U.S. Weapons at War 2005: Promoting Freedom or Fueling Conflict? (U.S.
Military Aid and Arms Transfers Since September 11)
By Frida Berrigan and William D. Hartung, with Leslie Heffel (June 2005)
This report is part of a continuing series of issue briefs on contemporary
security issues being published by the World Policy Institute’s Program on
Collective Security and Preventive Diplomacy. This report was researched and
written by Frida Berrigan and William D. Hartung, respectively Senior
Research Associate and Director of the Institute’s Arms Trade Resource
The Institute would like to thank the following foundations and individuals
whose support made this report possible: David Brown, Colombe Foundation,
Deer Creek Foundation, Kligerman Foundation, Stewart R. Mott Fund,
Ploughshares Fund, Proteus Fund, Rockefeller Family Associates, Samuel Rubin
Foundation, Strachan Donnelley Trust, Town Creek Foundation and Mary Van
The authors would like to thank Michelle Ciarrocca and Lesley Heffel for
research assistance, and Matt Schroeder and Rachel Stohl for their comments
on early drafts.
Perhaps no single policy is more at odds with President Bush’s pledge to
“end tyranny in our world” than the United States’ role as the world’s
leading arms exporting nation. Although arms sales are often justified on
the basis of their purported benefits, from securing access to overseas
military facilities to rewarding coalition allies in conflicts such as the
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, these alleged benefits often come at a high
price. All too often, U.S. arms transfers end up fueling conflict, arming
human rights abusers, or falling into the hands of U.S. adversaries. As in
the case of recent decisions to provide new F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan,
while pledging comparable high-tech military hardware to its rival India,
U.S. arms sometimes go to both sides in long brewing conflicts, ratcheting
up tensions and giving both sides better firepower with which to threaten
each other. Far from serving as a force for security and stability, U.S.
weapons sales frequently serve to empower unstable, undemocratic regimes to
the detriment of U.S. and global security.
Among the key findings of this report are the following:
In 2003, the last year for which full information is available, the United
States transferred weaponry to 18 of the 25 countries involved in active
conflicts. From Angola, Chad and Ethiopia, to Colombia, Pakistan and the
Philippines, transfers through the two largest U.S. arms sales programs
(Foreign Military Sales and Commercial Sales) to these conflict nations
totaled nearly $1 billion in 2003, with the vast bulk of the dollar volume
going to Israel ($845.6 million).
In 2003, more than half of the top 25 recipients of U.S. arms transfers in
the developing world (13 of 25) were defined as undemocratic by the U.S.
State Department’s Human Rights Report: in the sense that “citizens do not
have the right to change their own government” or that right was seriously
abridged. These 13 nations received over $2.7 billion in U.S. arms transfers
under the Foreign Military Sales and Commercial Sales programs in 2003, with
the top recipients including Saudi Arabia ($1.1 billion), Egypt ($1.0
billion), Kuwait ($153 million), the United Arab Emirates ($110 million) and
Uzbekistan ($33 million).
When countries designated by the State Department’s Human Rights Report to
have poor human rights records or serious patterns of abuse are factored in,
20 of the top 25 U.S. arms clients in the developing world in 2003– a full
80%– were either undemocratic regimes or governments with records of major
human rights abuses.
The largest U.S. military aid program, Foreign Military Financing (FMF),
increased by 68% between 2001 and 2003, from $3.5 billion to nearly $6
billion. These years coincided with the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and
the run-up to the U.S. intervention in Iraq. The biggest increases in dollar
terms went to countries that were directly or indirectly engaged as U.S.
allies in the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, including Jordan ($525 million
increase from 2001 to 2003), Afghanistan ($191 million increase), Pakistan
($224 million increase) and Bahrain ($90 million increase). The Philippines,
where the United States stepped up joint operations against a local
terrorist group with alleged links to al-Qaeda, also received a substantial
increase of FMF funding ($47 million) from 2001 to 2003. Military aid totals
have leveled off slightly since their FY 2003 peak, coming in at a requested
$4.5 billion for 2006. This is still a full $1 billion more than 2001
levels. The number of countries receiving FMF assistance nearly doubled from
FY 2001 to FY 2006– from 48 to 71.
The greatest danger emanating U.S. arms transfers and military aid programs
is not in the numbers, but in the potential impacts on the image,
credibility and security of the United States. Arming repressive regimes in
all corners of the globe while simultaneously proclaiming a campaign for
democracy and against tyranny undermines the credibility of the United
States in international forums and makes it harder to hold other nations to
high standards of conduct on human rights and other key issues. Arming
undemocratic governments all too often helps to enhance their power,
frequently fueling conflict or enabling human rights abuses in the process.
These blows to the reputation of the United States are in turn impediments
to winning the “war of ideas” in the Muslim world and beyond, a critical
element in drying up financial and political support for terrorist
organizations like al-Qaeda. Last but not least, in all too many cases, U.S.
arms and military technology can end up in the hands of U.S. adversaries, as
happened in the 1980s in Iraq and Panama, as well as with the right-wing
fundamentalist “freedom fighters” in Afghanistan, many of whom are now
supporters of al-Qaeda.
At a minimum, the time has come to impose greater scrutiny on U.S. arms
transfers and military aid programs. The facile assumption that they are
simply another tool in the foreign policy toolbox, to be used to win friends
and intimidate adversaries as needed, must be challenged in this new era in
U.S. security policy. A good starting point would be to find a way to
reinforce and implement the underlying assumptions of U.S. arms export law,
which calls for arming nations only for purposes of self-defense, and
avoiding arms sales to nations that engage in patterns of systematic human
rights abuses, either via new legislation or Executive Branch policy
initiatives. Equally important, the automatic assumption that arms transfers
are the preferred “barter” for access to military facilities or other
security “goods” sought from other nations should be seriously
re-considered. Economic aid, political support and other forms of support
and engagement should be explored as alternatives whenever possible.
“The only force powerful enough to stop the rise of tyranny and terror, and
replace hatred with hope, is the force of human freedom…[and] America will
stand with the allies of freedom to support democratic movements in the
Middle East and beyond, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our
These words, delivered by President George W. Bush in his 2005 State of the
Union address, drew cheers and applause. But shaping this noble rhetoric
into concrete policies will mean reversing a decades-long policy of selling
weapons and providing military aid to some of the world’s worst tyrants and
This report demonstrates that under President Bush’s leadership, this trend
has accelerated and freedom and democracy have suffered as a result.
The United States transfers more weapons and military services than any
other country in the world. Between 1992 and 2003, the United States sold
$177.5 billion in arms to foreign nations. In 2003 alone, the Pentagon
and State Department delivered or licensed the delivery of $5.7 billion in
weaponry to countries which can ill afford advanced weaponry – nations in the
developing world saddled with debt and struggling with poverty.
Despite having some of the world’s strongest laws regulating the arms trade,
almost half of these weapons went to countries plagued with ongoing conflict
and governed by undemocratic regimes with poor human rights records. In
2003, $2.7 billion in weaponry went to governments deemed undemocratic by
the U.S. State Department’s Huma n Rights Report, in the sense that citizens
of those nations “did not have a meaningful right to change their
government” in a peaceful manner. Another $97.4 million worth of weapons
went to governments deemed by the State Department to have “poor” human
rights records. See TABLE I: Human Rights Records of Top 25 U.S. Arms
Recipients in the Developing World for more information.
It is not enough to condemn tyranny and terror. President Bush must act to
remove the tools of repression from the hands of tyrants and terrorists.
Al-Qaeda and other non-state actors are real threats. But, for many, the
central source of tyranny and terror is their own government. The United
States provides the military hardware and know-how and then all too often
turns a blind eye as governments suppress rights, squash legitimate dissent
and sustain repression. In all, four of the five top U.S. arms recipients in
the developing world had major issues, ranging from undemocratic
governments, to poor human rights records across the board, to patterns of
Does U.S. policy of providing military aid and selling weapons contribute to
fighting the war on terrorism? Is it a sound policy for strengthening
democracy and self-reliance, as U.S. documents purport? Or does this policy
conflate terrorism with human rights abuses and repression by putting more
money and high-tech weaponry into the hands of leaders who violate human
rights, repress their citizens and wage war on their neighbors?
Weapons at War
For many, war is synonymous with Iraq or Afghanistan, but our research
enumerates 25 ongoing conflicts throughout the world. In the last decade,
the U.S. has transferred some $8.7 billion in arms and military services to
these war zones, $970.5 million in 2003 alone. During that year (the last
year for which full data is available) the United States transferred weapons
and military hardware into 18 of 25 conflict zones. This is despite the fact
that these transfers appear to violate the spirit (if not the letter) of the
Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act, which bar the
transfer of U.S.-origin military equipment into active areas of conflict.
The 1976 Arms Export Control Act stipulates that arms transfers can only be
used by the recipient nation for self-defense, internal security and in
United Nations sanctioned operations. The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961
bars military aid and arms sales to countries that demonstrate “gross and
consistent” patterns of human rights abuses. And the Export Administration
Act, passed in 1979, regulates the sale of “dual-use ” items that could have
civilian or military application.
While some arms transfers are relatively small– a few hundred thousand
dollars– they carry significant political weight. A transfer of $301,000 in
weapons to Angola, for example, does more than provide military hardware. It
suggests that Luanda is an ally and that Washington supports or acquiesces
in the actions of their military.
In the case of conflict zones like the Philippines or Colombia, where tens
of millions of dollars worth of weapons are sold, Washington supplements
military hardware with deployment of U.S. troops, advisers, military aid, or
training programs, representing an even greater level of U.S. involvement in
In times of crisis, like the tsunami that killed more than 100,000 people in
the last days of 2004, the American people are very generous. And they
assume their government is as well. While the United States doles out
billions in foreign aid every year, Washington tends to favor military aid
and weapons sales over other forms of aid, deprioritizing humanitarian,
health or development aid, even though these types of foreign aid have
long-term constructive impact.
