this type of conflict in 1997, for example, was caused by conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, both of which saw interventions by troops from neighboring countries. Source: Human Security Report Project, Human Security Report 2013: The Decline in Global Violence: Evidence, Explanation, and Contestation (Vancouver: Human Security Press, 2013), 90. 32

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Myth 1

generally not true of conflicts that include the involvement of

the UN or other peacekeeping efforts; it is when international

parties join in on a military footing outside of multilateral institutions, either directly or through supplying weapons and

supplies, that things get messy. On this issue, there seems to be an increasing and concerning trend: in 2013, 27% of active conflicts were internationalized.

Indeed, resolving conflicts tends to be easier when there are

fewer actors involved—the more parties to a conflict, the longer violence tends to last and the more people tend to be killed.49 One

of today’s bloodiest conflicts, Syria, is undoubtedly longer, more

lethal and more intractable because of the many outside countries

that have pursued the goal of supporting one side or another in the attempt to militarily conclude the conflict, rather than providing offices for mediating it or powerful incentives to end it.50

I s Massive M il i tar y S pe nding the Bes t Way to Tackle Te r ror i sm ? In a large number of Western countries—the US and UK

in particular—the threat of transnational terrorism is frequently cited as a primary reason for current levels of defense spending. Indeed, the reiteration that the West is at ‘war’ against terrorism only serves to reinforce the idea that

military operations are the best way of tackling this threat. In this instance, the logical leap is easy to see: spend more money on defense and be more secure against terrorism.

In the US, this thinking has led to the military receiving

the vast majority of counterterrorism funding. Between

2001 and 2007, Congress approved a total of $609bn for a range of counterterrorism activities. Of this, 90% went to the

Department of Defense. By comparison, the US Department 33

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of State and USAID received a total of only $40bn over the same period.51

But the idea that there is a military solution to terrorism

has been put into serious doubt by an influential 2008 study by

the US-based RAND Corporation—a think-tank esteemed by conservatives.52 The study reviewed the life-cycles of 648

terrorist groups from 1968 to 2006, identifying the ways in

which these groups ended. It found that in 43% of cases, terrorist groups ceased to exist because they were successfully

integrated into the formal political process. In 40% of cases,

the groups disappeared because of successful policing efforts. A further 10% of terrorist groups stopped their military

activities because they achieved their main aim. And, most importantly for this discussion, only 7% of terrorist groups were snuffed out as a result of military campaigns.53

The statistics generated from the study had clear

implications: using the military to win the ‘war on terror’ is

simply not going to work. More to the point, it is likely to be counter-productive, fueling resentment and undermining long-term regional goals. As the Jones and Libicki note:

Our analysis suggests that there is no battlefield solution

to terrorism. Military force usually has the opposite effect of what is intended: it is often over-used, alienates the local population by its heavy-handed nature, and

provides a window of opportunity for terrorist-group recruitment.54

Jonathan Powell, who served as the British government’s negotiator for the peace talks in Northern Ireland, makes

similar points.55 Indeed, having their own experience of 34

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Myth 1

domestic terrorism and the bloody end to imperial and minority rule in colonies such as Malaya, Kenya and Rhodesia, Britain’s military chiefs thought it unwise for the

US to declare a ‘war’ on terrorists. Powell notes that no group

designated as a terrorist, which draws support from a popular constituency, has been defeated by military means alone.

Africa’s leaders have their own particular perspective

on terrorism. Many, including the current leaders of South

Africa and Namibia, were themselves branded as ‘terrorists’ by their former white rulers. In recent times, the African Union has taken a lead in putting together regional military

coalitions for combat operations against militant extremists,

notably Al-Shabaab in Somalia and Boko Haram in Nigeria. But in the 2015 African Union annual retreat for conflict

mediators, on the theme of Terrorism, Mediation and Armed Groups, African leaders expressed a consensus view

that military efforts should be conducted in support of a political settlement to a conflict involving terrorist groups.56 In short, armed force should be a component of a broader

political strategy, reversing the ranking too often seen in

the ‘war on terror’ whereby diplomats serve as ‘wingmen’ to generals.57

RE THIN KING S E C URIT Y In this chapter we have tackled the issue of security in a very traditional sense, namely as a measure of protection against military violence. This is, arguably, the way that many people understand

the concept of security: keeping the country safe from invasion or violence. But there is a strong and emerging trend towards consider­ ing security in a much broader—and much more useful—way. 35

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Driving this thinking is the adoption of a paradigm that goes

by the name of ‘human security’. Human security is defined by

the United Nations as ‘the right of all people to live in freedom and dignity, free from poverty and despair’. Underpinning this is

the recognition that ‘all individuals, in particular vulnerable people, are entitled to freedom from fear and freedom from want, with an equal opportunity to enjoy all their rights and fully develop their human potential’.58

When security is thought about in this way—and it is hard

to argue that a population that is chronically malnourished is not

at risk—the type of threats that need to be addressed changes

drastically. Instead of just focusing on threats from war or conflict, human security requires us to look at all the various risks that are faced in the world today that undermine human dignity, drive

poverty and put billions of people in a constant state of emergency of survival. Some of these risks include access to clean water, food

security, climate change, health pandemics, violent multinational organized crime and repressive states that use their monopoly of violence to terrorize their own populations.

There is little doubt that, when considered in this light, the world

suffers a serious human security deficit. Global disease, poverty and hunger, for example, devastate lives in many parts of the world. It

is estimated that 1.5 million children under five die each year of vaccine-preventable diseases,59 while 3.1 million children a year die

from malnutrition.60

Some national leaders recognize this. An interesting example

is Ethiopia, long one of the poorest and most conflict-ridden

countries in the world. Following a devastating border war with neighboring Eritrea in 1998‒2000, and facing security threats from

its other neighbors, Somalia and Sudan, the Ethiopian govern­ ment published its national security policy white paper in 2002.61 36

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Myth 1

Decrying what it called ‘jingoism with an empty stomach’, Ethiopia put economic development at the centre of its national security

plan, with military spending (capped at 2% of GDP but in practice lower) as subordinate to that goal.

Meanwhile, the world stands on the brink of one of the biggest

global catastrophes in human history, in the form of climate change. With no substantial change in the way things are done around the world, and no effort made to tackle global greenhouse gas

emissions, it is predicted that the earth’s temperature will rise by 3.7

to 4.8 degrees Celsius by 2100.62 The consequences of this would be devastating, threatening human—and national and international— security in numerous ways:

• Increased drought in many parts of the world, leading to severe water shortages.

• Greatly reduced global agricultural yields from increased heat and reduced rainfall, as global food demand increases.

• A major spread of tropical diseases such as malaria to new parts

of the world, potentially leading to millions of additional deaths.

• A major increase in the prevalence and severity of natural disasters such as hurricanes and flooding, with the potential to

devastate low-lying and coastal regions, a phenomenon that is already observable today.

• In the extreme, low-lying areas and small island states becoming completely uninhabitable.

• Vast refugee flows resulting from the above developments.

• Increased internal and international tensions over water resources and increasingly scarce fertile land.

• Mass extinction of species and loss of biodiversity, with severe consequences for humans through the food chain.63 37

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But even rises of less than 2 degrees Celsius, a level considered increasingly difficult to achieve, would lead to many severe conse­

quences of the type listed above; the more action is taken to reduce emissions, the lower the likely temperature rise, and the less probable the most dangerous impacts become.

Where, you might ask, does military spending fit into this?

In two key ways. First, military expenditure is massive, and fails

to substantially tackle any of these major threats to human security. If only a fraction of military spending was focused on broader

human security goals, the improvement in the security profile of billions of people around the world would be tremendous.

The second way in which spending on weapons contributes to

human security should also be obvious: the goals of freedom from

want and fear are most likely to be achieved in democratic states that are accountable to their populations. But, as we’ve discussed in

detail above, huge amounts of global military spending is directed towards maintaining dictatorships or repressive regimes. This is not just a problem of the developing world. The majority of military

purchases by repressive regimes are from the world’s biggest arms

dealers: the permanent members of the UN Security Council. And even in democracies, military spending that is tainted by corruption

poses a major threat to good governance, and can, in the worst case scenarios, create the mechanisms by which democracy gets replaced by oligarchy and repression (this is discussed in detail in Myth 5).

Considering this, perhaps it is time to recognize one powerful

fact: even a small reduction in defense spending, one that sees

resources properly devoted to the human security dangers faced

by the majority of the world’s population, could actually make the world safer, healthier, more prosperous and more secure.


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M Y TH 2

MILITARY SP EN D ING IS DRIV E N BY S ECURIT Y CONC ERN S As we’ve shown in the previous chapter, there are good reasons

to question a direct correlation between high military spending

and an increase in security. But one could still argue that even if high military spending is wrong-headed, it is undertaken with the genuine desire to increase security. Military spending may not

be the most strategically rational approach to a country’s security threats, but it is, in the end, at least driven by security concerns.

In reality, it is precisely this largely erroneous belief that muddies

the water in most arms trade and procurement debates, and provides

the cover for all sorts of completely unnecessary military equipment to change hands between producers and buyers for a whole host of other less rational reasons.

The unfortunate truth is that the arms trade is not primarily geared

to dealing with security threats. Instead, many arms transactions are undertaken for a plethora of other reasons, and may, in fact, hinder a state’s response to security threats rather than increase preparedness. 39

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E CONOM ICS A N D THE P OWER OF POL IT ICS One of the most commonly stated reasons for arms transactions is that they are supposed to generate a whole series of economic benefits. Indeed, in some cases, arms sales are justified entirely

for their economic benefit (itself a questionable proposition, as we’ll see in the next chapter), rather than their importance for national defense. In certain countries these supposed economic

benefits become the means by which arms producers place pressure on politicians to support strategically questionable projects: no politician wants to attack a project that may employ large numbers of their constituents, even if the money could theoretically be

more efficiently spent elsewhere. Combined, these two reasons

can be decisive in securing support for sometimes clearly absurd expenditure, as evidenced in the case of the F-35.

T he F - 3 5 B oondoggl e Coming in at an estimated total cost of $1.5trn to produce

and maintain over its lifetime, the Lockheed Martin F-35

stealth fighter is the most expensive weapons program in history.1 In reality, the cost may even exceed this gargantuan

sum: every year that the F-35 has been in production the cost has gone up due to technical problems and engineering

concerns. For this enormous outlay, the US will receive 2,457 stealth fighter-bombers that will be operated by a number of its arms of service (the air force and the navy in particular).2

The problems with the F-35, however, are legion. Beyond

spiraling costs, there seems to be little technical advantage

provided by the aircraft compared to those already in production. Since its conception in the late 1980s, its design

has been modified again and again to include capabilities 40

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Myth 2

that often contradict each other. The aircraft is supposedly light and stealthy, yet it also needs to be able to carry a

massive payload of bombs and sophisticated weapons.

It is intended to be used as both a bomber and an air-toair fighter, yet its current design means that pilots cannot look behind them to see what is coming or going.3 The end

result is a jet that has not only been constantly delayed (with nearly all of its testing still ahead of it), but one that fails to offer a better strategic solution than aircraft currently in production. The noted military commentator Winslow Wheeler, who has advised both Republican and Democratic senators in his long and studied career, has summarized the performance thus:

A virtual flying piano, the F-35 lacks the F-16’s agility in

the air-to-air mode and the F-15E’s range and payload in the bombing mode, and it can’t even begin to compare

to the A-10 at low-altitude close air support for troops engaged in combat. Worse yet, it won’t be able to get into the air as often to perform any mission—or just

as importantly, to train pilots—because its complexity prolongs maintenance and limits availability. The aircraft

most like the F-35s, the F-22, was able to get into the air on average for only 15 hours a month in 2010 when it was fully operational.4

The F-35 has two things going for it: an enormous budget to lobby decision makers and a ready list of all the jobs that it

has created. Lockheed Martin’s splashy website is quick to emphasize the latter, promising that the F-35 delivers ‘tens

of thousands of high-paying, high quality jobs to American 41

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workers across the country’.5 Below this is a useful map

showing ‘how the F-35 contributes to your state’s economy’.6 In total, Lockheed Martin claims that the F-35 program

sustains 129,000 direct and indirect jobs across forty-five US states.7

Unfortunately, it appears these figures may be a consid­

erable over-estimate. According to leading commen­ tator

Bill Hartung, the total number of jobs that could realistically

be expected to be created—using standard accounting

methods—is in the region of 50,000 to 60,000. And the claim that forty-five states will receive economic benefits ignores

that this is massively skewed by region: the top five states will

account for nearly 70% of all jobs sustained by the project.

A total of eleven states—Iowa, South Dakota, Montana,

West Virginia, Delaware, Nebraska, North Dakota, Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana and Wyoming—will each house less than a dozen F-35 jobs.8

If these figures are less than impressive, have a look at

Lockheed’s budget for influencing. According to David Axe, an investigative blogger who works closely with a

Swiss-based security policy group Offiziere, Lockheed

Martin spends at least $15m a year on its lobbying efforts, and is able to direct considerable campaign contributions to decisive players.9 Four of the most important F-35

contractors—Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Northrop

Grumman and United Technologies—have made campaign contributions totaling $11.1m in 2011/2012 and 2013/2014.10 Of these donations, a substantial portion were directed towards

members of the F-35 caucus, a thirty-nine-member group within Congress that has long supported the jet project. The biggest overall recipient of donations was the chair of the 42

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Myth 2

House Armed Services Committee, Representative Howard

P. ‘Buck’ McKeon, who received $218,650.11 The thirty-nine

members of the F-35 caucus have received a combined

total of $1.9m from F-35 contractors, including a number of smaller companies in the production line.12

Perhaps this is why the F-35, despite all of its problems,

continues to receive massive budgetary support. Indeed, the Pentagon’s 2015 budget request includes at least $8bn just for

the F-35 (equal to the annual budget of the Environmental Protection Agency). The F-35 receives a good portion of this through the Pentagon’s procurement budget: $6.3bn. This is

a full 7% of the entire procurement budget of the Pentagon, listed as $90.6bn in Fiscal Year 2015.13 And all to buy a ‘virtual

flying piano’.

Important recent developments in the US arms control regime

indicate just how much defense policy can be decided by economic rather than strategic concerns. In 2009, President Obama announced that the US was to restructure its arms export control laws. The

thrust of the reforms was to move significant portions of items on

the Munitions List (which is overseen by the Department of State) onto the Commercial Control List (CCL), run by the Department

of Commerce. The purported economic benefits of the reforms have

been paramount in their justification. As President Obama promised in 2010, ‘by enhancing the competitiveness of our manufacturing and technology sectors, they’ll help us not just increase exports and create jobs, but strengthen our national security as well’.14

The broader impact of these reforms is to make it much easier

for defense producers to export items that were previously on the more rigorously controlled Munitions List. We will discuss the shortcomings of today’s efforts to control the trade later; here we 43

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simply note that changes to US trade policies will mean that a significant percentage of items previously on the Munitions List

will now be able to be exported without a license.15 Some may

be small items—bolts and nuts—but there are enough big-ticket

items to be worrying: military cargo planes as well as Black Hawk helicopters, for example.16 Freeing up these items makes it ever

easier for groups that may be anathema to the US to get hold of once heavily controlled items. As William Hartung says: ‘The danger of

the administration’s new export control approach is that it could

make it easier for significant military articles to reach major human rights abusers, countries seeking nuclear weapons, or destinations where they may be more likely to fall into the hands of terrorists.’17

Ironically, and despite the widespread support for deregulation

amongst defense companies, there is the real risk that the reforms may

lead to a net decrease in US defense industry jobs. This crystallizes

the other unfortunate truth: often the economic benefit that is being touted is, in reality, a boon to the major companies but a bane to its employees, and even the wider population. In House hearings on

the matter in 2013, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers issued a worrying cautionary note:

We continue to warn that, in some cases, the less stringent controls provided under the CCL could lead to further transfers

of technology or production from the U.S. to another country. The transfer of technology and production can have long term consequences as other countries utilize that transferred

technology and production to develop their own commercial and defense industries at our expense. These transfers have

already decimated the shipbuilding, machine tool and electronic

industries. They are also having a significant impact on both the commercial and defense aerospace and related industries.18 44

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Myth 2

The threat of shedding defense jobs—and incurring the wrath

of the powerful defense lobby—is a particularly important moti­ vation in countries that manufacture and buy their own arms. But those countries that import most of their weapons—the large majority of the world—are often seduced by a different economic incentive: offsets.

Offsets are agreements on the part of weapons manufacturers to

invest in the economy of the buying countries, thus ‘offsetting’ the

economic cost of importing the weapons. Offsets are particularly prevalent in the arms trade, despite the fact that they are hugely

controversial.19 Part of this is because the defense trade is given

a free pass when it comes to offsets. Using offsets as a selection criterion is banned by the World Trade Organization, except in the

defense trade (which we will discuss in more detail in Myth 5).20 The result, especially over the previous decade, has been an explosion in

the number and size of offset deals. According to The Economist, it is estimated that the total offset obligations (the amount companies are

still obliged to invest) in the global defense and aerospace industries

is in the region of $250bn, and may grow to a remarkable $450bn by 2016.21 Indeed, a recent review of international offset obligations

indicates that aerospace (both civil and defense) accounts for 48.51% of all offsets around the world. Munitions, another key sector, is

responsible for 9.41% of global offsets.22 Unsurprisingly, the world’s

biggest weapons manufacturers—North America and Europe—are responsible for 82.3% of all offset offers around the world.23

As we will see in detail later, offsets are hugely problematic:

the likelihood of offsets contracts being fulfilled in the quantities promised are pretty slim, they tend to increase the purchase

price and pose a serious corruption risk. But buying countries, and especially their politicians, can use the positive spin of offset contracts to win over public opinion, because they’re intended to 45

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improve the local economy. Indeed, many arms companies believe that putting together an attractive offsets deal is key to winning

contracts. Jim McNerney, head of Boeing, believes the ability to

craft offset offers is a ‘source of competitive advantage’ for the company.24 Countries may decide to bite the bullet and pursue weapons purchases as offsets seem like an attractive proposition

in mitigating affordability issues. Either way, offsets can clearly muddy the waters when it comes to determining the desirability of defense equipment.

CO RRU P TIO N A N D B U Y ING GLOBAL P O LITIC A L S U P P ORT It is a regrettable reality that the content of many weapons deals around the world are largely, and sometimes solely, determined

by corruption, as we discuss in much greater detail later. In particular, countries may be induced into buying particular types

of equipment—even if better alternatives exist—regardless of the

strategic implications of following this path. This is not a minor concern, or an issue that animates peaceniks only. In 2006, the consultancy company Control Risks conducted an extensive survey of 350 international businesses situated in numerous jurisdictions

around the world. They found that, over the previous five years (2001‒2006), 26% of defense companies they interviewed believed

that they had lost contracts due to corruption. In 2006 alone, 31% of defense companies interviewed believed that graft was a decisive factor in who won contracts.25 This suggests that in a significant

number of cases what weapons are bought, who supplies them and what capacities are eventually delivered to armed forces is

determined by bribes rather than whether the product itself is the best fit for the security needs of the country. 46

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Myth 2

When corruption is mixed with other imperatives—when

security concerns are not the main driving force of weapons buying

—the result is entire weapons transactions conducted without

apparent reference to a rational case for defense needs. One recent example of this was the decision by India to purchase twelve

helicopters from the Italian firm Finmeccanica for use by the country’s VVIP protection team in 2010.

W he n Cor r uption Tr umps Utility : The I ndi an He li copte r Con tract The helicopters, valued at €556.2m, were supposed to be

used by India’s politicians to travel around the country. During the selection process, the requirements for the heli­ copters were controversially changed. It had previously been

required that the helicopters could fly to a height of 6,000

meters; this was changed to a required height of 4,500. The result of this was that Finmeccanica was able to enter the

competition, as the helicopter it was selling could not safely fly above this height. The problem, as the Indian auditor

general later pointed out, was that the helicopters could no longer fly in large parts of northern India where there are high mountains.26

On 1 January 2014, the Indian government canceled the

contract, and a criminal investigation was launched into the transaction.27 The investigations—still ongoing in India— have shown that the family members of a key participant

in the helicopter selection committee, Air Chief S.P. Tyagi, received funds from Finmeccanica as the decisions were being made. In early 2016, two senior Finmeccanica executives, Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini, were found guilty by Italian courts of corruption in relation 47

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to the transaction, which confirmed that funds had been distributed to Air Chief Tyagi.28 Indian investigations are

still ongoing into a mysterious English intermediary named Christian Michel James. An international arrest warrant

issued by Indian authorities for James alleged that numerous

members of the Indian political elite may also have received illegal inducements.29

It is not just individual deals that are questionable: a large number

of the most notoriously corrupt defense establishments in the world

do not seem to buy arms for their countries’ national protection, but largely to cement important strategic relationships around the world. The simple fact is that by buying weapons systems from one

of the major weapons sellers, even the most outrageously dictatorial governments are guaranteed a friendly reception amongst their

supplier countries. These two driving forces—corruption and buying

friends—are most clearly seen in the case of a country that should, by any objective standard, be considered a rogue state by democratic nations: Saudi Arabia.

W he n Cor r uption M e ets G lobal Politics: S a ud i A rabi a Saudi Arabia is one of the largest arms purchasers in the entire world. In 2014, Saudi Arabia was recorded as the fourth largest military spender in the world, almost entirely

funded by enormous reserves of oil, bested only by the US, China and Russia.30 In March 2015, Saudi Arabia outstripped

India to become the biggest defense importer in the world.31

Between 1988 and 2013, Saudi Arabia spent a reported

$897bn on military matters (in constant 2011 prices), or $33bn a year.32 A significant portion of this is spent on acquiring 48

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Myth 2

sophisticated weapons systems, almost entirely from the US, the UK and the rest of Europe.

Saudi Arabia also tops another list: it is one of the most

persistent violators of human rights in the world. It is the only country in the world named after its ruling family, and

indeed the Saudi royals consider the country and its mineral riches as their personal possessions. Saudi Arabia has the

world’s most astonishing constitution: it has no pretense

to democracy or human rights. The second chapter of the

Constitution, for example, confirms that ‘the system of government in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is that of a monarch’ and that ‘citizens are to pay allegiance to the King

in accordance with the Holy Koran and the tradition of the

Prophet, in submission and obedience, in times of ease and difficulty, fortune and adversity’.33 Human Rights Watch’s

annual reports on Saudi Arabia read like a litany of horrors, the entry covering 2012 is depressingly typical:

Saudi Arabia in 2012 stepped up arrests and trials of

peaceful dissidents, and responded with force to demon­

strations by citizens. Authorities continue to suppress or fail to protect the rights of 9 million Saudi women

and girls and 9 million foreign workers. As in past years, thousands of people have received unfair trials or been subject to arbitrary detention.

And as Amnesty International reported, in 2014 Saudi

Arabia executed ninety people; most of them were beheaded, a punishment often conducted publicly.34

Saudi Arabia has since 2015 very publicly exported its

domestic horrors abroad through an indiscriminate bombing 49

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campaign in Yemen. In early 2016, the European Union took

the unusual step of voting to place an embargo on arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The embargo is voluntary: member states of

the EU do not have to stop sales, and its resolutions are more

akin to a powerful suggestion. Nevertheless, the embargo text confirmed that:

the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen … includ­

ing the use of internationally banned cluster bombs, has

led to a disastrous humanitarian situation that affects the population across the country … there are multiple reports that airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition in

Yemen have hit civilian targets, including hospitals, schools, markets, grain warehouses, ports and a camp for displaced people.35

Despite this, Saudi Arabia maintains a friendly and close

relationship with the West, in particular the US and the UK. One part of this is undoubtedly Saudi Arabia’s influence

in the Middle East, where it is seen to counterbalance the influence of Iran. But also important in cementing

this relationship is the fact that Saudi Arabia is one of the largest purchasers of defense equipment from the US and UK. In the case of the UK, Saudi Arabian purchases

have been considered central to the success of UK defense

manufacturers, BAE Systems in particular: in 2014, BAE reported that Saudi Arabia was its third largest

customer, representing 20% of its sales.36 In return, the

US and UK are committed to maintain and train the Saudi army and, informally at least, provide it with military protection.


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Myth 2

This is not the only reason Saudi Arabia undertakes such

extensive defense spending: it is also one of the primary ways in which key members of the Saudi royal family divert

enormous state resources into their own pockets. Trans­ parency International places Saudi Arabia in its second

lowest band in terms of the major corruption risk it poses. Transparency International comments that ‘in Saudi

Arabia decisions, including large, strategic purchases, can be executed on the personal initiative of single members of

the Royal Family. The Ministry of Defence does not appear to exert centralised control over acquisition planning. One

retired U.S. military officer interviewed stated explicitly that: “[Saudi Arabia] maintain[s] an inventory of many types of

Western equipment, really a mishmash of equipment, often purchased based more on political rationale, or for corrupt personal reasons.”’37

With these considerations taking precedence, the

strategic utility of weapons, and certainly the suitability of

partic­ular weapons systems in the harsh desert environment, can take second place. This was illustrated by the infamous

Al Yamamah arms deal between the UK and Saudi Arabia, which has been dogged by allegations that billions of dollars

were paid to secure the deal through Prince Bandar, son of

the Saudi defense minister at the time. As part of the deal, Saudi bought a squadron of Typhoon multi-role jet fighters.

The only problem was that they were hugely unreliable,

with iffy radar, and were easily grounded by sand entering into their delicate parts. British engineers were known to joke that the only Typhoon they could keep in the air was a model version that had been placed on a plinth outside the main gate of Dhahran airbase.


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CO N S E Q UE NCE S The mixture of factors that underlie defense transactions—local and international political concerns, economic goals, misplaced

national pride and corruption—has the effect that weapons sales often don’t serve much strategic need. More importantly, it can leave defense forces with inadequate weaponry when they are

forced into combat roles, or, in certain instances, a telling lack of strategic capacity.

One example of how corruption and the pursuit of personal

enrichment can destroy a military force is Ukraine. After the

end of the Cold War, Ukraine suddenly became the weapons supplier of choice to a range of dodgy arms dealers around the

world, effectively emptying its stockpiles of weaponry and enriching corrupt military personnel in the process.38 A Ukrainian

parliamentary investigation found that Ukraine had ‘lost’ $32bn in military assets between 1992 and 1998, mostly due to theft, a lack of oversight and quick-fire deals.39 At the same time, Ukrainian

military expenditure under successive post-Cold War governments has been shot through with systematic and epic corruption.40 In

2012, Leonid Polyakov, recently appointed deputy minister of

defense, wrote that corruption in the Ukrainian defense sector had become a ‘systemic phenomenon’ that seriously ‘threatens

the efficiency of operation and development of Ukraine’s Armed

Forces’.41 The Ukrainian military was thus under-equipped by two

processes: massive theft in the early 1990s, followed by corrupt procurements that left the cupboard bare. In 2014, abruptly faced with the huge Russian military machine and its proxy rebels in the

eastern region of Donbass, Ukrainian soldiers found themselves

on the front lines without basic equipment and training. A fact-

finding mission by General Wesley Clark, soon after the fighting 52

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Myth 2

began, found that Ukrainian soldiers lacked for basics like nightvision goggles, body armor, uniforms and logistic supplies.42 Another example is South Sudan and its army of ghosts.

S outh S udan and the A r my of Ghos ts In January 2005, a peace agreement ended a long-running

war between the Sudanese government and the southernbased rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and Army (SPLM/A). The peace deal provided for a six-year interim

period, during which the SPLM formed an autonomous government of southern Sudan (commonly known as

GOSS), to be followed by a referendum on independence. The Islamist government in the northern part of Sudan

(capital: Khartoum) was under sanctions for having supported

terrorism and committed human rights violations, while the SPLM/A enjoyed the backing of influential lobbies in the

US and Europe. Following the peace deal, southern Sudan’s

leaders embarked on a massive expansion of their army, the

SPLA, that included a huge increase in its numbers and the

purchase of weapons systems including tanks and helicopters. One of the least developed countries in the world, with

the worst indicators for health and education, southern

Sudan had oil, which made its leaders cash rich. They went on an arms spending spree.

These purchases fell into a legal gray zone. There is an

EU arms embargo on Sudan, which was extended to include

South Sudan after its independence in 2011. This didn’t stop France, Germany and Italy (among others) supplying small arms and light weapons to Sudan and southern Sudan. Some

of the southern Sudanese purchases were secret and in fact the single biggest deal—buying over 100 T72 tanks from 53

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Ukraine—doesn’t appear in any southern Sudanese official

budget. But it could hardly be kept quiet when the last of

the three shipments—the 10,000-ton cargo ship MV Faina, transporting thirty-three of the tanks to the Kenyan port of Mombasa—was hijacked by Somali pirates on 25 September 2008. American destroyers kept close watch on the ship and its lethal cargo until a ransom was paid.

The official documentation used to undertake the transfer

included an end-user certificate, a document confirming who

the final recipient of the weapons would be. The end-user certificate, in this case, referred only to MOD/GOSS, which

it was claimed referred to a Kenyan government department. Nobody believed it. The three shipments from Ukraine (one

on a German-operated vessel) included 110 T72 tanks, 14,000 rounds of ammunition for the tanks, eight BM-21 122 mm multiple-launch rocket launchers, 21 anti-aircraft guns, 405

rocket-propelled grenades and 40,000 automatic rifles. The SPLA also bought Russian Mi-17 transport helicopters and Chinese ammunition. The US assisted with more than

$150m in training and other forms of non-lethal support. Neighboring countries also cashed in: Kenya connived in transporting the Ukrainian shipments overland, and the

Ethiopians sold small arms and ammunition and helped maintain the SPLA’s older T-55 tanks.

Corruption was so endemic in South Sudan’s defense

sector that when the newly independent country clashed with Sudan along their common border in 2012, many

troops ordered to the front turned out to be ‘ghost soldiers’ put on the payroll so that generals could collect the salaries, and those who existed were woefully underprepared. According to the auditor general, the Defense Ministry 54

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Myth 2

could not provide payrolls for thirty-three out of its forty

units. President Salva Kiir later revealed that despite the huge budget allocated to the army ‘there are no[t] even

vehicles to transport soldiers on missions’.43 Not only had

South Sudan squandered half its immense oil revenues on its defense budget, but it hadn’t got a professional army to

show for it at the end. In fact, in December 2013, when civil war broke out, President Kiir had to call on the Ugandans to dispatch an expeditionary force to protect his government—for a price.

Indeed, as soon as a political dispute between Kiir and

his former deputy, Riek Machar, turned violent that month, both sides turned to irregular ethnic militia to fight, and those militia engaged in horrific ethnic butchery. Meanwhile all those weapons procured over the previous eight years have been used by the two sides, chiefly against the civilian population.

Today, South Sudanese face a horrendous humanitarian

crisis and a vicious civil war which continues despite the leaders having been pressured into signing a peace

agreement. United Nations peacekeepers are sheltering over 200,000 displaced people in their camps and relief agencies

are providing food and medicine to more than a million

others. The weapons supplies and corruption that made this

all possible occurred while South Sudan’s army was being trained and advised by Western governments, notably the US. And scarcely a word was said until it was too late.


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CO NCLUS IO N Defending the arms trade by claiming that it is legitimate to arm

oneself and one’s allies may seem like a reasonable proposition, but it is frequently a red herring. The reason: when weapons are bought and sold, they are often chosen for a range of reasons that

have nothing to do with strategic need. There is a dizzying array of reasons why many arms deals are done, including anticipated economic benefit, local and international political considerations

and, disturbingly frequently, corruption. Sometimes the outcome is the selection of weapons systems that may not meet a strategic

need exactly, when a better option is available. In others, it can lead to a weapons purchase that meets no identifiable strategic need at

all. The end result is that military spending is often strategically questionable at best; farcical, criminal and dangerous at worst.


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M Y TH 3

WE C AN CO N T ROL WHERE WE A P ON S END UP AND H OW THEY ARE USED Many weapons last a long time. If well-maintained, a gun can

carry on shooting for years, sometimes decades. Small arms and light weapons (SALW) are particularly long-lived, but many mechanical weapons systems are built to withstand hard conditions, neglect, and wear and tear. Unexploded munitions

from World War I battlefields were still killing French and Belgian

farmers into the 21st century. Kalashnikovs and mortars from the 1960s can still function if they are given a basic service and cleaning. Thus, if arms are to be supplied to an ally there needs to be a reasonable likelihood that the receiver will remain an ally for

many decades to come, and won’t be tempted to sell them on to a less reliable customer—perhaps when the ally wants to refurbish

its armory with newer weapons and discard its old stock. There also needs to be enough capacity in the recipient state to make sure 57

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that arms are used as intended, and not passed on or ‘lost’ by its military personnel. Unfortunately, too often the long-term security

interests of the supplier country take a backseat to the interests

of the defense companies and/or special interests looking to see weapons sold. The consequences—fighting enemies armed with weapons you supplied—can be severe.

Despite the repeated claims that strong export controls in places

like the US and Europe prevent weapons getting into questionable hands, the historical experience shows that the controls are often

weakly enforced. Once you sift through the sordid history of

double-dealing and deadly conflict, it becomes clear that there are multiple avenues by which arms can get into the wrong hands.

You may be asking: ‘but what about that Arms Trade Treaty we

heard about? Didn’t this take care of these issues?’ Unfortunately, no. The Treaty, discussed at the end of the chapter, is full of holes, watered down after years of negotiation into a tool that will achieve little good, and maybe even more bad.

BLOWBACK: WHE N FRIENDS B E CO M E E N E M IES The first and probably best known way in which arms get into the wrong hands is through what is known as ‘blowback’: when a one-

time ally to whom you have provided weapons becomes an enemy. With that switch, enemies are able to turn the weapons supplied against their one-time ally turned enemy.