Since the beginning of the war on terrorism, foreign military aid has
increased precipitously. The Pentagon’s largest military aid program, the
Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program, increased by more than one-third
(34%) between 2001 and 2005, jumping from $3.5 billion to $4.6 billion over
that time period. President Bush is requesting $4.5 billion in FMF for 2006.
Many countries previously barred from receiving U.S. military aid, because
of nuclear testing, human rights abuses, or their harboring of terrorists,
began to receive aid in 2001. Two dozen nations– including Afghanistan,
Algeria, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Uruguay– either became first-time
recipients of FMF during this period or were restored to the program after
long absences. As a result, the number of countries receiving FMF assistance
increased from 48 to 71 between 2001 and 2006 – a 47.9% increase.
In that same time period, ten countries saw their aid at least triple, and
seven had their FMF assistance increase by five times or more. The biggest
gainers in FMF assistance in dollar terms were Jordan (+$127 million),
Pakistan (+$300 million) and Afghanistan (+$396 million). None of these
countries are democracies that fully respect human rights, according to the
State Department’s Human Rights Report. For more details, see TABLE III.
In the conclusion of our report, we offer a number of recommendations to
reverse this course and ensure that the United States lives up to its best
ideals of freedom and democracy. Briefly, following and fully applying laws
like the AECA and FAA (explained above) and resisting efforts by the
Executive Branch to make exceptions for the sake of political expediencies
like currying favor with strategically located regimes is an important
starting point. Congress can also strengthen international law by
spearheading the effort to pass the International Arms Trade Treaty. The
convention, drafted by Nobel Laureates and supported by many
non-governmental organizations, would create legally binding arms controls
and ensure that governments control arms using the same basic international
Adoption of these and the other recommendations outlined at the end of the
report would further the Bush administration’s counter terrorism agenda much
more effectively than the arms deals documented in this report.
The Canadian-based Project Ploughshares calculates that there are 36 armed
conflicts being waged in 28 countries and defines armed conflict as
“political conflict in which armed combat involves the armed forces of at
least one state (or one or more armed factions seeking to gain control of
all or part of the state), and in which at least 1,000 people have been
killed by fighting during the course of the conflict.”
In the tables that accompany this report, we provide information on U.S.
weapons sales and military aid to 25 nations where conflict remains active.
We have adapted the Project Ploughshares list of conflicts, excluding Sri
Lanka and Serbia/Kosovo because conflicts there are coming to an end.
Additionally, Project Ploughshares defines the Israel/Palestine conflict as
an interstate conflict between Israel and Lebanon, while we define it as an
intrastate conflict. TABLE II has detailed data on U.S. weapons sales to
these conflict nations.
The vast majority of countries involved in major-armed conflicts in 2003
received some military aid, training or weapons from the United States in
the last ten years. In this report, we profile 12 countries involved in (or
recovering from) major armed conflict which are top recipients of U.S.
military aid and weapons sales. Additionally, we profile Georgia and
Uzbekistan, which are not considered conflict countries, but are included
because they have received large increases in FMF/military aid since the
beginning of the Global War on Terror.
A Closer Look
The United States transferred defense articles to 18 of the 25 countries
involved in active conflict during 2003, the last year for which full data
is available. In 20 of the nations in conflict in 2003, the United States
supplied weaponry some time in the last decade.
In all, the United States transferred $970.5 million in weaponry and related
hardware to nations in conflict during 2003. And in the last decade, between
1994 and 2003, the United States transferred a total of more than $8.7
billion worth of military machinery and services to these countries.
While transfers to many nations were relatively small, they have an
important symbolic value. Weapons sales suggest U.S. government support for
or acquiescence in the actions of the governments involved in these
While the bulk of the value of the transfers documented in TABLE II
represent shipments to Israel, other longstanding U.S. customers that
received major transfers of def ense articles between 1994 and 2003 include
India ($128 million), Indonesia ($121.2 million), Pakistan ($429.1 million),
the Philippines ($380.8 million) and Colombia ($656.5 million). Given the
durability of modern weapons systems, much of this weaponry has no doubt
been used in the current conflicts in recipient nations.
Acceleration of Weapons Sales and Changes in the Rules
Prior to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, 27 countries were banned
from purchasing U.S.-made military equipment, including Pakistan,
Azerbaijan, Sudan, Syria, and Tajikistan.
In the aftermath of terrorist attacks, bans on security assistance to many
of these countries have been lifted or suspended, giving the President broad
power to provide military aid and weapons to nations contributing to the war
The Bush administration lifted sanctions against Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Tajikistan was removed from the International Traffic in Arms Regulations
(ITAR) list of states prohibited from receiving U.S. military goods and
These changes have shifted the allocation of military aid. Foreign Military
Financing, the Pentagon’s largest military aid program, increased by more
than two-thirds (68.4%) from 2001 to 2003, jumping from $3.5 billion to
nearly $6 billion over that time period, before leveling off in 2004 and
2005 and requests for 2006 to an average of $4.6 billion (which represents a
more than 30% increase over pre-9/11 levels).
Pakistan enjoyed an almost 200% increase in aid between 2002 and 2003, from
$75 million to $224 million. Aid to the Philippines jumped from just over $2
million in 2001 to $49 million in 2003, an increase of more than 2,000%. For
details, see TABLE III: Increases in U.S. Military Aid Between 2001 and
In October 2001, Congress passed Public Law 107-57, which included a measure
to reduce the notification deadlines for weapons transfers. While the 1991
Foreign Assistance Act required that the President notify Congress 15 or
more days before any transfer of emergency drawdowns and excess defense
articles, the new act requires only five days advance notice if the
President determines that the decision is “important to U.S. efforts to
respond to, deter or prevent acts of international terrorism.” This new
law dismantled an important tool enabling the human rights and arms control
community to lobby against weapons sales to problem countries.
That same month, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA),
which handles government-to-government weapons sales, announced a series of
changes to their policies aimed at accelerating the process of granting
weapons contracts to countries allied with the United States against
The DSCA established the “Enduring Freedom Response Cell” to “fast track
weapons requests from our allies.” Air Force Lieutenant General Tome
Walters, director of DSCA, described the new mission of his agency, “If
you’re an allied country, let’s say Uzbekistan, and you need radios, we’ll
do whatever we can to get the job done.” Since the changes have been
invoked, weapons sales, military aid, and training programs have surged.
Restrictions on U.S. arms exports to undemocratic and repressive regimes
were painstakingly crafted over the last 40 years, and should not be
discarded even in the interest of building a coalition to fight terrorism.
As Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), observed, “We now have a floating
coalition. We can’t have floating arms.”
Ignoring History: Role of Arms Trade Boomerang in Fueling Terror
A close reading of recent history would have warned the Bush administration
against a policy of offering weapons, military aid and training to new
allies in the war on terrorism. The last half-century is full of examples of
allies becoming adversaries and political circumstances shifting much more
quickly than weapons arsenals can be destroyed.
Washington transferred weaponry to successive South Vietnamese dictatorships
throughout the 1960s and 70s in an effort bolster the South’s fight against
the Communist North. U.S.-origin arms were often stolen from Southern
barracks and after the fall of Saigon in 1975, North Vietnamese troops took
possession of huge weapons caches. Massive military assistance that the U.S.
provided to the dictatorship of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi in Iran was
seized in the 1979 Islamic fundamentalist coup, giving the Ayatollah
Khomeini control of a fleet of F-14 fighter planes and other high-tech
More recent history is equally instructive in the dangers of the boomerang
effect. The last seven times the United States has sent troops into conflict
in substantial numbers: in Iraq (2003-present), Afghanistan (2001-present),
former Yugoslavia (1998), Haiti (1994), Somalia (1992), Iraq (1990) and
Panama (1989); they faced adversaries with weapons or military technology
“Made in the USA.” The widening war on terrorism and accelerating weapons
sales to coalition partners will only increase the likelihood of the
boomerang effect continuing to haunt us.
Later in this report, profiles of Afghanistan and Iraq provide background on
how U.S. military assistance in the 1970s and 80s outlasted the short-term
political justifications for their sale or transfer. For more information on
earlier examples, please see detailed case studies in the World Policy
Institute’s 1995 Weapons at War report.
On the Bright Side, There is much to criticize about U.S. arms export and
foreign military aid policies, but there are positive facets as well. As is
mentioned elsewhere in this report, the world’s largest arms exporter has
the world’s strongest laws and regulations. In addition, Washington has
sometimes withdrawn U.S. military aid and arms exports to rebuke countries
that violated human rights or circumvented democracy.
The Bush Administration banned arms sales to Zimbabwe in 2002 after
asserting that the March national election “subverted the democratic
process” and charging that long-time President Robert Mugabe’s government
carried out an “orchestrated campaign of intimidation and violence” in the
lead-up to the election.
The administration continues to staunchly oppose the European Union’s plans
to lift a more than decade-old arms embargo on China, citing human rights
abuses and the country’s tendency to re-transfer weapons related technology
as among the arguments for maintaining the ban put in place after the 1989
Tiananmen Square massacre. These are two instances in which concerns
about human and civil rights trump strategic rationalizations for arms
sales. Unfortunately, these instances remain the exception instead of the
THE ABCs OF MILITARY AID
Foreign Military Financing: Congress appropriates grants to finance foreign
nations’ purchases of American-made weapons, services and training. Between
1950 and 2005, the U.S. government has provided over $121 billion in FMF to
militaries around the world.
Economic Support Fund: These grants are designed to promote `economic and
political foreign policy interests of the United States’ by `providing
assistance to allies,’ with the aim of `mitigating the root causes of
terrorism.’ While U.S. law makes clear that ESF is not intended for military
expenditure, the grants are frequently used as a de facto military aid, with
foreign governments using the funds to free up their own resources for
International Military Education and Training IMET grants are given to
foreign governments to pay for military training provided by U.S. military
officials and with U.S. weapons. In 2004, $91 million was allocated to train
11,000 solider/students from more than 100 countries.
The U.S. government also provides military aid in the form of
Counter-Narcotics Assistance (CNA).
THE ABCs OF ARMS SALES
There are two major channels through which American arms manufacturers sell
weaponry to foreign countries. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) are
government-to-government agreements negotiated by the Pentagon and the
purchasing country. Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) are agreements negotiated
between the manufacturing company and the purchasing country and then
licensed by the State Department.