There are many examples of blowback, but none is more

obvious than the serious mess that has been the US involvement in

Iraq and Afghanistan. In the early 1980s, Iraq, under the dictatorial

leadership of Saddam Hussein, launched a war against Iran. Iran had recently undergone a revolution that had replaced the Shah 58

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Myth 3

of Iran (a long-time US and European ally, despite his dictatorial

rule) with a religious clique, the Ayatollahs, that promised to convert Iran to Muslim orthodoxy. Iran declared the US ‘enemy number one’. While the US was not above supplying weapons to

Iran (the Iran-Contra affair exposed how the US had set up an enterprise to supply arms to Iran to secure the release of hostages

and fund right-wing paramilitaries in Nicaragua1), it generally tilted its support towards Iraq.

This support was both financial and material. In 1989, FBI

agents raided the Atlanta offices of the Italian Banca Nazionale

del Lavoro (BNL), based on a tip-off from two insiders.2 It soon

emerged that the bank had been systematically supplying loans to

the regime of Saddam Hussein. Representative Henry B. Gonzalez, tasked with investigating the matter, revealed that BNL had been

Iraq’s largest source of loans from 1985 to 1989. This was done with

the complicity of the CIA and Washington. Remarkably, the loans

had been guaranteed under the cover of the Commodity Credit Corporation, a US government agricultural loan facility. When Iraq defaulted on the loans, it was the US taxpayer that paid the bill.3

The loans that had been granted to Saddam Hussein fueled

an enormous program to buy weapons, mostly from European suppliers, which was supported and aided by the CIA and Washington; the program was given legal force by a National

Security Decision Directive (NSDD) signed by Ronald Reagan

that stated it was US policy to ensure Iraq won the war with Iran. Howard Teicher, a member of the US National Security Council

in charge of Political-Military Affairs from 1982 to 1987 revealed in an affidavit that in 1995,

Pursuant to the secret NSDD, the United States actively

supported the Iraqi war effort by supplying the Iraqis with 59

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billions of dollars of credits, by providing US military intelli­

gence and advice to the Iraqis, and by closely monitoring third country arms sales to Iraq to make sure that Iraq had the military weaponry required.4

Between 1979 and 1985, when reliable data ceases, Iraq increased its expenditure on weapons from 6.9% of its GDP to 27.5%.5 During

the early 1980s, Iraq became the world’s biggest importer of major weapons systems, only falling behind India in 1986 and 1987. The

Stockholm Peace Research Institute could identify twenty-six different countries supplying weapons to Iraq at the time.6 The two

largest suppliers of Iraq’s major weapons systems during the Iran‒ Iraq war were France (accounting for 28%) and the Soviet Union (47%).7 Thus, with direct funding from Washington, not only was

Saddam Hussein getting his hands on buckets of weapons, but he

was buying a good portion of them from the US’ Cold War enemy, the USSR.

A unilateral US arms embargo placed on Iraq during the war

meant that the US could not supply weapons directly (hence the

convoluted system described above). But it made every effort

to ensure that Iraq could import as many ‘dual-use’ items from the US as possible. ‘Dual-use’ items are items that have both

military and civilian applications. Included in the designation of ‘dual-use’ items were biological materials that could be used in

chemical and biological warfare. In the early 1990s, the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs released a report confirming that

The United States provided the Government of Iraq with ‘dual use’ licensed materials which assisted in the development

of Iraqi chemical, biological and missile-system programs, 60

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Myth 3

including: chemical warfare agent precursors, chemical war­fare

agent production facility plans and technical drawings (provided

as pesticide production facility plans); chemical warhead

filling equipment; biological warfare related materials; missile fabrication equipment; and, missile-system guidance equipment.8

The list of biological material the US provided was shocking, including anthrax, botulinium, E.Coli as well as human and bacterial

DNA.9There is credible evidence that when the US invaded Iraq in 1991, US troops were exposed to the very agents that the US

had supplied, over and above fighting against the weapons whose acquisition the US had helped to fund and arrange.10

In the aftermath of the fall of Saddam Hussein, the world was

witness to another type of blowback: namely, when an ally is provided

arms but fails to stop those arms being stolen by enemies. Between 2003 and 2014, Iraq received weapons to the equivalent value of

$4.115bn (not all of which were bought: many of the weapons that

were delivered took the form of aid transfers); of which $2.487bn, or more than 50%, came from the US.11 Amongst the items delivered are armored personnel carriers, military helicopters, transport

aircraft, anti-tank missiles, tanks, artillery and drones.12 Between 2006 and 2009, for example, SIPRI reports that the US handed

the Iraqi army 8,500 advanced armored personnel carriers.13 These

figures also ignore the mountains of light weapons imported into the country; between 2003 and 2008, the US supplied over 1 million

small arms (rifles and handguns) to the Iraqi military and police, 360,000 of which simply went missing.14

The story comes full circle in 2014: blowback in the form of

the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS – also sometimes

referred to as ISIL or Daesh). Since 2013, ISIS, a hardline Islamist militant group that has attracted global approbation for its brutal 61

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tactics—including mass executions of captured minority groups

and beheadings of journalists—has gained control of significant

portions of Iraq and Syria. Originally armed with weapons sourced from an overly well-stocked region, with Syrian and Iraqi stores

particularly lucrative sources, ISIS has overrun much of the

northern quadrant of Iraq bordering Kurdistan.15 The Iraqi army,

which was supposed to have been well trained and armed, melted in

the face of the ISIS onslaught; illustrating yet again that no amount of material and technical training can fix that which is badly

governed. These military successes, in particular the capture of Iraq’s

second city of Mosul, allowed ISIS to acquire even more significant stockpiles of weapons, creating a feedback loop in which ISIS uses

existing weapons to acquire even more, some of which had been provided to the Iraqi army by the US.16 The size of the seizures has

been astonishing: a 2014 UN Security Council Report noted that

in June 2014 alone ISIS seized sufficient Iraqi government stocks from the provinces of Anbar and Salah al-Din to arm and equip more than three Iraqi conventional army divisions.17 Reviewing the

evidence, the same report provided a chilling summary of the range of weapons ISIS has at its disposal:

From social media and other reporting, it is clear that ISIL assets include light weapons, assault rifles, machine guns, heavy

weapons, including possible man-portable air defense systems

(MANPADS) (SA-7), field and anti-aircraft guns, missiles, rockets, rocket launchers, artillery, aircraft, tanks (including

T-55s and T-72s) and vehicles, including high-mobility multi­ purpose military vehicles.18

Hundreds of millions of dollars of weapons they use have been

instrumental in their rapid advance.19 This is particularly true of 62

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military infantry fighting vehicles—Humvees and mine-protected

vehicles—and long-range howitzers that inflict frightening damage on civilian populations. When the US recently launched

airstrikes against ISIS fighters who had surrounded tens of thousands of civilians on a barren mountainside, it was largely

targeting weapons (in particular mortars) that the US had itself made available in the region.

The seizure of US weapons, which ISIS mixes with arms

acquired via other means elsewhere (often smuggled in through

routes that traverse Turkey20), has not only further destabilized Iraq,

but fed further violence and devastation into the deadly Syrian

conflict. Recent media reports indicate that some of the US-seized weapons and armor—Humvees in particular—have been seen in

the hands of ISIS near Aleppo: a full 200 miles outside of Iraq.21

In a region where tensions are rife, where violence is endemic and a peaceful solution a long way off, and where predicting the

political future is almost impossible, there remains one constant: if people want to fight wars, they have more than enough arms to do so for the foreseeable future. Indeed, in 2014 the London-based Conflict Armament Research published a report based on spent

ammunition found in ISIS-controlled areas. It found that ISIS had been using ammunition from at least twenty-one different countries manufactured over seventy years. Nearly 20% of the ammunition discovered was supplied by the US in the 2000s.22

There is, of course, a caveat: after a while, the seized weapons

systems will cease to be functional without maintenance and a

ready supply of spares. It seems obvious that this requires the US, in particular, to put in place stringent measures to stop such spares

finding their way to fighters whose stated aim is to attack US interests throughout the region. And yet, as we have seen in the last chapter, the US is now doing the exact opposite by radically 63

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revising and liberalizing its Munitions Control list. Whether or not

this leads to further blowback is unclear, but, considering the past, shouldn’t the emphasis be on caution rather than profits?

D IS P E RS IO N : A RM S D ISPERSING F OLLOWING CO N FLICT, REGIME CHA NG E O R S TATE COL L APSE As the American/Iraq example suggests, weapons can disperse

widely following a particularly brutal conflict or the collapse of a state. While, fortunately, the incidence of state failure is still

uncommon, the fallout from the collapse of states with massive arsenals can reverberate around the world. Just look at the examples of Somalia and Libya.

From 1969 until his overthrow in 1991, Somalia was ruled by the

dictator Mohammed Siyad Barre. As Barre had taken power via a

coup, he was particularly comfortable with using the military and police to enforce his rule. In the early period of Barre’s reign, he had

aligned with the Soviet Union, which turned on the arms spigot to the tune of $260m between 1973 and 1977 alone.23 When Barre

switched sides to support the US in 1978 following the Soviets’ backing of Ethiopia’s war against Somalia, weapons began flowing

in from the West. As Barre increasingly turned his weaponry against

his own people, the US transferred some $154m in arms to Somalia

through military aid schemes, while Italy, Somalia’s largest supplier, was known to have sold $380m in weapons to the country between 1978 and 1982 alone.24

Barre’s regime finally collapsed in 1991, overthrown by an

alliance of disparate warlords. But instead of forming a govern­ ment, the war­ lords turned on each other, controlling different

parts of the country with militias, using widely available weapons. 64

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As a result, Somalia struggled without a central government for

more than twenty years. When the US Marines stormed ashore in

December 1992 as the vanguard of ‘Operation Restore Hope’, they

found Mogadishu a veritable cornucopia of weaponry from around the world, most of it eminently serviceable. Somali technicians had become adept at adapting sophisticated weapons for new uses, for

example repurposing air-to-air missiles from grounded jet aircraft

to be fired from trucks against ground targets. When US Special Forces confronted General Mohamed Farah Aideed’s militia in the

infamous ‘Black Hawk Down’ battle of October 1993, they were fired

upon by Somalis using weapons manufactured in the USSR, China, Romania and the US. Soviet rocket-propelled grenades shot down the US helicopters. In 2003, one European Commission Report

estimated that 64% of Somalis possess one or more weapons.25 In the capital of Somalia, Mogadishu, open-air arms bazaars operated

with impunity. In the biggest market, Huwaika, 400 traders sold

weapons from rifles to RPGs until the market was shelled in 2013.26

The arms are strikingly affordable: hand grenades sell for $25, landmines for $100 and various models of AK-47s for between $140 and $600.27

Since 1992, Somalia has been under a mandatory UN arms

embargo. But the embargo has done virtually nothing to stem

the flow of arms. Reviewing the situation in 2003, the UN stated that ‘the violations are so numerous that any attempt to document

and catalogue all of the activities would be pointless’.28 Most of

the weapons came from local neighbors (Ethiopia and Eritrea in particular), but Westerners with an eye for money were not above

taking advantage. In July 2010, two US residents of South Florida, Chanock Miller and Joseph O’Toole, were indicted for breaking

the embargo.29 Miller (based part-time in Israel) and O’Toole made

arrangements with a third party to export arms to Somalia, using 65

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fake end-user certificates from Chad. The problem: the third party

was an undercover US agent.30 Fortunately this deal was stopped;

too bad so many hundreds of others weren’t.

Beyond fueling constant instability and warlordism, the wide

availability of arms has helped the cause of a particularly worrying group, Al-Shabaab, which declared its affiliation with Al Qaida in

2012.31 Emerging around 2006, Al-Shabaab is currently engaged

in a vicious war with Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, African Union forces and the governments of neighboring countries (notably Kenya and Ethiopia), although it claims to be at war with all enemies of Islam. A good part of Al-Shabaab’s weapons are

undoubtedly drawn from the existing stockpiles in the country, but the group can also count on another useful supply: weapons sold

and supplied by Western countries to Somalia’s government. In 2013,

with US backing, the arms embargo on Somalia, in force since 1992, was eased.32 The weapons that have now flowed into the country as

a result are poorly monitored and frequently stolen and diverted. In 2014, the UN found that elements in the Somali government, including an advisor to the president, had been arranging for weapons

to be smuggled to Al-Shabaab militants.33 Those that didn’t flow

directly to the militants could be purchased from the arms bazaar, where a good portion of the weapons ended up.34

The depressing story of Western arms sold to a fallen dictator

spreading to dangerous militants was repeated in Libya. In 1969, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the man who would become associated

with eccentric and frequent outbursts against Western perfidy, took power in Libya. He refused to build government institutions

and dismantled all structures that existed. With major regional

ambitions, Gaddafi also spread weapons and instability throughout the Middle East and Africa. He invaded Chad, supported Arab

supremacists in Darfur, and indiscriminately funded groups such as 66

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the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone and the insurgents led by the war criminal Charles Taylor in Liberia.

To do so, Gaddafi relied on massive arms imports, funded by oil

exports. Between 1970 and 2009, Gaddafi imported weapons that

were equivalent to $30bn.35 Most of this was from the USSR, which

supplied $22bn in arms.36 The remaining $8bn was made up mostly

of European suppliers, in particular France and Germany, which exported $3.2bn and $1.4bn each.37

In the 1970s and 1980s, Libya was embroiled in a war in Chad—a

combination of border dispute, invasion and support to proxies. Libya’s war culminated dramatically in 1987 when a light but deadly

Chadian force overran the main Libyan army base at OuadiDoum, capturing 8,000 soldiers and a vast array of equipment, including twelve aircraft and almost 200 armored vehicles. With little use for

the heavy weapons, the Chadians sold them on—for a few years, N’djamena was a veritable bazaar for second-hand arms, which found their way to all corners of the African continent. Libya’s army

never recovered. But Gaddafi’s appetite for buying huge quantities of weapons was unquenched, and he found ready sellers.

Because of links to terrorism, Libya was placed under US, EU

and UN sanctions including a mandatory UN arms embargo in

1992, reducing arms imports to about $10m a year.38Nevertheless,

after making moves to win over the global community, the UN

arms embargo was abandoned in 2003, followed by the US and EU in 2004. Assorted European suppliers attempted to take

advantage. SIPRI noted, in its 2010 Yearbook, that ‘the heads of the governments of France, Italy, Russia and the UK have visited

Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi in recent years, accompanied by

arms company representatives and rumors of multi-billion dollar arms deals’.39 Although the orders for big transfers took a while to

materialize (and few did), Russia, at least, agreed to a $1.8bn deal 67

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to supply tanks, fighter jets and air defense networks.40 Two years

prior, Russia had cleared Libya’s historic debt. Other EU countries granted at least €834m in arms exports licenses between 2005 and

2009.41 The biggest issuer of licenses was Italy (€276m), followed by France (€210m) and the UK (€119m).42 South Africa was the

largest African issuer of export licenses, permitting the export of £6.5m worth of arms and ammunition in 2010 alone.43 While not all

licenses led to exports, it was not for want of trying.

Gaddafi’s arsenal was so large that it verged on the ludicrous.

So many weapons were purchased under his rule that it was almost

impossible that the Libyan military could use them all. Anthony Cordesman, a military expert, reported that Libya’s ‘imports vastly

exceeded its ability to organize, man, train and support its forces. The imports reached farcical levels, and involved vast amounts of

waste on equipment that could never be crewed and operated.’44

In 2010, Cordesman and Aram Nerguizan investigated the Libyan holdings, and found that many of its aircraft were in storage, along

with 1,000 tanks.45 Gaddafi’s arms buying spree was motivated by a number of factors, not least his belief that he could build an Islamic

Legion, staffed by what he estimated would be 1 million troops. Despite getting the weapons to arm it, the Legion as such never

materialized. But the fighters drawn from neighboring countries as its putative core went on to lead rebellions in west Africa and organize militias in Darfur and Mali, among other places.

In 2011, Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown by an insurrection,

backed by Arab governments such as Qatar and Sudan, with a NATO air campaign paving the way. His overthrow was presaged by the mass looting of Libyan stockpiles in areas that the Libyan government couldn’t control; and as revolutionaries and mercenaries

captured more territory, more stockpiles were looted. In July 2012, Libya held its first ever elections. But since then the situation in 68

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Libya has deteriorated rapidly. In 2014, elections were held for a

representative assembly, the Council of Deputies.46 However, the

elections results were rejected by losing parties, mostly Islamist, which decided to reconvene the 2012 body, the General National Council.47 As it stands, there are two Parliaments, neither of which

recognizes the other, and a continuing war between them: the

Council of Deputies, for example, was forced from Tripoli in 2014

in fighting between Dawn of Libya and Zintan and had to set up in a different city.48 Meanwhile, in the countryside, the plethora of

weapons has fueled the emergence of multiple factions and warlords, each fighting for their own patch of land. While the deaths of 1,000

triggered NATO intervention, the war that followed killed some

25,000, and the unrest in years since, has added many thousands more (between June 2014 and April 2015, for example, over 3,000

people were killed in what has been called Libya’s second civil war49).Libya could quite easily go the way of Somalia.

When the African Union debated its position on the uprising

and civil war in Libya in March 2011, the Chadian President Idriss Déby warned against ‘opening the Libyan Pandora’s Box’. He

was prescient. The arms that Gaddafi had stockpiled have spread widely on the continent, fueling further regional instability, both in

the chaos before and virtual anarchy after his overthrow. In Mali, Tuareg rebels, once employed by Gaddafi as mercenaries, took over large swathes of the country after looting Libyan armories.50 Along

with Islamist fighters, the Tuareg attempted to overrun the entire country, prompting an African and French military intervention:51

France was thus fighting against rebels armed with weapons which

may have included some that France had earlier sold to Gaddafi. Meanwhile, the opening of Libyan weapons stores also benefited Al

Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.52 This is not the only extremist group

now toting Libyan weapons: solid information has emerged that 69

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Al-Shabaab in Somalia has been buying ex-Libyan armaments,53

while Al Jazeera reports that Libyan arms have made their way to Boko Haram, the Nigerian extremist group that kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls to be used as slaves and continues to wage

war on the Nigerian state.54 Large quantities of Libyan weaponry also went to Syria in what the New York Times called ‘a complex and active multinational effort financed largely by Qatar’.55

T H E Y W E RE RIG HT HE RE WHEN WE L AS T LOO K E D: DE LIB E RATE DIVE RSION OF ARMS TO OT HE R S TATE S A N D OTH ER PART IES This may surprise you, but sometimes arms dealers lie. And they lie

convincingly. Indeed, it is this subterfuge on the part of brokers, as well as complicit military and state officials, that provides another way in which arms get into the wrong hands: via diverting arms

officially intended for one state but sold to another (or a non-state actor), or through outright theft from state holdings to distribute internationally.

The diversion of weapons is remarkably straightforward. This

is illustrated by how easy it is to manipulate a vitally important document used in arms exports: end-user certificates. The certificate

states that the ‘end user’ is the government or entity buying the weapons. Two problems: one, end-user certificates are not inter­ nationally standardized and are incredibly easy to forge. Two: end-

user certificates are hardly an iron-clad promise that the weapons

will actually remain in the stated area. The ease of forgery is aided by a widespread lack of proper national controls over imports and

exports, particularly of small and light weapons. In 2001, for example, all UN nations signed up to the UN Program of Action, which

committed countries to tightening up their arms control rules. By 70

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2008, only 111 of the 185 states had procedures and laws controlling

the sale and movement of small arms and light weapons (SALW).56

One recent example shows just how easy it is for weapons to

be diverted to other users. In 2012, Swiss media in Syria found

hand grenades used by Syrian rebels that bore the brands of Swiss armament manufacturers.57 It created a national scandal in a country that is meticulous about its neutrality. In response, the

Swiss authorities instituted a formal investigation. Using tracking numbers, they were able to locate the grenades to a shipment made

from Switzerland to the United Arab Emirates in 2004.58 The UAE

confirmed that it had received the shipment, but admitted that a portion of the shipment had been re-exported to Jordan. The UAE

had undertaken the export to assist Jordan ‘in the fight against terrorism’.59 From Jordan, the weapons entered Syria.60 It is unclear how the last step occurred.

And this is not the only case of Swiss ammunition being

retransferred: in early 2012, for example, investigators found M-80 ammunition from Switzerland being used by anti-Gaddafi forces

in Libya. The ammunition had been exported to Qatar in 2012. Illustrating the durability of small arms and ammunition, Qatar was also found to have allowed the re-export of 7.62 × 51mm ammunition to the same Libyan forces—they had originally been

imported from Pakistan way back in 1981‒1982. Since then, the

Pakistani ammunition has been discovered in shipments from Libya to Syria.61

At least in the last example the weapons spent a little bit of

time in their stated destination. This was not the case with a batch of weapons, including surface-to-air missiles and rocket-propelled

grenades, imported into Burkina Faso in 1999. The arms transfer had been arranged by a Gibraltar-based company, and was backed with

an end-user certificate issued by Burkina Faso. However, when the 71

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UN investigated the transfer in 2000, it found that once the weapons were unpacked in Burkina Faso’s largest city of Ouagadougou, they

were simply loaded onto a host of trucks and delivered to Liberia.62

Liberia at the time was under a mandatory UN arms embargo as a result of the terrifyingly vicious actions of the dictator Charles

Taylor, now in jail after being sentenced to fifty years in prison by the Special Court for Sierra Leone for war crimes during his support

for rebels in Sierra Leone. Burkina Faso’s long-time military ruler, Blaise Compaoré, had gained a reputation for backing particularly

savage rebellions in nearby countries—and could also have faced charges by the Sierra Leone special prosecutor—but that didn’t stop arms traders doing business with him.

Those arms that do end up legitimately in the stockpiles of

purchasing states are also not free from diversion. Poorly managed

inventories are easy to steal from, and this can happen on a vast

scale. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, for example, Ukraine was left with an enormous arsenal of weapons. Military officials, struggling to survive in the midst of economic collapse, saw

an opportunity to make easy money, and, with the help of notorious

arms dealers like Viktor Bout, smuggled vast quantities to conflict zones around the world. A Ukrainian parliamentary investigation

into the scale of the theft was eventually closed down for being

too combustible, but only after compiling seventeen volumes of evidence.63 Illustrating just how difficult it can be to face up to the

global arms machine, the leader of the investigation was courtmartialed and stripped of his rank.64

And it is not just individuals who struggle to face up to the global

arms industry; it is also big institutions like the United Nations. In instituting its mandatory arms embargoes, the UN relies on its

member states to put in place legislation and procedures to prevent the export of weapons to embargoed territories. But this is often 72

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sloppily done, or insufficiently monitored. This is part of the reason why a study at the University of British Columbia found that of 502

violations of UN arms embargoes only two had resulted in any legal action whatsoever.65

FRO M THE CO RN ER SH OP: W E A P O N S BO U G HT BY C IV IL IANS AND TRA N S FE RRE D TO CO NFL ICT AREAS A much ignored but hugely important way in which arms get into the wrong hands does not really involve states at all. Instead, it involves civilians who purchase weapons on the open market, usually with legitimate licenses, to be used in all sorts of wrong-doing, in

particular organized crime. A particularly violent recent and ongoing example of this is the supply of arms to Mexican drug cartels.

Since the mid-2000s, Mexico has been in the grip of a brutal

drug war to control the enormously lucrative trade in drugs made

in Latin America and consumed in the US. Mexican druglords

control the majority of the illicit trade in drugs to the US; they are responsible for 95% of the cocaine transported into the US.66

The arrest of several prominent drug kingpins in the early 2000s opened the way for rival gangs to bid for power, frequently engaging

in bloody running battles to cement it. Local communities have been paralyzed with fear as the drug lords become the effective

government, killing an exceptional number of women, taking vengeance on anyone who stands in their way; the infamous sight

of tortured bodies hanging from a highway on the way to the US

border was only one of a thousand different atrocities. The instability has only increased since the decision taken by President Felipe Calderon to deploy the military, working in conjunction with US

law enforcement, to dismantle the cartels. The scale of the violence 73

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is truly shocking: in the six years that Calderon led Mexico (2006 to 2012), an estimated 60,000 people were killed in relation to the drug trade.67 And that is in addition to the 25,000 Mexicans who simply can’t be found, dead or alive.68

The absurdity is that, although 50% of the killings are committed

with handguns and rifles, Mexico only has a single legal gun shop, run by the military.69 The guns largely come from across the border in the US, where there are 2,200 small weapon manufacturers

making more than 4.2m handguns a year.70 Cartels have employed US citizens to buy weapons in the US, where gun laws are somewhat

laxer than Mexico, and smuggle them into Mexico in vast quantities. In 2013, the Igarape Institute in Brazil and the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego conducted a detailed study estimating the scale of cross-border transfers. Basing their

calculations on economic data (and not just seizure information, as other studies have done), the researchers estimated that 253,000 firearms were moving illicitly into Mexico from the US annually.71

The trade is so large that it is estimated to constitute 2.2% of all firearm sales in the US, while an estimated 46.7% of firearms dealers

are dependent on the sales. Worryingly, it appears that Mexican and US authorities have only been able to stop the movement of 14.7% of weapons trafficked into the country annually.72

US gun lobbyists may point to their regular canard: guns don’t

kill people, people kill people. Perhaps. But what is clear is that far

more people are killed when efficient killing machines are available. In 2011, three researchers pored over Mexican homicide data and

found an important correlation. In 2004, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which prohibited the sale of military-style weapons

to civilians in the US, expired. Some states repealed the ban entirely, in particular Arizona and Texas. In California, the ban remained

mostly in place due to state law. In Mexican municipalities close 74

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to Arizona and Texas, the homicide and fatality rate due to gun

crime increased by a full 40% over Mexican municipalities close to California.73

W E AP O N S US E D IN WAY S T H AT ARE NOT (B U T S HO U LD B E ) F ORESEEN In addition to the real danger that arms will find their way into

enemy hands, there remains the ever-present concern that weapons will be used in ways that were not originally countenanced or

conceived of when they were exported. Generally speaking, Western arms exporting countries have to try to ensure that weapons will not be used in gross human rights abuses. But their combined lack

of foresight can be catastrophic when they misread the situation. Nowhere was this clearer, or more devastating, than in Rwanda.

During the span of a hundred days from April to July 1994,

ethnic Hutu extremists in Rwanda perpetrated genocide against

their Tutsi compatriots, along with moderate Hutus who stood

in their way. At least 500,000 people died. This genocide is

popularly associated with the machete—an agricultural tool used for hacking vegetation—wielded by gangs of militiamen known

as interahamwe, who manned roadblocks and searched house to

house for their victims. But the interahamwe were just one part

of a military-genocidal machine, run by senior army officers. The biggest massacres of the genocide were organized and carried out

as military operations, involving army detachments armed with machine guns and RPGs.

The primary weapons of genocide—small arms and light

weapons, rocket launchers and military vehicles—were almost all purchased in the four years leading up to the genocide. Between

1980 and 1988 Habyarimana had only spent $5m on arms imports in 75

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total.74 However, between 1990 and 1994 Rwanda spent 70% of its

state budget on arms;75 in the three years following October 1990, the country spent $112m on arms,76 twenty times what had been

spent during the whole of the 1980s.77 This spending spree ensured

that an estimated 85 tons of arms flooded one of Africa’s smallest countries; grenades were so widely available by 1994 that they could

be bought for the equivalent of two beers from local vegetable markets.78 The build-up occurred with the onset of civil war, which

began when the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a rebel group of mostly Rwandan Tutsi refugees, invaded from Uganda, but it also provided the means for genocide in 1994.

Rwanda was able to turn to a number of suppliers for the

weapons, including South Africa (still under the control of the apartheid government) and Egypt. But by far the largest supporter and supplier was France, a long-time supporter of the Habyarimana

regime that feared a Tutsi victory (supported by Anglophone Uganda) would diminish French influence in the region. In addition

to supplying ground troops to halt Tutsi advances, France helped to

broker deals with South Africa and Egypt (all under the watchful eye of the president’s son, Jean-Christophe Mitterrand) and supply

voluminous weapons on its own. Between February 1990 and 6 April 1994, the day Habyarimana’s plane was downed and genocide followed shortly after, France exported arms and ammunition to

the total value of 136m French francs. In addition, France donated

weapons to the Habyarimana regime to a total value of 43m French francs in 36 batches. What was eventually transferred to Rwanda was sobering:

France agreed to transfer—and presumably delivered—the following weapons: three Gazelle helicopters, six Rasura radar

systems, one Alouette II helicopter, six 68-mm rocket-launchers 76

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(with 1397 68-mm rockets; for the helicopters), two Milan ant-tank

missile launchers, 70 12.7-mm heavy machineguns (with 132,400 rounds of ammunition), eight 105-mm cannons (with 15,000

shells), six 120-mm mortars (with 11,000 shells), 3570 90-mm shells (for AML-90 armored vehicles already in service), 8850

60-mm mortar shells, 4000 81-mm mortar shells, 2040 rounds of 20-mm, 256,500 rounds of 9-mm, 145,860 rounds of 7.62-mm and

1,256,059 rounds of 5.56-mm ammunition, as well as many small arms and spare parts for helicopters and armored vehicles.79

On 6 April 1994, Rwanda’s President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane was shot down (by whom is still disputed). In response, a radical group took control of the government and military, and deployed

the armed forces against civilians. They also let loose organized

militias throughout the country, armed with anything they could get their hands on, and engaged in a mass orgy of violence. They systematically killed Tutsis, moderate Hutu leaders, and anyone who resisted the genocide. Estimates are still debated, but the

death toll is now presumed to be at least 500,000 Tutsi killed in the genocide, while the RPF is estimated to have killed between 25,000

and 45,000 Rwandans from April to August 1994.80 A full 75% of

the country’s Tutsi population at the time perished. For 100 days, six men, women and children were killed every minute of every day. For those that survived, life was horrific. Between 100,000 and 250,000

women were raped.81 In a study in 2001, a tested sample of 1,125 rape

survivors found that 70% were HIV positive.82

At the time, international media and world leaders gave the

impression that the violence was a free-for-all, a primal slaughter, a frenzy. But in reality, the genocide was highly organized, with the

aim to achieve the highest number of deaths in the shortest time possible.83 And in this the arms sold by the world to Rwanda were 77

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particularly important. They were used in two primary situations: to kill strong young men and community leaders who could

resist the massacres; and to efficiently kill large groups of people. When Tutsi and moderate Rwandans were successfully herded into schools and sports stadiums, they were almost always killed systematically with firearms and grenades in order to achieve the highest kill-rate possible.84

At the time, it was vaguely possible, if not plausible, for the

French government to claim ignorance of Rwanda’s eventual aim

of genocide (despite the fetid genocidal propaganda that spewed out of the country’s state-owned media from 1990 onwards). They

were merely supporting one side against another in yet another

African civil war. But they did know that they were supplying arms to a dictatorship with a particularly poor record on human

rights and democracy. Even if they couldn’t have foreseen genocide, despite the loud and early warnings from observers, France must have realized the risk that was inherent in supplying arms to an undemocratic regime.

Perhaps, with the lessons of history, we need to be ensuring

that weapons are not so liberally supplied to dictatorships and regimes responsible for human rights abuses, despite the regional and short-term political considerations. Perhaps the presumption

of innocence that legitimates the recipients of arms sales to corrupt, dictatorial or war-prone governments should be reversed: the

working assumption should be instead that things will go bad, and the weapons will be someday used for lethal purposes.

BU T W H AT A BO UT THE A RM S T RADE T REAT Y? The fact that we have reached this point in the chapter without

mentioning the much-discussed Arms Trade Treaty is something 78

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of a give-away in itself: the ability of the treaty to seriously impact on the trade in weapons is minimal.

The treaty had auspicious and well-intentioned roots. It

emerged out of a discussion between numerous NGOs, including

Amnesty International and Oxfam, which had campaigned for a

full recognition of how the arms trade was fueling human rights

abuses around the world. Flowing from a list of initial principles, the treaty that emerged out of this group sought to put in serious controls over the arms trade, so as to stop the very things that we have described so far in this chapter happening: arms being sold to

repressive regimes, diverted to human rights abusers, and generally fueling some of the world’s most intransigent conflicts.85

As with many international agreements, the treaty became

sucked into a seemingly endless round of negotiations, as different

states around the world attempted to modify its content to suit

their ends. The treaty, as it was passed in 2013, reflects this: it is riddled with bullet holes that will limit its ability to properly limit

the trade. The noted campaign group, Ceasefire, has pointed to five major problems:86

1. The treaty sets a threshold for stopping arms exports way too high.

The treaty requires that arms should not be exported to a state

if there is an ‘overriding risk’ they are to be used in violating human rights. The use of the word ‘overriding’ is not only open to interpretation, but implies that the trade in weapons should

only be stopped in exceptional circumstances. Indeed, in the original drafts of the treaty, it stated that weapons should not be exported only if it was ‘likely’ that they would be used in ways the treaty forbids.

2. The treaty doesn’t have any major requirements regarding record keeping and reporting. One of the big selling points of the early 79

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drafts of the treaty was that it would make the trade in weapons

transparent by forcing states to properly report on their imports and exports. However, the final version of the treaty only requires

states to submit a horribly under-detailed list with minimal information to the UN Secretariat, which the Secretariat doesn’t

even publish. States are also allowed to leave out any information

that is ‘commercially sensitive’ or constitutes ‘national security information’.

3. The treaty does not include a whole raft of weapons. The treaty is applicable to eight categories of conventional arms (such as battle

tanks and attack helicopters). But the list is so circumscribed, and so out of date, that it is entirely unlikely to be applicable

to new and emerging categories of weapons (such as drones). Most importantly, while mentioning ammunition, the treaty

excludes the trade in ammunition from a whole host of its central provisions.

4. The treaty only covers sales. This is distinct from covering other forms of arms transfer we’ve discussed above, such as weapons

that are loaned, leased, bartered or given as part of an aid package. The treaty also excludes arms transferred as part of a

‘defense cooperation agreement’, that is, an arrangement where the militaries of two countries work together. It would be easy for most states to simply claim that controversial weapons sales fall under the rubric of these sorts of agreements and bypass the treaty altogether.

5. There is simply no international enforcement or assessment. Determining whether there is an ‘overriding risk’ that arms will

be used to violate human rights remains the responsibility of

the exporting state. Is it realistic to expect that exporting states, which want to transfer weapons in their own economic interests, will apply this rigorously? More to the point, are states likely 80

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to really apply these provisions when there is no international review and there are no legal sanctions for violating the treaty. In

a legal sense, the treaty is a set of polite suggestions rather than iron-clad requirements.

A lot of people who supported the Arms Trade Treaty in civil

society may baulk at such a blunt description of the Treaty; almost as if we’re saying that the treaty was a waste of effort and a failure

on their part. This is not true. The act of getting this issue on the

agenda was brave in and of itself, and bringing the public’s attention to the issue for the first time in decades was immensely necessary and powerfully done. Securing the attention of 1 million people who

signed petitions in support of regulating the trade has to be lauded and shows what can be achieved with effective campaigning. The weakness of the Arms Trade Treaty is not a reflection on them; it is

a further commentary on how states around the world, in particular those that are the biggest arms producers, so effectively manipulate

the international regulatory environment in the interests of arms manufacturers rather than global citizens. Perhaps it is the

beginning of a bigger debate, and the treaty can be radically revised

over time. But as it stands, it will do little to limit the worst parts of the arms trade.

CO NCLUS ION Weapons don’t rot, and they don’t simply go away. They hang around for a very, very long time, able to become the means of immense

destruction decades after they are first produced. With this in mind, one would think that the major arms-producing countries would be remarkably reticent about them getting into the wider world. And

yet the history of the trade in weapons proves the exact opposite: 81

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weapons flow freely, mostly with state support, to every corner of

the globe. And arms export controls, where they do (intermittently) work, are useless when the states that write the laws do so much to undermine them.

A common refrain that is wheeled out to support arms exports is

that there is nothing wrong with arming allies to protect themselves. Perhaps. But we need to be aware that there is a very good chance that, over the years, those weapons can (and most likely will) migrate

into the hands of people who don’t play so nicely. As the historical evidence shows, there is a very good chance that a dictatorship or other dysfunctional state that is your ally right now won’t stay that way for very long. As Henry Kissinger noted, the US has no

permanent friends, only interests.87 And even if those arms stay

where they are intended to, they can be put to the most devastating use in ways that may not, but should have been, foreseen.

The simple fact is that the wide availability of arms in the world

makes wars more deadly, violence more efficient and brutality more widespread. Maybe it is time to consider turning off the tap.


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M Y TH 4

THE DE FEN SE INDUS TRY IS A K EY CONTRIBUTOR TO N ATIO N A L E CONOMIES As we’ve seen in Myth 2, one of the key justifications for military spending is the impact it has on the economy. This argument

is trotted out whenever there is even the vaguest threat of cuts in

defense spending, which usually draws a widespread gnashing of teeth and dire predictions of massive unemployment leading to national

calamity. For politicians who want to put their own fingers into the pork barrel and appear strong on defense, plumping up the vital role that defense plays in the economy of arms producers is a no-brainer.

Just one problem: there is very little evidence that military

spending does benefit the economy, and indeed rather more evidence that its effect is actually harmful. Far from driving the economy, national arms industries typically rely on massive welfare 83

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and subsidies from their parent governments to stay afloat. The arms

business does create jobs—but, because of the massive subsidies involved, far fewer jobs and at greater expense than alternative

investments. Rather than driving innovation, the arms business mostly free-rides on civilian innovation, taking existing technologies

and cobbling them together. And since it competes for talent and resources with other industries, in some ways the business actually slows down civilian scientific and technological advancement.

S IZ E M ATTE RS Despite the triumphalist advertising of the defense industry, it is relatively small as a share of total industry or manufacturing outside

of the United States. In the UK, which has the second largest

defense industry in the world, the total sales of manufactured military products was £13.1bn in 2013.1 This may seem like a large

number, but it is nothing compared to the food and drink sector, for example, which added £21.5bn to the UK economy and has a

turnover of £81.8bn.2 Indeed, the total value of sales of products

manufactured in the UK in the same year was £354.5bn.3 Sales from defense manufacturing thus only constitutes 3.8% of total

manufacturing sales in the country. And compared to total GDP— £1.8trn in 2013—it is absolutely miniscule. And all this despite the

Ministry of Defense receiving roughly 6% of all UK government spending over the last few years.4

In Europe as a whole, the amount contributed by defense is

even more marginal. According to the European Aeronautics and Defense Association, the total turnover for defense companies in

2012 was €95bn in twenty European countries (seventeen European

Union members, including the UK, as well as Norway, Switzerland and Turkey).5 This is remarkably small compared against the €6.4trn 84

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Myth 4

in turnover recorded for manufacturing in the European Union in

the same year.6 Exact figures for Chinese defense manufacturing are

hard to come by, but, based on China’s considerably smaller defense spend and much smaller defense export market compared to other

members of the UN Security Council, is likely to be only a tiny fraction of China’s $1.6trn manufacturing output.

There is, of course, one exception: the United States. The US

is different because its expenditures on defense and the value of

its weapons exports are far higher than for any other nation. But given the size of the US economy, it remains the case that arms

production and trade account for a relatively small share of total economic activity. In 2010, when total Pentagon spending (both its base budget and the separate account for the wars in Iraq and

Afghanistan) topped $700bn and reached its highest levels since

World War II, it was still only about 4.5% of USGDP.7 And in 2011,

when US arms trade agreements were estimated at a record $66.3bn by the Congressional Research Service,8 they paled in comparison

to the $1.49trn in goods and $627bn in services exported in the same year (for a total of $2.12trn); indeed, defense exports only constituted 4% of total US exports.9

Unsurprisingly, it is the US that boasts the largest defense

companies in the world. As Figure 4.1 shows, only one non-US company (BAE Systems, which in any event has extensive US operations which usually account for over 40% of its revenues) is in the top five global arms sellers.

And this is why size matters: it makes the economics of the

international defense industry incredibly strange. If the arms trade worked like any other industry—making fridges, say—there simply

would not be any non-US manufacturers. This is because the US local demand gives it huge advantages in economies of scale: if you’re already producing 1,000 tanks for your own military, it’s 85

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much easier and cheaper, per unit, to add an extra 200 to sell to your

allies than it is to design a tank from scratch if your military only needs 200 for itself.

Other defense manufacturers—the largest of which are all in

Europe—have to find other means by which to sell their products, as

their lack of economies of scale means that they struggle to compete purely on product and price. They tend to seek economies of scale

Figure 4.1 Companies with largest arms sales, 2014 (US$m) Source: Extrapolated from Aude Fleurant, Sam Perlo-Freeman, Pieter D. Wezeman, Siemon T. Wezeman and Noel Kelly, “The SIPRI Top 100 Arms Producing Companies, 2014,” SIPRI Fact Sheet, December 2015, Table 1 (p. 3), accessed June 2, 2016, 86

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Myth 4

in either pooling resources into single products (the Eurofighter) or by engaging in extensive exports. But if they can’t compete on price and product, they have to start thinking more creatively, offering more than just weapons.

This is why the European defense industry has become expert

at offering two sorts of inducements: economic offsets (discussed briefly in Myth 2 and in more detail later) and bribes. Indeed, as

we will consider in the following chapter, it is the non-US defense

industry that is most often involved in corruption, without which it arguably could not compete. That is not to say that there aren’t major problems with US defense companies exerting influence on

policy via lobbyists and Washington politicians in what has been

described as ‘systemic legal bribery’, but it is clear that the most outrageous outright bribery tends to be undertaken by players outside of the US. In a dysfunctional industry, dysfunctional behavior becomes the norm.

Thus, when the defense industry starts to speak darkly about

national economic collapse at the threat of defense cuts, we need to bear two things in mind. First, it simply is not true that the defense

industry is central to the global economy and that cuts, therefore, lead to economic Armageddon. Second, perhaps it may not be the best idea to pour money into a dysfunctional industry that is not

very economically efficient and is structured in such a way as to almost demand widespread corruption.

THE B IG P ICTURE : DE FE NSE SPENDING A N D E CO NO M IC GROW T H If defenders of the industry cannot convince you that defense spending staves off industrial catastrophe, they can always argue that, regardless of size, defense spending nevertheless positively 87

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contributes to national economies by driving economic growth. Again, it is an argument that has very little data to support it.

Over the last thirty years, defense economists have tracked the

correlation between defense spending and economic growth in

multiple countries. While the details are still hotly debated in the pages of academic journals, the overall results show that instead of feeding growth, defense spending has been shown to have an

insignificant or negative impact on growth. In countries where

there is a marked negative impact on growth, they are said to be laboring under what is known as a ‘defense burden’.

Analysts of defense expenditure and economic growth have

looked into numerous channels through which defense expenditure

can have an impact on economic performance.10 Among the key

factors considered are:

• Labor: how military spending can both lead to the training of

advancement of military recruits, but may suck up educated and technically proficient employees from the civilian sector.

• Capital: how military investment can create industrial output,

but can also ‘crowd out’ investment in the civilian industries, hampering growth.

• Technology: how arms production and imports can increase the

technological base of an economy, but may create an advanced technological sector delinked from the rest of the economy and reliant on government support.

• Socio-political: how military spending can have positive spin-offs by introducing a modernizing influence and reducing internal

conflict, but may end up supporting dictatorial and corrupt regimes that, as a whole, stifle growth.

• Debt: how military spending in especially developing economies is funded by large public debt, which can constrain the raising 88

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Myth 4

of capital for civilian industries or limit state spending on other more productive areas of the economy.11

In one vital 2013 study by the defense economists Professors John Paul Dunne and Nan Tian, the entirety of the existing literature

(close to 170 papers) was reviewed. The literature covered a wide range of countries, from developed to developing economies. They found that, in the majority of cases, the studies undertaken had suggested an overwhelming ambiguous or negative impact on growth, as Figure 4.2 shows.

These data, too, need to be put into context. In almost all cases

where there was a positive result, the analysts had used a simple

Figure 4.2 Studies on economic impact of defense spending 89

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Studies undertaken 1973–2006

Studies undertaken 2007–early 2013

Figure 4.3 Studies on economic impact of defense spending - comparison of studies published pre- and post-2007 90

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Myth 4

‘supply-side’ equation, in which they looked at the amounts of

money going into the economy and the economic activity associated with it. This, Dunne argues, is unsurprising as these models are ‘inherently structured to find such a result’. When studies include a

‘demand-side’ calculation, such as the impact of military spending

on crowding out other investments in the economy, the results are almost always negative or ambiguous.12

Dunne and Tan make one additional point: the studies that were

conducted using Cold War data were more likely to produce positive results. New studies that focus on post-Cold War economics tend

to show more markedly negative results. In simpler terms, since the end of the Cold War in particular, the data has shown that military spending has a downward impact on the economy. This is clear

from the second figure of data included in Dunne and Tan’s survey (Figure 4.3), which shows that studies undertaken since 2007, using more post-Cold War data, have produced clearer negative results.

Reviewing their results, Dunne and Tan were emphatic: ‘What

does seem increasingly clear is that military expenditure does in general come at an economic cost … The more recent literature

is moving towards a commonly accepted, if not consensus, view: Military expenditure has a negative effect on economic growth.’13

WHAT A BO U T JOBS? As we saw in the previous chapter, one of the primary ways in which arms sales and military spending are sold to the public is that they

are said to produce millions of jobs in the producing countries. And this is broadly true. The world spends over a trillion dollars on defense every year, and with such a huge outflow of funds, you’re

bound to create jobs. The problem is defense spending creates far fewer jobs than virtually any other activity. 91

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In 2011, researchers from the Political Economy Research

Institute at the University of Massachusetts reviewed the available

data on the impact of defense spending on job creation in the US. This was compared against the estimated cost of creating jobs

through spending on four non-military alternatives: health care, education, the green economy and tax cuts.14 The results were clear.

First, it should be mentioned that it is undoubted that military

spending in the US creates a ton of jobs. In total, the authors

estimated that Pentagon spending in 2010 (at $690bn) created nearly 6 million jobs, both within the military and in related civilian sectors of the economy.15

But the rate of job creation for this outlay is, in reality, rather

paltry. Working back from the statistics available, the researchers

calculated that spending on defense creates 11,200 jobs for every $1bn spent. This was a lower number of jobs per $1bn than any other alternative. Cutting taxes by the same amount, it was found, would

create 15,100 jobs per $1bn (through consumer consumption); clean energy would create 16,800 jobs; healthcare would create 17,200

jobs; and spending on education would create 26,700 jobs per $1bn, a full 138% more than spending on defense achieved.16 Figures 4.4 and 4.5 show this clearly.

What is even more remarkable about these figures is that,

despite each job costing less than alternatives, the quality of jobs, at least judged against remuneration, would be roughly the same as

those created by military spending. Or, in other words, other sectors

would not create more jobs per $1bn because those jobs are worse

paid.17 Instead, what emerges from the data is that defense jobs cost

far more than other sectors not because of different wage structures, but because a good portion of the spending on defense goes to

military employees (rather than just civilian contractors), and these

military employees are offered extensive benefits. Taking this into 92

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Myth 4

Figure 4.4 Job creation in the US through $1bn in spending Source: Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier, The US Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update (Amherst, MA: Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts, 2011), 6, accessed May 27, 2016, military_spending_2011.pdf.


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account, it emerges, quite clearly, that spending on other sectors produces a similar proportion of low, medium and high wage jobs.18

Why, you may ask, does defense spending produce so many fewer

jobs than other sectors? For this, the researchers pointed to three key variables. The first is the labor intensity of economic activity, or, in

simpler terms, how much of the money being spent is being used to

hire people rather than on machinery, buildings, energy and other inputs. The researchers found that defense manufacture, which is highly mechanized and requires substantial industrial inputs, had

Figure 4.5 Distribution of jobs by wage levels in alternative US

economic sectors: jobs created through $1bn in spending within each sector 94

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Myth 4

a labor intensity much lower than other sectors, but particularly in relation to education, where much more of the money spent goes to paying teachers’ salaries.19

The second concerns domestic content, or how much of the money

being spent goes towards buying products in the local economy. This

is of particular concern when it comes to creating indirect jobs, or putting money in the broader economy. The researchers found that US military personnel, partially due to their overseas postings but

also due to the import-heavy nature of the industry, spend only 43% of their income buying US products. By comparison, the average US citizen spends 78% of their income on US products.20

The third point, as we hinted above, relates to compensation per

worker. It should be obvious that in industries where pay is low, more jobs are created per dollar spent. And, because of the high levels of benefits granted to military personnel, the average amount each

employee costs is far more than in other industries. This is not to suggest that military personnel do not deserve benefits—nobody will

begrudge a serviceman access to veteran medical cover. But it does suggest that military jobs come with an added cost that generally reduces the number of jobs that can be created per dollar spent.

What’s even more remarkable about research that has been

done so far is the rather counter-intuitive finding that even defense exports have a deflationary impact on employment. This is

unexpected as one would anticipate that simply selling weapons to a willing buyer would be pure profit. However, studies in the UK

suggest the opposite. In one study, for example, it was found that arms exports were made possible only through the use of public funds via enormous subsidies, subsidies that reached £936m at the highest estimate.21 These subsidies amounted to up to £14,000 per

job created from export sales, which are supposed to be pure profit, and do not take into account the fact that the export sales are only 95

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possible after the British state has already invested heavily in the companies through their own procurement.22

Another key study from the early 2000s found that halving

defense exports from the UK would actually create jobs, not lead

to their loss. This is for two primary reasons: the levels of subsidies and taxpayer funds that go into securing the sales would be freed

up to be spent elsewhere, and the fact that defense export sales tend to suck up rare skills from the civilian economy. The study found that, although 49,000 jobs would be lost by the halving of defense

exports, it would be more than made up for through the creation

of 67,000 jobs over five years elsewhere in the economy as skill shortages eased and the industrial base diversified.23

BU T THE Y IN VE N TE D THE INT ERNET ! The last trope usually wheeled out by those that oppose any cuts in defense is the supposedly vital role that defense manufacturers play in innovation and high-tech industrial development.

And this argument was true. Sort of. For a while. During the

Cold War, vast sums of money were dedicated to military research and development, which fed the development of a range of civilian

applications.24 Starting with the Manhattan Project, which kick-

started the development of nuclear energy, the Cold War was a time when military research was at the cutting edge of science. Where it led to civilian technologies—duct tape, for example, was designed as a means of securing the bottom ends of shaky ammunition shells—

it should be recognized. Many of these research gains, however,

relied equally on prior civilian research, and, most importantly, the civilian market to turn specialist and obscure inventions into something that civilians would find useful: exactly what happened with regard to the internet.


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But what should also be recognized is that the R&D that was

undertaken also led to enormous funds being used on military inventions that were frankly ludicrous, and never worked, creating

what Mary Kaldor has called a ‘baroque arsenal’.25 Kaldor argued that the fact that defense spending was so privileged—research that

is undertaken is completely unrelated to any potential civilian or

market application—led to an environment where even the most insane ideas would get funding. In addition, the closeted research

environment meant that arms companies spent billions perfecting weapons, even when those tiny gains had no noticeable impact on combat performance.

Cra zy M oney f or Craz y Ideas: Star War s a nd Its S e que l Perhaps the most famous example of Cold War tech hubris was the proposed development of Star Wars (actually named

the Strategic Defense Initiative), the US’ ill-fated attempt to build a system that could shoot down incoming nuclear weapons with lasers. Over the course of its nearly ten-year

development, the US spent $60bn on research and testing: double the amount that was spent on the Manhattan

Project.26 This despite the fact that most scientists at the time

were firmly of the opinion that intercepting tiny missiles, sent in a balloon of decoys at thousands of kilometers an

hour, was an almost insurmountable task. Unsurprisingly,

when the program was quietly scrapped in the early 1990s, not a single mirror or laser system had been developed.27

Some tests were conducted that replaced the lasers with

guided missiles, but even these results were pretty poor. The two successful tests in 1984 and 1991 (the only two successful

intercepts out of multiple attempts) were only achieved 97

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when ‘real world variables’ were removed from the equation. Amongst the concessions made were the decision to set the target on a pre-determined flight path, which was to be

intercepted by a missile on its own pre-determined flight

path; a Global Positioning Satellite receiver was placed on the target to help guidance; and the decoys that were released

were of such different thermal temperatures that targeting the real threat was a doddle. Of course, no real nuclear

weapon flying towards the US at thousands of kilometers an hour would ever be so polite.28

What often gets left out of these discussions is an intriguing

counter-factual: isn’t it possible that the military’s involvement in technological development led to products that were actually worse for civilian use than if they had developed in isolation? One

example of this is the military role in developing airplanes, which

was given a major push by World War I. As the defense economist Jurgen Brauer notes:

The Great War resulted, in essence, in a design-competition between two engine powered aircraft designs, the difference lying in the wing-lift (the Wright brothers) as opposed to the gas-lift design (Zeppelin). Both aircraft served in the war; both

were used for reconnaissance missions and for bombing raids. About equally fast, the airship could carry many more guns

and a much larger bomb load on account of its much larger lift capacity. It also sported superior range and endurance. The

big problem, the one that proved to be its doom, was greater vulnerability to air defense, i.e., searchlights and gunfire. If not for that, who is to say that today we would not fly in airships

rather than in airplanes? Quite possibly, airplanes might be 98

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second-best technology, surviving only because of the exigencies of war.29

Since the end of the Cold War, the role of defense in cuttingedge scientific development has been hugely curtailed. This

has largely been driven by the decision that was taken in 1994

by Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, which was set out in an obscure but vital document now known as the ‘Perry Memo’.30

The memo marked a sea-change in US defense procurement and

production: it stated that, as far as was practically possible, the US

should integrate commercial technology into new defense articles. ‘To meet future needs’, the memo intoned, ‘the Department of Defense must increase access to commercial state-of-the-art

technology and must facilitate the adoption by its suppliers of

business process characteristics of world class suppliers.’31 Doing

so, it was hoped, would help defense suppliers leverage the booming developments in civilian innovation, particularly around information technology.

This has led to the widespread adoption of what is known by

the acronym COTS, or commercial-off-the-shelf technology. This takes place when defense products simply integrate the cuttingedge developments that have been proceeding apace in the civilian

technology market. The upside of this approach has been a general

improvement in the performance of military hardware and a substantial reduction in the cost of producing systems. One such

example of this is the Acoustic Rapid COTS Insertion Program. This program was used to improve the US Navy’s ability to

detect enemies at sea (it had, by the early 1990s, lost its ‘acoustic

dominance’). This was resolved by the use of a number of commercial systems, including Intel processors to crunch data, which would have cost billions for the navy to produce itself. The result was a 99

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tenfold increase in the efficiency of the detection system and a full 86% reduction in the cost of operation.32

This is generally good news for taxpayers who don’t want to pay

over the odds for weapons. But it also means that military research

and development has dropped away radically, and its importance far outstripped by civilian efforts. In the UK, for example, military R&D dropped by nearly 60% between 1989 and 2010, while civilian R&D increased by nearly 70%,33 as Figure 4.6 shows.

Figure 4.6 Research and development spending in the UK in civil and defense sectors, 1989–2012 (Index 1989 = 100)

Source: ‘Defence Related Activities in the UK’, Office of National Statistics, September 8, 2014, Figure 4, uk/20160105160709/ 100

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While the index analysis in Figure 4.6 gives a good sense of

how defense R&D funding has dropped precipitously since 1989 compared to civilian R&D, it does not give a sense of just how much

larger, in absolute terms, civilian R&D is compared to defense R&D; and how much defense R&D has reduced in absolute numbers

over the same period. As Figure 4.7 shows, defense spending on

R&D fell from £4.7bn in 1989 and 1990 (2012 prices) to a rather substantially less impressive £1.8bn in 2012. By comparison, civilian

Figure 4.7 Research and development spending in the UK in civil and defense sectors, 1989–2012 (£m in constant 2012 prices)

Source: “UK Gross Domestic Expenditure on Research and Development, 2012,” Statistical Bulletin: Office for National Statistics, March 12, 2014, http:// dcp171778_355583.pdf. 101

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R&D increased from a much larger £14.9bn in 1989 to £25.2bn in

2012. In simpler terms, defense R&D spending used to make up 23.9% of all R&D funding in the UK in 1989; as of 2012, this had fallen to a paltry 6% of total R&D spending.

In the US, the proportion of military R&D compared to

civilian research has also been dropping consistently over the last

thirty years. In 1985, at its peak, military research and development constituted 31.1% of all research in the US. By 2003, this had dropped to 16.6%.In other countries it was even more marked: in 1981, military research accounted for 9.3% of all R&D in the OECD countries; it had dropped to 3% by 2002.34 These figures have been

remarkably stable since then, despite the massive increase in global defense spending since 9/11.

What is particularly striking about this is that defense continues

to receive the largest whack of federal R&D funding (in 2009, $68.2bn, or a full 50% of US government-sponsored R&D was spent

on defense research35); even with this major government support,

defense has lagged far behind civilian innovation.

As it currently stands, the contribution of military research and

development (almost all, it should be noted, driven by public grants, particularly in the US) is rather small in global terms. In 2010, the UK’s Department for Innovation and Skills released a scorecard

of global research investment. It found that the amount spent by

aerospace and defense companies on research and development globally in 2009 was £12.918bn, a mere 3.7% of the $344bn spent

in total on research and development by the top 1,000 research and development companies around the world.36 Indeed, as of

2013, of the top twenty-five global research and development

companies, not a single one was an arms manufacturer. The only

defense firm in the top fifty was the European conglomerate EADS (it placed 30th),37 and its position was undoubtedly 102

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Myth 4

established partly because it includes the massive civilian aerospace company Airbus.

D i d the M i li tar y Inve nt the Inter net? When you mention innovation and the defense trade, the

first response you’ll get is almost always: did you know that the military invented the internet? But, of course, as with most things, it is slightly more complicated than that.

The idea for what would eventually become the internet

was outlined first in a series of memos by an academic at MIT (not the military) by the name of J.C.R. Licklider. Licklider

conceived of a ‘galactic network’ where a global network of

computers would share data; much like the internet today. Licklider wrote the memos in August 1962; he was then quickly snapped up by the DoD in October 1962 to head

up the Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA). The

way in which computers would eventually talk to each other, called ‘packet switching’, was outlined by Leonard Kleinrock, also at MIT, in papers in 1961 and eventually in 1964. It was

this conception that allowed the early internet to develop, and its roots lay in civilian, rather than military research.38

The military’s role was to put all of this into action. In

1967, as part of DARPA, the idea of the ‘ARPANET’ was

developed. This was the prototype of the internet. Over the course of a number of years, the network was deployed

and refined. A major advance during this period was the development of the very backbone language of the internet known as TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/ Internet Protocol). This language breaks up data into ‘packets’ that are sent from one computer and reassembled

on another.39 In the early 1970s and 1980s, the idea was 103

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trialed, and a number of different partners came on board to test the nascent system; most of the people who joined

were computer scientists at various academic institutions. Private companies such as Xerox also began participating

in the research, which was vital to develop commercially deployable routers.

By the early 1980s, however, the military started taking

a backseat. As the technology began maturing, DARPA handed off the ARPANET to other agencies, the first one

being Defense Communications. Defense Communications

then split the networks into a military only application (MILNET) and a civilian arm of ARPANET. The civilian element of ARPANET was largely driven by the National

Science Foundation, which funded the creation of a whole

new part of the internet (NSFNET) that connected educational institutions to ARPANET. By 1990, other

networks had overtaken ARPANET in terms of connectivity, and it was closed as a communication hub.

The invention of what would become the modern

version of the internet did not take place in the US at all, but rather at the European research agency CERN. This

had led to the creation of the biggest internet node in the

world, CERNNET. A fellow at CERN, Tim Berners-Lee, had long been working on the idea of creating a more useable internet, eventually called the World Wide Web, which

would be navigated using a browser. Berners-Lee based this on Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol, or HTTP, which you will

no doubt recognize from the addresses on your web browser. Importantly, Berners-Lee never patented the information but shared it freely; it was because of this that the idea was

so widely and quickly adopted. If you can believe it, the first 104

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Myth 4

website was built and put online on 6 August 1991.40 Barely a

decade later, the internet was ubiquitous.

As this history illustrates, the military was able, at least

during the Cold War period, to fund cutting-edge scientific

research and facilitate its early prototyping. But it did so in constant dialogue with civilian research, and was built on

work that had been done before the military’s involvement. And it was precisely when the military stepped away, and the information and protocols became free that the internet exploded into the phenomenon it is today. This has raised the intriguing possibility that the internet would not just

have developed without the military (as civilian research was

heading in that direction anyway), but that it may have been rolled out and used at an earlier stage too.

M O D E RN B UYERS: O FFS E T S A N D CO UNT ER-T RADE As we saw in Chapter Two, offsets and counter-trade are often a key

reason why buying countries pursue major arms deals. To remind

you: offsets and counter-trade are promises on the part of the

supplying arms company to invest in the economy of the buyer. This is to ‘offset’ the economic and opportunity costs of buying defense

equipment over other spending priorities. They have grown in use and prominence hugely in the defense trade, where they account

for 50% of all offset deals globally. By 2016, it is estimated that the defense and aerospace sector will be obliged to provide offsets of $450bn globally.41

Offsets are problematic for a number of reasons. First, offsets

cloud and distort procurement decisions. This is because a buying country’s focus will shift from a question of whether or not the 105

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product and price are the best to what the purchase will lead to in offset delivery. There is also evidence that the use of offsets actually

increases the costs of contracts; a 2012 study in Belgium found that including offsets in defense purchases increased the purchase

price by up to 30%.42 Offset contracts are also often included

within the national security umbrella that makes the detail of deals confidential, so that citizens and outside parties cannot evaluate

whether the investments offered are realistic or not. Companies offering unsuitable products at outrageous prices can simply

promise their way to success: what most people would acknowledge comes perilously close to a form of legal bribery.

This is the reason why the World Trade Organization has out­

lawed using offsets as a selection criteria in procurements: buying

countries can request offsets, but cannot base their purchasing

decisions on the varying levels of offsets offered between parties. The only sector that is not prevented from doing this is defense, which is given a blanket exclusion.43 It is also why the European

Union has long been pushing for a reduction in the use of offsets in procurement contracts. In 2005, for example, a European

Union discussion paper found that ‘In principle, offsets are hardly compatible with transparency and fair competition in open

markets’.44 The economic impact is obvious: buying companies

can be induced to buy the wrong products at over-inflated prices, while suppliers don’t have to improve their products or production techniques to actually win contracts.

The second problem is that when offsets are delivered, it is

extremely hard to judge if they have had any real economic impact. In particular, there is the very real chance that the investments that

happen would have happened without the involvement of defense firms:45 if there is an economic opportunity in, say, sanitation, it

seems odd that it would take an arms firm to make it happen. This 106

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Myth 4

was certainly a concern in Finland, where huge offset contracts were

attached to the purchase of F/A-18 Hornet jet fighters. Elizabeth Sköns, a defense industry analyst, notes that when an audit of the offset programs was conducted, the outcome was hardly amazing: The audit found that … after 6 years of the 10-year offset period, 88 percent of the total offset commitments had been fulfilled, involving around 600 offset projects. However, it was

emphasized that the basic question as regards fulfillment was

whether these transactions would have occurred anyway, i.e., without the offset obligations .… In fact, in none of the 600 offset projects was it possible to establish with certainty what

positive effect the supplier had had on the initiation of the deal. Furthermore, it was evident that some of the projects accepted

as offsets would have occurred without the offset arrangement. The evaluation also identified a number of problems concerning the reliability of the fulfillment statistics.46

The third problem flows from the above concerns. Offset contracts

are often hugely complex and bureaucratic. This is made even

worse through the use of opaque ‘multipliers’ to give added value

to offset investments, as well as the fact that offset projects are awarded complicated offset ‘credits’ rather than simple dollar

values. These credits can be awarded for a whole range of activities and can be easily manipulated by savvy offset investors. The result

is that, when one finally unravels the impressive statistics and

investment figures that are paraded every time an offset investment is concluded, it becomes obvious that the real economic impact

was minimal. This was certainly the case with one of the more

high-profile and information-rich offset deals: the South African Arms Deal.


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Of f s ets and the S outh A fr ican Ar ms Deal When South Africa signed a controversial deal to buy jets, submarines and frigates in 1999, the transaction (known colloquially in South Africa as the ‘Arms Deal’) came with promises of enormous economic development through

offsets. In total, the suppliers, mostly British and German, were going to generate R104bn (roughly $15bn at 1999

exchange rates) in economic activity and create 65,000 jobs.47 When defense offsets were presented to the South African

public the promise was that they would forever end the guns vs. butter debate: buying arms would be guns and butter.48 It was arguably one of the most vital parts of selling the deal to

a country that was still suffering from enormous poverty and deprivation from the apartheid era.

The offsets were split into two kinds: economic activity in

the civilian sector (over 80% of the offset commitment) and

investment and mutual sales in the defense sector (known by the acronym Defense Industrial Participation, or DIP). Both were a fiasco, which was surprising as defense offsets were

identified as a relatively safe bet. But reviewing the defense offsets over a decade later, the board of the body that oversaw

South African arms procurements, Armscor, was scathing about what they had achieved:

The Board is not satisfied with Armscor’s management

of the Defense and Industrial Participation agreements. One company has to date failed to discharge its obli­

gation, whilst others seemed to have chosen the areas and manner in which to discharge their obligations. It has

become clear to the Board that there was limited Armscor

directed and purposeful action during the [Arms Deal] 108

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Myth 4

leading to the discharge of DIP obligations. To date,

Armscor cannot show the impact of DIP obligations

in the economy. Meeting with affected companies has

only served to confirm this concern. It would also seem that companies charged with DIP obligations sought to exchange credits amongst themselves, whilst others

acted as agents for other entities to obtain export sales

for which it received credits for the entire contract value as a DIP obligation. In some cases, some companies

elected to perform enterprise development as part of

their DIP obligations, but ended up buying out the owners of the enterprises where they discharged their obligations, thereby defeating the very basis of the

DIP agreements.49 

But it was in the civilian sector that the really crazy stuff happened. To fulfill their obligations, the arms companies had to win ‘offset credits’. These credits, valued in dollars, were supposed to be given on a one-to-one basis, so for every $1 in

sales promoted by the company, or every $1 in investment, they

were given an offset credit. But they soon became savvy to the

fact that the credits were granted with massive ‘multipliers’ if they checked certain boxes like investing in strategic

industries, or somehow proved that a tiny investment in a

project led to much larger investments by other companies. As a result, the companies were awarded billions in offset

credits for rather marginal activities. In one case, Ferrostaal, one of the arms companies, was eventually awarded €3.1bn in offset credits, despite having actually only invested €69m.50

One of the most ludicrous examples of how the system

worked was that of McArthur Baths. In 2002, Sweden’s 109

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Saab, invested R15m (about $1.5m) in upgrading a set of heated swimming pools in the South African city of Port

Elizabeth and undertaking a brief advertising campaign in

Sweden to promote the baths.51 In return for this investment,

Saab was eventually granted $628m in offset credits.52 The

credits were awarded in the most farcical fashion: for every Scandinavian (not just Swedish) visitor to South Africa (not

just Port Elizabeth), Saab was granted around $3,830 in offset

credits. So any visitor from Scandinavia—on business, going

on holiday to Cape Town, seeing family and friends—was

treated as if they were going only because of a set of small heated pools in a city not known for attracting tourists at all. These credits were granted even during the 2010 Football World Cup, so that every Swedish attendee of that global jamboree was counted in Saab’s offset points.53

When it came to jobs, the results were unsurprisingly

dispiriting. The promise of 65,000 jobs was a huge part of the selling of the Arms Deal, as South Africa suffered from

terrible unemployment at the time, and still does. When the final figures were tallied in 2014, it was found that the

offset program had only created 13,690 direct jobs.54 And

even these figures couldn’t be believed: under questioning, state employees later admitted that they had not bothered to audit these figures, as they didn’t form part of the arms

companies’ contractual obligations. In fact, under questioning they admitted that jobs figures were simply taken from the business plans of the investing companies, despite the very

obvious fact that these companies would go out of their way to provide the most optimistic figures possible.