Congressional approval must be sought for weapons sales of $14 million or
more, and defense services and technical assistance valued at $50 million or
more. In recent years, these requirements have changed for NATO allies,
Australia, Japan and New Zealand, and now these countries can bypass the
Congressional approval process for weaponry valued less than $25 million or
technical assistance valued at less than $100 million.
Within the State Department, the Office of Defense Trade Controls maintains
the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), a list of all the
categories of goods that are considered munitions. ITAR also names those
states ineligible to receive U.S. armaments.
The U.S. government transfers weapons from its stocks for free or at greatly
reduced prices through the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program. Through
the Emergency Drawdown program, allied governments can receive fast track
grants of weapons to address crisis situations. Both programs are managed
through the Defense Department.
“This isn’t target practice! This is about killing people!”
U.S. military trainer in Niger, April 2005.
Overview of U.S. Arms and Aid to Africa
In the wake of September 11th, and in keeping with its interest in securing
access to oil and other key natural resources, the Bush administration has
been rapidly expanding U.S. military involvement in Africa. While most
recent increases in U.S. arms sales, aid and military training in Africa
have been justified as part of what the administration refers to as the
“Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT), oil has been a major factor in the
administration’s strategic calculations from the outset.
In his first few months in office, President Bush’s first Secretary of
State, Colin Powell, stressed the need to improve relations with oil
producing nations like Nigeria and Angola. Similarly, the report of
Vice-President Cheney’s Energy Task Force stressed the importance of gaining
and maintaining access to African oil resources, which U.S. intelligence
assessments expect to increase to as much as 25% of U.S. oil imports by the
The Congressional Budget justification underscores the strong pull of oil
interests in Bush administration decision making. The entry on Equatorial
Guinea notes that “over the course of the past five years, U.S. companies
have invested approximately $5 billion” in the country’s oil sector. The
entry for Sao Tome and Principe is more forward-looking, noting that “in the
coming decade, U.S. companies are expected to participate in the development
of petroleum resources in Sao Tome’s territorial waters.” Nigeria is
cited for its “large oil and gas reserves,” while the entry on Angola
stresses the need to “help ensure U.S. private-sector oil access to a source
of seven percent of U.S. petroleum imports, a figure likely to rise in the
Beyond oil, U.S. military officials have cited “a growing terrorist threat”
in northern and sub-Saharan Africa to justify a program of stepped up
military engagement in the region. General James Jones, head of the U.S.
European command, has suggested the need to create a “family of bases”
across Africa that would range from forward operating locations that would
include an airfield and facilities to house 3,000 to 5,000 U.S. military
personnel to “bare-bones” bases that U.S. Special Forces or Marines could
“land at and build up as the mission required.”
These new facilities would not be considered “formal” bases like the growing
U.S. base in the Horn of Africa in Djibouti, which has a regular deployment
of 1,800 to 2,000 troops stationed there. While new basing arrangements are
being worked out, a major increase in U.S. military exercises and training
missions throughout Africa will be used to sustain a regular U.S. presence.
Military Aid, Training, and Sales on the Rise
While the millions of dollars being spent on U.S. military aid and sales to
Africa pale in comparison to the billions being expended in the Middle East
and South Asia, all of the major U.S. bilateral aid and sales programs have
increased sharply in recent years.
Funding to sub-Saharan Africa under the largest U.S. military aid program,
Foreign Military Financing, doubled from $12 million in fiscal year 2000 to
a proposed $24 million in the FY 2006 budget proposal, and the number of
recipient nations has grown from one to nine.
The Pentagon’s International Military Education and Training (IMET) program
has increased by 35% from 2000 to the 2006 proposal, from $8.1 million to
$11 million, and from 36 participating nations to 47. Foreign Military Sales
more than quadrupled from fiscal year 2000 to fiscal year 2003 (the most
recent year for which full statistics are available), from $9.8 million to
$40.3 million. And Commercial Sales of arms licensed by the State Department
grew from $.9 million to $3.8 million over the 2000 to 2003 period.
These bilateral programs are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of overall
U.S. military aid commitments going forward. The U.S. European Command has
requested $125 million over five years for the Pan-Sahel Initiative, for
training and exercises with Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and other nations
in the region. U.S. engagement under the program has gone far beyond
traditional training to include involvement in combat operations.
Craig S. Smith of the New York Times offers the following description of the
role of U.S. forces in a 2004 operation against the Salafist Group for
Preaching and Combat, a designated terrorist organization, and its leader,
Ammari Saifi: “The United States European Command sent a Navy P-3C Orion
surveillance aircraft to sweep the area, relaying Mr. Saifi’s position to
forces in the region. Mali chased him out of the country to Niger, which in
turn pushed him into Chad, where, with United States Special Forces support
of an airlift of fuel and other supplies, 43 of his men were killed or
Other major U.S. military commitments include a proposed $100 million
program for military and anti-terrorist training in East Africa, and a $200
million pledge to train and restructure Liberia’s military forces. The first
$35 million of this amount has been committed to a training program run by
DynCorp, a private military company with a mixed record in operations in the
Balkans, Colombia, Afghanistan and Iraq.
In addition to programs targeted to specific countries or regions, the ACOTA
program (African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance) has
received $38 million in funding over the past three years, with the stated
goal of training “select African militaries to respond effectively to peace
support and humanitarian crises on their continent.” Participants in the
program have included Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Senegal and Botswana.
Transparency and accountability are major missing components with respect to
current U.S. military operations in Africa. There is no single source that
summarizes U.S. exercises or Pentagon-run training missions like the Joint
Combined Exchange Training (JCET program) in any detail.
Washington has much to learn from Algeria on ways to fight terrorism.
William Burns, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and North
African Affairs, 2002. 
Civil war has wracked this oil-rich nation for more than 12 years, killing
as many as 150,000 people. The war erupted in 1991 when the
military-backed government called off elections that would have instated an
Islamic government. Since then, the civilian population has been caught
between Islamic insurgents and the military.
For many years, the dictatorship’s political abuses and the reality of civil
war made it an international pariah, but in the aftermath of the September
11th attacks, Algeria overhauled its public image.
Algerian President Abdel-Aziz Bouteflika has visited the White House three
times since 2001. Richard Erdman, the American ambassador in Algiers,
explains that, ” Algeria is an important ally for us in the war on
Military ties between the two countries are growing. In January 2002,
Algeria began hosting U.S. naval ships and the two countries have conducted
joint anti-submarine warfare maneuvers. In December 2002, Washington
announced it would abandon its ten-year-old arms embargo, and the two
countries have begun discussing the establishment of an American military
base in southern Algeria.
An Open Door for Military Sales
Emboldened by this collaboration, Algerian officials are pushing for new
U.S. military technology, such as advanced night-vision technology and
all-weather combat aircraft, as well as radar and ground-based sensors.
In fact, when President Bouteflika visited the United States in 2001, he met
with executives from Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman at a
summit organized by the Corporate Council on Africa.
Despite this warming trend, Algerian access to U.S. weaponry remains
limited. All U.S. weapons transfers are decided on a case-by-case basis. In
recent years, only non-lethal systems, such as radios, global positioning
systems, night vision equipment and sensors have been transferred.
But, non-lethal systems still give the Algerian military a lethal advantage
over Islamic guerillas. For example, an August 2002 transfer of night vision
equipment aided the military in tracking and attacking insurgents.
Algeria does not receive FMF or ESF, but all signs point towards more
military aid in the future. As the State Department explains in its
Congressional Presentation, Algeria “has demonstrated it is an important
partner in the global war against terrorism; it remains in the U.S. interest
to help the Algerian military increase its professionalism, effectiveness
and improve its interoperability with the U.S. and other allied forces. The
threat of terrorism from internal Algerian extremist groups and those with
ties to international terrorist organizations continues to plague Algeria
and threaten U.S. interests in the region.”
With these goals in mind, the allocation of military training funds has been
increasing in recent years. In fiscal year 2002, the U.S. provided $67,000
in IMET funding. The request for 2006 is $750,000, an increase of more than
1000% in four years. The Congressional justification explains the
importance of a new relationship with Algeria by saying that the nation
“shares our interest in fighting terrorism, plays an important leadership
role in the Arab world, Africa, and the Mediterranean basin [and] possesses
enormous gas and oil resources.”
Shared Interests? Human Rights Abuses Continue
While diplomatic and military relationships between the two countries have
certainly progressed and will continue to do so, the human rights situation
has not improved apace. There is no evidence that more military aid and
training will bring about peace and stability.
Human rights lawyer Mostefa Bouchachi, interviewed by the BBC News says,
“People are tortured systematically here. Eighty percent of my clients tell
me when I visit them in prison that they have been tortured by police.”
The State Department’s Human Rights Report supports this statement, saying
Algeria’s “human rights record remained poor overall… There continued to be
problems with excessive use of force by the security forces as well as
failure to account for past disappearances. New allegations of incidents and
severity of torture continued.”
“Angola has been a terrific place to do business.”
Jim Blackwell, the director of Chevron Texaco’s operations in Angola,
Angola is slowly emerging from a brutal war that pitched the Marxist
government against rebels backed by the United States. The ensuing calm is
being heralded as a major turning point for Africa.
The civil war claimed the lives of more than 500,000 Angolans and displaced
another two million, ending in 2002 when rebel leader Jonas Savimbi was
assassinated. Since then, more than one million Angolans who had fled
the country are returning and rebuilding has commenced.
Angola is not a major recipient of U.S. aid. The total request for FY 2006
is $30.7 million, which amounts to just over $2.00 for each Angolan. But
as this nation of 14 million emerges from 30 years of war, it seems that the
United States is preparing to once again take an active role in Angola’s
economic, political and military trajectory.
According to Washington’s 2006 request for military aid, Angola can
contribute to international peacekeeping efforts, and to “the international
fight against terrorists, drug traffickers and organized crime,” because it
has “one of Africa’s largest and most experienced militaries.”