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Myth 4

The fourth problem is that there is a good chance that the economic

investment that does occur during the offset period will simply

dissipate once the contracts are over; especially if the supplying

country signs a similar deal with another country. This is a particular concern when offset contracts involve the agreement on the part of

the selling country or company to preferentially buy products from the producing country. Once the contracts end, what ensures that this will continue? Jurgen Brauer poses this puzzler:

Consider this example: suppose South Africa agrees to purchase

military items from the EU to the value of R30 billion with a 100 percent offset requirement. The EU contractors agree to

find someone willing and able to import R30 billion of South African agricultural products (fruit, juice, wine). From the EU’s

point of view this is a trade displacement, say from Chilean fruit, juice, and wine suppliers to South African suppliers. In another

year, however, suppose that Chile signs an offset contract of

equivalent value, requiring the EU to purchase Chilean fruit,

juice, and wine. Again, this must result in trade displacement, this time perhaps against the continuation of the South Africa

fruit, juice, and wine exports to the EU. The lesson to be learned is that for offsets to carry a genuine economic impact, world

demand for the underlying products must be increased. But world demand for commercial product is hurt, not helped, by

extra military expenditure. Offsets do not offer additional trade: they merely displace it and probably destroy some of it.55

The final problem with offsets, as we will describe in much more

detail in our chapter on corruption, is that they pose serious

corruption risks. Because they are often conducted under a veil of national security secrecy, they are not subject to oversight. These 111

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opaque deals are easy to manipulate to ensure that key decision makers are ‘cut’ into offset contracts after signing. The secrecy attached to the transactions can make them considerably more difficult to identify and trace than traditional bribery schemes.

In summary: offsets are a wash, often increasing prices, delivering

limited economic benefit and creating major corruption risks. As Jurgen Brauer and John Paul Dunne noted in a 2009 paper:

Extant evidence suggests that offset arrangements do not yield net benefits for a country’s economic development. As a

general rule arms trade offset deals are more costly than off-the-

shelf arms purchases, create little by way of new or sustainable employment, do not appear to contribute in any substantive way

to general economic development, and with very few exceptions

do not result in significant technology transfers, not even within the military sector.56

THE BA D N E WS : HOW DEFENSE S P E NDING C A N HA RM THE ECONOMY So far we have only discussed—and dismissed—the supposed

benefits that defense spending brings to the economy. What is often left out of the discussion, however, are the multiple ways

in which defense spending can actively harm the economy. We

tackle the four primary ones here, but acknowledge that these are by no means the only ways in which defense spending can hurt the economy.

The first is simple: if you spend a huge amount of money on

defense, you can be constrained when you need to respond to any

sort of economic downturn. One recent example of this has been the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to Nobel prize112

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Myth 4

winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and co-author Linda Bilmes, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost the US economy at least $3trn by 2009.57 They argue that it was these wars that pushed the US economy from a position of a healthy surplus at the end of the

Clinton era to one of massive national debt. Indeed, between 2003

and 2008, US debt grew from $6.4trn to $10trn.58 Not only did this

limit the US response to the credit crunch, they argue, it may also have played a role in triggering it:

The global financial crisis was due, at least in part, to the war. Higher oil prices meant that money spent buying oil abroad

was not money being spent at home. Meanwhile, war spending

provided less of an economic boost than other forms of spending would have. Paying foreign contractors working in Iraq was

neither an effective short-term stimulus (not compared with

spending on education, infrastructure or technology) nor a basis for long-term growth. …

As a result of two costly wars funded by debt, our fiscal

house was in dismal shape even before the financial crisis – and those fiscal wars compounded the downturn.59

The second way in which defense spending can harm the economy

is through what is known as a skills externality. In layman’s terms, this means that the defense industry (including the military) sucks up skilled workers such as engineers and scientists. The defense

sector is also likely to pay higher wages and offer more benefits, either directly through state employment or as a result of the favor with which the industry is treated more generally. This can place a

major cost on the civilian sector in order to compete with defense

industry salaries. In the US, for example, the wages and benefits for military employees are considerably higher than for employees in 113

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the civilian sector with similar skill levels; a gap that has been rising consistently since 2001.60 Figure 4.8 shows this clearly.

Figure 4.8 Wages of RMC vs. civilian wages, 2001‒2009 Source: J. Grefer, D. Gregory and E. Rebhan, ‘Chapter 1: Military and Civilian Compensation: How Do They Compare’ in The Eleventh Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation, CNA Corporation, 2011, Fig. 6, p. 21, http://militarypay. 114

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Myth 4

The third way in which the defense industry, and arms exports

in particular, can hurt the economy is through a global escalation in

military capacity and instability. This is a no-brainer: if you export weapons to countries that are, at best, questionable allies, you need

to buy and develop your own new weapons to maintain military dominance, or increase the quantity of weapons you already have to

combat increased regional insecurity. This is wasteful as you render the previous generation of arms irrelevant or draw unnecessary funds into defense procurement. One recent example of this was the decision by France to sell Mistral submarines to the Russian

Navy for $1.7bn in 2011. The deal was widely criticized by the US and other eastern European countries as Russia was already posing

a military threat to NATO countries. The transaction was only canceled in September 2014 when Russia invaded Ukraine.61 But

if that invasion had happened a few years later, Russia would have been in possession of ships that would have significantly boosted its

naval forces, compelling other states to buy arms to maintain parity. The final way defense spending can harm the economy, and

one which we will discuss in more detail in Myth 5, is that defense

spending is often associated with severe and endemic corruption. Corruption, it is now well recognized, hugely hampers economic growth and development, diverting resources away from human development into unnecessary and wasteful expenditure. That this

is the case was illustrated by a fascinating 2009 study by three noted defense economists. Looking at data from a selection of African countries, they found that corruption both increased the military

burden and, in the long term, encouraged ongoing economydeflating rent-seeking behavior. The results showed that

cuts in military spending are likely to directly increase aggregate economic performances and to indirectly stem the effects of 115

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corruption. Overall, the results provide strong evidence that, for the group of African countries studied here, high levels of

defense spending and corruption have had a damaging effect on economic performance, both directly and indirectly.62

CO NCLUS IO N As we’ve seen extensively above, the argument that the defense industry is vital to healthy economies is not strongly supported by the data. Not only are the alleged benefits far less substantial than claimed—jobs and innovation are poorly served by modern

defense spending—but the downsides of defense spending are unambiguous. The simple fact is that defense spending is good for

only one thing: defense. It is a poor job creator, no longer creates that many new technologies and, in the worst case scenario, makes

countries poorer. If just a small portion of the currently enormous

sums spent on the military were spent on virtually anything else—

renewable energy, welfare, tax cuts—the economic benefits would be enormous.


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M Y TH 5

CORRUPTIO N IN THE ARM S T RA D E IS ONLY A P ROBLEM IN DE V ELOP ING COUNTRIES The arms trade often invokes two contradictory images in the mind of the average citizen. Ask them if the arms trade is ‘dirty’, and the

answer is usually ‘yes, of course’. Yet ask the average citizen in a firstworld country whether their own governments and defense equipment

suppliers are corrupt, and the answer is usually no. ‘Our systems are

clean’, the first-world citizen will insist. ‘If there is corruption, it is only because third-world leaders and rogue dictators demand it. It is the cost of doing business in a dirty world.’It is almost unthinkable that

corruption could infect an arms deal between a first-world country— Austria, say—and a first-world supplier—Sweden, for example.

The result of these attitudes is, primarily, inaction. National

governments and prosecutors don’t believe that the arms trade, 117

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especially in developed countries, needs to be more effectively

monitored, despite the fact that, as is discussed below, it is a particul­

arly high-risk industry in terms of corruption. The number of

prosecutions of arms companies and/or dealers is minuscule in view

of the extent of the evidence of wrong-doing against them; which is a function of, among other things, a complete lack of political will.

THE S C A LE O F CO RRUPT ION In reality, corruption in the global arms trade is endemic and

systemic. Indeed, it is arguably one of the most—if not the most— corrupt industries in the world. In 2005, the analyst and academic Joe Roeberwas given access to a range of hard-to-find data, including

secret US intelligence files. After analyzing the data, Roeber found that up to as much as 40% of all corruption in all global trade occurred in the sale of armaments.1 A few years earlier, the

US National Export Strategy Report published by the Department of Commerce relayed that the US became aware of, ‘significant

allegations of bribery by foreign firms in 294 international contract competitions valued at $145 billion ... About half of the bribe offers are for defense contracts’.2

There is also a direct link between the levels of perceived

corruption in a country and the amount that those countries spend on buying weapons. In 2000, three academics linked to the

Inter­ national Monetary Fund reviewed corruption perceptions and defense spending across 120 countries. Their finding was

that, ‘corruption is associated with higher military spending as a

share of GDP and total government expenditures, and with larger procurement outlays in relation to both GDP and government

spending ... countries perceived as being more corrupt tend to spend more on the military’.3


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Myth 5

The pervasiveness of corruption in the trade, as these figures

suggest, simply cannot be the result of opportunistic dictators

creaming off the top. Instead, they indicate active collusion on the part of arms producers and their governments in corruption. Two of the most recent examples of this are BAE Systems and the German arms manufacturer Ferrostaal.

BA E S ys te ms and The i r Networ k of Cover t a nd O ve r t Age nts BAE Systems is the third largest defense manufacturer in the world, with 40% of its turnover earned supplying the US

defense establishment.4 The company was investigated for

nearly a decade, by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the US Department of Justice, amongst others, for alleged widespread corruption in its sale of defense equipment to a

range of countries including Saudi Arabia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Tanzania and South Africa. In 2008, the Serious

Fraud Office supplied an affidavit to South African authorities, which were also investigating BAE Systems for alleged bribery

and corruption in the hugely controversial purchase of Gripen

and Hawk jets. The affidavit, and the attached evidence that the SFO had uncovered, was eye-opening.

The SFO found a document from 1995 in which BAE

outlined a series of strategies to make their use of ‘marketing advisers’ and ‘consultants’ more opaque—something the company needed to do, according to the document, because

of increased attention being paid by the US Department of

Justice to BAE’s ‘marketing activities’ in Chile, which had allegedly included payments to Chile’s notorious dictator

Augusto Pinochet.5 To do so, in 1998 BAE Systems formed

a company named Red Diamond Trading in the British 119

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Virgin Islands, a well-known tax and secrecy haven. Red

Diamond Trading, in turn, was operated by a company called Headquarters Marketing, the unit within BAE Systems

that had been engaging in ‘marketing activities’ in Chile.6 BAE would make payments via its online banking services

in London to a raft of advisors—an almost industrialized system of securing influence.

Through Red Diamond Trading, BAE Systems entered

into contracts with ‘covert advisors’ (BAE Systems contracted

with ‘overt advisors’ directly) whose identity was to remain

secret. Gary Murphy, a senior investigator with the SFO, was clear why he believed this system had been established: ‘I suspect a primary reason behind the inception of Red

Diamond was to ensure that corrupt payments could be made and that it would be more difficult for law enforcement agencies to penetrate the system.’7

BAE Systems made use of Red Diamond extensively.

In the South African contract alone, SFO investigators

tracked roughly £115m in payments to ‘covert advisors’ either via Red Diamond or other offshore routes.8 One of these ‘covert advisors’ was one FanaHlongwane, who, at the time the purchase from BAE was being negotiated, served

as the special advisor to the then minister of defense, Joe Modise. Modise, in turn, had been instrumental in getting

BAE selected as the supplier for Hawk and Gripen aircraft, which he achieved, in the case of the Hawk, by going so far as to instruct evaluators to ignore the fact that they cost

more than double the price of their nearest competitor. It

later emerged that Modise had secured shares in a company that was due to receive considerable business through BAE’s promised offset program.


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Myth 5

In 2010 and 2011, BAE Systems entered into plea bargain

agreements with the US Department of Justice and US

Department of State, respectively. In the DoJ plea bargain, BAE Systems agreed to a fine of up to $450m in return for being allowed to plead guilty to lesser charges. Nevertheless, the information that formed the basis for the settlement, known

as a Statement of Offence, confirmed just how frequently BAE Systems made use of the Red Diamond network.9 BAE

admitted that it paid, from 2001 onwards, £135m and $14m to

‘marketing advisors’ in a host of countries. Most importantly, BAE Systems confirmed that it ‘made payments to certain

advisors through offshore shell companies even though in

certain situations there was a high probability that part of the payments would be used in order to ensure BAE was favored

in the foreign governments’ decisions regarding the sale of

defense articles’.10 In its settlement with the Department of State, which included a fine of $79m, BAE admitted that it

had made over 1,000 payments to ‘unauthorized brokers’, while retaining at least 300 brokers and advisors on its books from the late 1990s to 2007.11

Fe r ro s taal around the Wo r ld In late 2011, the questionably named WikiGreeks website

uploaded an explosive document: a lengthy internal

compliance audit of Ferrostaal—the German mega manufac­ turer heavily involved in the maritime defense trade—by the

US law firm Debevoise & Plimpton. Debevoise & Plimpton had been asked to review all of Ferrostaal’s payments, by itself

and its subsidiaries, related to its numerous contracts around the world. What they found was remarkable: between 1999 and 2010, Ferrostaal or its subsidiaries had made payments 121

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of €1.13bn to various players in relation to its numerous

international contracts, of which €309m were identified as raising serious ‘red flags’.12 ‘The compliance investigation found that Ferrostaal made questionable or improper

payments on many of its largest and highest profile projects’, the report noted. ‘Many of these payments appear to have been systemic, in that they occurred repeatedly throughout the Company on projects of all sizes.’13

The report tracked a number of different submarine

contracts the company had entered into, including hugely controversial purchases in Portugal, Greece and South

Africa. The Portuguese example gives a flavor: in 2004, Portugal opted to buy two Type 209 submarines from the German Submarine Consortium, of which Ferrostaal was

a primary member, for €881.48m. Investigators found that, amongst others, Ferrostaal had made a payment of €1.679m

to Dr. Jurgens Adolff in 2004 and 2005. Dr. Adolff was the German Honorary Consul in Portugal at the time the selection was made.14

H ARDWIRE D F O R CO RRUPT ION: WHY THE TRA D E S TI NK S 15 Of course, companies like BAE Systems and Ferrostaal do not operate in a vacuum. Instead, they work in an industry that is almost

uniquely prone to corruption, due to a number of factors.16 The first,

and most notable, is that the defense trade is intimately linked to

national security concerns. National security often cloaks large arms transactions, making their form and content opaque. Classifying documents becomes the norm, rather than the exception, making

it difficult for citizens and journalists to access crucial information 122

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Myth 5

and hold decision makers to account. In certain instances, even

law enforcement agencies can be denied access to information and documents on this basis, or told to simply stop looking. One recent

example of this was when the UK’s then prime minister, Tony Blair, instructed the Serious Fraud Office to stop investigating BAE

Systems for corruption in Saudi Arabia, citing Britain’s security

relationship with Saudi as the reason. Under this protective shroud, all sorts of corporate and individual malfeasance can be undertaken

without much fear of ever being detected. Such heavy-handed secrecy is not only corruptive, it is entirely unnecessary, as we will discuss in the following chapter.

Being so closely related to security concerns also means that

the defense trade is much less regulated than other industries

and is treated with a striking degree of preference. One good, albeit somewhat technical, example of this is the World Trade

Organization’s Agreement on Government Procurement, which we briefly mention in Myth 2. The World Trade Organization negotiates binding trade agreements with the majority of the world’s governments. The Agreement on Government Procurement is one

such pact, putting in place a raft of rules about how government procurement should be undertaken freely and fairly. All industries are regulated under the agreement, except for when they want to buy weapons:

Nothing in this agreement shall be construed to prevent any

Party from taking any action or not disclosing any information

which it considers necessary for the protection of its essential security interests relating to the procurement of arms, ammu­

nition or war materials, or to procurement indispensable for national security or for national defense purposes.17 123

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In addition, the role of the trade in national security and defense

means that the companies are often considered vital strategic allies,

and are granted access to the highest echelons of the political process. This is magnified by the fact that large weapons systems deals—for

battleships and jet fighters, for example—are undertaken by states, rather than private actors. In such circumstances, if corruption does happen, it is not the corruption that takes place at border posts

or traffic blockades; it is grand corruption that can involve senior political players and their political parties. When this happens, there can be enormous political pressure placed on investigative agencies and prosecutors to stop looking into graft, and national security can

be invoked to stop prosecutions. It is a highly damaging feedback loop: national security provides the secrecy necessary for corruption to be encouraged, while corruption increases the need for secrecy to prevent detection.

The second feature of the trade—and one which magnifies

the impact of national security exceptions—is that it is incredibly

technical and complex, especially when it comes to sophisticated weapons systems such as submarines and stealth fighters. This has two outcomes. First, people from outside the defense establishment

may not be able to penetrate the jargon that hides corruption, limiting accountability. Even if the veil of national security secrecy

is withdrawn, investigators and citizens can still be mystified by

the more technical aspects of deals. Second, it often means that

there are only a handful of people making decisions related to the

expenditure of billions of dollars. Corrupting an arms deal is thus easy—one only has to target a small number of people, rather than entire political systems.

The third feature of the arms trade that makes it susceptible

to corruption is that there is often a worryingly close relationship between purchasing governments, the arms industry, middlemen 124

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and senior figures in the military and intelligence agencies. These

cozy relationships can blur the distinction between what is in the

interests of the industry and what is in the interests of the citizens a purchasing government represents. It also allows for ample

opportunities for the installation of a ‘revolving door’, in which

defense officials take jobs in companies they buy from and vice versa. In turn this creates a ‘revolving table’ in which the governmental

buyer and the commercial seller at the table may find themselves swapping places when the next deal is negotiated.

This is particularly apparent in the United States. In 2010, the

Boston Globe conducted a review of appointments in US arms

companies. It was found that between 2004 and 2008, 80% of all retiring three- and four-star officers became well-paid employees of, or consultants to, the defense industry. In 2007 alone, thirty-four out of the thirty-nine retiring admirals and generals followed this path.18 It is important to remember that, post-retirement, three-

and four-star generals are frequently brought into the Pentagon to

help with strategy or are often allowed to sit in on meetings that interest them. The influence they bring to bear can be decisive.

In 2008, the US Congress sought to address the revolving door

by requiring high-ranking military personnel that were leaving

the government to seek guidance before agreeing to join a defense

corporation or become a consultant that would likely involve working with defense corporations.19 In addition, a centralized database was created that contains copies of the ethics opinions provided when

retiring officials sought guidance.This database was not made publicly available. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) challenged this decision and in 2012 submitted Freedom

of Information Act requests to access the database and view the 219 opinions that had been sought. CREW did not gain access to the database but received information on the ethics opinions 125

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sought by senior defense officials between January 2012 and May 2013.20 CREW found that ‘an overwhelming majority of employees

seeking opinions—84 per cent—had at least one specific company or organization in mind, and defense companies dominated the list

of prospective employers’.21 While it must be recognized that at least

there was ethical guidance sought, it is disturbing that much of the information remained secret, and that the information that came to light showed how clearly the eyes of military officials were trained on employment in the defense industry.

In the UK, a 2012 investigation by The Guardian found that

3,572 senior military officers and MOD officials received approval to take jobs with arms companies after leaving the armed forces

or MOD over the previous sixteen years.22 Organizations such

as the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) also monitor

the ‘revolving door’: you can view all of the major revolving door appointments since they started tracking it on their website.23

You may wonder why the ‘revolving door’ is an issue: surely

people with experience of defense should be allowed to earn an income after they retire from public service. The problem is three-fold. First, there is always the worry that public servants may make decisions that benefit their future employers: to curry

favor and ensure their employment, to help their future employers

maintain their profitability, or simply because of an emotional bias or sympathy. Second, and perhaps most importantly, former public

servants retain many of their professional connections after they retire, which they could use to inappropriately benefit their new

employer. Third, and this is relatively unique to the defense industry, former public servants and senior military figures are able to take part in government deliberations directly, setting the terms and

scope of military and acquisition policy. In 2011, for example, CREW found that in the US ‘some retired generals and admirals work for 126

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defense contractors while they continue to advise the Pentagon’. They pointed to the examples of General James Cartwright and

Admiral Gary Roughead, both of whom took jobs in the defense industry shortly after retiring, who were simultaneously serving

on the Defense Policy Board. The board’s function is to provide

the secretary of defense with ‘independent, informed advice and opinion concerning major matters of defense policy’.24

Both General James Cartwright, who retired from the US

Marine Corps on 1 September 2011 after serving as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Admiral Gary Roughead, who retired

from the navy in 2011 after serving as the chief of naval operations,

were appointed to the Defense Policy Board on 4 October 2011. General Cartwright, shortly after his retirement, was appointed

to the board of Lockheed Martin; Roughead joined Northrop Grumman’s board less than four months after his retirement.

It is not just individuals who benefit from these close relationships;

many companies seek to make substantial private profit from their

relationship with the state in ways that can be somewhat baffling. In 2012, for example, Lockheed Martin attempted to secure a tax

break on a hotel and conference centre it controlled in Montgomery

County in the state of Maryland, despite acknowledging that most

of the money spent in housing delegates there was money from federal contracts.25 Lockheed eventually received a state lodging

tax break in this instance, but were rebuffed from exemption at the county level. They were most recently granted an enormous $420m

tax break in July 2014 in California.26 California delegates (many

with Lockheed Martin factories in their districts) argued that

this tax break would make Lockheed Martin more ‘competitive’ in its bid to be the supplier of next-generation bombers to the

US government, worth $55bn. Its primary competitor, Northrop Grumman, has now demanded a similar tax break to level the 127

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playing field.27 It seems perverse that two companies fighting it out

to receive taxpayer money to build jets should receive a cut on the amount paid in taxes on their profits.

The fourth notable feature is that the arms trade is truly global.

Large defense contractors are often massive agglomerations of once disparate companies, with long lines of supply that are spread

throughout the world.28 This process has accelerated with increased demands by importing countries that supplier companies undertake ‘technology transfer’ or move parts of the production process to the

buyer country. Long supply lines usually involve the use of multiple

subcontractors and a plethora of different jurisdictions. Corruption in these instances can easily be hidden through subcontracting and be facilitated in jurisdictions that may not be as well-resourced to investigate as countries like the US. According to a 1999 report

by the US inspector general, it was precisely because ‘kickbacks

were so pervasive in subcontracting in the Defense industry’ that the US introduced the Kickback Act of 1986, a piece of legislation unfortunately rarely mirrored in other countries.29

The problems of subcontracting and long lines of supply are

aggravated by the widespread use of ‘offsets’ in the defense industry, discussed in detail in the previous chapter.

The final notable feature is that, quite obviously, the trade in

weapons often happens in times of imminent or active conflict. In these circumstances normal procurement procedures are

suspended and all sorts of malfeasance can take place. Defense

contractors can have a field day by price gouging, colluding with competitors, engaging in widespread fraud or winning contracts

through what­ever means they deem necessary. And even if these

crimes are detected, they often go unpunished, as the warring

governments still require the services of the industry. The US’ experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the government relied 128

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heavily on private security contractors to do the work in the field, is instructive. In 2011, the Commission on Wartime Contracting found that at least $31bn had been lost through waste and fraud by

contractors out of a total of $206bn spent by the US government: 15% of all expenditure.30The commission noted that this was a low-

ball estimate—at the upper range, it was possible that as much as

$60bn had been wasted.31 The largest contractor, Kellogg, Brown &

Root (KBR), was found to be guilty of a whole range of offences, such as getting paid the full monthly salaries of engineers who

worked for less than an hour a month.32 KBR was a subsidiary of Halliburton, the company for which Dick Cheney served as chief

executive officer in the few short years he wasn’t working in the White House in the mid-1990s. Nevertheless, KBR continued to

receive multiple enormous contracts. ‘We basically said that KBR

is too big to fail’, commission co-chair Christopher Shays noted. ‘So we are still going to fund them.’33

CO RRU P TING IN S TIT UT IONS All of this suggests that the defense industry is particularly risky when it comes to corruption. But this is only corruption of the traditional sort: cash in envelopes or dodgy transfers through

middlemen. It completely ignores another form of corruption: ‘institutional corruption’. Institutional corruption as understood by the Harvard-based academic Lawrence Lessig is the influence brought to bear on institutions that is legal, and may even be

considered ethical, but that stops those institutions performing

their intended functions properly. Think of the US Food and Drug Administration: its purpose is to regulate food and medicines in

the US to ensure their safety. But if lobbyists or other influence peddlers are able to convince the FDA to adopt rulings that favor 129

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particular corporate interests, instead of maximizing safety, one can say that the FDA has been institutionally corrupted.

The defense industry, especially in the major producer countries,

is guilty of institutionally corrupting numerous state institutions, be

they the military, government or law enforcement. This is especially true of the US. As Bill Hartung has observed:

when other weapon systems are up for debate: Industry and

Pentagon lobbyists swarm Capitol Hill; pressure is ratcheted up on members of the Armed Services and Defense Appropriations

Committee in the House and Senate, many of whom have had key defense production facilities placed in their states or

districts; key members receive generous political contributions

from the producer of the weapon system and its subcontractors; … and official reports and testimony are created that make a one-sided case for the weapons system in question, often with the aid of the contractors.34

In one of the few military procurement scandals to be publicized and in which action was taken, the Boeing Corporation briefly lost

a contract that had been awarded in 2003 to supply the US Air Force with jet refueling tankers. A senior air force official, Darlene

Druyun, tailored the procurement criteria to Boeing’s bid, ensured

the price accorded with the corporation’s needs and, together with senior air force and Pentagon officials and the White House

conceived and implemented the company’s lobbying operation. Druyun’s daughter and son-in-law received jobs from Boeing while

the negotiations were in progress. After the contract had been

awarded, Druyun herself was employed by Boeing with a substantial

signing-on bonus. In addition, the secretary of the air force, James Roche, resigned before a report on the tanker scandal concluded 130

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that he had broken ethics rules, and went to work for a company involved in the development of space-based weapons.35

Illustrating that even the accountability chain is seriously com­

promised by institutional corruption, the inspector-general’s report on the tanker scandal concealed significant facts, after the White House scrubbed it of damning information related to White House

officials’ role in the scandal. The inspector-general was lambasted in a Senate hearing. He resigned and went to work for Blackwater (as it then was named), one of the largest and most controversial

defense contractors operating in Iraq, several of whose employees have been convicted of murder for deaths they caused in Iraq.36

The extent of institutional corruption in the defense sector is also

seen vividly in the realm of threat identification and intelligence. It is now known that corporations are working at every level in the national security sphere from the operational to the strategic. Back in 2007, it was noted that

corporate intelligence professionals from companies such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Booz Allen Hamilton, SAIC

and others are thoroughly integrated into analytical divisions throughout the intelligence community, including the Office

of the Director of National Intelligence … that produces the President’s Daily Brief (PDB)’.37

R.J. Hillhouse has suggested that it is not possible to distinguish

items in the PDB that are prepared by government employees or contractors, but that if this were to happen then the PDB would

have ‘corporate logos plastered all over it’.38 Therefore, corporations

have significant opportunities to shape strategic government policy decisions, and at the same time are ‘removed from traditional

accountability structures such as judicial and parliamentary 131

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oversight’.39 Some have noted that this could permit corporations to include items in the PDB and other strategy documents that could

influence the US national security agenda in favor of particular

corporate interests with limited oversight and accountability—this

is a problem for democratic governance regardless of whether it occurs willfully or through inherent bias.

I S CO RRUP TIO N A VICTIM L ESS CRIME? When people claim that corruption is only a problem for develop­ing

countries, the rejoinder should be: this is not only factually wrong, it is deeply unethical. Why would corruption in developing countries

be ok? Why are so few people angered by the litany of corruption

with regard to the arms trade? There are many reasons, but one of the primary ones is that many people simply don’t believe that corruption is such a big deal. Corruption is seen as a victimless crime.

The harsh reality is that corruption, in the defense trade and

beyond, takes a massive toll on democratic governance and human

development. Corruption in the defense trade diverts enormous

amounts of funds away from much-needed development goals. And, as the example below shows, defense spending, when it involves corruption, tends to decrease rather than increase human security.

I s Cor r upti on a V i cti ml e ss Cr ime? T he S o uth A f r i can ‘A r m s De al’ In 1999, the South African government bought a range of sophisticated weapons in a transaction known colloquially as the ‘Arms Deal’. Although the cost has never been nailed down firmly, it was estimated to set the country back at

least $6bn: an enormous amount for a country that had just emerged from decades of apartheid and that had severe and 132

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pressing socio-economic needs. Since its announcement in

1999, the deal has been beset by numerous corruption alle­ gations relating to all its constituent contracts.40 Two people

have been sent to jail for either fraud or corruption relating

to the deal; one of them was the ‘financial advisor’ to the country’s current president, Jacob Zuma, who himself faced 783 counts of fraud, corruption and racketeering in relation to the deal.

For a number of years, the South African government

argued that providing anti-retroviral treatment to individuals

with HIV/Aids was simply too expensive.41 In August 2003,

a South African government study found that, if the drugs

were rolled out by 2008, it would have deferred the deaths

of 1.7m people and the orphaning of 860,000 children.42 If

the money from the Arms Deal had been spent on HIV/ Aids treatment, the government could have funded the full treatment of every HIV-infected person in the country for a full twelve years.43 This is just one such example: if the money

was spent on housing, for example, the country could have

built around 2 million houses, just 200,000 houses less than

would be needed to provide a roof over the head of every South African. Similarly, the money spent on the Arms Deal

could have built a library for every school in South Africa, stocked them with books, and employed a librarian in each one for over twenty years.44 It also could have funded the

transfer of nearly 30% of all land in the country into the hands of those who had been dispossessed by the apartheid

state, massively undoing one of the country’s great tragedies. Instead, South Africa bought a range of weapons whose utility is unclear and utilization questionable. 133

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CO NCLUS IO N These examples, and many others, suggest that the question we posed

right at the beginning of this discussion is not only misinformed, it is misplaced. The real question we need to ask is this: ‘How does the combination of access to enormous public funds and national secrecy corrupt democratic practices?’ The answer, as we’ve

shown, is simple: the arms trade is not only systemically corrupt; it systematically corrupts governments and their institutions.


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M Y TH 6

N ATION AL SE C URIT Y R E QUIRES BL A N KET SE CREC Y In the previous chapter, we discussed how secrecy provides fertile

ground for corruption in the defense trade. In almost every case, this

secrecy is generated by relying on the ‘national security exception’: that because the defense sector is so crucial to national security it

has to remain outside of public knowledge. Certainly, in some very limited cases, secrecy is necessary to maintain national security. But in a good majority of cases, national security is invoked to prevent

disclosure of details that are embarrassing to those who govern, or to cover up wrongdoing, or, as seems to be the case in many bureaucracies, because keeping things secret becomes the default

position, a force of habit. As one democracy advocate long ago noted, public information is crucial to rule by the people:

A popular Government, without popular information, or the

means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: 135

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And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm

themselves with the power which knowledge gives. ( James Madison to W.T. Barry, 4 August 1822)

And, as we show below, not only does excessive secrecy decrease

accountability and hamper good governance, it can actually decrease security as well.

H OW M UCH D O E S THE SECRECY B L A N KE T COVE R? Secrecy is the default position of a good deal of the global defense sector. Secrecy is so widespread that many countries fail to even

report how much the military receives in funding. The Government Defense Anti-Corruption Index (GI) is an index developed by

the global anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International. The GI assesses the levels of corruption risk in a national defense

establishment: what systems are in place to prevent corruption,

and how well they are enforced. One part of the ‘corruption risk’ calculation is whether or not countries are transparent in their defense budgeting.

The results of the index were damning: forty of the eighty-

two countries surveyed in 2013 did not publish their budget at all.1

Additionally, even published defense budgets often exclude ‘secret’ spending, i.e. how much of the defense budget is spent on top secret items. The risk that this poses in terms of the illicit diversion of funds should be obvious. The GI research also found that 70% of

the countries surveyed failed to disclose the amount spent on secret or sensitive items.2

There are some cases in which the details of secret spending may

not be appropriate for wide dissemination. But a fundamental part 136

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of a democratic system is the agreement to supply this information

to publicly respected bodies that can hold the military to account, in particular legislatures. Internationally, most legislatures will allow

for top-secret information to be disclosed to representatives in a way

that limits its dissemination, but ensures a degree of accountability. Yet 40% of the countries surveyed in the GI failed to give any information at all on funding for secret projects to the legislature.3

Where budgets are published, there is the additional concern

that the military establishment may be hiding true expenditures in other budgets, which is known as off-budget expenditure.4 This

secret expenditure can be used to undertake politically contentious

and unsupported activities, or merely as a means of self-enrichment. Off-budget expenditure became a major problem when Western

donors, in particular the World Bank, stipulated in the late 1990s

that as part of their aid packages defense spending had to be reduced to an acceptable 2% of GDP. The intent was laudable but the

outcomes could be perverse. In Uganda, for example, huge resources were diverted from non-military budgets into a military campaign in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2001, Uganda received the right to exceed the 2% spending, but, in reality, ‘the request was

merely an attempt to gain permission to officially spend what was already being allocated to the military’.5

Another example is Nigeria, where problematic off-budget

expen­diture may be threatening the security of Africa’s biggest

country. In Nigeria, ‘security votes’ are off-budget pots of funding

that are, in theory, spent on maintaining security. Such ‘security votes’ are reserved for control by the executive, and are not accounted for or subject to audit.6 The sums are believed to be enormous, but their

opacity makes it impossible for citizens or civil society to know the

amounts. These security votes are allocated on top of the 845 billion

Naira (approximately US$5.3bn) budgeted for the security sector 137

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in 2014, which already receives a larger portion of the Nigerian national budget than all other sectors.7

There is no doubt that Nigeria faces significant security threats,

but the size and proportion of spending on opaque ‘security votes’ have so far had little impact on the safety of citizens in the country. Soldiers complain that they are out-gunned by insurgents.8 Boko Haram is now considered the deadliest terrorist insurgent group in the world: in 2015 alone, 11,000 people were killed in Boko Haram-

related violence,9 while an estimated 2 million civilians have been

displaced since Boko Haram’s insurgency began.10 A report by the International Crisis Group pointed to ‘corruption, impunity and

underdevelopment grievances’, as well as a heavy-handed military approach by government forces, as factors that press citizens to support groups like Boko Haram.11The executive director of the

Nigerian Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, stated that ‘for Nigerians to have less security challenges there should be transparency in the allocation of the huge fund for security in the 2014 budget’.12

Another example is provided by the US, where there are relatively

strong oversight and transparency mechanisms in place compared to the majority of countries worldwide. Nonetheless, in addition to excessive corporate influence through legal pathways as discussed in the previous chapter, the US also has problematic off-budget

spending. The Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account was intended to separate funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

from other defense spending.13 OCO spending is a supplemental

allocation for ‘war spending’, intended to be faster and more flexible than going through the normal appropriations process, but it has grown significantly since 2001.14 Over $1trn has been spent using

OCO funds during the Iraq and Afghan wars, but according to the Friends Committee on National Legislation, much of that money 138

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has been used for activities unrelated to the wars, and should have been included in the main Pentagon budget.15 Indeed, when the US undertook new and increased military action in Iraq and Syria in

2014, it could draw on huge reserves of funds that had been granted

to the OCO accounts before it had to call for additional money: reflective of how over-funded OCO spending is.

To make matters worse, the OCO is not subject to the same

budget restrictions—such as the Budget Control Act—as the

primary Pentagon budget. According to the Center for American

Progress, ‘the Pentagon has requested $79 billion in OCO funding

for FY 2015 and plans to request an additional $30 billion annually through FY 2019. Because OCO funding is not subject to the

[Budget Control Act] caps, it has the effect of allowing for a substantially larger defense budget’.16 In 2014, a diverse coalition

of organizations wrote a joint letter to Congress to cut the

‘Pentagon’s slush fund’, and close this misleading loophole that allows defense spending to grow, even as the Pentagon’s budget appears to be capped.17

Problems with defense budget transparency are not an isolated

phenomenon. Rather, they are best understood as part of a culture

of secrecy that defines a lot of defense establishment and industry

behavior. This is particularly true of the US, which classifies

mountains of documents every year. In the fiscal year 2014, the Information Security Oversight Office reported that there were

46,800 ‘original classification’ decisions in all offices of the US

government, i.e. 46,800 decisions which classified information, fortunately a drop from the George W. Bush era.18 However, any

document that is produced that uses previously classified material

is also automatically classified—what is known as ‘derivative classification’. In 2014, this led to the classification of an astonishing

77,515,636 documents; 17,539,500 of which were given the highest 139

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classification of Top Secret.19 As Figure 6.1 shows, using derivative

classification has become a worryingly increasing trend.

Keeping so many secrets costs a great deal of money. The US

federal government more than doubled its expenditure on keeping

secrets in the decade after 2001. In 2014 more than $14.98bn was

spent in protecting secrets.20 And the costs have kept going up. In 1995, for example, $2.7bn was spent keeping secrets; this increased

to $3.77bn in 1999.21 The rise to $14.98bn in 2013 thus represents an

increase of just under 400% since 9/11.To put it in perspective, the

cost of classification in the US is equal to the budget of the entire

US Environmental Protection Agency.22 Steven Aftergood, who

directs the Project on Government Secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists, said that ‘to me it illustrates the most important problem—namely that we are classifying far too much information

Figure 6.1 Derivative classification activity, FY 1996–FY 2014 Source: Information Security Oversight Office, Report to the President 2014 (Washington, DC: ISOO, 2014), 1, accessed June 3, 2016, isoo/reports/2014-annual-report.pdf. 140

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… The credibility of the classification system is collapsing under the

weight of bogus secrets’.23 This was echoed by the US Congresscreated Public Interest Declassification Board, which warned that over-classification ‘undermines the integrity of the system’.24

Justifying the cost of keeping secrets is somewhat difficult

when it becomes clear just how many people have access to these secrets. In the US and UK, armies of contractors are employed in

the intelligence community to process information and undertake

intelligence work. Indeed, in the US, nearly 1% of the population has some sort of security clearance. In 2013, it was confirmed that

3.5m people held ‘secret’ clearances, of which 2.7m were government

employees and 580,000 contractors. An additional 1.4m people, including over 483,000 contractors, held Top Secret clearances.25

Remarkably, this figure continued to grow: in 2014 it was reported

that 5.1m people held ‘secret’ clearances in the US, more than the population of Norway.26

How can a secret known by a million people remain a secret? A

‘secret’ in this system can readily be found by any capable criminal or spy—it just can’t be subjected to public scrutiny and debate.

The culture of excessive secrecy is both illuminated and encour­

aged by the poor treatment of whistleblowers around the world. Blowing the whistle on corruption exposes fraud, waste and abuse that fritters away taxpayer funds and can put security at risk. In the secretive defense and security sector, it is even more important to

have individuals inside institutions watching out for corruption to hold those in power accountable. An understanding that individuals who expose corruption will be protected and their reports taken seriously can have a deterrent effect.

Yet around the world, protections for whistleblowers in this

sector are shockingly poor. Just three of the eighty-two countries

studied in Transparency International UK’s Government Defence 141

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Anti-Corruption Index encourage whistleblowing by defense and security personnel, and implement strong measures to protect those

that expose corruption: Germany, Norway and Singapore. Fiftyseven of the eighty-two countries studied (70%) score a 0 or 1 on the

question regarding whistleblower protection, indicating that they

either have no protections in place at all, or there is no evidence that existing laws are enforced.27

In the US, the cases of Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden

brought the issue of national security whistleblowing dramatically

to the fore. But they are part of a broader trend in which the Obama administration has cracked down on government employees who

leak information to the press.28 This has been done using the World

War I-era Espionage Act, which makes it a crime to allow documents or information ‘relating to the national defense’ into the hands of

‘any person not entitled to receive it’.29 The Department of Justice responded to a Pro Publica report on the crackdown on leaks by

stating that it does not target whistleblowers, and that whistleblowers are only legally protected when they raise concerns through internal channels.30 Yet the experience of NSA whistleblowers including

Thomas Drake, William Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe, clients of the Government Accountability Project, show that whistleblowers in

this sector almost always experience career setbacks, and worse, many of them face reprisals, investigation, lengthy and costly legal battles, and sometimes jail.31

Importantly, progress on general whistleblower protections has

not included defense and security personnel. The US Whistleblower

Protection Enhancement Act of 2012, for example, does not extend

to defense and security workers.32 The Obama administration issued

Presidential Policy Directive 19 to provide intelligence and security whistleblowers with protection from retaliation but, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, there are 142

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Myth 6

several gaps, including that employees fired for national security

reasons are exempt from protection, and the directive does not apply to members of the armed forces or ‘persons in positions

of a “confidential, policy-determining, policymaking, or policy-

advocating character”’. The Center notes that there is no provision to allow outside reporting if going through internal agency or

intelligence committee channels don’t work: ‘the directive … is unlikely to have much effect in cases where the agency itself is

complicit in the wrongdoing and the intelligence committees are not willing to interfere’.33

To put the crackdown on whistleblowers in context: since

Obama took office in 2009, the administration has brought seven cases under the Espionage Act, more than under any previous president: Thomas Drake, Shamai Leibowitz, Bradley (Chelsea) Manning, Stephen Kim, Jeffrey Sterling (in whose trial the NY

Times reporter James Risen was subpoenaed to testify), John Kiriakou and Edward Snowden. Even while aggressively pursuing

whistleblowers, the government does acknowledge abuse within the security sector, if its investigations are any indication. In that same time period, the Securities & Exchange Commission took up four

enforcement actions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)

related to defense and security: Smith & Wesson, Armor Holdings, United Industrial Corporation (UIC) and Thomas Wurzel (former

president of UIC).34 The DOJ took enforcement actions during this

period against Armor Holdings and its employee Richard Bistrong, and BAE Systems. Twenty-two individuals in military and law

enforcement products companies were also indicted related to the

Armor Holdings incident, but the case was eventually dismissed.35

With corruption and corporate abuse so rampant, surely more should be done to protect whistleblowers? 143

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TH E RE A L RE A S O N S F O R SECRECY As the above illustrates, the world, and the defense sector in par­ticular, is suffering from a bad dose of excessive secrecy. This

might be understandable if this secrecy stemmed from legitimate and immediate national security concerns. But cultures of secrecy

usually develop for other more mundane—and potentially damaging—reasons.

One reason is that excessive secrecy is simply a habit. The Public

Interest Declassification Board, for example, argues that the Cold War fostered a culture of global secrecy that merely became a routine. ‘Historically, classification occurred mostly through a rote

process, almost always favoring protection and with little restraint or

concern for declassification and eventual public access’, the Board’s 2012 Report noted. ‘Over-classification was a natural consequence of having a culture of caution, with every incentive to avoid risk rather than manage it.’36

Other commentators point to more personal and less flattering

reasons for excessive secrecy. Daniel Ellsberg, the famous whistle­ blower behind the Pentagon Papers, has argued that there are

strong psycho-social reasons underpinning cultures of secrecy. Ellsberg suggests that the act of keeping secrets in bureaucracies is a way of proving trustworthiness to higher-ups, ensuring that secret-keepers are well thought of by their peers and bosses. At

the same time, being given access to secrets becomes a badge of

honor, something by which people can measure their status within

organizations, particularly those dealing with national security. As Ellsberg has written:

The promise to keep ‘secrets of state,’ once demanded and given, becomes virtually part of one’s core identity. In the national 144

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Myth 6

security apparatus, one’s pride and self-respect is founded in particular in the fact that one has been trusted to keep secrets in

general and trusted with these particular secrets. Second, they

reflect one’s confidence that one is ‘worthy’ of this trust. Indeed, the trust (with respect to truly sensitive secrets, requiring

utmost reliance on the discretion of the recipient) will have been ‘earned,’ before being conferred, by a long history of secret-

keeping, building habits that are hard to break, that form part of one’s character.37

The carrot also combines with the stick: many officials are given

the repeated message that if damaging information comes out, it is their fault for not classifying enough. This means that officials may classify simply to play it safe, to save their jobs and careers and avoid

institutional censure. In the 1950s, for example, John Moss, widely

recognized as the father of the Freedom of Information Act, argued persuasively that ‘the Defense Department’s security classification

system is still geared to a policy under which an official faces stern punishment for failure to use a secrecy stamp but faces no

such punishment for abusing the privilege of secrecy, even to hide controversy, error, or dishonesty’.38

Elizabeth Goitein and David Shapiro, both of the Brennan

Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, also suggest that, within bureaucracies, information that has been classified is simply taken more seriously—almost as if being secret

is the criterion by which time-pressured officials can sort the wheat

from the chaff.39At the same time, a person sharing the declassified information receives a credibility boost and is listened to. One

journalist, quoted by Goitein and Shapiro, recalled a conversation with a former national security official thus: 145

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[The retired official] … noticed that classification was used not to highlight the underlying sensitivity of a document, but to ensure that it did not get lost in the blizzard of paperwork

that routinely competes for the eyes of government officials. If a document was not marked ‘classified,’ it would be moved

to the bottom of the stack, eclipsed by more urgent business, meaning documents that carried a higher security classification. He observed that a security classification, by extension, also conferred importance upon the author of the document. If the paper was ignored, so too was its author. Conversely, if the

materials were accorded a higher degree of protection, they would redound to their author’s credit and enhance his or her authority and bureaucratic standing.40

Organizational politics and turf wars are other reasons why secrecy

becomes entrenched. In the mid-1990s, President Clinton appointed a commission to investigate the extent and scale of secrecy in

government and give recommendations as to how to remedy it. The commission was headed by Daniel Moynihan, who used his

experiences to write a critically acclaimed book in 1999. Reviewing

the American experience of secrecy, Moynihan came to believe that

secrets primarily became ‘organizational assets’ to be used in turf wars and to achieve ill-defined personal and organizational goals: Departments and agencies hoard information, and the govern­ ment becomes a kind of market. Secrets become organizational

assets, never to be shared save in exchange for another organ­ ization’s assets. Sometimes the exchange is in kind: I exchange

my secret for your secret. Sometimes the exchange resembles barter: I trade my willingness to share certain secrets for your

help in accomplishing my purposes. But whatever the coinage, 146

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the system costs can be enormous. In the void created by absent or withheld information, decisions are either made poorly or not made at all.41

The cynical use of secrecy can also become a key way in which

governments can raise support for activities that are unjustified

based on the actual information. Goitein and Shapiro point to the

Iraq war as a prime example. In the lead-up to the war in Iraq, George W. Bush referred to the National Intelligence Estimate as evidence that Iraq was attempting to produce weapons of mass

destruction, despite the fact that the estimate included quali­

fications and cautions from various agencies about the data. Only a

small number of congressmen were given access to the full version.

However, when the matter came before Congress to be debated, the full assembly was given an unclassified version that left out the

dissenting opinions. A later congressional committee found that the unclassified version provided readers ‘with an incomplete picture

of the nature and extent of the debate within the Intelligence Community regarding these issues’.42

Goitein and Shapiro also point to another reason for excessive

secrecy, which we have referred to repeatedly: the desire to cover up wasteful, criminal or simply embarrassing information.43 One

example of this can be found in the controversial Timber Wind

Project. Timber Wind was part of the much-maligned Star Wars

program to build a means of intercepting incoming nuclear weapons in the US, and was specifically mandated to investigate using

nuclear-propelled rockets as interceptors. In the early 1990s, details of the project were leaked to Steven Aftergood of the Federation

of American Scientists. Aftergood discovered that the project had been wrongly classified as a ‘special access program’, limiting

knowledge of it. Aftergood thus wrote to the inspector general, 147

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who investigated the matter. The inspector general confirmed that the over-classification had not only ‘limited discussion and debate on the feasibility of the technology and alternative applications of

the technology’,44 but that the classification was kept in place after

Aftergood had been given the documents ‘to avoid embarrassment that may have resulted from the unauthorized disclosure’.45

H OW S E C RE CY RE DU CE S N ATION AL SECURIT Y In addition to being concerned about unnecessary secrecy, we

should also be deeply worried about how national security can be actively undermined by secrecy. This comes about three key ways.

First, excessive secrecy creates the space for corruption, waste

and mismanagement. And, as we have seen, corruption and waste

actively reduce national security by diverting resources away from

actual national security needs, reducing the legitimacy and efficacy

of the military, and encouraging government behavior that sees the defense budget as a means of self-enrichment rather than a scarce resource that needs to be used to maximize security.

Second, excessive secrecy curtails proper debate about foreign

and defense policy, and can lead countries into dark places. This was clear in the case described above, where selected declassification of

materials limited the debate about whether or not to invade Iraq, tilting in favor of the Bush administration’s preference for war. This may not have caused the war in Iraq—the conflict was driven by

multiple factors—but it certainly led many to support the war based on faulty information and muddied the water considerably.

Third, and finally, excessive secrecy can markedly reduce the ability

of those in charge of national security to do their jobs efficiently. This is particularly true when various defense and intelligence agencies

fail to share information between them. One very clear example of 148

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this was the build-up to 9/11. Reviewing the facts surrounding the matter, the 9/11 Commission, set up to investigate the reasons why the attacks weren’t stopped, noted that the policies and practices of the agencies involved stopped information held between them being integrated into a single useful picture:

The culture of agencies feeling they own the information they gathered at taxpayer expense must be replaced by a culture in which the agencies instead feel they have a duty to the

information—to repay the taxpayers’ investment by making that information available ...

Current security requirements nurture overclassification

and excessive compartmentation [sic] of information among

agencies. Each agency’s incentive structure opposes sharing, with risks (criminal, civil, and internal administrative sanctions)

but few rewards for sharing information. No one has to pay for the long-term costs of overclassifying information, though these

costs—even in literal financial terms—are substantial. There are no punishments for not sharing information. Agencies uphold

a ‘need-to-know’ culture of information protection rather than promoting a ‘need-to-share’ culture of integration.46

This insight was clearly lost in the post-9/11 acceleration of classifications.

WHAT C A N B E DONE The fact that national security has driven excessive secrecy should be of concern to everyone around the world. And there is something

meaningful and concrete that can be done. In 2013, the Open Society Justice Initiative undertook a massive survey of the impact 149

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of national security on democracy, and developed a framework of

principles that could guide all future national security legislation

to ensure the greatest possible degree of openness and democracy. Drawing on consultations with over 500 experts in seventy countries, the program produced what are known as the Global Principles

on National Security and the Right to Information (also known

as the Tshwane Principles).47 If governments around the world would agree to adopt the Principles, and make them a reality in

their legislation and conduct, it would mark a fundamental change

in how secrecy and national security are conceived. The following points summarize the Tshwane Principles on National Security and the Right to Information:48

• The public has a right of access to government information, including information from private entities that perform public functions or receive public funds.

• It is up to the government to prove the necessity of restrictions on the right to information.

• Governments may legitimately withhold information in narrowly

defined areas, such as defense plans, weapons development and

the operations and sources used by intelligence services. Also, they may withhold confidential information supplied by foreign governments that is linked to national security matters.

• But governments should never withhold information concern­ ing violations of international human rights and humanitarian

law, including information about the circumstances and

perpetrators of torture and crimes against humanity, and the location of secret prisons. This includes information about past abuses under previous regimes, and any information they

hold regarding violations committed by their own agents or by others.


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• The public has a right to know about systems of surveillance, and the procedures for authorizing them.

• No government entity may be exempt from disclosure require­

ments—including security sector and intelligence authorities. The public also has a right to know about the existence of all

security sector entities, the laws and regulations that govern them and their budgets.

• Whistleblowers in the public sector should not face retaliation if the public interest in the information disclosed outweighs

the public interest in secrecy. But they should have first made a reasonable effort to address the issue through official complaint mechanisms, provided that an effective mechanism exists.

• Criminal action against those who leak information should be

considered only if the information poses a ‘real and identifiable risk of causing significant harm’ that overrides the public interest in disclosure.

• Journalists and others who do not work for the government

should not be prosecuted for receiving, possessing or disclosing classified information to the public, or for conspiracy or other

crimes based on their seeking or accessing classified information.

• Journalists and others who do not work for the government should not be forced to reveal a confidential source or other unpublished information in a leak investigation.

• Public access to judicial processes is essential: ‘invocation of national security may not be relied upon to undermine the

fundamental right of the public to access judicial processes’. Media and the public should be permitted to challenge any

limitation on public access to judicial processes. • Governments should not be permitted to keep state secrets or other

information confidential that prevents victims of human rights violations from seeking or obtaining a remedy for their violation. 151

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• There should be independent oversight bodies for the security sector, and the bodies should be able to access all information needed for effective oversight.

• Information should be classified only as long as necessary, and

never indefinitely. Laws should govern the maximum permissible period of classification.

• There should be clear procedures for requesting declassification, with priority procedures for the declassification of information of public interest.

It is up to us, as global citizens, to compel our governments to act

on these principles, for the sake of more openness and transparency, enhanced justice and democracy, and greater security for all.


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M Y TH 7

NOW IS NOT THE TIME If all of the arguments that those who support the arms trade status

quo presented so far have not convinced you to leave it well alone, there is one more argument up their sleeve: the world today is too

dangerous to imperil the status quo and challenge the arms business. In fact, so the argument goes, the world is more dangerous now than it ever has been in the past. We need to stick with this course, it is argued, until we’ve turned the tide, rolled back the wars and achieved

a peace in which we can breathe and take stock. We need first to win the ‘war on terror’, and to deter the threats posed by a rising Russia and China, before we can begin to dismantle our defenses.

Our argument is different. We don’t put forward a particular

explanation for the world’s armed conflicts and security problems. What we do is to debunk the myth that we are living in a period in

which the world’s threats justify an international arms business of

the scale, type and influence that we have today. In fact, we suggest that the arms trade has not only corrupted government procurement

and international trade, but it is insidiously perverting the course

of judicious political analysis. Now is precisely the time to debate, 155

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openly and transparently, the nature of the global arms business and its indefensible logic.

I S TH E WO RLD RE A LLY M O RE DANGEROUS? The drumbeat of imminent and permanent crisis is powerful and persistent. And it is escalating. Leaders around the world, large parts

of the media and the swathes of the commentariat repeat the claim ad nauseam, that our current threats make this the most dangerous time in human history. In 2013, for example, British Foreign Secretary William Hague declared: ‘The world is becoming more dangerous. The risk has risen.’1 Similarly, in 2012 the Chairman of

the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, told the United States Congress that ‘in my personal military judgment, formed over

thirty-eight years, we are living in the most dangerous time in my lifetime, right now’. Dempsey further detailed the sources of his

fear: ‘There are a wide variety of non-state actors, super-empowered

individuals, terrorist groups, who have acquired capabilities that heretofore were the monopoly of nation states … I wake up every

morning waiting for that cyber attack or waiting for that terrorist attack or waiting for that nuclear proliferation.’2

There is no doubt that the world may be faced with problems,

but the claim that we live in the most dangerous period in human

history is simply unsupported by the data. There are genuine threats, but they are routinely exaggerated and distorted. The threat

of terrorism—which often ranks highest in the listing of fears—is hugely overstated and objectively quantifiable as such: an example

of the process of ‘threat inflation’, which we discuss in detail below. Meanwhile, other tangible long-term threats, such as climate

change, are ignored or brushed aside. Threats are framed in such a way that the solution is pre-defined: more weaponry, heightened 156

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Myth 7

vigilance, more authority vested in the defense and security chiefs. These arguments are demonstrably false and dangerous.

Less heard than the ‘dangerous times’ trope is the counter-

argument, that we are in fact living in the most peaceful era in human history. Steven Pinker, with his widely acclaimed 2011 book

The Better Angels of Our Nature, is the leading proponent of this view. Drawing on volumes of evidence, Pinker argues that all the

statistics point to a massive long-term reduction in violent conflict and a reduction in intentional violence across all areas of human life.3 To explain this remarkable and laudable trend, Pinker details

the growth of states and the rule of law, the expansion of education, the human rights revolution and the feminization of politics.

Remarkable as Pinker’s claim may seem, he is in line with

the general view among scholars and statistical authorities that look at long-term trends. Among the trends that have been welldocumented are:

• The decline in number and scale of mass atrocity events.4

• Decline in the number of armed conflicts and people killed in each.5

• Decline in famines.6 Let’s narrow the conversation to armed conflict for the moment,

where the research consensus on the long-term trends is very strong. The most significant global threat of violence in terms of

capacity for destruction is war between the major powers. This

peril was horribly realized in the devastation of World War I that

began just over a hundred years ago, and its sequel from 1939 to 1945. The degree of political, social and economic upheaval that these conflicts caused cannot be overestimated. World War I ended with 16 million people dead, and another 20 million wounded. World 157

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War II surpassed even this deadly toll, leaving in its wake 60 million people dead, representing 2.5% of the global population.

Since the end of World War II, there is one key statistic we need

to keep in mind: zero. That is precisely the number of wars between major powers since 1953, the number of nuclear conflicts and the

number of wars involving direct conflict between two states in

Europe.7 While many will and in fact have argued that this number

was made possible by large military build-ups, particularly in the West, another set of important statistics helps us understand that

the real peace dividends were found following the end of the Cold War, when military stockpiles and proxy wars were reduced.

Of course the world still experiences an unacceptable number of

conflicts. But these are much fewer than during the middle of the

20th century; and, importantly, they tend to be less violent. In 1991, for example, two years after the Berlin Wall had fallen, there were

fifty-two conflicts around the world. This fell to the low thirties, on average, between the mid-1990s and early 2010s.8 The total, it should

be noted, increased to forty in 2014, which is worrying, but still

less than in the early 1990s. Conflicts claiming 1,000 or more lives declined 50% from fifteen in the early 1990s to just seven in 2013.

In addition, the conflicts that take place are generally less violent.

The Human Security Report asserts that the average international conflict in the 1950s killed over 21,000 people a year on the battle­

field; in the 1990s that average had declined to approximately 5,000, and in the first decade of the new millennium it was less than 3,000.9 And we are getting better at counting wars and violence

in wars. The Sudanese‒Ethiopian reciprocal cross-border attacks of

the mid-1990s, for instance, don’t show up in any databases, because both sides kept them secret.10 Today it’s inconceivable that an air

raid on a civilian target that killed between 1,000 and 1,800 people would remain entirely unreported for ten months (social media and 158

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the internet has vastly increased the ability of even the most remote

places in the world to be reported on), but that is precisely what

happened following the Ethiopian air raid on the market town of Hausien on 22 June 1988.11 Overall, the downward trend in armed conflict has continued into the 2000s.12

Scholars take their time to analyze data and write their books

and reports. Journalists, commentators and politicians respond to the day’s events. The long-term decline is not in dispute. Indeed, the

indicators for battle deaths and conflict-related humanitarian crisis hit their all-time low in the years 2005‒2008.

You may ask: what about Syria, one of the most deadly conflicts

of the last two decades? And you’d be right to ask; Syria has almost singlehandedly reversed the downward trend of the past twenty

years. But it is important to bear in mind two things: first, the Syria crisis, as we discuss later, is precisely a function of the broken

politics in which the arms trade thrives and which the arms trade creates. Second, even with the Syria crisis, the world is considerably less violent than it was during the majority of the Cold War.

Thus, while 2014 was the most deadly year for conflict for two

decades, Erik Melandor, director of the Uppsala Conflict Data

Program, points out that ‘2014 nevertheless represents a low level of violence compared to the repeated spikes of war fatalities during the

Cold War’.13 In 2014, the number of battle deaths was estimated to be around 100,000; by comparison, they reached over 600,000 in the

early 1950s (during the Korean War), about 380,000 in the early 1970s (during the Vietnam War), and hovered around 280,000 between 1983 and 1988 (during the deadly Iran‒Iraq War and the civil wars

in Angola and Ethiopia).14 The 2015 Global Hunger Index, compiled

by the International Food Policy Research Institute, Concern

Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe, on the topic of how armed conflict creates hunger, noted that major famines had been all but abolished 159

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during the last decades of the 20th century. While 117 million people

perished in great and calamitous famines in the hundred years from

1870 to 1970, the figure for the last twenty-five years is just 1.4 million. However, the same report observed with worry that conflict-related

starvation had been increasing over the last seven years, notably in Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.15

What this clearly suggests is that there are newly emerging

challenges, and the last few years have posed worrying questions

about the trends towards greater peace and security. But they should not be read as proof that the world is more dangerous now than it

has been in the past: even if the media coverage does not reflect it, the last two years of conflicts still come nowhere near the violence of the Cold War.

W H Y D O E S THE WO RLD FEEL SO DA NG E RO US : E XP LO RI NG T H E D OM IN A N T N A RRATIVE OF T H REAT As we have seen above, a few years after the Millennium, the world

was at its most peaceable in recorded history. Nonetheless, a 2006 Gallup poll revealed that 76% of Americans believed that the world

was, in that year, more dangerous than it had been anytime in the recent past.16

What might explain this? Some reasons lie in the psychology

of threat perception. Threats that are new and unknown will figure more highly than those that are familiar—even if the latter

are objectively greater. Threats that are incalculable or somehow

alien will be seen as their worst possible manifestations. We are irrationally scared of sharks. Events that are on the TV news will be more salient than those we read about in the papers or in specialist articles, or which never reach the media at all. 160

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Other reasons lie in the deliberate or casual misrepresentation

by politicians. Playing to people’s fears—including exaggerating those fears—is the oldest trick in the politician’s playbook. This is where the arms business enters, as an accessory to this trick.

And there can be no doubt that the terrorist crime of 11

September 2001 generated deep fears among Western (and

especially American) publics. Not only were civilian airliners turned into weapons of conspicuous destruction, but the subsequent

anthrax scare drew attention to the dangers of chemical and biological warfare agents in the hands of non-state actors bent

solely on devastation. The fear that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein possessed nuclear weapons ready to launch on a hair trigger, evoked

still deeper fears. The ideologies of Al Qaida militants, and more

recently the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham [ISIS is Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham] (ISIS), are so alien and demonic that people are deeply afraid that the worst may transpire.

Fortunately, those fears are massively disproportionate to the actual

threats. In 2013, for example, 11% of US citizens were very worried, and 29% somewhat worried, that someone in their family would

be a victim of terrorism.17 But, that same year, the US government

confirmed that only sixteen American citizens (not including soldiers) had been killed as a result of terrorism world­wide.18 In fact, you are

more likely as a US citizen to drown in your bathtub (a 1 in 800,000

chance) than die from terrorism (a 1 in 3.8 million chance).19 And even this may be an overestimate: in 2013 the Washington Post reported

that, based on the previous five years, there was only a 1 in 20 million

chance of dying in a terrorist attack: two times less likely than dying from a lightning strike.20 Toddlers, using weapons found in their own homes, have killed more Americans than terrorists in recent years.21

Of course, one would hope that the US government’s spending

on the ‘war on terror’ would make America safe (or at least safer) 161

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from terrorist attacks. The low numbers of Americans killed by

foreign terrorists could equally be taken as a sign that the US Department of Homeland Security, the CIA, the National Security Agency and the DoD are doing their job well.

However, it is crucial to consider that the ‘war on terror’ might

have been a horrendous error. Such an argument runs like this: the attempt to impose a military solution on complicated political

problems was simplified thinking with a false promise of total

national safety. In turn, the militarization of the response—as seen

in the massive expansion of military deployments, arms spending, and the license to do anything in pursuit of national security—has in reality worsened the problem of armed violence in the world.

This argument begins with an important fact: transnational

terrorism is on the decline.As Todd Sandler argues in a 2014 article

assessing how we study and track acts of terrorism, by the major indices which detail terrorism the decline is substantial.22

Figure 7.1 Number of transnational terrorist incidents, 1968–2011 162

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Myth 7

It is notable that the decline had set in well before 2001. If we

take the number of fatalities caused by terrorists, 2001 marks a clear

spike, because of 11 September. But a single spike, however terrible, is not indicative of a statistical trend. Looking back, it seems that the

counter-terror policies of the 1980s and 1990s, aimed at pressuring

governments to end state sponsorship of terrorist organizations, was actually working, and 9/11 was an exceptional and tragic outlier. One thing that happened in the aftermath of the trauma of

9/11 was ‘threat inflation’: political leaders and pundits inflated the

perils that America was facing. ‘Threat inflation’ refers to the gap between perceived and actual threats. It is defined by the scholars Trevor Thrall and Jane Cramer as ‘the attempt by elites to create a concern for a threat that goes beyond the scope and urgency

that a disinterested analysis would justify’.23 Or, in simpler terms,

threat inflation is when enormous amounts of fear are generated far beyond what the facts would warrant.

Threat inflation is remarkably easy to do.The difference between

popular fears and realities is well known to domestic politicians and policemen. A 2011 Gallup poll found that 68% of Americans think

crime is on the rise.24 In fact, between 1993 and 2012, the violent

crime rate (homicide, robbery, rape and aggravated assault) in the United States dropped by just under 50%.25

The security sector has a strong record of engaging in threat

inflation. During the early stages of the Cold War, for example, American policy makers and military leaders loudly worried about first a ‘bomber gap’ and then a ‘missile gap’, claiming that the USSR

was massively outpacing US production of bombers and nuclear missiles. In 1959, US intelligence estimates suggested that the USSR

would be in possession of between 1,000 and 1,500 nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) compared to America’s paltry 100. In reality, by September 1961, the USSR had only four 163

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ICBMs at its disposal, ‘less than one half of one percent of the

missiles expected by US intelligence’, as Stephen Van Evera points out.26 More recently, Saddam Hussein turned out not to possess

weapons of mass destruction after all. The practice extends, as retired Air Force Lieutenant-Colonel William Astore notes, to North Korean ballistic missiles, Iranian nuclear weapons production and

increased Chinese military production. While all are real concerns, they ‘pale in comparison to the global reach and global power of the United States military ... All this breathless threat inflation keeps the money rolling (along with the caissons) into the military’.27

There are a host of reasons why threat inflation might happen.

Scholars sympathetic to the difficulties of governance will argue

that decision makers are always on the back foot, trying to make

sense of a confusing world with limited intelligence. Politicians

may see the inflation of a threat as a win‒win situation: if the threat

does not materialize, they can point to their preventative measures, and if it does, they can argue that they had seen it coming all along and that even more needs to be done to prevent it. Academics who study the psychology of fear point to how difficult it is to analyze security risks in cultural environments that have been shaken by recent unforeseen attacks.28 And then there are the various

psychological short-cuts that are made that can turn the most

unrealistic concerns into national emergencies. Not every possible threat is a probable threat. Confusing the two allows worst-case

thinking to claim the day. The problem with that is, as security expert Bruce Schneier writes:

It substitutes imagination for thinking, speculation for risk analysis, and fear for reason. It fosters powerlessness and vulner­

ability and magnifies social paralysis ... By speculating about

what can possibly go wrong, and then acting as if that is likely 164

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Myth 7

to happen, worst-case thinking focuses only on the extreme but improbable risks and does a poor job at assessing outcomes.29

One example of this is the tendency to conflate a sense of security

with one’s actual security, which can often be hugely different. It is

entirely possible to feel secure when you’re actually very insecure (sitting in your cozy home on a normal night when there is in fact

an intruder outside), and feel very insecure when you’re really safe. If you are bombarded with images of violence and war, especially if those images are framed in terms of threat, they are likely to make you feel deeply insecure, even if the reality is somewhat different.

Nowhere is this tendency more pronounced than in relation to

defense issues and the global arms industry. Many scholars point to how particular players—the defense industry, the military, like-

minded leaders and a pliant commercial press—can collude to create magnified perceptions of threat to justify unpopular military

endeavors, pursue particular foreign policy ideologies and divert

massive financial resources to the industries and individuals who will be paid to diffuse the threat.30 Certainly, defense companies are

past masters at presenting, through their advertisements directed

at government buyers, the world as a deeply dangerous place, and

their products as the solution. These players are particularly well placed to set the agenda of fear as they have both the pulpit to do

so, often brief decision makers directly on the security environment, and have a monopoly on intelligence that can be hard to counter in the heat of the moment.