To that purported end, all areas of military aid are on the rise. The White
House is requesting $400,000 in FMF for 2006, after allocating $300,000 in
2005. In addition to this aid, Angola is now eligible for Excess Defense
Articles and has been identified as a candidate for the African Contingency
Operations Training and Assistance.
Oil Wealth: Not Trickling Down
Angola has huge oil reserves, providing the United States with more oil than
Kuwait. Despite pumping more than a million barrels a day, the country’s oil
wealth does not trickle down. According to Oxfam, 78% of the rural
population lives in “deep poverty,” and 80% of Angolans have no access to
basic medical care.
The United States is Angola’s largest trading partner, purchasing about 50%
of its oil exports and providing public income that was promptly diverted
away from development to sustain the long war. In a 1999 report, Human
Rights Watch documents how the Angolan government paid for arms purchases
with bank loans, oil profit remittances and mining concessions. Hundreds of
millions of dollars were generated when the Angolan government offered oil
exploration concession blocks to multinational oil companies like BP-Amoco,
Exxon, and Elf. Those funds were then used to purchase weapons.
According to a January 2004 updated, HRW found more than $4 billion in
Angolan oil revenues were missing and had been squirreled away into private
offshore bank accounts or used to purchase military hardware.
U.S. Legacy: Support for Brutality
In 1986, President Reagan welcomed rebel leader Jonas Savimbi to the White
House. He expressed his hope that the leader of UNITA, a rebel group backed
by U.S. and white-ruled South Africa as a bulwark against Soviet interests
in Africa, would win “a victory that electrifies the world and brings great
sympathy and assistance from other nations to those struggling for
That “freedom” proved to be brutal for Angola and extremely expensive for
the United States. Like so many other African countries, Angola was a
battleground for the proxy war between the U.S. and USSR.
Even prior to the 1974 revolution that ended Portuguese rule, the two
superpowers had taken sides among the various Angolan independence
movements. External military assistance from the United States, South Africa
and Zaire supported UNITA and the National Front for the Liberation of
Angola (FNLA), while the Soviet Union, China and Cuba provided arms and aid
to the Popular Movement for Angolan Liberation (MPLA).
Authorized U.S. aid to UNITA/FNLA began in the mid-1970s, with a first
installment of $300,000. Despite passage of the Clark amendment in
December 1975 that barred military transfers, covert aid included 622
mortars, 42,100 antitank rockets, and more than 20,000 rifles. But this
military support remained largely concealed from the public, Congress and
In the 1980’s, despite faltering international support for UNITA in response
to Savimbi’s increasingly erratic behavior, the indiscriminate use of
landmines, and civilian hostage-taking, U.S. continued to aid the rebels
with a total of approximately $250 million in weaponry between 1986 and
1991, including highly sophisticated small arms and light weapons like
Stinger aircraft missiles.
In its current Human Rights Report, the State Department acknowledges that
Angola ‘s “human rights record remained poor… Members of the security forces
committed unlawful killings, were responsible for disappearances, and
tortured, beat, raped, and otherwise abused persons.”
This man’s plan is working
President Bush of President Uribe in Cartagena, Colombia, November 2004.
For four decades, Colombia has been torn apart by civil war. The three-sided
conflict has claimed the lives of at least 200,000 people and displaced
another two million. Everyday, five people are forcibly disappeared.
Since the start of Plan Colombia in 2000, the United States has granted
billions of dollars in military and police aid, training and weaponry,
despite the government’s record of human rights abuses and its support for
the vicious paramilitary group United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).
Military and Police Aid
Under President Bill Clinton, the U.S. initiated the $1.3 billion Plan
Colombia, ostensibly aimed at strengthening the military to combat the drug
trade. President Bush now has his own version- the Andean Counter-drug
Initiative (ACI). Since its establishment in 2001, the Bush Administration
has requested $1.33 billion in police and military aid for Colombia through
Colombia also receives U.S. military aid through existing programs. After
allocating just $17 million in 2003, Congress agreed to increase FMF to
$98.4 million in 2004 and $99.2 million in 2005. For 2006, President Bush
has requested another $90 million.
Colombia also receives significant military training assistance. In 2004,
Congress granted the President’s request of $1.6 million in IMET funds, up
from $1.1 million in 2003. The Center for International Policy found
that IMET is only a small part of overall U.S. efforts to train Colombian
troops. The $1.1 million granted in 2003 trained 590 soldiers. But through
this and other channels, U.S. forces have trained almost 13,000 Colombian
military and police personnel since Plan Colombia was established.
According to a study by the Rand Corporation, U.S. weapons and military
training have “fanned the flames of the violence in Colombia.” Their
detailed report, Arms Trafficking and Colombia, traces the path of small
arms and light weapons from U.S.-origin stockpiles in Nicaragua, El Salvador
and other Cold War battlegrounds in Central America to Colombia, where they
are used by State Department-labeled terrorist groups. These weapons
have ended up in the hands of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia (FARC) and the rightwing AUC.
In his second term, President Bush is continuing these failed policies under
a new moniker- the “war on narco-terrorism.” President Bush made Colombia
one of his first state visits after the November 2004 reelection, promising
more than half a billion dollars in new military and police aid and praising
President Uribe’s counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism agenda.
Weapons for Colombia
Between 1994 and 2003, Colombia took delivery of $571.6 million in FMS
weaponry and another $84.8 million in commercial exports, for a total of
more than $656 million in U.S. weapons.
In November 2004, Colombia announced it was in the market for 24 fighter
jets, and defense officials began meeting with plane-makers from Brazil,
China, the United States and South Korea. Given the preponderance of U.S.
weaponry and military hardware in the Colombian arsenal, it is hard to
imagine defense officials choosing another country’s fighter plane in this
deal worth an estimated $234 million. Colombian defense officials hope to
take delivery of the new planes by 2007.
War on Drugs, War on Terrorism: Same War, Same Victims
The U.S. weaponry and military aid that has fueled the brutal war in
Colombia have not succeeded in stemming the flow of drugs into the United
States. In fact, a study by the Washington Office on Latin America found
that the cocaine is 31% cheaper on the streets of the United States than it
was before Plan Colombia was initiated.
Nonetheless, President Bush is committed to continuing these failed policies
in his second term. While in Cartagena in November 2004, President Bush told
reporters, “President Uribe and I share a basic optimism. This war against
narco-terrorism can and will be won.”
Washington has eagerly shifted from the war on drugs to the war on
narco-terrorism, freed up more money for Uribe’s war and changed U.S. law to
allow the Colombian president to use U.S. military assistance to directly
engage the FARC.
Domestically, Uribe defines any opposition, including criticism from human
rights groups, as terrorism, and has used the rhetoric of the war on
terrorism and concerns about security to enact legislation curtailing
Political Violence and Human Rights Abuses
To be a trade unionist in Colombia is to have one foot in this world and one
in the next.
Dan Kovalik, lawyer with the United Steel Workers of America.
Along with the FARC and the AUC, the Colombian military and police are
collectively responsible for the most human rights violations in the Western
According to the State Department’s 2004 Human Rights Report, “some members
of the security forces continued to commit serious abuses, including
unlawful and extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances. Some members
of the security forces continued to collaborate with the terrorist AUC,
which committed serious abuses.”
Some of the worst political violence and human rights abuses took place in
areas controlled by U.S. oil companies. A portion of U.S. military
assistance is designated for protecting oil businesses- specifically
Occidental Petroleum. Amnesty International asserts that in 2003, $99
million in U.S. aid went to protecting the oil pipeline.
In January 2003, 60 U.S. Special Forces arrived in Arauca to train units
from the 18th Brigade. Dan Kovalik, a lawyer with the United Steelworkers,
visited Arauca in November 2004, and met with the head of the 18th Brigade.
Writing in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, he describes the brigade as
“notorious for gross violations of human rights against the civilian
population,” including the assassination of three union leaders in August
INDIA AND PAKISTAN
The United States imposed sanctions on rivals India and Pakistan after their
1998 “tit for tat” nuclear tests, prohibiting the export of goods listed on
the U.S. Munitions List, military financing and the transfer of certain
But the sanctions were lifted in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in
September 2001 when Washington sought allies for the war on terrorism. In
the years since the attacks, Pakistan and India have benefited from billions
of dollars in new military aid, training and weaponry.
While adopting the rhetoric of Washington’s anti-terrorism agenda, both
countries continue to pursue their nuclear aspirations, bicker across the
Line of Control in Kashmir, repress domestic opposition movements and
violate human rights. It remains to be seen whether recent peace talks over
Kashmir can change this long term dynamic of tension between India and
General Musharraf is the right man in the right place at the right time.
Secretary of State Colin Powell
Despite the sheen of democracy, Pakistan remains a military dictatorship in
all but name. General Musharraf’s seizure of power was legitimized by a
controversial nationwide referendum in April 2002, but many observers
questioned the free and fair nature of this “exercise in democracy.”
Soon after September 11th, President Bush judged that the sanctions imposed
on Pakistan “would not be in the national security interests of the United
States.” Thus, in early November 2001, the U.S. agreed to provide
Pakistan with $73 million in “border security” military hardware, including
Huey helicopters and spare parts for F-16 fighter planes.
The weapons sales have remained steady ever since. In July 2004, Bell
Helicopter, a subsidiary of Textron, began delivering 26 412EP medium
twin-engine helicopters and associated equipment, in a deal estimated at
At the end of March 2005, President Bush reversed 15 years of policy begun
under his father by offering F-16 fighter planes to Islamabad. Initially,
Pakistan plans on buying two dozen of the Lockheed Martin manufactured
planes, but Bush administration officials note there would be no limits on
how many could eventually be purchased. Pakistan’s economy is not strong
enough to allow Musharraf to purchase the $35 million per copy fighter
planes, and so the deal will be accompanied by about $3 billion in military
To stave off criticism that he is playing favorites, President Bush
accompanied the Pakistan F-16 announcement with a companion decision to open
India to U.S. weapons manufacturers, sparking denunciations that sales of
weapons technology to the rivals could lead to a South Asian arms race.