A pertinent example is the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, which

was foregrounded by the national trauma of 9/11 and pursued on

the basis of the constructed and largely imaginary threats posed by Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. It is now well-known that officials in the Bush administration, many of whom were part of the controversial 165

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Project for the New American Century, had been pushing for an

attack on Iraq since at least 1998, believing that it would lead to

a radical reshaping of the Middle East along lines favorable to

the US.31 Shortly after 9/11 took place, Bush and his officials were assiduous in popularizing four related ‘threats’ that drew on the

emotion of 9/11 and focused a target on Saddam Hussein. These four threats are identified by Chaim Kaufman as follows:

He was an almost uniquely undeterrable aggressor who would

seek any opportunity to kill Americans virtually regardless of the risk to himself or his country;

He was cooperating with al Qaida and had even assisted in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States; He was close to acquiring nuclear weapons; and He possessed chemical and biological weapons that could be used to devastating effect against American civilians at home or US troops in the Middle East.32

These were powerful claims: multiple polls found that Americans, in the lead-up to the war in Iraq, believed them to be substantially

true.33 However, since the Iraq war has taken place, every threat

has been successfully debunked. Weapons inspectors at the time

did not find any trace of nuclear activity or a chemical weapons program, and none were found by US troops on the ground.34

Hussein had not worked together with Al Qaida at all,35 and

actually saw them as a potential threat since Al Qaida had identified

his regime (amongst multiple others) as an enemy. Hussein, while undoubtedly a vicious dictator, was not irrational, as evidenced by 166

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Myth 7

how successfully the US had deterred his international ambitions following the first Gulf War.

And we now know that the Bush administration was well

aware of these facts, actively manipulating intelligence gathering and tinkering with its analysis to give these fears credence.36After

CIA officials rubbished the intelligence reports of Iraqi defectors, for example, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld created a new body called the Office of Special Plans (OSP).37 The OSP collected

its own raw, unfiltered intelligence and ensured that it reached

the highest levels of decision making, bypassing the usual checks, balances and analysis that intelligence agencies provided.

Making it worse, those who were worried about going to war

in Iraq based on flimsy facts simply could not contend with how effectively the US administration defined the problem, controlled

the information and dominated press cycles. One analysis of press

coverage over two weeks between January and February 2003 discovered that of the 393 sources quoted, half were government

officials. And when a source criticized the drumbeat for war, they were far more likely to be from foreign (including Iraqi) government officials.38

Together, these activities convinced the American population,

and good parts of the rest of the world, that Iraq posed a clear and immediate threat: the threat was inflated and people bought it.

Then there is threat simplification: the argument that the

world—or a country—can be made safer by physically eliminating

enemies one by one. This was the initial logic of the ‘war on terror’: that only a special kind of person could be a terrorist, that they were

few in number, and so if they could be killed more quickly than terrorist organizations could train them, the war would be won.39

This approach was also adopted in Iraq, when American soldiers were issued a deck of playing cards with the names and faces of 167

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the fifty-two most wanted members of the deposed regime. The

implicit logic was that once the cards had been scooped, the job was done. It didn’t work out that way: as US soldiers told DoD analysts when fighting the insurgency a few years later, that the strategy of killing ‘high-value individuals’ simply didn’t work:

When we asked about going after the high-value individuals and what effect it was having, they’d say, ‘Oh yeah, we killed that guy

last month, and we’re getting more IEDs [improvised explosive

devices] than ever.’ They all said the same thing, point blank: ‘[O]nce you knock them off, a day later you have a new guy who’s smarter, younger, more aggressive and out for revenge.’40

America was painfully relearning an old lesson: terrorism is a tactic, not an organizing principle of insurgency. Wars can be won when the military is utilized in service of a political objective, and not when politicians are required to support the military, no questions asked. Under President Obama, the US administration has quietly abandoned the language of ‘war on terror’ in favor of ‘countering violent extremism’. But the military juggernaut rolls on.

There is a long history of statesmen starting wars expecting that

they will achieve a quick, clean victory that will boost their standing

at home and their authority abroad. It rarely works out that way. The left-leaning historian Gabriel Kolko, in Century of War, attributes

European wars to the self-delusions of political leaders who believed

that they could control, and in a meaningful sense ‘win’ a war: ‘Any account of war in our times must confront the fact that the rulers of

nations have persistently exhibited a myopia that has compounded

the impact of war on the populations of innumerable countries throughout the century.’41 Had the aristocrats who plunged so

recklessly into that conflagration appreciated that the war would 168

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Myth 7

bring down Europe’s three most powerful monarchies and forever

cripple the global imperial status of the French and British ‘victors’, as well as killing the flower of the generation of their own children, they would surely have thought twice. But they possessed no such foresight. The conservative historian Niall Ferguson, concluding his

epic The Pity of War, agrees in essence: ‘The First World War … was nothing less than the greatest error of modern history.’42

The blowback from the US funding of the Afghan mujahidin

in the 1980s has been noted. The blowback—or perhaps ‘blowaround’—from the 2003 invasion of Iraq is turning out to be far

more serious. Where do we see the most significant uptick in armed violence over the last decade? The places are all those affected by the

Iraqi civil war and attendant militant extremism (Iraq itself, Syria), or by attempts to win the ‘war on terror’ primarily by military means

(Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen), or the fallout of Western military intervention (Libya and the Sahara). The South Sudanese civil

war is an outlier—but the South Sudanese leadership was initially

embraced by the US as a bulwark against terrorists in Khartoum

and, as described in this book, Western governments turned a blind eye to their vast and corrupt arms purchases. And Russian President Vladimir Putin explains and justifies his bellicose posture, including

his actions in Ukraine and involvement in Syria, as no more than exercising the right of national security to override international norms, as the US invoked in Iraq.

Take the conflict that has almost single-handedly pushed up

current conflict deaths to early 1990s levels, the devastating civil war in Syria. While the conflict in that country is driven by multiple

factors—a dictatorial regime, regional spillovers of extremism, an

international community that has shifted between vacillation and interference—there is no doubt that the level of violence in that

country is a direct result of decades of arms transfers to the region. 169

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As we’ve discussed previously, the spectacular success of ISIS in

Syria and more widely has in large part been facilitated by the

fact that they have been able to seize enormous quantities of arms, particularly in Iraq. There are, in fact, so many arms in the region,

and more arriving every day, that if parties want to carry on fighting, they could do so for generations.

In short, almost everywhere we see a recently escalating conflict,

the fingerprints of the global arms business and its political

fellow travelers can be found, both in provoking conflict and in profiting from it. To repeat: we do not argue that these wars are deliberately engineered by arms manufacturers and traders. But

the entanglement of the arms business in the political decisions

generating today’s wars demands our scrutiny. We cannot take the claims of the defense and security lobbies at face value.

CONCLUS IO N : IS D E FE N S E SPENDING T H E AN S WE R TO THE THRE AT S WE FACE? Even if you don’t buy all the arguments above—if you think

the world is more dangerous than ever, or at least extremely dangerous—you may still want to ask the question: is the arms

trade as it is now, and defense spending generally, part of the solution or part of the problem?

We have discussed the impact of the arms trade in its various

facets throughout the book so far. And it is clear, from the available historical evidence and current data, that the arms trade in its current

incarnation can actually make countries less secure, current conflicts more violent, and draw resources away from diplomatic efforts that can negotiate an end to wars (or prevent them happening in the first place). The arms business is also part of a wider security narrative

that inflates threats and defines them as problems to be solved by 170

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Myth 7

military measures rather than political processes. Those who make and sell weapons aren’t honest brokers: they need to be challenged and their real motivations revealed.

Because if the arms trade is a big part of what makes the world

insecure, there simply is no wrong time to challenge the arms trade. Instead, challenging the arms trade in its current form is desperately necessary. Right now.


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CHANGE IS POSSIBLE This is an enormous—and enormously complex—industry. Chang­

ing it won’t be straightforward. We outline below how we think the

rules of the game could be changed to create more accountability, transparency and, ultimately, security. We want governments to:

Re-define the terms of the trade and the secrecy that protects it.

• Ban offsets in the arms trade. There’s a reason they’ve been banned in most other sectors.

• Halt the use of public funds and personnel to pursue private arms contracts.

• Ensure the publication of detailed, comprehensive defense budgets by all countries, with minimal ‘black’ budgets.

• Get governments to adopt the Global Principles on National

Security and the Right to Information (Tshwane Principles, 2013) into practice.

Do a better job monitoring the trade.

• Auditing and accountability processes for departments of defense and the companies that they use. 173

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• Accountability for corporations and governments when they

don’t do a good enough job of keeping their exported product controlled.

• Proper investigations and follow-up on allegations of corruption without political interference.

• Sanctions against companies found guilty of corruption.

• Imposition of a legal obligation that defense contractors reveal the intermediaries they use in deals: the publication of the names

of agents, brokers and middlemen used to negotiate deals, what they are paid and what they do for that money.

• Publicize the names and behavior of companies and their subsidiaries implicated in quid pro quo corruption.

• Increase penalties against individuals and companies so that they serve as a deterrent.

Align expenditures with real threats, while reducing waste.

• Adopt transparency in defense strategies and procurement

processes; show how expenditures on systems and programs align with the threats to national security that have been identified.

• Reductions in military expenditures.

• Regional coordination of defense reductions.

• Never pressure countries that have opted out of excessive defense expenditure to opt in.

S O WHAT C A N WE D O ABOUT IT ? This is a problem of enormous proportions, well-funded and powerful, with deep historical and institutional roots. Faced with

this seemingly overwhelming advantage, it is easy to fall into apathy or despair. What, after all, can an individual do to change a systemic problem?


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Not much. But we are not merely individuals. We are the

beginning of an international network that will share innovation, resources and practices to make defense industry players conform

to basic standards of accountability and openness, and ensure

governments allocate funds to defense (or to alternative sectors) in ways that meet the real needs of their citizens.

So how do we get there? There is not going to be a tidy checklist.

There are a lot of things that need to be changed. This is how we get started:

First, learn to recognize the myths and dispute them. Stop

engaging in the mythology of the arms business. The first step in this process is to generate an informed public debate about the global arms industry, its business model and practices, and its stated justifications.

Second, several of the myths point us in the direction of seeking

long-term, sustainable approaches to security, rather than panicdriven kneejerk responses. They suggest a different set of questions

to guide policy: how are today’s threats different from past

threats and what does this mean for our countries’ needs, and our

world’s needs?

Knowing that weapons, allies and contexts are unstable, and that

weapons control regimes are inadequate, we should ask: what are

the long-term consequences of today’s deals? Spending does not necessarily lead to security. Spending on the wrong type of military

equipment will not increase security; and worse, spending on defense can divert public funds away from more effective uses. If we

need to create jobs and stimulate the economy, that concern should

take precedence; but we should look to other sectors that create more jobs, and more civilian technology, than defense.

The question to start with should be: What is the most effective

use of public funds to increase sustainable human security? 175

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Third, demand transparency. Partisan economic and political

interests, not concern with public security, often dominate arms trade decisions.

Transparency is the best way to combat this tendency. Demand

it not only within your own government, but also in how your government and private corporations engage in security sector

assistance and arms deals with foreign countries. National security does not require secrecy. The greatest security a country can experience is through transparent and accountable democratic

practices. There may be need for some secrecy, but it should always

be the exception and never be used to hide improper influence, misbehavior or grand larceny. Support groups in other countries that are also advocating for transparency and find ways to work

together at the intersection of trade deals. Take a look at the Stop the Shipment campaign for inspiration: it is a campaign that attempted, through putting pressure on various governments and international organizations, to stop a contemporaneous shipment of tear gas to the notoriously repressive Bahraini regime.

Fourth, demand accountability. Corruption is endemic to the trade;

it is a problem for every society that engages in arms transactions, producers and purchasers alike.

Some countries have good laws to govern corruption and

account­ability; make sure they are being applied. Support whistle­

blowing that reveals corruption and overreach. The levers of accountability as they currently exist in even the most law-governed countries are insufficient, a fact that is proven time and again when

oversight functions as a rubber stamp. Whistleblowers risk their

livelihoods and freedom to expose this fact and deserve our support. Fifth, following the leadership of local advocates, we can act

in solidarity with each other. There will be specific strategies, needs and avenues for engagement that make sense for different contexts. 176

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For instance, in the US, pressuring Congress to commit to return

military spending to pre-911 levels and demanding increased, rather than decreased, regulation of the trade would have a major

impact. In Nigeria, the place to start may be budget transparency and an end to ‘security votes’. In many countries, enabling the voice of civil society to criticize and oversee the defense sector is the first crucial step.

Together, we can foster an evidence-driven, accountable and

transparent public discussion of the global arms business. Together, we can start pointing out the absurdities that protect a business to

the detriment of the security and economic prosperity of the world. By doing so, we can make the world a safer, more prosperous and more harmonious place.


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IN T RO DUC T I O N 1 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2015, SIPRI Fact Sheet, 2016, accessed May 27, 2016, MY TH 1 1 SIPRI, Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2015. 2 Ibid. 3 Ibid. 4 Michael Intrilligator,“The Concept of a Peace Dividend,” in Economics of Peace and Security, edited by J. Galbraith, J. Brauer, and L. Webster, Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS), developed under the auspices of UNESCO (Paris: EOLSS Publishers, 2002), http://www.eolss. net. 5 Extrapolated from SIPRI, SIPRI Military Expenditure Database 2015, accessed May 27, 2016, 6 Ibid. 7 SIPRI, Trends in World Military Expenditure 2014, SIPRI Fact Sheet, 2015, accessed May 26, 2016, milex-april-2015. 8 SIPRI, Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2015. 9 SIPRI,Trends in World Military Expenditure 2013, SIPRI Fact Sheet, 2014, accessed May 27, 2016, recent-trends. 10 “China’s Military Spending: At the Double,” The Economist, March 15, 2014, accessed May 27, 2016, 11 Will Ripley, Jason Hanna and Eimi Yamamitsu, “Japanese lawmakers OK greater overseas role for military,” CNN, 1 September 19, 2015, accessed 178

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May 27, 2016, 12 Jack Doyle, “Russia’s Military Spending Spree,” USA Today, April 22, 2014, accessed May 27, 2016, world/2014/04/22/ozy-russia-military-spending/8005713/. 13 SIPRI,Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2015. 14 Todd Harrison, Analysis of the FY 2015 Defense Budget (Washington, DC: Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, 2014) 16, accessed May 27, 2016, 15 “Recent Defense Spending,” accessed October 4, 2015, http://www. 16 K. Mizokami, “How the Pentagon Exaggerated Russia’s Cold War Wonder Weapons,” War is Boring, October 7, 2013. https://warisboring. com/how-the-pentagon-exaggerated-russias-cold-war-wonder-weaponsd14c47e51c31#.cfauly45l. 17 “United States Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Request: Overview,” Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) Chief Financial Officer, February 2015, 1‒2, accessed May 25, 2016, http:// FY2016_Budget_Request_Overview_Book.pdf. 18 Andrea Shalal-Esa, “Exclusive: U.S. Sees Lifetime Cost of F-35 Fighter at $1.45 Trillion,” Reuters, March 29, 2012, accessed May 27, 2016, http://www. 19 Anne Daugherty Miles, “Intelligence Spending: In Brief,” Congressional Research Service, February 26, 2016, accessed May 27, 2016, https://www.fas. org/sgp/crs/intel/R44381.pdf. 20 For a robust discussion of the security dilemma, see the texts that are considered to have helped develop the concept: Herbert Butterfield, History and Human Relations (London: Collins, 1951); John Herz, Political Realism and Political Idealism: A Study in Theories and Realities (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951); Robert Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976). 21 The direct correlation between arms races and conflict was a muchcontested topic during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The outcome of the debate is still not settled, but it is clear that a simple linear relationship between arms races and conflicts is too simple. See, for example: Paul F. Diehl, “Arms Races and Escalation: A Closer Look,” Journal of Peace Research 20, no. 3 (1983): 205‒212. A more recent study, also showing that a link between arms races and conflict is far from linear, is Susan Sample, 179

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“Military Build-ups: Arming and War,” in What Do We Know About War?, ed. John Vasquez (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2000): 165–197. 22 David Pilling, “Asia Follows China Into an Old-Fashioned Arms Race,” Financial Times, April 2, 2014, accessed May 27, 2016, cms/s/0/9d83bf62-b9b9-11e3-a3ef-00144feabdc0.html#axzz4AFe0QdKC; Vaishali Gauba, “Asia Defense Spending: New Arms Race in the South China Sea,” CNBC, May 21, 2015, accessed May 27, 2016, http://www.cnbc. com/2015/05/21/asia-defense-spending-new-arms-race-in-south-chinasea.html. 23 That the US is concerned about China’s ‘anti-intervention’ or ‘access denial strategies’ was confirmed by the Secretary of Defense in 2012. See: “Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” Office of the Secretary of Defense, May 21, 2012, accessed May 27, 2016, pubs/2012_CMPR_Final.pdf. 24 Ibid. 5. 25 Franz-Stefan Gady, “What do Chinese and Russians Think of the US Military?” The Diplomat, January 6, 2015, accessed May 27, 2016, http:// 26 For a comprehensive presentation of the problems with the littoral combat ship, see: Jacob Marx, “Littoral Combat Ship: The Warship That Can’t Go to War,” Centre for International Policy, Policy Brief, August 2014, accessed May 27, 2016, Littoral_Combat_Ship.pdf. The following discussion of the littoral combat ship draws from this source. 27 Ibid. 28 Ronald O’Rourke, “Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)/Frigate Program: Background and Issues for Congress,” Congressional Research Service, May 25, 2016, accessed May 27, 2016, RL33741.pdf. 29 Defense Industry Daily Staff, “Scorpene’s Sting: Malaysia’s Bribery & Murder Scandal,” Defense Industry Daily, March 20, 2013, accessed May 27, 2016, 30 AFP, “Policeman says may reveal all in Malaysia murder scandal,” Daily Mail, February 18, 2015, accessed May 27, 2016, http://www.dailymail. 31 Asia Sentinel Correspondent, “Deep and Dirty: Malaysia’s Submarine 180

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Scandal,” Asia Sentinel, June 25, 2012, accessed May 27, 2016, http://www. 32 Julian Khoo, “Zahid: Our Submarine Can’t Dive,” Malaysia Today, February 11, 2010, accessed May 27, 2016, 33 For a detailed analysis of the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan see: Neta C. Crawford, “U.S. Costs of Wars Through 2014: $4.4 Trillion and Counting—Summary of Costs for the U.S. Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Costs of War Project, Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs, Brown University, June 25, 2014, accessed May 27, 2016, Costs%20of%20Wars%20through%202014.pdf. See also: Linda J. Bilmes, “The Financial Legacy of Iraq and Afghanistan: How Wartime Spending Decisions Will Constrain Future National Security Budgets,” Harvard Kennedy School Faculty Research Working Group Series Paper RWP13-006, March 2013, accessed May 31, 2016, https://research.hks.harvard. edu/publications/workingpapers/citation.aspx?PubId=8956. Bilmes puts the full costs of the Iraq and Afghan wars, including legacy costs like the costs of taking care of the hundreds of thousands of veterans from the wars, at $4‒$6trn. 34 On the concept and reality of blowback, see: TimWeiner, “Blowback From the Afghan Battlefield,” New York Times Magazine, March 13, 1994, accessed May 31, 2016, blowback-from-the-afghan-battlefield.html?pagewanted=all. 35 Tim Weiner, “The CIA’s Leaking Pipeline,”Philadelphia Inquirer, February 28, 1988, accessed May 31, 2016, news/26243788_1_afghan-rebels-arms-pipeline-afghan-operation. See also the section titled “The Afghan Arms Pipeline through Pakistan” in Human Rights Watch, India: Arms and Abuses in Indian Punjab and Kashmir (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1994), accessed May 31, 2016, https://www. 36 Kenneth Katzman, “Al Qaeda: Profile and Threat Assessment,” Congressional Research Service, August 17, 2005, accessed May 31, 2016, Katzman provides a brief chronology of the emergence of Al Qaida from the foreign fighters who had been recruited to fight against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. 37 Human Rights Watch, Afghanistan: Crisis of Impunity: The Role of Pakistan, Russia and Iran in Fuelling the Civil War (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2001), accessed May 31, 2016, Afghan0701.pdf. 181

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38 For global rankings in 2013, see: Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2014 (Washington, DC: Freedom House, 2014), 18‒23, accessed May 31, 2016, 39 Three-quarters of countries classified as “free” and 69% of countries classified as “partly free” spend less than 2% of their GDP on the military. Compare this to countries classified as “not free”: a smidgeon under half of these countries spend more than 2% of GDP on the military, and 23% do not disclose their military budgets at all. Of these “not free” states, only 27% spend less than 2% of their GDP on military expenditures. 40 Anthony H. Cordesman with Michael Peacock, Centre for Strategic and International Studies, The Arab‒US Strategic Partnership and the Changing Security Balance in the Gulf (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2015), 13, accessed May 31, 2016, https://csis-prod.s3.amazonaws. com/s3fs-public/legacy_files/files/publication/151014_Cordesman_ ArabUSStrategicPartnership_Web.pdf. 41 Jens Gould, “The Failure of Plan Colombia,” The American Prospect, April 19, 2007, accessed May 31, 2016,; Adam Isaacson, Lisa Haugaard and Jennifer Johnson, A Cautionary Tale: Plan Colombia’s Lessons for U.S. Policy Toward Mexico and Beyond (Washington, DC: Center for International Policy, Latin America Working Group Education Fund, and Washington Office on Latin America, 2011), accessed May 31, 2016, publications/a_cautionary_tale_plan_colombias_lessons_for_us_policy_ toward_mexico_and_beyond. 42 David F. Gordon, Donald Noah and George Fidas, National Intelligence Estimate: The Global Infectious Disease Threat and Its Implications for the United States (Washington, DC: National Intelligence Council, Wilson Center, 2000), accessed May 31, 2016, publication/national-intelligence-estimate-the-global-infectious-diseasethreat-and-its-implications. 43 Christopher J.L. Murray, Michael Hanlon and Joseph Dieleman, Financing Global Health 2012: The End of the Golden Age? (Seattle, WA: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, 2012), 6, accessed May 31, 2016, http:// 44 Embassy of the United States of America, Monrovia, “First Shipment of the Ramped Up U.S. Military Response to Ebola Arrives in Liberia,”United States Africa Command, September 19, 2014, accessed May 31, 2016, http:// 182

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notes TO MY T H 1

45 United States Department of Defense, “Operation United Assistance at a Glance,” 2015, accessed June 8, 2015, features/2014/1014_ebola/. 46 UN News Service, “UN Budget Committee Approves Funding for UN Ebola Response Mission,” UN News Centre, October 7, 2014, accessed May 31, 2016, VXW1YNJVhBe. 47 Kevin Sieff, “US-built Ebola Treatment Centers in Liberia are Nearly Empty as Outbreak Fades,” Washington Post, January 18, 2015, accessed June 1, 2016, 2015/01/18/9acc3e2c-9b52-11e4-86a3-1b56f64925f6_story.html. 48 The Pentagon’s base budget plus allocations for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan came to $575 billion for FY2015—see: Lawrence J.Korb, Max Hoffman and Katherine Blakeley, A User’s Guide to the Fiscal Year 2015 Defense Budget (Washington, DC: Center for American Progress, 2014), accessed May 31, 2016, report/2014/04/24/88516/a-users-guide-to-the-fiscal-year-2015-defensebudget/. The Budget for the Department of State and related Agency for International Development, including costs related to the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was $47.8bn or about 7% of what is spent for military purposes. For state figures, see: United States Department of State, “Department of State and Other International Programs,” US Department of State, 2014, accessed June 1, 2016, https://www.whitehouse. gov/sites/default/files/omb/budget/fy2014/assets/state.pdf. Lockheed Martin received over $44bn in government contracts in Fiscal Year 2013, according to data provided by the Federal Procurement Data Center. 49 See: Jeffrey Dixon, “Emerging Consensus: Results from the Second Wave of Statistical Studies on Civil War Termination,” Civil Wars 11, no. 2 (2009): 128; Bethany Lacina, “Explaining the Severity of Civil Wars,” Journal of Conflict Resolution, 50, no. 2 (2006): 286. 50 Julien Barnes-Dacey and Daniel Levy, The Regional Struggle for Syria (London: European Council on Foreign Relations, 2013), accessed June 1, 2016, See also: Jihad Yazigi, Syria’s War Economy (London: Council on Foreign Relations, 2014), accessed June 1, 2016, ECFR97_SYRIA_BRIEF_AW.pdf. 51 Seth Jones and Martin Libicki, How Terrorist Groups End (Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation, 2008), 107, accessed June 1, 2016, http://www.rand. org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2008/RAND_MG741-1.pdf. 183

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52 Ibid. 53 Ibid., 19. 54 Ibid., xvii. 55 Jonathan Powell, Talking to Terrorists: How to End Armed Conflicts (London: Random House, 2015). 56 ‘Windhoek Declaration’ issued at the 6th Annual Retreat of Special Envoys and Mediators on the Promotion of Peace, Security and Stability in Africa, Windhoek, Namibia, October 21‒22, 2015, http://www.peaceau. org/uploads/auc-mediation-retreat-windhoek-declaration-22-10-2015.pdf. See, in particular, paragraph 12. 57 See Vali Nasr, The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat (New York: Doubleday, 2013), 34, in which General Petraeus refers to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke as his ‘wingman’, prompting Holbrooke to ask, ‘since when have diplomats become generals’ wingmen?’ 58 United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security, “Human Security for All,” accessed June 8, 2015, 59 Bill& Melinda Gates Foundation, “What We Do: Vaccine Delivery Strategy Overview,” accessed June 8, 2015, http://www.gatesfoundation. org/What-We-Do/Global-Development/Vaccine-Delivery. 60 World Food Programme, “Hunger Statistics,” accessed June 8, 2015, http:// 61 Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Foreign Affairs and National Security Policy and Strategy (Addis Ababa: Ministry of Information, 2002), accessed June 1, 2016, Police_English.pdf. 62 Robin Webster, “Degrees of Change: The IPCC’s Projections for Future Temperature Rise,” The Carbon Brief Blog, April 15, 2014, accessed June 1, 2016, 63 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014). MY TH 2 1 Winslow Wheeler, “The Jet That Ate the Pentagon,” Foreign Policy, April 26, 2012, accessed June 1, 2016, 2 Ibid. 3 “The Air Force’s F-35A: Not Ready For Combat, Not Even Ready for 184

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Combat Training,” Project on Government Oversight Blog, March 6, 2013, accessed June 1, 2016, 4 Wheeler, “The Jet That Ate the Pentagon.” 5 Lockheed Martin, “Powering Job Creation for America and its Allies,” accessed June 1, 2016, 6 Ibid. 7 Ibid. 8 William D. Hartung, Promising the Sky: Pork Barrel Politics and The F-35 Combat Aircraft (Washington, DC: Centre for International Policy, 2014), 1, accessed June 1, 2016, publications/Hartung_IPR_0114_F-35_Promising_the_Sky_Updated.pdf. 9 David Axe, “Jet Fighter Influence: How Lockheed’s Public Relations Efforts Keep the F-35 Sold,” Offiziere Blog, March 6, 2013, accessed June 1, 2016, 10 Hartung, “Promising the Sky,” 5. 11 Ibid, 6. 12 Ibid. 13 TaxPayers for Common Sense, “The Unaffordable F-35: Budget History and Alternatives,” April 2014, 2, accessed June 1, 2016, http://www.taxpayer. net/images/uploads/Alternatives%20to%20the%20F35(1).pdf. 14 Barack Obama, “Video Remarks by The President to the Department of Commerce Annual Export Controls Update Conference,” The White House Office of the Press Secretary, August 30, 2010, accessed May 17, 2016, 15 William D. Hartung, Risk and Reforms: The Economic Illogic of the Obama Administration’s Arms Export Reforms (Washington, DC: Centre for International Policy, 2013), accessed June 1, 2016, http://www.ciponline. org/research/html/risk-and-returns-the-economic-illogic-of-the-obamaadministrations-arms-exp. 16 William D. Hartung, “Just How Many Weapons Can America Sell?” Foreign Policy, July 2, 2013, accessed June 1, 2016, http://foreignpolicy. com/2013/07/02/just-how-many-weapons-can-america-sell/. 17 Ibid. 18 Letter from International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers to The House Committee on Foreign Affairs, March 19, 2013,submitted for the record by the Honorable Brad Sherman (California) during Hearing Before the Committee on Foreign Affairs (House of Representatives), One Hundred Thirteenth Congress, First Session, 24 185

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April 2013, accessed June 1, 2016, 19 The EU Commission, for example, is currently discussing whether or not to ban offsets in EU-to-EU deals. 20 World Trade Organization, Agreement on Public Procurement: Article XXIII (Uruguay Round Agreement), 2014, docs_e/legal_e/gpr-94_02_e.htm. 21 “Guns and Sugar,” The Economist, May 25, 2013, accessed June 1, 2016, http:// 22 Travis K.Taylor, “Countertrade Offsets in International Procurement: Theory and Evidence,” in Designing Public Procurement Policy in Developing Countries, ed. Murat A. Yulek and Travis K. Taylor (New York: Springer Science and Business Media, 2011), 27. 23 Ibid, 30. 24 “Guns and Sugar.” 25 Control Risks, International Business Attitudes Towards Corruption— Survey 2006 (London: Control Risks and Simmons & Simmons, 2006), 8, accessed June 1, 2016, corruption_survey_JB.pdf. 26 Comptroller and Auditor General of India, “Report of the Auditor General of India on Acquisition of Helicopters for VVIPS,” Union Government: Defense Services (Air Force), No. 10 of 2013, August 13, 2013, accessed June 1, 2016, Union_Defence_Compliance_Report_10_2013.pdf. 27 “Scrapping of VVIP Helicopter Deal,” Answer by Minister of Defense AK Antony to Unstarred Question 2210 by Arvind Kumar Singh in Rajya Sabha (Council of States), February 12, 2014. See Rajya Sabha’s website: 28 Tom Kington, “Court Reverses Former Finmeccanica CEO Orsi’s Acquittal,” DefenseNews, April 7, 2016, accessed June 1, 2016, http://www. 29 “‘Target’ Sonia’s Closest Advisers, Key Middleman Told Officials of AgustaWestland,” Indian Express, February 5, 2014, accessed June 1, 2016, westland/ and Order by Judge Ajay Kumar Jain, “CBI Vs. S.P. Tyagi,” RC No. 2172013A0003, Patiala House Court New Delhi, 2–3. 186

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notes TO MY T H 2

30 Justin Vela, “Saudi Arabia becomes World’s Fourth Biggest Military Spender,” The National (Abu Dhabi), April 14, 2014, accessed June 1, 2016, 31 William Maclean, “Saudi Arabia Outpaces India to Become Top Defense Importer,” Reuters, March 8, 2015, accessed June 1, 2016, http://www.reuters. com/article/us-defence-supplies-saudi-idUSKBN0M40FY20150308. 32 Extrapolated from data provided by SIPRI. 33 Saudi Arabia Constitution, Chapter 2, Articles 5 and 6. 34 Amnesty International, “The Ultimate Punishment: Saudi Arabia Ramps Up Beheadings in the Kingdom,” April 6, 2015, accessed July 15, 2015, https:// 35 “European Parliament Resolution of 25 February 2016 on the Humanitarian Situation in Yemen,” 2016/2515(RSP), accessed June 1, 2016, http://www. +TA+P8-TA-2016-0066+0+DOC+PDF+V0//EN. 36 BAE’s 2014 annual report credits Saudi Arabia as its third largest customers, representing 20% of its sales in 2014 (p. 8): BAE Systems, “Annual Report 2014,” accessed June 1, 2016, Files/B/Bae-Systems-Investor-Relations-V3/Annual%20Reports/baeannual-report-2014.pdf. 37 Transparency International, “Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index Regional Results: Middle East & North Africa,” 2015, 6. http:// 38 Numerous notorious arms dealers, such as Leonid Minin and Viktor Bout, sourced their small arms from Ukrainian stockpiles. 39 Dave Gilson, “Ukraine: Cashing in on Illegal Arms,” PBS, May 2002, accessed June 1, 2016, context.html. 40 Sarah Chayes, “How Corruption Guts Militaries: The Ukraine Case Study,” DefenseOne, May 16, 2014, accessed June 1, 2016, http://www. 41 Leonid Polyakov, “Corruption Obstructs Reform in the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” in Almanac on Security Sector Governance in Ukraine 2012, ed. Joseph L. Derdzinski and Valeriya Klymenko (Geneva and Kyiv, Ukraine: DCAF, Razumkov Centre, and “Zapovit” Publishing House, 2012), 81. 42 Rowan Scarborough, “Now They Want Our Help? Ukraine Military SOLD its Best Weapons for Cash,” The Washington Times, April 23, 2014, 187

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accessed June 1, 2016, apr/23/sold-out-ukraines-leadership-swapped-best-military/?page=all; Chayes, ‘How Corruption Guts Militaries.” 43 “South Sudan’s Kiir Accuses Army of Corruption,” Sudan Tribune, September 20, 2013. MY TH 3 1 For those with a strong stomach, the history of the Iran-Contra affair is fully described in all its dastardly depredations in the 1987 Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran-Contra Affair. 2 George Lardner Jr., “Gonzalez’s Iraq Expose—Hill Chairman Details US Prewar Courtship,” Washington Post, March 22, 1992. 3 The full story of the BNL scandal can found in William D. Hartung, And Weapons For All (New York: Harper Perennial, 1995). 4 Howard Teicher’s Affidavit in the Matter of United States of America v. Carlos Cardoen and Others, Case No: 93-241-Highsmith, paragraph 8, January 31, 1995, accessed June 1, 2016, NSAEBB82/iraq61.pdf. 5 Campaign Against Arms Trade, Arming Saddam: The Supply of British Military Equipment to Iraq 1979‒1990 (London: Campaign Against Arms Trade, 1991). 6 Ibid. The 26 countries identified were Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, France, West Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, North Korea, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the USA, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. 7 Ibid. 8 US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Second Staff Report on US Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual-Use Exports to Iraq and the Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of the War, 1995. 9 Ibid, Chapter 1. 10 Ibid, Chapters 2 and 3. 11 SIPRI, TIV-Import Database, 2015, accessed March 1, 2016, http://www. Note that the SIPRI TIV database does not provide a figure for the actual amount spent on arms imports. Instead, SIPRI calculates, in constant 1990 dollars, how much it would cost to produce the same systems in the US (where unit costs are well-known). This gives a good sense of the volume of the trade, but it is not entirely accurate to say that the same dollar amount was actually spent. 188

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12 Ibid. 13 SIPRI, TIV-Import Database. 14 Pratap Chatterjee, “One Million Weapons to Iraq; Many Go Missing,” CorpWatch, September 22, 2008, accessed June 1, 2016, http://www. 15 Christopher Harress, “ISIS Weapons Growing in Number, Sophistication: A Soviet, Balkan and American Mix, but the Group Can’t Use All of Them,” International Business Times, August 15, 2014, accessed June 1, 2016, 16 Michael Pregent and Michael Weiss, “Exploiting ISIS Vulnerabilities in Iraq,” The Wall Street Journal, August 12, 2014, accessed June 1, 2016, http:// 17 The Islamic State and the Levant and the Al-Nusrah Front for the People of Levant: Report and Recommendations Submitted Pursuant to Resolution 2170 (2014), S/2014/815, paragraph 39. 18 Ibid, paragraph 41. 19 Pregent and Weiss, “Exploiting ISIS Vulnerabilities in Iraq.” 20 The Islamic State and the Levant and the Al-Nusrah Front for the People of Levant: Report and Recommendations Submitted Pursuant to Resolution 2170 (2014), S/2014/815, paragraph 37. 21 Nabih Bulos, Patrick J. McDonnell and Raja Abdulrahim, “ISIS Weapons Windfall May Alter Balance in Iraq, Syria Conflicts,”LA Times, June 29, 2014, accessed June 1, 2016, 22 Conflict Armament Research, Dispatch from the Field: Islamic State Ammunition in Iraq and Syria (London: Conflict Armament Research, 2014), 5, accessed June 1, 2016, uploads/2014/10/Dispatch_IS_Iraq_Syria_Ammunition.pdf. 23 United Nations Security Council, “Report of the Panel of Experts on Somalia Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1425 (2002),”2003, S/2003/223, 13; Jeffrey A. Lefebvre, Arms for the Horn: U.S. Security Policy in Ethiopia and Somalia, 1953–1991 (Pittsburg, PA: University of Pittsburg Press, 1991), 280‒281. 24 Ibid. 25 Lionel Cliffe, Armed Violence and Poverty in Somalia: A Case Study for the Armed Violence and Poverty Initiative (Bradford, UK: Centre for International Cooperation and Security and University of Bradford, 189

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Department for Peace Studies, 2005), 8, accessed June 1, 2016, https:// 26 Andrew Feinstein, The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade (New York: Picador, 2012), 468. 27 Abdi Sheikh, “Arms Dealers Revel in Somali War Business,”Reuters, June 9, 2009, accessed June 1, 2016, 28 United Nations Security Council, “Report of the Panel of Experts on Somalia Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1425 (2002)”, S/2003/ 223, 14. 29 Laura Rozen, “Israeli, American Indicted for Gun Running to Somalia,” Politico, 28 June, 2010, accessed June 1, 2016, blogs/laurarozen/0610/Israeli_American_indicted_for_gun_running_to_ Somalia.html. 30 United States District Court, Southern District of Florida, Indictment in the matter of United States of America v. Joseph O’Toole and Chanoch Miller, Case No: CR-COHN, June 17, 2010. 31 CNN Wire Staff, “Al-Shabaab Joining Al Qaeda, Monitor Group Says,” CNN, February 10, 2012, accessed June 1, 2016, http://www.cnn. com/2012/02/09/world/africa/somalia-shabaab-qaeda/. 32 Louis Charbonneau, “Exclusive: Somalia Army Weapons Sold on Open Market—UN Monitors,” Reuters, October 10, 2014, accessed June 1, 2016, HZ22920141010. 33 “Somalia Diverting Arms to al-Shabaab, UN Report Claims,” BBC News, February 14, 2014, accessed June 1, 2016, 34 Charbonneau, “Exclusive: Somalia Army Weapons Sold on Open Market.” 35 The phrasing here is intentional: it is not quite accurate to say that Libya spent $30bn on arms. This is because the figures are drawn from the SIPRI database, which does not track the actual cost of weapons imports, but tracks the volume of weapons imports (some of which are given as aid or in discounts). SIPRI puts a dollar value on the amount by calculating how much it would cost for the US to produce specific systems. As such, the figure of $30bn is best understood to mean that Libya imported arms in a quantity that is equivalent to US systems that would cost $30bn to produce in US, expressed in constant 1990 prices. 36 SIPRI, Arms Transfers Database 2015, accessed March 1, 2016, http://www. 37 Ibid. 190

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38 Ibid. 39 Paul Holtom, Mark Bromley, Pieter D. Wezeman and Siemon T. Wezeman, “International Arms Transfers,” in SIPRI Yearbook 2010, 300. 40 “Russia Announces Libya Arms Deal Worth $1.8bn,” BBC News, January 30, 2010, accessed June 1, 2016, stm. 41 “EU Arms Exports to Libya: Who Armed Libya?” Guardian Datablog (last updated March 2, 2011), accessed June 1, 2016, http://www.theguardian. com/news/datablog/2011/mar/01/eu-arms-exports-libya. Author’s own calculations based on spreadsheet titled “EU arms exports to Libya.” 42 Ibid. 43 “SA Sold R70m in Arms to Libya,” Times (South Africa), April 10, 2011. 44 Anthony Cordesman, A Tragedy of Arms: Military and Security Developments in the Mahgreb (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002), 208. 45 Anthony Cordesman and Aram Nerguizian, The North African Military Balance: Force Developments and Regional Challenges (Washington, DC: Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), 2010), 34, accessed June 2, 2015, Military_Balance_final.pdf. 46 “Libyan Elections: Low Turnout Marks Bid to End Political Crisis,” BBC News, June 26, 2014, accessed June 1, 2016, world-africa-28005801. 47 “Former Libyan Parliament Reconvenes, Elects Islamist Premier,” AlAkhbar, August 25, 2014, accessed June 1, 2015, com/node/21273. 48 Mariam Rizk, “Libya’s Islamist Militias Claim Control of Capital,” Associated Press, August 24, 2014. 49 Libya Body Count, “Table: Violent Deaths in Libya,” Libya Body Count, accessed June 10, 2015, 50 Glen Johnson, “Libya Weapons Aid Tuareg Rebellion in Mali,” Los Angeles Times, June 12, 2012, accessed June 2, 2016, jun/12/world/la-fg-libya-arms-smuggle-20120612. 51 “Timeline of French-led Mali Military Intervention,” Associated Press, January 21, 2013. 52 Ian Black, “West Overlooked Risk of Libya Weapons Reaching Mali, Says Expert,” The Guardian, January 21, 2013, accessed June 2, 2016, http://www. 53 Richard Spencer, “Libyan Arms that Went Missing under Gaddafi ‘Fuelling Multiple Conflicts’,” The Telegraph, April 10, 2013, accessed June 2, 2016, 191

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libya/9985183/Libyan-arms-that-went-missing-under-Gaddafi-fuellingmultiple-conflicts.html. 54 Freedom C. Onuoha, “Porous Borders and Boko Haram’s Arms Smuggling Operations in Nigeria,” Al Jazeera Center for Studies, September 8, 2013, accessed June 3, 2015, 201398104245877469.htm. 55 C.J. Chivers, Eric Schmitt and Mark Mazetti, “In Turnabout, Syria Rebels Get Libyan Weapons,” New York Times, June 21, 2013, accessed June 2, 2016, 56 Owen Greene and Elizabeth Kirkham, Preventing Diversion of Small and Light Weapons: Issues and Priorities for Strengthened Controls (London and Bradford, UK: Saferworld and the University of Bradford, 2009), 29, accessed June 2, 2016, 57 Catherine Bosley, “Swiss Tighten Rules after Grenades Found in Syria,”Reuters, October 10, 2012, accessed June 2, 2016, http://uk.reuters. com/article/uk-swiss-weapons-idUKBRE89918020121010. 58 Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), “Swiss Hand Grenades in Syria: Conclusion of Investigation and Measures,” Press Statement by the Swiss SECO, September 21, 2012, accessed June 1, 2016, medienmitteilungen-2012.msg-id-46075.html. 59 Ibid. 60 Ibid; “Swiss Hand Grenades reached Syria: Bern,” The Local (Switzerland), September 21, 2012, accessed June 1, 2016, swiss-hand-grenades-reached-syria-bern. 61 Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Small Arms Survey 2014: Women and Guns (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 119, accessed June 1, 2015, 62 United Nations Security Council, “Report of the Panel of Experts Appointed Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1306 (2000),” paragraph 19, in relation to Sierra Leone Arms, S/2000/1195, December 20, 2000. 63 Ian Traynor, “The International Dealers in Death,” The Guardian, July 9, 2001, accessed June 1, 2015, jul/09/armstrade.iantraynor. 64 Ibid. 65 Discussion with Professor James Stewart, former Appeals Counsel, 192

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Office of the Prosecutor, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and leading academic in the area of corporate responsibility for international crimes (November 6, 2012). 66 Claire Ribando Seelke, “Mexico and the 112th Congress,”Congressional Research Service, January 29, 2013, 5, accessed June 1, 2016, sgp/crs/row/RL32724.pdf. 67 Nick Miroff and William Booth, “Mexico’s Drug War is at a Stalemate as Calderon’s Presidency Ends,” Washington Post, November 27, 2012, accessed June 2, 2016, calderon-finishes-his-six-year-drug-war-at-stalemate/2012/11/26/82c90a9431eb-11e2-92f0-496af208bf23_story.html. 68 William Booth, “Mexico’s Crime Wave has Left about 25 000 People Missing, Government Documents Show,” Washington Post, November 29, 2012, accessed June 2, 2016, the_americas/mexicos-crime-wave-has-left-up-to-25000-missinggovernment-documents-show/2012/11/29/7ca4ee44-3a6a-11e2-9258ac7c78d5c680_story.html. 69 Topher McDougal, Robert Muggah, David Shirk and John Patterson, “Made in the U.S.A.: The Role of American Guns in Mexican Violence,” The Atlantic, March 18, 2013, accessed June 2, 2016, http://www.theatlantic. com/international/archive/2013/03/made-in-the-usa-the-role-ofamerican-guns-in-mexican-violence/274103/. 70 Topher McDougal, David A. Shirk, Robert Muggah and John H. Patterson, The Way of the Gun: Estimating Firearm Traffic Across the US‒ Mexico Border (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and San Diego, CA: Igarape Institute and University of San Diego, 2013), 6, accessed June 1, 2016, http://catcher. 71 Ibid, 5. 72 Ibid, 2. 73 Arindrajit Dube, Oeindrila Dube and Omar Garcia-Ponce, “Cross-Border Spill-Over: US Gun-Laws and Violence in Mexico,” American Political Science Review 107, no. 3 (2013): 401, 413. 74 Paul Magnarella, “Explaining Rwanda’s 1994 Genocide,” Human Rights and Human Welfare 2, no. 1 (2002): 25‒34. 75 Damien Fruchart, Paul Holtom and Siemon T. Wezeman, United Nations Arms Embargoes: Their Impact on Arms Flow and Target Behaviour (Uppsala, Sweden: Uppsala University, 2007), 5–10, accessed June 2, 2016, http:// 76 Nelson Alusala, “The Arming of Rwanda and the Genocide,” African Security Studies 13, no. 2 (2004): 138. 193

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77 Ibid. 78 Ibid. 79 Fruchart, Holtom and Wezeman, United Nations Arms Embargoes, 6. 80 “Rwanda: How the Genocide Happened,” BBC News, December 8, 2008, accessed June 1, 2016,; Ernest Harsch, “OAU Sets Inquiry Into Rwandan Genocide,” Africa Recovery 12, no. 1 (1998): 4; Alison Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1999), 15‒16. 81 United Nations, “Background Information on Sexual Violence Used as a Tool of War,” Outreach Programme of the Rwanda Genocide and the United Nations, 2014, accessed June 15, 2015, preventgenocide/rwanda/about/bgsexualviolence.shtml. 82 African Rights, Rwanda: Broken Bodies, Torn Spirits (Kigali, Rwanda: African Rights, 2004), 93, accessed June 2, 2016, http://preventgbvafrica. org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/brokenbodies.africanrights.pdf. 83 Philip Verwimp, “Machetes and Firearms: The Organization of Massacres in Rwanda.”Journal of Peace Research, 43, no. 1 (2006): 5‒22. 84 Ibid. 85 Kirk Jackson, “The Arms Trade Treaty: A Historic and Momentous Failure,” Ceasefire Magazine, April 29, 2013, accessed June 1, 2016, https:// 86 Ibid. 87 Kissinger stated this in a 1976 US State Department speech. C. Magoc and D. Bernstein (eds), Imperialism and Expansionism in American History (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2015), 1237‒1238. MY TH 4 1 UK Office for National Statistics (ONS), “Defense-Related Activities in the UK,” PRODCOM Final Results 2014, accessed June 2, 2016, http:// uk/ons/rel/prodcom/prodcom-final-results/defence-related-activities-inthe-uk/sty-def.html. 2 Food and Drink Federation (FDF), “Statistics at a Glance,” FDF, last updated May 28, 2015, accessed June 1, 2015, statsataglance.aspx. 3 UK Office for National Statistics, “UK Manufacturers Sales by Product (PRODCOM), 2013 Intermediate Results,” UK Office for National Statistics, December 18, 2014, accessed June 2, 2016, ons/dcp171778_389619.pdf. 194

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4 For a detailed breakdown of UK government spending, the following site is remarkably easy to use: 5 AeroSpace and Defense Industries Association of Europe (ASD), “Key Facts and Figures: 2012,” accessed June 1, 2015, http://www.asd-europe. org/fileadmin/user_upload/Client_documents/ASD_Contents/2_ COMMUNICATION/2.5_Publications/2.5.2_Facts_and_Figures/ASD_ Facts_and_Figures_2012.pdf. 6 EuroStat, “Manufacturing Statistics-NACE Rev. 2,”last updated November 5, 2014, accessed June 1, 2015, statistics-explained/index.php/Manufacturing_statistics_-_NACE_ Rev._2. 7 On defense share of GDP, see: Office of the Under Secretary for Defense (Comptroller), National Defense Budget Estimates for FY2015, United States Department of Defense, March 2014, 262, accessed May 31, 2016, http:// Green_Book.pdf. 8 For the most recent figures on the US share of global arms export agreements see: Richard F. Grimmett and Paul K. Kerr, “Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2004‒2011,” Congressional Research Service, August 24, 2012, accessed June 1, 2016, weapons/R42678.pdf. 9 US export figures are extrapolated from World Bank indicators. See: ‘US Trade in Goods and Services—Balance of Payments (BOP) Basis, 1960 through 2014, 10 J. Paul Dunne and Mehmet Uye, “Military Spending and Development,” Working Papers 0902, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of West England (2009), 5–7, accessed June 2, 2016, 11 Ibid, 5‒6. 12 J. Paul Dunne, “Military Spending, Growth, Development and Conflict,” Defence and Peace Economics, 23, no. 6 (2012): 553‒554. 13 Ibid, 8–9. 14 Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier, The US Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update (Amherst, MA: Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts, 2011), accessed May 27, 2016, published_study/PERI_military_spending_2011.pdf. 15 Ibid, 3. 16 Ibid, 5. 17 Ibid, 7. 195

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18 19 20 21

Ibid, 7‒8. Ibid, 4. Ibid, 4. Paul Ingram and Roy Isbister, Escaping the Subsidy Trap: Why Arms Exports are Bad for Britain (London and Oxford: British American Security Information Council, Saferworld and Oxford Research Group, 2004), 37, accessed June 2, 2016, default/files/ORGsubsidy.pdf. 22 Ibid. 23 Malcom Chalmers, Neil V. Davies, Keith Hartley and Chris Wilkinson, The Economic Costs and Benefits of UK Defence Exports (York, UK: Centre for Defence Economics, University of York, 2001), accessed June 2, 2016, An interesting corollary of this article is that running an ethical arms trade policy in the UK, where exports to countries exhibiting a high risk of using weapons in human rights violations would have a net positive impact on the economy. Dunne and Perlo-Freeman, in a 2003 study, calculated that 27.5% of UK arms exports were to ‘high risk’ countries. If these exports were stopped, there would be an initial loss of 27,000 jobs, but a longterm creation of 37,000 jobs. In addition, the UK government would save £115.5m in subsidies compared against a loss in revenue of between £22‒55m. See: J. Paul Dunne and Sam Perlo Freeman, “The Impact of a Responsible Arms Control Policy on the UK Economy,” Report prepared for Oxfam, 2003, 28, accessed June 1, 2015, paul/Oxfamreport7.pdf. 24 Steven Schofield, Making Arms, Wasting Skills: Alternatives to Militarism and Arms Production (London: Campaign Against the Arms Trade, 2008), accessed June 1, 2016, economics/making-arms-2008.pdf. 25 Mary Kaldor, The Baroque Arsenal (New York: Hill & Wang, 1981). 26 Stephen M. Walt, “Rush to Failure: The Flawed Politics and Policies of Missile Defense,” Harvard Magazine, May 1, 2000, accessed June 2, 2016, 27 The Cold War Museum, “The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI): Star Wars,” accessed June 2, 2016, 28 Joseph Cirincione, “Political and Strategic Imperatives of National Missile Defense,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, October 12, 2000, accessed June 2, 2016, 196

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29 Jurgen Brauer, “Review Article: Is War Necessary for Economic Growth,” The Economics of Peace and Security Journal 2, no. 1 (2007): 72. 30 William J. Perry, “A New Way of Doing Business,” Memorandum for Secretaries of the Military Departments, June 29, 1994, standardsdev/military/milperry.htm. 31 Ibid. 32 Jacques S. Gansler and William Lucyshyn, Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS): Doing it Right (College Park, MD: Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise, Naval Postgraduate School, 2008), 13–17, accessed June 2, 2016, 33 ONS, “Defense-Related Activities in the UK.” 34 Michael Brzoska, “Trends in Global Military and Civilian Research and Development and their Changing Interface,” Manchester Institute of Innovation Research/Re-Evaluating Defense R&D and Innovative Dynamics, Workshop Paper, 2007, 11‒12, accessed June 2, 2016, http://ifsh. de/pdf/aktuelles/india_brzoska.pdf. 35 National Science Board, “Science and Engineering Indicators: 2012,” accessed June 1, 2016, 36 Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills, The 2010 R&D Scoreboard: The Top 1,000 UK and 1,000 Global Companies by R&D Investment (London: Crown, 2010) 41, accessed June 2, 2016, http://webarchive.national scoreboard/downloads/2010_RD_Scoreboard_data.pdf. 37 European Commission, EU R&D Scoreboard: The 2013 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard (Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2013), 35, accessed June 3, 2016, scoreboard13.html. 38 This account is taken from the “Brief History of the Internet” drafted by a group of individuals who were present during its inception. It can be viewed here: history-internet/brief-history-internet. 39 Ibid. 40 It can still be viewed here: Project.html. 41 “Guns and Sugar,” The Economist. 42 Sezsy Yuniorrita and Curie Maharani, “Caveat Emptor: The Challenge of Implementing Defense Offset in RI,” Jakarta Post, October 13, 2012, accessed June 3, 2016, caveat-emptor-the-challenge-implementing-defense-offset-ri. html?search=caveat+emptor. 197

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43 World Trade Organization, Agreement on Public Procurement: Article XXIII (Uruguay Round Agreement), accessed June 3, 2016, http://www. 44 Burkard Schmitt, Defense Procurement in the European Union: The Current Debate (Paris: European Union Institute for Security Studies, 2005), 34, accessed June 3, 2016, pdf. 45 For a discussion of this in full, see: Lloyd Dumas, “Weapons Procurement and Development: Do Offsets Mitigate or Magnify the Military Burden?” (paper prepared for the Conference on “Offsets and Development”: Cape Town, SA; September 2002), accessed June 3, 2016, https://www.utdallas. edu/~ljdumas/Weapons.pdf. 46 Elizabeth Sköns, “Evaluating Defense Offsets: The Experience in Finland and Sweden,” in Arms Trade and Economic Development: Theory, Policy and Cases in Arms Trade Offsets, eds. Jurgen Brauer and J. Paul Dunne (London: Routledge, 2004). 47 J. Modise, “Realising our Hopes,” Address by the Minister of Defense on the Defense Budget Vote, 9 March 1999. 48 “Guns vs. Butter?” Weekend Argus, February 26, 1995. 49 Armscor, “Armscor Annual Report 2011/2012,” 2012, 88, accessed June 3, 2016, Report%202011-2012.pdf. 50 “NIP performance figures, 2014,” attached as Annexure ES2 to the testimony of Sipho Zikode before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Strategic Defense Procurement Program, South Africa. Zikode’s testimony is available to download from 51 “PE set to become Viking Mecca,” Eastern Province Herald, 2001; and “Local Firms Line Up for Foreign Gain in Arms Deal,” Business Report, November 6, 2002. 52 “NIP Performance Figures, 2014.” 53 “Tourists Won Points for South African Arms Deal,”The Local (Sweden), February 6, 2007, accessed June 3, 2016, http://www.thelocal. se/20070206/6316. 54 “NIP Performance Figures, 2014.” 55 Jurgen Brauer, “Economic Aspects of Arms Trade Offsets,” in Arms Trade and Economic Development: Theory, Policy, and Cases in Arms Trade Offsets, ed. Jurgen Brauer and J. Paul Dunne (New York: Routledge, 2004), 64. 56 Jurgen Brauer and J. Paul Dunne, “Arms Trade Offsets: What Do We Know?, ”University of Bristol Business School, Working Paper 0910, accessed June 1, 2015, This article also appears 198

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notes TO MY T H 5

in Handbook on the Political Economy of War, ed. C.J. Coyne and R.L. Mathers (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2011). 57 Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes, The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict (London: Allen Lane, Penguin Books, 2008). 58 Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes, “The True Cost of the Iraq War: $3 Trillion and Beyond,” Washington Post, September 5, 2010. 59 Ibid. 60 James Grefer, David Gregory and Erin Rebhan (CNA Corporation), “Military and Civilian Compensation: How Do They Compare?” in The 11th Quadrennial Review of Military Compensation. Supporting Research Papers (Washington, DC: Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, 2012), accessed June 3, 2016, dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a563240.pdf. 61 Dan Lamothe, “France Backs Off Sending Mistral Warship to Russia in $1.7 Billion Deal,” Washington Post, September 3, 2014. 62 Giorgio D’Agostino, John Paul Dunne and Luca Pieroni, “Corruption, Military Spending and Economic Growth,”Defense and Peace Economics 23, no. 6 (2012): 602. MY TH 5 1

Joe Roeber, “Hard Wired for Corruption: The Arms Trade and Corruption,” Prospect, August 28, 2005. 2 William M. Daley, “National Export Strategy: Working for America,” Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee, 2000, 11. 3 Sanjeev Gupta, Luiz de Mello and Raju Sharan, Corruption and Military Spending—A Working Paper of the International Monetary Fund (Washington, DC: International Monetary Fund, 2000), 16, accessed June 3, 2016, 4 “Five Reasons Why BAE Will Do Fine in the US Defense Market,” Forbes, February 21, 2014, accessed June 15, 2015, sites/lorenthompson/2014/02/21/five-reasons-bae-systems-will-do-finein-the-u-s-defense-market/. 5 G. Murphy, Affidavit submitted as Annexure JDP-SW12 in the High Court of South Africa (Transvaal Provincial Division) in the matter of Ex Parte the National Director of Public Prosecutions (applicant) In Re: An Application for Issue of Search Warrants in Terms of Section 29(5) and 29(6) of the National Prosecuting Authority Act, No. 32 of 1998, as amended, 2008. 6 Ibid. 7 Ibid. 199

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8 Ibid. 9 ‘Statement of Offence’ in the Matter of the United States v. BAE Systems PLC, Violation: Title 18, United States Code, Section 371 (conspiracy), United States District Court for the District of Columbia. 10 Ibid. 11 “Proposed Charging Letter re: Investigation of BAE Systems plc Regarding Violations of the Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations,” May 2011, accessed June 3, 2015, www.pmddtc.state. gov/compliance/consent_agreements/baes.html. 12 Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, “Ferrostaal: Final Report, Compliance Investigation,” April 13, 2011, 2, accessed June 3, 2016, https://kassios.files. 13 Ibid. 14 Ibid. 15 Roeber, “Hard Wired for Corruption.” 16 The following discussion of the systemic cause of corruption in the arms trade is extrapolated from Andrew Feinstein, Paul Holden, and Barnaby Pace, “Corruption in the Arms Trade: Sins of Commission,” in SIPRI Yearbook 2011 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011). 17 World Trade Organization, Agreement on Public Procurement: Article XXIII (Uruguay Round Agreement), 2014, docs_e/legal_e/gpr-94_02_e.htm. 18 BryanBender, “From the Pentagon to the Private Sector,” Boston Globe, December 26, 2010. 19 United States House of Representatives, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, Public Law 110-181, 110th Congress, January 28, 2008. 20 Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), “Military Contractors Open the Revolving Door for Former Pentagon Officials,” CREW Blog, October 24, 2013, accessed June 1, 2015, http://www. 21 Ibid. 22 Nick Hopkins, Rob Evans and Richard Norton-Taylor, “MoD staff and Thousands of Military Officers Join Arms Firms,”The Guardian, October 15, 2012, accessed June 1, 2015, mod-military-arms-firms. 23 CAAT, “Revolving Door Log,” last updated December 4, 2014, http:// 200

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notes TO MY T H 5

24 Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Strategic Manoeuvres: The Revolving Door from the Pentagon to the Private Sector (Washington, DC: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, 2011), 2, 25 Lawrence S. Wittner, “The Greed of Lockheed Martin,” Consortium News, March 23, 2013, accessed June 3, 2016, http://consortiumnews. com/2013/03/23/the-greed-of-lockheed-martin/. 26 Marc Lifsher, “California Grants $420m tax break to Lockheed Martin Corp,” Los Angeles Times, July 3, 2014, accessed June 3, 2016, http://www. 27 Ibid. 28 The internationalization of production in the arms trade is discussed in depth in Schofield, Making Arms, Wasting Skills. 29 Inspector General, Department of Defense, Semi-Annual Report to the Congress, 1 October 1998–31 March 1999 (Darby, PA: DIANE Publishing, 1999), ii. 30 Commission on Wartime Contracting In Iraq and Afghanistan,“Wartime Contracting Commission Releases Final Report to Congress,” Commission Press Statement, CWC-NR-49, August 31, 2011, accessed June 3, 2016, 31 Ibid, 2. 32 AdamWeinstein, “The All-Time 10 Worst Military Contracting Boondoggles,” Mother Jones, September 2, 2011, accessed June 1, 2015, http:// 33 Ibid. 34 William D. Hartung, Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military Industrial Complex (New York: Nation Books, 2011), 154‒155. 35 Feinstein, The Shadow World, 305‒318. 36 Ibid. 37 R.J. Hillhouse, “Outsourcing Intelligence,” The Nation, July 24, 2007, accessed June 3, 2016, 38 Ibid. 39 Simon Chesterman, “‘We Can’t Spy … If We Can’t Buy!’: The Privatization of Intelligence and the Limits of Outsourcing ‘Inherently Government Functions’,” The European Journal of International Law 19, no. 5 (2008): 1057. 201

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40 For further detail on the Arms Deal and the controversy that has surrounded it, see: Paul Holden and Hennie Van Vuuren, The Devil in the Detail: How the Arms Deal Changed Everything ( Jeppestown: Jonathan Ball Publishers, 2011). 41 Nicoli Nattrass, The Moral Economy of Aids in South Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 66. 42 Government of South Africa, “Full Report of the Joint Health and Treasury Task Team Charged with Examining Treatment Options to Supplement Comprehensive Care for HIV/Aids in the Public Health Sector,” August 8, 2003,56 (paragraph 4.4), accessed June 3, 2016, 43 Holden and Van Vuuren, The Devil in the Detail. 44 Ibid. MY TH 6 1 Transparency International (TI), “Government Defense Anti-Corruption Index,” TI, International Defense and Security Programme, 2015, accessed June 18, 2015, 2 Ibid. 3 Ibid. 4 Susan Willett, “Defense Expenditures, Arms Procurement and Corruption in Sub-Saharan Africa,”Review of African Political Economy 36, no. 121 (2009): 335‒351. 5 Ibid, 340–341. 6 Obiamaka Egbo, Ifeoma Nwakoby, Josaphat Onwumere and Chibuike Uche, “Legitimizing Corruption in Government: Security Votes in Nigeria,” African Studies Centre Working Paper 91/2010, 2010, accessed August 8, 2014, ?sequence=2. 7 Turaki A. Hassan and Ibrahim Kabiru Sule, “Nigeria: Security Retains Top Spot in 2014 National Budget,”All Africa, December 20, 2013, accessed June 3, 2016, 8 WilliamWallis, “Pillar of West African Security Struggles to Keep Peace at Home in Nigeria,”Financial Times, May 21, 2014, accessed June 3, 2016, html. 9 Charlotte Alfred, “Nigeria Struggles to Protect Citizens as Boko Haram Death Toll Climbs,” Huffington Post, February 11, 2016, accessed June 3, 2016, 202

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notes TO MY T H 6

10 Kevin Uhrmacher and Mary Beth Sheridan, “The Brutal Toll of Boko Haram’s Attacks on Civilians,” Washington Post, April 3, 2016, accessed June 3, 2016, 11 International Crisis Group, “Curbing Violence in Nigeria (II): the Boko Haram Insurgency,” Africa Report No. 216, April 3, 2014, I, accessed August 4, 2014, 216-curbing-violence-in-nigeria-ii-the-boko-haram-insurgency.pdf. 12 Kingsley Ighomwenghian, Sola Alabadan, Sylvester Enoghase, Philip Oladunjoye, Joe Nwankwo, Gbenga Faturoti and Daniel Abia, “Insurgency: Nigerians Seek Probe of Security Budgets,”Daily Independent, June 30, 2014, accessed June 18, 2015, 13 Project on Government Oversight (POGO), “Pentagon Slush Fund Must Be Drawn Down,” POGO Blog, February 6, 2014, accessed June 18, 2015, 14 Friends Committee on National Legislation, “End the Wars—End the War Funding,” 2014, accessed June 18, 2015, End_the_Wars_End_the_War_Funding.pdf. 15 Ibid. 16 Korb, Hoffman and Blakeley, A User’s Guide to the Fiscal Year 2015 Defense Budget. 17 POGO, “An Open Letter to Appropriators in Congress: End the Budget Gimmicks and Cut the Pentagon’s Slush Fund,” POGO, February 6, 2014, accessed June 3, 2016, 18 Information Security Oversight Office, Report to the President 2014 (Washington, DC: ISOO, 2014), 1, accessed June 3, 2016, http://www. 19 Ibid, 6. 20 Ibid, 24. 21 Information Security Oversight Office, Report to the President 2013 (Washington, DC: ISOO, 2013), 21, accessed June 3, 2016, http://www. 22 Scott Shane, “Cost to Protect U.S. Secrets Doubles to Over $11 Billion,” New York Times, June 2, 2012, accessed June 18, 2015, http://www.nytimes. com/2012/07/03/us/politics/cost-to-protect-us-secrets-doubles-indecade-to-11-billion.html?_r=0. 23 Ibid. 24 Public Interest Declassification Board, Transforming the Security Classification System (Washington, DC: ISOO, 2012), 15, accessed June 18, 2015, http:// 203

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INDEFENSIBLE 25 Dion Nissenbaum, “How Many People Hold Security Clearance?” The Wall Street Journal, September 17, 2013, accessed June 3, 2016, http://blogs. 26 Brian Fung, “5.1 million Americans Have Security Clearances. That’s More Than The Entire Population of Norway,” Washington Post, 24 March, 2014, accessed June 3, 2016, wp/2014/03/24/5-1-million-americans-have-security-clearances-thatsmore-than-the-entire-population-of-norway/. 27 Transparency International, “Government Defense Anti-Corruption Index.” 28 Cora Currier, “Charting Obama’s Crackdown on National Security Leaks,” Pro Publica, July 30, 2013, accessed June 18, 2015, http://www.propublica. org/special/sealing-loose-lips-charting-obamas-crackdown-on-nationalsecurity-leaks. 29 United States Congress, ‘Title 18—CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE.’ In United States Code, 2006 edition, Supplement 5 (Washington, DC: GPO, 2011), 171. 30 Currier, “Charting Obama’s Crackdown on National Security Leaks.” 31 Government Accountability Project, “National Security & Human Rights: 2014 Fact Base,” accessed August 4, 2014, bio-william-binney-and-j-kirk-wiebe. 32 Government Accountability Project, “National Security and Human Rights,” accessed 4 August 2014, 33 Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, “National Security Whistleblowing: A Gap in the Law,” accessed August 4, 2014, %20-%20National%20Security%20Whistleblowing.pdf. 34 US Securities and Exchange Commission, “SEC Enforcement Actions: FCPA Cases,” accessed May 20, 2015, fcpa-cases.shtml. 35 US Department of Justice, “FCPA and Related Enforcement Actions— In Re Armor Holdings,” accessed August 4, 2014, criminal/fraud/fcpa/cases/armor-holdings.html. 36 Public Interest Declassification Board, Transforming the Security Classification System, 9. 204