Major increases in military aid accompany these plans for new weapons and
technology sales. In 2002, Pakistan was granted $75 million in FMF, the
country’s first grant in more than 10 years. In 2003, the nation’s FMF
totaled $49.5 million, supplemented by an anti-terrorism grant of $175
million. For 2004, FMF totaled $74.5 million with no supplemental
appropriation. Another $148 million was allocated in 2005, and President
Bush is requesting $300 million for 2006.
Thus, Pakistan will have accumulated a total of $821 million in FMF support
between 2002 (when FMF was resumed) and 2005. Additionally, military
training funds are on the rise- from zero in 2001 to a $2 million request
The fiscal year 2006 Congressional justification explains the thinking
behind the upsurge in military aid to Pakistan, saying “a strong
U.S.-Pakistan partnership remains critical to continued progress in the
global war on terrorism and regional stability.”
With these aims in mind, President Bush took the relationship one step
further in June 2004, naming Pakistan a “Major Non-NATO Ally.” This
designation, accorded to only a handful of nations, makes Pakistan eligible
for previously unavailable weapons like depleted uranium munitions, and new
funding sources like U.S. government-backed loans to build up its military
A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?
Even as word of this honored status was being communicated to Pakistan, the
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known
as the 9-11 Commission) cited evidence of Islamabad’s collaboration with the
Taliban before the terrorist attacks.
While Pakistan has made significant contributions to the war against
terrorism, arresting a number of high-value al-Qaeda operatives, the report
found that “the Taliban’s ability to provide bin Laden a haven in the face
of international pressure and UN sanctions was significantly facilitated by
According to another report from the Congressional Research Service,
Pakistan has turned a blind eye to the Taliban and other militants who use
its porous border regions as a launching pad for attacks against U.S., NATO
and Afghani troops. The report, Afghanistan: Post War Governance, Security
and U.S. Policy notes that “U.S. and Afghan officials continue to accuse
Pakistan of allowing Taliban fighters to meet and group in Pakistani
An anonymous Western diplomat, quoted in the New York Times, was more
colorful, saying “if you talk about the Taliban, its like fish in a barrel
in Pakistan. They train, they rest there. They get support. “
The real prize is India.
Richard Aboulafia, military analyst with Teal Group consulting firm, on
Bush’s decision to open India to arms manufacturers.
Once, India was allied with the Soviet Union, and roughly 70% of India’s
military hardware still comes from Russia. But as military ties between
India and the U.S. grow tighter, Russian influence could wane.
In 2002 and 2003, India received more than $77 million in security
assistance from the United States to wage the war on terrorism. No FMF
was granted for 2004 and 2005. But, India is making up for it with Economic
Support Funds. As mentioned earlier, while ESF is sometimes earmarked for
development programs, as unrestricted grants the funds can be used to offset
arms purchases. ESF to India jumped from $10.5 million in 2003 to a request
of $14 million for 2006. The country is also eligible for free or deeply
discounted weapons and military equipment through the Excess Defense
Make New Friends
Between 1994 and 2003, India purchased $128.2 million in arms from the
United States, a sizable amount given that sanctions were imposed for a
number of years. Now that those restrictions have been lifted, India
expects more deals on military hardware.
In December 2001, right after the restrictions were lifted, the U.S.
expedited the review of India’s request for radar and light combat aircraft.
More systems are “in the pipeline,” including weapons-locating radar,
military aircraft and engines for light combat aircraft. In August 2004,
India accepted delivery of the first of 12 Firefinder weapons-locating radar
purchased from Thales-Raytheon Systems. Another deal in the works is the
P-3 Orion naval reconnaissance plane equipped with the latest avionics,
including sensors and computerized command and control and weapons systems.
In 2004, President Bush unveiled a new agreement to increase technical
cooperation between the two countries, permitting the export of sensitive
nuclear and space technology to India. In turn, India has agreed to
strengthen controls on exports of sensitive technologies to other countries.
Bush called the agreement “an important milestone.”
After announcing the sale of billions in F-16 fighters to Pakistan,
President Bush called Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to tell him
U.S. military technology like fighter planes would now be available to his
nation as well. This was good news to India, which is in the middle of a
push to modernize its military, but it was great news to U.S. weapons
manufacturers. As a spokesman for Lockheed Martin, manufacturer of the F-16
fighter plane, said, “India is a market we want to pursue.”
Human Rights in the “World’s Largest Democracy”
Relations between New Delhi and Washington are warm, with military aid and
weapons sales increasing. But, India’s human rights problems have continued
apace, and tensions with Pakistan remain high.
The State Department’s Human Rights Report found “serious” human rights
problems; “extrajudicial killings, including staged encounter killings, and
custodial deaths. Government officials often used special antiterrorism
legislation to justify the excessive use of force while combating active
insurgencies in Jammu and Kashmir… Security force officials who committed
human rights abuses generally enjoyed de facto legal impunity.”
Kashmir: Valley of Tears
When India and Pakistan gained their independence from Britain in 1947, both
claimed the Kashmir region. The Kashmir ruler wanted independence but when
Pakistani tribesmen invaded, and uprisings threatened his rule, he called on
India for help. India came to the rescue only in exchange for Kashmiri
accession. Since that time, India and Pakistan have fought two wars over
the province and in 1989 Pakistan began backing an Islamist insurgency to
fight the 500,000 Indian troops deployed there. India constructed a huge
electrified fence along the “Line of Control” in an effort to stop Pakistani
The death toll from decades of fighting is somewhere between 40,000 and
100,000, and thousands more having been displaced. The far northern and
western areas of the state are under Pakistani control and the Kashmir
valley, Jammu and Ladahk are under Indian control, where a Muslim majority
complains of a heavy-handed and corrupt rule. As one moderate Kashmiri
leader told the New York Times, “we are trapped among three guns: The
militants, the occupying forces [the Indian military] and unknown
The two countries began peace talks in June 2004 and agreed to a series of
steps aimed at resolving their disputes. The nuclear-armed rivals will
notify each other before testing missiles, open consulates and aim to work
towards a peace agreement over Kashmir.
I am going to use what I have. After all, I have paid already.
General Endriartono Sutarto, when asked about the use of UK-origin Hawk
fighters in Aceh.
The war on terrorism has put intense pressure on the
Congressionally-mandated restrictions on military aid and training to
Indonesia, imposed in response to egregious human rights abuses by the
military. Even as elements of the Indonesian military continue to kill and
violate human rights with impunity, the White House is renewing military aid
and training assistance to Jakarta.
One of Condoleezza Rice’s first acts as Secretary of State in the Second
Bush administration was to certify Indonesia for IMET military training
programs over the objections of members of Congress and non-governmental
The Bush administration’s efforts to restore ties highlight the tension in
U.S.-Indonesia relations. On the one hand, as the world’s largest Muslim
democracy, Indonesia is an attractive ally in the war on terrorism. On the
other hand there is the sobering reality that despite its sheen of
democracy, the nation’s leadership remains deeply influenced by the
After a devastating tsunami swept through Indonesia, killing more than
100,000- mostly in the restive province of Aceh- the pressure became even
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono recently told reporters, “If we had a
stronger military, we could have done a lot more,” to bring aid to tsunami
victims, and called for fivefold increase in defense spending to build a
“strong and modern military.”
In the wake of the disaster, the Bush administration worked around a
Congressionally-imposed embargo on military sales to provide spare parts for
Indonesia’s U.S. manufactured C-130 cargo planes. When then Deputy Defense
Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was in Jakarta in January 2005, he praised the
“extraordinary strides” Indonesia has taken on “the path toward building a
strong and functioning democracy” saying military relations between the two
countries are a “resource that we need to rebuild.”
Eroding the Embargo: Step by Step
The embargo on commercial sales of non-lethal defense articles has been
lifted and contact between the two militaries is on the rise. Indonesia’s
military participated as an observer in military exercises in October and
November 2004, which brought them into contact with the U.S. Navy.
Aid to Indonesia is on the upswing. For fiscal year 2006, President Bush has
requested $800,000 in IMET, up from the $459,000 that Congress froze in
2004. Jakarta also expects to receive $70 million in Economic Support Funds
and the $6 million in Anti-Terrorism Activities funds to train and equip the
police SWAT-like counter-terrorism force described above. With initial
funds of $12 million, ATA has trained and equipped this elite unit with
Glock-17 handguns, M4 sub-machine guns, AR-10 sniper rifles, Remington 870
shotguns and high-tech communications equipment.
The Congressional Budget justification for 2006 notes that “Indonesia’s
contribution to the Global War on terrorism is also a vital U.S.
interest.” But John M. Miller, an activist with the East Timor Action
Network, counters that the military “continues to terrorize Indonesia’s
residents; the military’s human rights record remains atrocious.”
Between 1994 and 2003, Indonesia received more than $121 million in weaponry
and military supplies and services from the United States through Foreign
Military Sales and commercial exports. And now Jakarta is looking for
Military incursions in Aceh, Papua and elsewhere have depleted weapons
stocks. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a former General who received
military training in the United States, hosted Indonesia’s first
international arms show just weeks after taking office. In his opening
remarks, he noted that “international military cooperation is needed, but we
want a cooperation that allows the transfer of military technology.”
Indonesia is finding support from South Korea, a close U.S. ally. In a $50
million deal that has been in the works for five years, South Korea is
selling Indonesia 10 military airplanes built with U.S. technology. South
Korean engineers developed the KT-1B with technology from the F-16 fighter
plane, manufactured in South Korea for domestic use.
Background: A Legacy of Weapons
For many years, the U.S. was Indonesia’s largest weapons source, equipping
the country with everything from F-16 fighter planes to M-16 combat rifles.
In December 1975, Indonesia invaded neighboring East Timor, which had just
declared independence from Portuguese colonizers. Over the next five years,
more than 200,000 people (one-third of the population) died.
Declassified U.S. documents point to the United States giving Indonesian
leader General Suharto the green light for invasion. In the months that
followed, Washington signaled its approval by doubling military aid and
preventing the United Nations from taking effective action against
>From 1975 through East Timor’s referendum for independence in 1999, the
United States continued its military support, transferring over one billion
dollars worth of weaponry to Jakarta.
Washington was forced to break off military relations because of the
military ‘s abuse of power, violations of human rights, massacres and
extrajudicial killings. In 1991, military ties were suspended following the
Santa Cruz Massacre where Indonesian security officers fired into a peaceful
crowd of protestors, killing 271 people. The relationship was partially
restored in 1995. Then, in response to military and paramilitary violence
after East Timor’s vote for independence in 1999, Congress strengthened the
ban, establishing a set of criteria Indonesia must meet before military ties
can be resumed.
To this day, none of the criteria, including the transparency in military
budget and the prosecution of soldiers involved in human rights violations,
have been fully met.
We own the country for the next three years.
Army Captain, while kicking a blindfolded student after the King dissolved
Nepal’s government February 1, 2005.
On February 1, 2005, King Gyanendra declared 100 days of emergency rule,
dismissing the government, saying its leaders had failed to defeat Maoist
insurgents. He cut Nepal’s communications to the outside world and sent the
soldiers into the streets to quell dissent. The press was gagged, mobile
phones rendered inoperable and human rights groups report that extrajudicial
killings increased. In a March demonstration against the coup, the New
York Times reported that Nepali police clubbed protesters in at least two
towns and arrested 300 people nationwide.
Since 1996, ongoing conflict between Maoists and Nepali security forces has
resulted in 10,000 deaths. In the past four years alone, local human
rights organizations have documented 1,200 cases of disappearances at the
hands of security forces. Even before the royal coup that (among other
things) prohibited speech or acts that “hurt the morale” of armed forces,
Nepali security forces enjoyed almost total impunity. The International
Herald Tribune describes the military and police as “poorly trained… with a
terrible record of human rights abuses” who are fighting a “retrograde
Maoist movement that makes few apologies for its equally brutal killings and
systematic intimidation and extortion.”
United States and Nepal
The United States has long supported the Hindu monarchy’s fight against the
Maoists. Between 1994 and 2003 (the last year for which full data is
available), Washington provided Katmandu with more than $8.3 million in
weapons and services, $6.6 million in 2003 alone.
After an attack at the Katmandu American Center in September 2004,
Washington ramped up its military commitment. Just a few weeks after the
attack, in which no one was injured or killed, the BBC reported that a plane
loaded with U.S. weapons and ammunition was delivered.
For fiscal year 2006, President Bush is requesting $1 million in FMF, down
from $2.9 million in 2004 and $3.9 million in 2005. Military training funds
through IMET have increased slightly from $500,000 in 2004 and $550,000 in
2005 to a request of $650,000 for 2006. Economic Support Funds are steady at
an average of $4.5 million over the last three requests. The
Congressional justification asserts that providing the Nepali military with
the “capability to prevail against the Maoist insurgents” is a high priority
and specifies that the U.S. will deliver “M-16 rifles, grenade launchers,
and M-4 carbines to outfit a new ranger battalion.” In addition, Nepal will
be eligible in FY 2005 to receive grant Excess Defense Articles.
While strengthening Nepal to prevail against the Maoist threat, Washington
could be in danger of turning its back on the mounting human rights crisis
in Nepal, undermining its ability to act to quell monarchist abuses.
Even as the international community–including the United States–condemned
King Gyanendra’s coup, Nepali and U.S. soldiers were shoulder to shoulder in
joint military training along with soldiers from Uganda, Bhutan, Sri Lanka
and India. The troops received training in unconventional warfare in a
six-week course at the Counter Insurgency Jungle Warfare School in
northeastern India. A February 3 article in the Xinhua News Agency
quoted the Indian commander in charge of the school as saying, “the training
is in full swing and the foreign soldiers are happy with the course.” The
Institute’s motto is “fight a guerrilla like a guerrilla.”
London and New Delhi both suspended military aid to Nepal following the
coup. But Washington was slower to respond. U.S. Ambassador James
Moriarty was withdrawn from Katmandu but the State Department took a “wait
and see attitude,” postponing a decision on whether to freeze economic and
security assistance until 100 days of emergency rule had passed. The
period of emergency rule ended in early May 2005, but the abuses continue.
The State Department’s Human Rights Report notes that Nepal’s “human rights
record remained poor… The security forces used arbitrary and unlawful lethal
force and continued to abuse detainees, sometimes using torture as
punishment or to extract confessions. The disappearance of persons in
custody was a serious problem.”
When I first became President in 2001, I inherited a commitment of military
assistance from the U.S. of $1.9 million only…. Today, that American
assistance to our military support is now $400 million and still counting.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, March 2004
During a visit to the Philippines in October of 2003, President Bush
declared the nation a “major non-NATO ally” and the second front of the war
against terrorism. With this title, Bush promised an unprecedented increase
in military aid to fund anti-terrorism programs and to modernize the
Philippines armed forces.
This is a seismic shift in U.S.-Filipino relations. In 1992, the Filipino
government amended the constitution to bar foreign troops from being
stationed in the country, shuttering U.S. military bases in its territory.
The U.S. responded by cutting military aid to the Philippines.
However, as a result of the Philippines’ willingness to be an active partner
in the war on terrorism and the archipelago’s strategic position in the
Pacific, a new and closer military relationship is developing.
Weapons have also been flowing in. The U.S. delivered $67.6 million in
military equipment to the Philippines between 2001 and 2003, the last year
for which full data is available.
Between 2001 and 2005, the Philippines received $145.8 million in Foreign
Military Financing and another $11.5 million in military training aid, for a
total of more than $157.3 million. In 2005, Manila is slated to receive
$20 million in FMF and another $2.9 million in IMET for 2006.
Training Against Terrorism
In addition to IMET, American and Filipino soldiers participate in an annual
joint “training” mission, referred to as Balikatan. Though its Constitution
bars foreign troops from being stationed in the Philippines, the war games
slip through loopholes created by technicalities and imprecise vernacular.
American soldiers can only fire in self-defense and, until recently, were
not allowed to accompany Filipino soldiers on live missions. However, all of
the U.S. soldiers are armed and stationed in areas with a high concentration
of rebel group members.
The State Department’s most recent Human Rights Report finds that “some
elements of the security services were responsible for arbitrary, unlawful,
and, in some cases, extrajudicial killings, disappearances, torture,
arbitrary arrest and detention. The physical abuse of suspects and detainees
remained a problem… As in past years, the constitutionally mandated
Commission on Human Rights described the Philippine National Police as the
worst abuser of human rights.”
I would never dance like that. He danced much better than I would have.
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili on President George W. Bush’ s
dancing in Tbilisi’s Freedom Square, May 2005.
For a country that is slightly smaller than South Carolina, with only 4.6
million citizens, Georgia receives a staggering amount of military support
from the United States.
In 1997 Georgia received its first FMF grant of $700,000. In 1998,
Washington increased FMF more than 7 times over, granting $5.3 million in
aid. Since those first years, Georgia has received a total of $107.7 million
in FMF grants. The Bush administration requested an additional $12
million in the 2006 budget.
Additionally, Georgia has been a recipient of International Military
Education and Training funds since 1994. Between 1996 and 2001, the IMET aid
hovered around $300,000 to just over $400,000 per year. And then, in 2002
the funding almost doubled to $889,000. In 2003, the funding increased
another 33% to $1.2 million – similar amounts were granted in 2004 and
2005. The Congressional request for $1.2 million in FY 2006 represents
an almost 2,000% increase in IMET aid since 1996.
Both Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld visited Georgia in 2004, pledging continued U.S. support to the
Georgia, an aggressive force in a number of border disputes and a state with
a well-documented history of human rights violations, does not seem like an
ideal candidate for U.S. military aid. Human Rights Watch says the country
is, “one of the most corrupt in the world, is desperately short of money,
and has a record of persistent and widespread human rights abuses.”
The State Department agrees, finding in its most recent Human Rights Report
that “nongovernmental organizations blamed two deaths in custody on physical
abuse. NGOs reported that police brutality continued, and in certain areas
increased. Law enforcement officers continued to torture, beat, and
otherwise abuse detainees.”
A Good Investment
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili is using U.S. weapons and know-how to
strengthen his grip on power and rebuff Russia. Washington is taking
advantage of Georgia’s strategic location just above the volatile Middle
East, deploying U.S. troops and storing equipment and fuel. Georgia has
granted U.S. warplanes access to its airspace and permitted joint training
exercises with Georgian troops.
The result has been a cozy relationship between President Bush and President
Saakashvili. Georgia is one of the few European countries that have
unreservedly embraced President Bush and contributed to the U.S.-led war in
After President Bush was reelected, Georgia announced plans to increase its
number of troops stationed in Iraq from 159 to 850. The Washington Times
notes that given Georgia’s small population, this increase makes it one of
the top contributors on a per capita basis.
President Mikhail Saakashvili praised the President, saying, “Mr. Bush is a
man of great principle, a man of great understanding of the complicated
issues in our region, and the personality without whom the fight against
terrorism would hardly have been possible.”
U.S. military training and support appears to have helped the Georgian
military expel Chechnyan rebels and Islamic fighters from the Pankisi Gorge,
a narrow strip of land near the Russian border where armed militants had
found refuge. While the Bush administration linked these fighters to
al-Qaeda, Georgian Defense Minister David Tevzadze publicly challenged these
claims, saying at a Pentagon briefing with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld that
“it is very difficult to believe” that al-Qaeda is in the Gorge, because
they would need to “cross at least six or seven countries… No, al-Qaeda
influence can’t be in the country.”
In 2002, a San Francisco Chronicle reporter spoke with soldiers receiving
U.S. training for the Pankisi Gorge exercises. Their Captain, Shalvab
Badzhelidze was candid about the real objectives of the training. “Pankisi
is a minuscule problem,” he said. “We are doing something much more serious.
We are training for an operation in Abkhazia.” Georgia lost this tiny
province to secessionist rebels in 1993, and its inhabitants live under
Russian support and protection.
All About Oil
American soldiers are also training Georgian “rapid response” forces to
protect the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline from terrorist attacks.