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37 Daniel Ellsberg, “Secrecy and National Security Whistleblowing,” Daniel Ellsberg Website, January 8, 2013, accessed June 18, 2015, http://www.ellsberg. net/archive/secrecy-national-security-whistleblowing. 38 Quoted in Elizabeth Goitein and David M. Shapiro, Reducing Overclassification Through Accountability (New York: Brennan Center For Justice at New York University School of Law, 2011), 26, accessed June 3, 2015, LNS/Brennan_Overclassification_Final.pdf. 39 Ibid, 22. 40 Ibid. 41 Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Secrecy: The American Experience (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1998), 73. 42 Goitein and Shapiro, Reducing Overclassification Through Accountability, 25. 43 Ibid, 23. 44 US Department of Defense, Office of the Inspector General, Audit Report: The Timber Wind Special Access Program (Report No. 93-033)(Arlington, VA: Office of the Inspector General, 1992), 14, accessed June 18, 2015, https:// 45 Ibid, 23. 46 Thomas H. Kean, and Lee Hamilton, The 9/11 Commission Report (Washington, DC: National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, 2004), 417. 47 Open Society Justice Initiative, “Understanding the Tshwane Principles,” accessed June 20, 2015, 48 Open Society Justice Initiative, “The Tshwane Principles on National Security and the Right to Information: An Overview in 15 Points,” accessed June 20, 2015, MY TH 7 1 Rachel Sylvester and Alice Thomson, “William Hague: ‘The World is Becoming More Dangerous’,” The Times, January 26, 2013. 2 Micah Zenko, “Is the World More Dangerous than Ever?” CNN, Global Public Square, April 12, 2012, accessed August 15, 2014, http:// 3 Stephen Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (New York: Viking Penguin, 2011). 205

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4 Melander, Erik, Magnus Öberg and Jonathon Hall, “Are ‘New Wars’ More Atrocious? Battle Severity, Civilians Killed and Forced Migration Before and After the End of the Cold War,” European Journal of International Relations 15, no. 3 (2009): 505‒536; Benjamin Valentino, “Why We Kill: The Political Science of Political Violence against Civilians,” Annual Review of Political Science 17(2014):89–103. 5 Joshua S. Goldstein, Winning the War on War: The Decline of Armed Conflict Worldwide (New York: Penguin Group, 2011). 6 Klaus von Grebmer, Jill Bernstein, Alex de Waal, Nilam Prasai, Sandra Yinand Yisehac Yohannes, 2015 Global Hunger Index: Armed Conflict and the Challenge of Hunger (Bonn, Washington, DC and Dublin: Welthungerhilfe, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Concern Worldwide, 2015), 7 Human Security Report Project, Human Security Report 2013, 23. This figure does not include military conflicts that have not been properly declared or acknowledged, such as the deployment of Russian troops in Ukraine. 8 Ibid. 9 Human Security Report Project, Human Security Report 2009/2010: The Causes of Peace and the Shrinking Costs of War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011). 10 Alex de Waal, “The Wars of Destabilization in the Horn of Africa, 1989‒2001,” in Islamism and Its Enemies in the Horn of Africa, ed. Alex de Waal (London: Hurst, 2004). 11 Africa Watch, “‘Mengistu has Decided to Burn Us Like Wood’: Bombing of Civilians and Civilian Targets by the Ethiopian Air Force,” News from Africa Watch, July 24, 1990, accessed June 18, 2015, legacy/reports/pdfs/e/ethiopia/ethiopia907.pdf. 12 Lotta Themnér and Peter Wallensteen, “Armed Conflicts, 1946–2013,” Journal of Peace Research 51, no. 4 (2014): 541‒554. 13 Erik Melander, Organized Violence in the World 2015: An Assessment of the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (Uppsala: Uppsala Universiteitand Uppsala Conflict Data Program, 2014), 8, accessed June 18, 2015, http://www.pcr. 14 Ibid, Figure 7 (p. 7). 15 Klaus von Grebmer, et al., 2015 Global Hunger Index: Armed Conflict and the Challenge of Hunger. 16 Joseph Carroll, “Public: World Is More Dangerous Today Than at Most Other Times,”Gallup, July 28, 2006. 17 “Terrorism in the United States,” Gallup Polling, 2013, com/poll/4909/terrorism-united-states.aspx. 206

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18 United States Department of State, “Terrorism Deaths, Injuries, and Kidnappings of Private US Citizens Overseas in 2013,” accessed June 3, 2014, 19 Global Research Centre for Research on Globalization, “The Terrorism Statistics Every American Needs to Hear,” accessed May 19, 2014, http:// 20 Brad Plumer, “Eight Facts about Terrorism in the United States,”Washington Post, Wonkblog, April 16, 2013, accessed June 14, 2014, http://www. 21 J.J. Goldberg, “More Killed by Toddlers than Terrorists in the US,” Forward, May 5, 2013, 22 Todd Sandler, “The Analytical Study of Terrorism: Taking Stock,” Journal of Peace Research 51, no. 2 (2014): 259‒260. 23 Trevor Thrall and Jane Cramer, “Introduction: Understanding Threat Inflation,” in American Foreign Policy and the Politics of Fear: Threat Inflation Since 9/11, ed. Trevor Thrall and Jane Cramer (London: Routledge, 2009), 1. 24 Lydia Saad, “Most Americans Believe Crime in the U.S. Is Worsening,” Gallup, October 31, 2011. 25 Inimai M. Chettiar, “The Many Causes of America’s Decline in Crime,” The Atlantic, February 11, 2015, accessed June 3, 2016, http://www.theatlantic. com/politics/archive/2015/02/the-many-causes-of-americas-decline-incrime/385364/. Also see “Table 1: Crime in the United States by Volume and Rate per 100,000 Inhabitants, 1992‒2001,” Federal Bureau of Investigation, 26 Stephen Van Evera, “Foreword,” in American Foreign Policy and the Politics of Fear: Threat Inflation Since 9/11, ed. Trevor Thrall and Jane Cramer (London: Routledge, 2011), xii. 27 William Astore, “Pentagon Threat Inflation,” Huffington Post, April 15, 2013, accessed June 3, 2014, pentagon-threat-inflation_b_3084602.html. 28 Thrall and Kramer, in their introduction to the volume cited above, provide a useful summary of the different theoretical approaches to understanding threat inflation. 29 Bruce Schneier, “Worst-Case Thinking,” Schneier on Security, May 10, 2010, accessed June 3, 2014, worst-case_thin.html. 207

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30 See, for example, American Foreign Policy and the Politics of Fear: Threat Inflation Since 9/11, ed. Trevor Thrall and Jane Cramer (London: Routledge, 2009). 31 For a full discussion of this, see: Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine (London: Allen Lane, 2007), 289‒291. 32 Chaim Kaufmann, “Threat Inflation and the Failure of Marketplace of Ideas,” in American Foreign Policy and the Politics of Fear: Threat Inflation Since 9/11, ed. Trevor Thrall and Jane Cramer (London: Routledge, 2011). 33 Ibid. 34 “CIA Report: No WMD Found in Iraq,” NBC News, April 25, 2005, accessed June 3, 2016, news-mideast_n_africa/t/cias-final-report-no-wmd-found-iraq/. 35 Mike Mount, “Hussein’s Iraq and al Qaeda Not Linked, Pentagon Says,”CNN, March 13, 2008, accessed June 3, 2016, http://www.cnn. com/2008/US/03/13/alqaeda.saddam/. 36 Robert Dreyfus and Jason Vest, “The Lie Factory,” Mother Jones, January/ February 2004, accessed June 3, 2016, politics/2004/01/lie-factory. 37 Seymour Hersh, “Selective Intelligence,” The New Yorker, May 12, 2003, accessed June 3, 2016, selective-intelligence. 38 Kaufmann, “Threat Inflation.” 39 Donald Rumsfeld, in a famous 2003 memo, was interpreted to be a proponent of this view when he queried whether or not the US was ‘capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us.’ “Memo from Donald Rumsfeld to General Dick Myers, Paul Wolfowitz, General Pete Pace and Doug Feith,” October 16, 2003, accessed June 3, 2016, rumsfeld-memo.htm. 40 Andrew Cockburn, Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-tech Assassins (New York: Henry Holt, 2015), 157. 41 Gabriel Kolko, Century of War: Politics, Conflicts, and Society since 1914 (New York: The New Press, 1994), 8. 42 Niall Ferguson, The Pity of War: Explaining World War One (London: Basic Books, 2000), 462.


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Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). “Swiss Hand Grenades in Syria: Conclusion of Investigation and Measures.” Press Statement by the Swiss SECO, September 21, 2012. Accessed June 1, 2016. http://www.seco. Sylvester, Rachel and Alice Thomson. “William Hague: ‘The World is Becoming More Dangerous’.” The Times, January 26, 2013. TaxPayers for Common Sense. “The Unaffordable F-35: Budget History and Alternatives.” April 2014. Accessed June 1, 2016. images/uploads/Alternatives%20to%20the%20F35(1).pdf. Taylor, Travis K. “Countertrade Offsets in International Procurement: Theory and Evidence.” In Designing Public Procurement Policy in Developing Countries, edited by Murat A. Yulek and Travis K. Taylor, 15‒34. New York: Springer Science and Business Media, 2011. Themnér, Lotta and Peter Wallensteen. “Armed Conflicts, 1946–2013.” Journal of Peace Research 51, no. 4 (2014): 541‒554. Thrall, Trevor and Jane Cramer. “Introduction: Understanding Threat Inflation.” In American Foreign Policy and the Politics of Fear: Threat Inflation Since 9/11, edited by Trevor Thrall and Jane Cramer. London: Routledge, 2009. Transparency International (TI). “Government Defense Anti-Corruption Index.” TI, International Defense and Security Programme, 2015. Accessed June 18, 2015. Traynor, Ian. “The International Dealers in Death.”The Guardian, July 9, 2001. Accessed June 1, 2015. armstrade.iantraynor. US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Second Staff Report on US Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual-Use Exports to Iraq and the Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of the War, 1995. Uhrmacher, Kevin and Mary Beth Sheridan.“The Brutal Toll of Boko Haram’s Attacks on Civilians.”Washington Post, April 3, 2016. Accessed June 3, 2016. UK Office for National Statistics. “Defense-Related Activities in the UK.” PRODCOM Final Results 2014. Accessed June 2, 2016. http://www.ons. UK Office for National Statistics. “UK Manufacturers Sales by Product (PRODCOM), 2013 Intermediate Results.” UK Office for National Statistics, December 18, 2014. Accessed June 2, 2016. uk/ons/dcp171778_389619.pdf. UN News Service. “UN Budget Committee Approves Funding for UN Ebola Response Mission.” UN News Centre, October 7, 2014. Accessed May 31, 2016. 229

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accountability, 176; chain, 131 Acoustic Rapid COTS Insertion Program, 99 active conflicts, internationalized, 33 Adolff, Jurgen, 122 Afghanistan, 17, 26; drone warfare, 19; US involvement in, 3, 58; war in, 25, 112; war in cost, 113, 138 Africa: African Union, 35, 64, 66, 69; military spending, 15 Aftergood, Steven, 140, 147-8 Airbus, 103 airplanes, World War I development, 98 Al Jazeera, 70 Al Qaida, 25-6, 64, 66, 161, 166 Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), 69 Al Yamanah arms deal, 51 Al-Shabaab, 35, 64, 66; ex-Libyan armaments, 70 Aleppo, ISIS Humvees, 63 Algeria, 16 Amnesty International, 79; Saudi Arabia report 2014, 49 Anbar province, Iraq, 62 Angola, 16; civil war, 159 anti-satellite weapons, China investment in, 22 Anthrax, 61 ‘anti-access denial’, 21

Archduke Ferdinand, assassination of, 20 Arizona, 75; military weapons ban repeal, 74 Armore Holdings, 143 arms business: controls diversions, 4; corruption high risk, 118; cost estimate, 132; dealers, 38; economic rationalizations, 40; export licences, 68; global spending, 11; job creation subsidies, 84, 92; long supply lines, 6; political analysis undermined, 155; political clout, 1; rationalization myths, 2; regime self-protection use, 3; subsidized exports, 95; taxpayer costs, 1; threats inflation, 170; US embargo on Somalia, 64; trade complexity, 124; see also defense Arms Deal: South Africa social cost of, 133; jobs promise unfulfilled, 110 Arms Trade Treaty UN 2013, 4, 78; weaknesses of, 58, 79-81 Armscor, offset failure, 108, 109 ARPANET, 103, 104 Asia Pacific, arms race, 21 assymetric forces, China investment in, 22 Astore, William, 164 Austal corporation, 23 Australia, 15 233

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INDEFENSIBLE Austria-Hungary, 20 Axe, David, 42 BAE Systems, 5, 42, 85, 122, 143; bribery allegations, 119; plea bargaining, 121; Saudi corruption investigation, stopped, 123; Saudi sales, 50 ‘baroque arsenal’, military R&D outcome, 97 Belgrade, Chinese embassy bombed, 21 Berners-Lee, Tim, 104 Bilmes, Linda, 113 bin Laden, Osama, 25 Binney, William, 142 Bistrong, Richard, 143 Black Hawk helicopters, 44 Blackwater, 131 Blair, Tony, 123 ‘blowbacks’, 58, 61, 169 Boeing Corporation, 46; jet refuelling tankers, 130 Boko Haram, 138; Libyan arms, 70; Nigeria, 35 ‘bomber gap’, 163 Boston Globe, 125 botulinium, 61 Bout, Viktor, 72 Brauer, Jurgen, 98, 111-12 Brazil, Igarape Institute, 74 bribes, European defense industry, 87 British Virgin Isles, 120 Burkina Faso, 4; Ouagadougou, 72; weapons in, 71 Bush, George W., 139, 147, 165-6; Administration manipulations, 167; Iraq invasion decision, 148 buying countries, offset size, 45 Calderon, Felipe, 73-4 California, 74-5, 127

Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), 126 Cartwright, James, 127 Ceasefire, campaign group, 79 Center for American Progress, 139 Centre for Strategic and International Studies, 27 CERN, 104 Chad, 67; fake end-user certificates, 64, 66 Cheney, Dick, 129 children, deaths of, 36 Chile, 119-20 China, 15, 48, 155; ammunition from, 54; arms race, 22; defense budget increase, 15, 17; defense manufacturing, 85; military spending regional impact, 21 CIA (USA Central Intelligence Agency), 19, 59, 162; Afghan mujahidin training, 25; Iraq defectors rubbished, 167 Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), 125-6 civil wars, South Sudan, 3, 55 Clark, Wesley, 52 climate change effects of, 37-8 Clinton, Bill, 146 Cold War, 12, 52, 163; conflict frequency, 159; end of, 158; violence of, 160 Commercial Control List, 43 Commission on Wartime Contracting, 129 Commodity Credit Corporation, 59 Compaoré, Blaise, 72 Concern Worldwide, 159 Conflict Armament Research, 63 conflicts: global decline, 158; zones of outside intervention, 32 Congressional Research Service, 85


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index Control Risks company, 46 Cordesman, Anthony, 68 corruption, 3, 6, 23, 26, 28, 38, 46-7, 52, 87, 124, 132; African military related, 115; ‘institutional’, 129, 131; multi-sided, 5; national security cloak, 122-3; offsets, 111; pervasive, 119; revolving doors two-way, 126; Saudi, 51; South Africa, 133; subcontracting ease, 128; Third World monopoly of myth, 117; -weapons buying link, 118 COTS (commercial and off-the-shelf technology), 99 Council of Deputies, Libya, 69 counter-trade, problematic, 105 Cramer, Jane, 163 cyber-warfare capabilities, China investment in, 22 Czech Republic, 119 Darfur, 68; Arab supremacists, 64, 66 DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Agency), USA, 103-4 Dawn of Libya, 69 Déby, Idriss, 69 Debevoise & Plimpton, 121 decision-makers, small numbers of, 124 defense: budget transparency problems, 139; budgets secret spending, 136; ‘burden’, 88; companies, see below; industry, see below; jobs myths, 90; low labor intensity manufacture, 94; offsets, see below; spending, see below Defense Communications, 104 defense companies: cost overruns, 22; deregulation supporters, 44; long lines of supply, 128; public funds dependent, 4; threats PR, 165 defense industry: narratives, 2; triumphalist advertising, 84

defense spending: -economic growth correlation, 88-90; regional, 16; skills externality, 113; vicious circles, 20 Democratic Republic of Congo: military interventions, 32; Uganda involvement, 137 Dempsey, Martin, 156 Department of Defense, counterterrorism role, 33 Department of Justice USA, 142 Department of Commerce USA, Munitions List, 43 ‘derivative classification’, 139-40 Dhahran airbase, 51 displaced people, 55 diversion, weapons, 72 Donbass basin, 52 Drake, Thomas, 142-3 drone warfare, 19 drug trade, displacement of, 29 Druyun, Darlene, 130 ‘dual-use’ items, 60 duct tape, 96 Dunne, John Paul, 89, 91, 112 E.Coli, 61 EADS, 102 Ebola, 29; response to, 3 economic growth, military spending negative effect, 91 Egypt, Rwanada arms sales, 76 elites: people protected, 26; selfenrichment, 28 Ellsberg, Daniel, 144 end-use certificates: fake, 66; manipulation of, 70 Eritrea, 36 Ethiopia, 36, 66; Hausien raid, 159; -Sudan cross border attacks, 158 Europe: defense companies, 4, 84; defense industry offsets, 87


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INDEFENSIBLE European Aeronautics and Defense Association, 84 European Union, 106; manufacturing turnover, 85; Saudi arms voluntary embargo, 50. 53 ex-public servants, -professional connections use, 126 export controls unenforced, 58 F-35 fighter jet program, case of, 19, 40; Congressional caucus, 42-3; contradictions of, 41; job claims, 42 F/A-18 Hornet jet fighters, Finland purchase, 107 famines, 160 fears, politicians use of, 161 Federal Assault Weapons Ban, 74 Federation of American Scientists, 147; Project on Government Secrecy, 140 feedback, 124 Ferguson, Niall, The Pity of War, 169 Ferrostaal, 109; compliance investigation, 121-2 Finland, offset contracts, 107 Finmeccania, India helicopters deal, 47 Food and Drug Administration, USA, 129 food and drink sector size, UK, 84 Football World Cup, 2010, 110 foreign Corrupt Practices Act, 143 France, 20, 53, 60, 65, 67; Mali intervention, 69; Mistral submarines attempted sale, 115; Rwanda arms sales, 76-8 Freedom House, 26 Freedom of Information Act, USA, 125, 145 Friends Committee on National Legislation, 138 ‘friends’, buying of, 48

Gaddafi, Muammar, 64, 67; weapons arsenal, 68; weapons export, 65; weapons stockpile spread, 66, 69; see also Libya General National Council, Libya, 69 Gerdec, Albania explosion, 6, 26 German Submarine Consortium, 122 Germany, 53, 65, 67, 108, 142; World War I lead up, 20 global military spending, 38 global public health, 29 Goitein, Elizabeth, 145, 147 Gonzalez, Henry B., 59 Government Accountability Project, USA, 142 Greece, 122 Gripen and Hawk jets, alleged bribery, 119-20 Gulf War, first, 167 guns and butter, offsets promise, 108 Habyarimana, Juvenal, 76; plane shot down, 77 Hague, William, 156 House of Saud, human rights record, 28 Halliburton, 129 Hartung, Bill, 42, 44, 130 Headquarters Marketing, BAE tool, 120 Hillhouse, R.J., 131 HIV/AIDS, 29, 133 Hlongwane, Fana, 120 Honduras, 29 Human Rights Watch, Saudi Arabia reports, 49 human security, 36, 38 Human Security Report, 158 Hungary, 119 Hussein, Saddam, 4, 58, 61, 161, 1645; US arms buying, 59; USA threat claims, 166


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index Hutus, moderate killed, 77 Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol, 104 ICBMS: USSR overestimated, 163; USSR reality, 164 Igarape Institute, 74 India: arms imports, 60; defense imports scale, 48; VVIP protection helicopters purchase, 47 Indonesia, China military fear, 21 information, overclassification, 149 Information Security Oversight Office, 139 innovation, Cold War period, 96; myth, 2, 5, 103 Interahamwe, 75 International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, 44 International Crisis Group, 138 International Food Policy Research Institute, 159 Internet, 96; development, 104-5; military claim for, 103 investigative agencies, political pressure on, 124 Iran, 50; -Contra affair, 59; -Iraq war, 58-60, 159; nuclear weapons production, 164; obsolescent military equipment, 28; sanctions military impact, 27 Iraq, 59, 131; arms imports, 60; destabilized, 63; ISIS weapons seizing, 4, 62; US invasion of, 21, 26, 28, 61, 139, 165; US invasion decision, 148; USA wars cost, 113, 138; USA wars in, 3, 25, 58, 112, 147 ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), 61, 161; Iraq, 26; Iraqi weapons grabbing, 4, 62, 170; military vehicles, 63

Islamic extremist groups, Pakistan intelligence aid, 25 Islamic Legion, Gaddafi notion of, 68 Israel, 15 Italian Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, FBI raided, 59 Italy, 53, 65, 67 James, Christian Michel, 48 Japan, 15; China military fear, 21; military policy reversal, 15 job creation, myth, 2 Jones, Seth, 34 Jordan, 4, 71 journalists, 151 judicial processes, public access to, 151 Kalashnikovs, 1960-s, 57 Kaldor, Mary, 97 Kaufman, Chaim, 166 Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR), 129 Kenya, 35, 54, 66 Kiir, Salva, 54-5 Kim, Stephen, 143 Kiriakou, James, 143 Kissinger, Henry, 82 Kleinrock, Leonard, 103 Kolko, Gabriel, Century of War, 168 Kosovo war, 21 Kurdistan, 62 large weapons systems, state role, 124 Leibowitz, Shamai, 143 Lessig, Lawrence, 129 Liberia, 4, 30, 65, 67; arms embargo avoided, 72; arms forces US rebuilding, 29 Libicki, Martin, 34 Libya, 4, 64; arms to Boko Haram, 70; post-Gaddafi deterioration, 69; UN arms embargo abandoned,


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INDEFENSIBLE Moss, John, 145 Mosul, capture of, 62 Moynihan, Daniel, 146 munitions, 45; Munitions List, 44 Murphy, Gary, 120 Musa Rafsanjani, Auwal, 138 MV Faina, 54

65; weapons export, 67; weapons imports, 68; see also, Libya Licklider, J.C.R., 103 littoral combat ship, deficiencies, 23-4 lobbying: defense, 45; F-35, 41; Lockheed budget, 41-2 Lockheed Martin, 23, 31, 40, lobbying budget, 41-2; lobby tax breaks, 127 M-80, Swiss ammunition, 71 Machar, Riek, 55 Malaya, 35 Malaysia: China military fear, 21; DCNS scandal, 24; Malaya, 35 Mali, 68; Taureg rebels, 69 Manhattan Project, 96; spending on, 97 Manning, Chelsea (Bradley), 142-3 Massaquoi, Moses, 30 McArthur Baths, Port Elizabeth, 109 McKeon, Howard P, ‘Buck’, 43 McNerney, Jim, 46 Melandor, Erik, 159 Mexico, 29: drug cartels, 73; drug trade, 4, 74; gun death rates, 75 military employees, high wages, 11314; spending on, 92 military assets, Ukraine loss, 52 military scandals, publicized, 130 military scientific research, Cold War period, 105 military spending: global, 1; 9/11 aftermath, 13; poorest countries, 15; 2015, 14; world spending, 12 Ministry of Defence, UK, 84 ‘missile gap’, 163 Mistral submarines, 115 MIT (Massachussetts Institute of Technology), 103 Mitterand, Jean-Christophe, 76 Modise, Joe, 120 Mombasa, 54

N’djamena, second-hand arms bazaar, 65, 67 Namibia, 35 National Geospatial-Intelligence Program, USA, 19 National Intelligence Council, USA, 29 National Intelligence Estimate, USA, 147 National Intelligence Program, USA, 19 National Reconnaissance Office, USA, 19 National Science Foundation, USA, 104 National Security Decision Directive, 59 national security: arms companies as allies, 124; democracy impact, 150; Putin rationalizations, 169 NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), 12, 15, 115; Libya air campaign, 68 Navantia, 24 Nerguizan, Aram, 68 New York University, Brennan Center for Justice, 142-3, 145 Nicaragua, 59 Nigeria, 6; national budget, 138; offbudget expenditure, 137 Nigerian Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, 138 9/11, 161, 163, 165; Commission, 149 North Korea, 12; ballistic missiles, 164


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index Northern Ireland, peace talks, 34 Northrop Grumman, 42; tax breaks demand, 127 Norway, 142 NSA (National Security Authority), USA, 19; whistleblowers, 142 Obama, Barack, administration of, 24, 30, 43, 168; ‘pivot to Asia’, 22; Presiential Policy Directive 19, 142; whistleblower crackdown, 143 off-budget expenditures, military, 6, 12, 27, 137 Office of Special Plans, USA, 167 Offiziere, 42 ‘offset’ contracts, 46, 128; arms trade size, 45; complex and bureaucratic,107; ‘credits’ ‘multipliers’, 109-10; European defense industry, 87; guns and butter promise, 108; hidden catches, 111; problematic, 105; purchase price increase, 106; secrecy, 112; WTO exemption, 106 Open Society Justice Initiative, 149 ‘Operation United Assistance’, failure of, 30 Orsi, Giuseppe, 47 OuadiDoum, Libyan army base, 65; army base overrun, 67 Oxfam, 79 Pacific, US military dominance, 21 ‘packet switching’, 103 Pakistan: ammunition in Syria, 71; drone warfare, 19; Intelligence Service, 25 Pentagon: 2015 budget, 43; spending, 85 Pentagon Papers, 144 Perimekar company, 24

Perry, William J., ‘Memo’, 99 Philippines, China military fear, 21 Pinker, Steven, 157 Pinochet, Augusto, 119 Polyakov, Leonid, 52 poor democracy, military spending link, 26-7 Port Elizabeth, swimming pools, 110 Portugal, 122 possible-probable threat confused, 164 poverty and hunger, global, 36 Powell, Jonathan, 34-5 President’s Daily Brief (PDB), corporate input, 131-2 Prince Badar, 51 Project for the American Century, 166 Public Interest Declassification Board, 144 Putin, Vladimir, 169 Qatar, 68, 70-1 R&D, 97; defense funding fall, 102; military decrease, 100 RAND Corporation, 34 Reagan, Ronald, 59; re-equipment era, 17 Red Diamond Trading, BAE created company, 119-21 repressive regimes, military spending, 38 retired generals, Pentagon return, 125 ‘revolving doors’ public-private-public, 125-7 Rhodesia, 35 Risen, James, 143 risks, real human, 36 Roche, James, 130 Roeber, Joe, 118 Roughead, Gary, 127 Rumsfeld, Donald, 167


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INDEFENSIBLE Russia, 15, 20, 48, 65, 67-8, 155; mi-17 transport helicopters, 54; military spending increase, 15; proposed Mistral submarines purchase, 115 Rwanda: early 90s arms buying spree, 76; genocide, 4; genocide machete narrative, 75; genocide organized, 77-8 Rwandan Patriotic Front, 76-7 Saab, Sweden, 110 Salah al-Din, Iraq province, 62 Sandler, Todd, 162 Saudi Arabia, 15, 119; arms buying history, 3, 16, 48; human rights violations, 49; military spending size, 27; regime protection, 28; vast increase of arms spending, 16 Schneier, Bruce, 164 scientific development, defense role curtailed, 99 Scorpene submarines, 24 SEC, USA, 143 secrecy: arms trade, 6; corruption creating, 135; culture of, 139, 141, 144; cynical use of, 147; debate curtailing, 148; global defense sector default, 136 secrets: keeping of costs, 140; ‘organizational assets’, 146; USA clearances, 141 security classification, playing safe, 145 ‘security dilemma’, 19 ‘security votes’, 137; opaque, 138 Shaariibuu, Altantuya, 24 Shapiro, David, 145, 147 Shays, Christopher, 129 Sierra Leone: Revolutionary United Front, 65, 67; Special Court for, 72 Singapore, 142

skilled workers, defense sector absorbed, 113 Sköns, Elizabeth, 107 Salah al-Din, Iraq province, 62 small and light weapons, 57; Rwanda genocide real, 75 Smith & Wesson, 143 Snowden, Edward, 142-3 Somalia, 4, 35-6, 69, 160; arms embargo eased, 66; pirates of, 54; Transitional Federal Government, 64, 66 South Africa, 6, 35, 119-20, 122; Arms Deal 1999, 5, 107-8, 110, 132; arms export licences, 68; Rwanda arms sales, 76 South East Asia, regional umbrella, 21 South Korea, 15; China military fear, 21 South Sudan, 160; arms-purchasing, 3; Civil War, 169; ‘ghost soldiers’, 54; oil revenues squandered, 55; SPLA, see below Spagnolini, Bruno, 47 ‘spiral of insecurity’, 19-20 SPLA, army expansion, 53; Mi-17 transport helicopters bought, 54 Star Wars program, 147; spending on, 97 starvation, conflict-related, 160 Sterling, Jeffrey, 143 Stiglitz, Joseph, 113 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) 12, 15, 60-1, 65, 67; Military Expenditure Database, 27 submarines, Type 209, 122 Sudan, 36, 68; -Ethiopia cross-border attacks, 158; peace agreement, 53 Sweden, 110


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index Switzerland, 4; hand grenades in Syria, 71 Syria, 4, 63, 159-60; ISIS in, 170; Libyan weapons in, 70; outsider goals, 33; Swiss hand grenades in, 71; US military involvement, 139 T-55 tanks, 54 T-72 tanks, 53-4 Taiwan, US support for, 21 Taliban, the 25-6 Tanzania, 91, 119 Taylor, Charles, 65, 67, 72 TCP/IP, 103 Teicher, Howard, 59 terrorism: as tactic, 168; exaggerated threat, 156; groups life-cycles, 34; military solution to, 34; transnational, 162; US citizen fear of, 161; ‘war’ against, 33 Texas, 75; military weapons ban repeal, 74 Thrall, Trevor, 163 threats, ‘inflation’, 163-5; perception, 160; overstated, 156 Tian, Nan, 89 Timber Wind Project, 147 transparency, 176 Transparency International, 51; Government Defense AntiCorruption Index 136-7; UK’s Government Defence AntiCorruption Index, 141 Tshwane Principles, Global Principles on National Security and the Right to Information, 150, 173 turf wars, 146 Tutsis, size of deaths, 77 Tyagi, S.P., 47-8 Typhoon multi-role jet fighters, 51

UAE, 4, 71 Uganda, 6, 55, 76; DRC military campaign, 137 UK (United Kingdom), 20, 65, 67, 100, 108; arms exports subsidized, 96; arms industry relative size, 84; Department for Innovation and Skills, 102; military R&D decrease, 101-2; revolving doors, 126; Saudi close relation, 50-1; secrecy keeping, 141; Serious Fraud Office, 119-20, 123 Ukraine, 4, 169; arms theft scale, 72; military assets sold, 3; Russian invasion, 115; soldiers equipment lack, 53; tanks to Southern Sudan hijacked, 54; weapons stolen, 52 United Industrial Corporation, 143 UN (United Nations), 36; arms embargo violations, 73; Liberia arms embargo, 72; Libya arms embargo abandoned, 67; Mission for Ebola Emergency Response, 30; peacekeeping role, 33; peacekeeping USA minimal contribution, 31; Program of Action 2001, 70; Secretariat, 80; Security Council, 38, 85; Security Council Report 2014, 62; South Sudan peacekeepers, 55 United Technologies, 42 University of British Columbia, 73 University of Massachusetts, Political Economy Res, 92 University of San Diego, Trans-Border Institute, 74 Uppsala Conflict Data Program, 159 USA (United States of America), 84; Afghanistan war, 25; Afghan Mujahedin ‘blowback’, 4, 169; arms control regime, 43; arms trade policies, 44; Budget Control


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INDEFENSIBLE Act, 139; Congress, 125, 156; contractors fraud and waste, 129; counterterrorism funding, 33; defense-federal budget relation, 17; defense industry lobbyists, 87; defense spending job creation, 92-5; Department of Homeland Security, 162; Department of Justice, 119, 121; Environmental Protection Agency, 140; Espionage Act, World War I vintage, 142-3; gun lobbyists, 74; guns in Mexico, 74; Iraq and Afghanistan wars, 112; Iraq arms embargo, 60; Iraq arms supplied, 62; ISIS airstrikes, 63; Joint Chiefs of Staff, 127; Kickback Act, 1986, 128; military dominance, 22; military interventions, 3; military personnel non-domestic spending, 95; military R&D decrease, 102; military spending, 15; National Export Strategy Report, 118; National Security Council, 59; national sovereignty corporate influence, 132; Navy, 99; Overseas Contingency Operations, 19, 138; PentagonState Department spending ratio, 30; ‘Plan Colombia, 29’; Public Interest Declassification Board, 141; revolving doors, 125; Saudi close relation, 50; scale of government purchases, 5; secret-keeping costs, 140; Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, 60; Somalia arms embargo eased, 66; South Sudan support, 55; Syria action, 139; USAID, 34; wars cost, 113; ‘war on drugs’, 28; ‘war on terrorism’, 35; weapons exports

size, 85; Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, 142 USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), 60, 65, 67; military capacity overstated, 18; US threat overestimates, 163 Van Evera, Stephen, 164 Vietnam, 15; China military fear, 21 ‘war on terror’, 155, 167; counterproductive, 34; USA government spending on, 161 Warsaw Pact, 12 Washington Post, 161 weapons: diversion of, 70; longevity of, 81 systems complexity narrative, 5 Welthungerlife, 159 Wheeler, Winslow, 41 whistleblowers, 142, 151; Obama crackdown, 143; treatment of, 141 Wiebe, J. Kirk, 142 World Bank, 137 World War I: battlefield munitions, 57; death toll, 157; lead-up to, 20 World War II, death toll, 158 World Wide Web, 104 WTO (World Trade Organization), 45; Agreement on Government Procurement, 123; offsets rules, 106 Wurzel, Thomas, 143 Xerox, 104 Yemen, 4, 160; Saudi bombing of, 50 Zintan, 69 Zuma, Jacob, changes against, 133


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