Construction on the pipeline through Georgia is near completion and will
connect the Mediterranean with the Caspian oil fields, which hold the
world’s third largest oil and gas reserves. This will serve a number of
geopolitical interests– Georgia will be less dependent on Russian oil and
the U.S. will be able to lessen its reliance on Middle Eastern oil.
As the Georgia’s strategic value as a military and oil supplier grows in the
coming years, it is unlikely that unconditional aid from the U.S. will
encourage Georgia to clean up its human rights practices.
We consider Uzbekistan an important partner.
General Richard B. Myers, Joint Chief of Staff Chairman, August 2004. 
Anyone in the United States…who does not know the extent of the torture
problem in Uzbekistan is being willfully ignorant.
Allison Gill, Human Rights Watch
Before 2001, Uzbekistan was not on the U.S.’s strategic map and received
little in military assistance. All that changed with the war on terrorism
and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Uzbekistan offered Washington
the use of the Karshi-Khanabad airbase close to the Afghan border. The
military aid poured in and the airbase is now home to more than 1,000
troops, cementing a strong relationship despite Uzbekistan’s bleak human
rights record and autocratic government.
In 2003, Islam Karimov’s government received $8.6 million in aid, more than
it had received in the previous six years combined. An additional $8 million
was appropriated for 2004, but it not released for reasons explained below.
President Bush’s requests for military aid have decreased since then,
perhaps signaling Washington’s impatience with the slow pace of reform.
Congress granted $10.9 million in 2005 and only $4 million has been
requested for 2006.
Between 2001 and 2003 (the last year for which full data is available), the
United States sold Uzbekistan more than $37 million in weapons and services,
$33 million worth in 2003 alone. Washington has outfitted the Uzbeki
military and border guards with “nonlethal” equipment like helmets, flak
jackets, Humvee transport vehicles and night-vision goggles.
Human Rights Under Siege
The United States knows that its new ally is a brutal repressor. The State
Department’s Human Rights Report estimates that between 5,000 and 5,500
people are in “prison for political or religious reasons–primarily persons
the Government believed were associated with extremist Islamist political
groups, but also members of the secular opposition and human rights
activists.” The State Department’s report also mentions that, “The police
and the National Security Service committed numerous serious human rights
abuses,” they “tortured, beat, and harassed persons… Members of the security
forces responsible for documented abuses were rarely punished.”
According to a May 1, 2005 New York Times article, there is growing evidence
that the Central Intelligence Agency is using Uzbekistan as a “surrogate
jailer,” sending terror suspects into its abominable prisons for detention
and interrogation. In a recent report Still at Risk: Diplomatic
Assurances No Safeguard against Torture, Human Rights Watch asserts that
“Egypt, Syria, Uzbekistan, and Yemen, where torture is a systemic human
rights problem” are receiving terror suspects from the United States and
A CIA official quoted anonymously in the New York Times says, “the United
States does not engage in or condone torture. It does not send people
anywhere to be tortured.” But, while the U.S. maintains it has sought
“diplomatic assurances” that suspects would not be tortured or ill-treated,
HRW notes that in countries like Uzbekistan, where “torture is a serious and
persistent problem… diplomatic assurances do not and cannot prevent torture…
countries that rely on such assurances are either engaging in wishful
thinking or using the assurances as a figleaf to cover their complicity in
Small Step in the Right Direction
As mention above, military aid to Uzbekistan was frozen in 2004. But it was
not the torture or the extrajudicial killing that forced the State
Department to take action. Rather, Washington responded to President
Karimov’s crackdown on international NGOs like Freedom House and the Open
Society Institute. In July 2004, the State Department announced that
the country would not receive certification for continued military aid from
the U.S., until it demonstrated progress in the areas of human rights,
independent media and courts, free and fair elections, and freedom of
The State Department’s freezing of some military aid because of Karimov’s
repression of civil society and democracy is a step in the right direction.
But this is not enough. Despite the military aid cut-off, there are no plans
to remove American soldiers stationed at the airbase near the Afghan border,
and Washington and Tashkent remain allies in the “War on Terrorism.”
AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ
Boomerangs and War
The United States has more than one hundred thousand troops stationed in
Iraq, and a smaller force in Afghanistan. In both places, U.S. military
intervention and occupation replaced repressive oligarchies and put into
place fledgling indigenous governments. But, U.S. involvement began long
before with weapons and aid that in different ways established, supported
and maintained unrepresentative power.
Bin Laden: A Product of the Cold War
Osama bin Laden, the mastermind and financier of the September 11th attacks,
is more familiar to U.S. military and intelligence agencies than the Bush
administration might like to admit. In the mid-1980s, bin Laden was one of
Ronald Reagan’s “freedom fighters” battling Soviet forces in Afghanistan.
Various rebel factions received billions of dollars worth of arms, training,
and logistical support from the Central Intelligence Agency and the Saudi
As John K. Cooley demonstrates in Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America, and
Terrorism, the resurgence of right-wing Islamic fundamentalism of the sort
favored by bin Laden and his cohorts was facilitated by U.S., Saudi and
Pakistani support for the Afghan resistance. By promoting the concept of a
global jihad against the Soviet occupiers, funneling most of their covert
aid to the most conservative Afghan factions, and establishing a network of
fundamentalist schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan (funded by the Saudis),
the United States and its allies helped sow the seeds of today’s right-wing
Islamic fundamentalist movements. The graduates of the Saudi-backed
religious schools included not only tens of thousands of volunteers from
around the world, but the leaders of the Taliban.
As one of the chief recruiters of international volunteers brought in to
fight the holy war against the Soviet invaders, Osama bin Laden played a
pivotal role in the CIA-backed Afghan resistance movement. Bin Laden
worked hand-in-hand with the CIA, as he and associates from his construction
company helped build a CIA-financed underground training complex in Khost.
Bin Laden later built the first training camp for his own fighters within
the Khost complex.
The most important benefit that bin Laden derived from the Afghan war was
the ability to meet Islamic fundamentalist fighters from 43 different
countries who came to Afghanistan in the tens of thousands between 1982 and
1992. The founding members of bin Laden’s terror network were selected
from among this diverse group, many of whom he might never have met if the
CIA had not bankrolled the Afghan resistance.
Then: U.S. Weapons in Afghanistan
When Washington planned its attack on Afghanistan, questions were raised
about the dangers posed by U.S.-origin weapons left over from covert support
for the Mujahedeen fighters who defeated the Soviet Union.
Throughout the 1980s, the United States supplied the Afghan Mujahedeen with
more than $2 billion in weaponry and equipment, including approximately
2,000 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, manufactured by General Dynamics.
The U.S. also supplied AK-47s, small and light weapons, intelligence on
Soviet targets and intercepts of Soviet communications, delayed timing
devices for tons of C-4 explosives, a targeting device for mortars,
communications equipment, anti-tank missiles and access to data from U.S.
In addition to weapons clearly transferred as part of the proxy war with the
Soviet Union, more recently bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network was able to
purchase U.S. weapons on the open market. In a report released shortly after
the September 11th terrorist attacks, the Violence Policy Network (VPN)
reveals that in 1988 or 1989 al-Qaeda bought at least twenty-five 50-caliber
sniper rifles manufactured by Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, a
Contrary to claims from Barrett Firearms, the rifles are not relics of Cold
War policy of arming the Mujahedeen. VPN asserts that there is no evidence
that bin Laden obtained the weapons “as part of any U.S. government program,
on the contrary there is substantial evidence that he did not.” VPN’s
evidence points to bin Laden exploiting the lax controls that make buying
small arms and light weapons far too easy for terrorists, assassins and
Now: U.S. Troops in Afghanistan
Many of them are former Mujahedeen or Northern Alliance fighters. They ‘re
not afraid to pull the trigger, they just need to learn to work together,
and so far are doing really well.
Captain Clay Gardner, a U.S. Marine embedded with a new Afghan National Army
battalion being armed and trained by the United States.
The U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, launched in October 2001, often seems to
escape international notice. There are fewer troops and fewer casualties
than in Iraq. But efforts to rout out Taliban, al-Qaeda and other militants
continue with limited success and at great cost, both in terms of lives and
the possibility for a stable and democratic future for the country.
Hamid Karzai, the leader of Afghanistan handpicked by the United States,
remains dependent on Washington for protection, which is provided by the
private military firm DynCorp.
It is easier for him to go to Washington than to travel throughout his own
country, leading many to derisively refer to him as the “mayor of Kabul”
even after October 2004 elections delivered him the presidency.
Besides dependence on the U.S. for his own security, Karzai is beset by
problems on all sides: warlords and militias, ongoing fighting, the snail’s
pace of development and the difficulty in raising international funds.
While U.S. forces in Afghanistan continue the hunt for Osama bin Laden and
Taliban leaders, Karzai has made it clear that the top priority for Afghani
security is disarming and demobilizing the tens of thousands of militias
operating throughout the country. Karzai is also concerned that U.S. troops
are not doing enough to stem the tide of militants trained in Pakistan who
are crossing the border to attack Afghanistan.
Drugs and Insecurity
While U.S. forces have their hands full with al-Qaeda, warlords and
Pakistani militants, a much smaller force is trying to keep Afghanistan
secure for development. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)
is a NATO force tasked with peacekeeping throughout the country, but it has
largely been stuck in Kabul and unable to gain a foothold in the rest of the
The fact that international peacekeepers have a small and under-equipped
force has dire consequences for human rights throughout Afghanistan. It has
also slowed the pace of development and hamstrung democratization efforts.
The absence of a strong international peacekeeping force has created a
national power vacuum that has been filled by warlords, tribal leaders and
Taliban, who have set up their own fiefdoms.
The ISAF and U.S. troops are jointly training and equipping Afghani security
forces. But, both the police and the military have been dogged by
reports of their involvement in militias, the drug trade and ongoing human
In June 2003, a lieutenant in the Afghan Army was arrested with 167
kilograms of opium, drawing attention to the widespread problem of security
forces’ involvement in the drug trade. A top Afghan official,
anonymously quoted in the Washington Post, recounted his conversation with a
U.S. General. When the General asked for a list of political, police, and
military officials involved with the drug trade, the Afghan official said,
“I told him it would be easier if I listed officials who weren ‘t involved.
It would be a shorter list.”
Human Rights Watch has documented the military’s relationship with warlords
and their record on abusing human rights with impunity. In “Killing You is a
Very Easy Thing For Us,” Human Rights Abuses in Southeast Afghanistan,
published in July 2003, HRW asserts that, “warlords and abusive military
commanders are becoming more and more entrenched… If allowed to continue
with impunity, these abuses will make it impossible for Afghans to create a
modern, democratic state.”
The report criticizes the United States for helping to create the conditions
in which warlords and human rights abusers flourish. “The situation today —
widespread insecurity and human rights abuse — was not inevitable, nor was
it the result of natural or unstoppable social or political forces in
Afghanistan,” the report says. “The United States in particular bears much
responsibility for the actions of those they have propelled to power.”
By way of solution, HRW points to the need to expand the range and mandate
of peacekeeping forces.
The Impact of U.S. Military Action
According to a 2003 International Institute for Strategic Studies survey,
the success of military operations in Afghanistan has been very limited. The
British-based organization estimates that about 20,000 jihadic soldiers
graduated from al-Qaeda training camps by October 2001, and another 10,000
were inside Afghanistan at that time. According to their calculations, only
about 2,000 have been killed or captured by coalition forces– just a small
fraction of the total force.
At the same time, the war on Iraq has taken military resources away from
Afghanistan that could have been focused on isolating and destroying terror
networks. As the Survey found, the Iraq conflict has “focused the energies
and resources of al-Qaeda and its followers while diluting those of the
global counter-terrorism coalition that appeared so formidable” after the
Afghan intervention. Despite more than three years of U.S. and
international military presence in Afghanistan, IISS says that the al-Qaeda
network was “now reconstituted and doing business in a somewhat different
manner, but more insidious and just as dangerous as in its pre-11 September
U.S. Aid to Afghanistan
The Karzai government has asked for $27.5 billion in aid over seven years.
So far, the war-torn nation has received just $4.5 billion and, according to
the UK’s Independent, “much of the $2.2 billion earmarked for 2004 was
diverted into military projects and emergency relief from long term
U.S. aid to Afghanistan in 2005 totals more than $929 million, more than 80%
of which is earmarked for the military and police. This comes on top of a
similarly skewed 2004 budget of $1.7 billion, where only 10% went to
development assistance and child survival and health. Taken on top of a $589
million appropriation for 2003, U.S. assistance for Afghanistan tops out at
$3.2 billion and counting, with the lion’s share going to the military and
Whose Weapons of Mass Destruction?
The case for war against Iraq, where more than 1,600 U.S. soldiers and as
many as 100,000 Iraqis have died so far, raises serious questions about U.S.
Saddam Hussein acquired military equipment and materials that could be
applied to developing weapons of mass destruction from the United States and
key U.S. allies. United Nations’ arms inspectors working in Iraq during the
1990s subsequently destroyed or seized these materials.
Washington’s contribution to the Iraqi military buildup prior to the 1991
Gulf War came largely through what is known as “dual-use” technologies.
Dual-use items include unarmed light aircraft or helicopters that can be
adapted to military uses, instruments of torture like thumbscrews and
equipment like computers, machine tools and measuring devices. Between 1985
and 1990, the Commerce Department granted licenses for more than $1.5
billion worth of dual-use exports to Iraq, more than $500 million of which
was delivered before the outbreak of the August 1990 Gulf War.
In March 1991, under pressure from Congress and the public, the Commerce
Department released a list of the dual-use exports licenses granted to Iraq
in the five years leading up to the conflict. Even a casual perusal of the
list reveals that many of these items were put directly to work in Iraq’s
military research and production network. Some items were licensed for
export to obvious military end users like the Iraqi Air Force or the Iraqi
Atomic Energy Agency. There were also numerous licenses for equipment sent
to Saad 16, a military production complex south of Baghdad, known as the
center for Iraq’s research and production work on ballistic missiles.
Congressional investigators later learned that even this list, which
revealed significant U.S. contributions to Iraq’s defense industrial base,
was incomplete and misleading; at least 68 entries had been changed to
obscure their military applications. As Representative Howard Wolpe
(D-MI) noted, “the bottom line here is that because we have been so lax in
our enforcement of American laws we are now finding American-made technology
in the hands of the Iraqi forces that are pointing their cannons at American
soldiers. That’s outrageous.”
In December 2002, while the Bush administration was trying to build the case
for war against Iraq, the Washington Post reported on Donald Rumsfeld’s 1983
meeting with Saddam Hussein. Rumsfeld, then President Ronald Reagan’s Middle
East envoy, told Hussein to expect the resumption of diplomatic ties.
According to journalist Michael Dobbs, “declassified documents show that
Rumsfeld traveled to Baghdad at a time when Iraq was using chemical weapons
on an `almost daily’ basis in defiance of international conventions.” The
same day the famous photo was taken of Rumsfeld and Hussein smiling and
shaking hands, the United Nations released a report asserting that Hussein
was using “chemical weapons in the form of aerial bombs,” against Iran,
including mustard gas and a nerve agent known as Tabun.
The Sunday Herald reported that declassified U.S. Congressional documents
revealed a history of U.S. and UK support to the Hussein regime, including
the sale of chemical and biological weapons or precursors for weapons like
“anthrax, VX nerve gas, West Nile fever germs and botulism to Iraq right up
until March 1992, as well as germs similar to tuberculosis and
pneumonia.” Former Senator Donald Riegle, a Michigan Democrat who
conducted hearings on Iraq’s weapons programs, concurred, telling the St.
Petersburg Times “What is absolutely crystal clear is this: That if Saddam
Hussein today has a large arsenal of biological weapons, partly it was the
United States that provided the very live viruses that he needed to create
“Let Freedom Reign”
That was the note that President George W. Bush’s June 29, 2004 gave to
then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice after she told him of the
transfer of sovereignty in Iraq. But, Iraq is a long way from freedom
reigning– or ringing, for that matter.
Even after the January 2005 elections where many Iraqis voted for the very
first time, economic, political and, most importantly, military power remain
squarely in the hands of the occupation forces, led by the United States.
In March 2004, Coalition Provisional Authority head L. Paul Bremer issued an
executive order asserting U.S. control over the new Iraqi Army, saying that,
“all trained elements of the Iraqi armed forces shall at all times be under
the operational control of the commander of coalition forces for the purpose
of conducting combined operations.”
As part of the ceremony that put nominal control of Iraq back in Iraqi
hands, the 14-year arms embargo against the country was lifted, triggering a
flurry of excitement from weapons manufacturers. But, the fact that a U.S.
General continues to command Iraqi forces means that U.S. taxpayers will be
buying U.S. weapons to put into Iraqi hands. This is a premature and
dangerous dynamic given Iraq’s volatile mix of ongoing war and occupation,
civil strife and stalled political transition.
Weapons contracts for the new Iraq are coming fast and furious. Iraq bought
50,000 handguns in a $19 million contract from the Austrian manufacturer
Glock for Model 19 sidearms, and defense leaders have an option to purchase
an additional 50,000 handguns. A shipment of 421 UAZ Hunter jeeps was
delivered from Russia; armored cars came in from Brazil and Ukraine.
In March, the CPA laid the groundwork for Iraq to purchase C-130 Hercules
military transport aircraft, Iroquois helicopters and reconnaissance
aircraft from U.S. manufacturers to be delivered Spring 2005. U.S.
weapons manufacturers shipped tens of thousands of handguns, assault rifles
and machine guns to the Iraqi security services in July and August
If Iraq is to be truly sovereign, they will need a well-equipped and
professional military and police, but the United States’ methods for
establishing them have so far fallen wide of the mark.
Through March 2005, the war, occupation and reconstruction of Iraq have cost
a total of $232 billion.201
They said the United States policy is tilted toward Israel, and I said, “Our
policy is tilted toward peace.”
President George W. Bush, October 23, 2003.
U.S. press coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict often treats the
U.S. government as an innocent bystander or an “honest broker.” In fact, in
its role as Israel’s primary arms supplier, Washington bears some portion of
responsibility for Israeli offensive operations and could exert significant
leverage over the military’s behavior in the conflict, if it choose to do
According to Project Ploughshares, more than 120,000 people have been killed
in more than five decades of clashes between Israel and Palestinians in the
occupied territories. The Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group
estimates that since September 2000 when the Second Intifada began and March
31, 2005, 4,754 people have been killed on both sides.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died in November 2004, and in January 2005
elections Mahmoud Abbas prevailed, stepping up as President. There is hope
that he can help initiate new peace talks. But even in this period of
transition, Washington continues its failed policy of speaking for peace and
arming for war.
Military and Economic Aid
Israel had been the largest recipient of U.S. foreign assistance for almost
30 years, and since 1985 has received about $3 billion in military and
economic aid each year. In fact, as much as 17% of all U.S. foreign aid
is earmarked for Israel. And, U.S. foreign military financing makes up
20% of Israel’s defense budget.
In 2004, Israel received $2.14 billion in FMF. In 2005, the nation’s
military received an additional $2.20 billion. President George W. Bush’s
budget request for 2006 includes $2.28 billion FMF aid for Israel.
According to a July 2004 Congressional Research Service report, Israel: U.S.
Foreign Assistance, this FMF increase is offset by a decline in Economic
Support Funds (ESF). In 1998, the U.S. and Israel agreed to reduce
Washington’s economic assistance to zero over ten years, while increasing
military aid from about $1.8 billion to $2.4 billion each year. Thus, since
FY 1998, economic aid to Israel has dropped by $120 million and military aid
has increased by $60 million each year.
On top of regular military aid, Israel has been the recipient of a number of
supplementals, including a Fiscal year 2000 appropriation for $1.2 billion
of military support under the Wye agreement, $28 million in FY 2001 funding
to purchase U.S. manufactured counter-terrorism equipment, and a $200
million anti-terrorism appropriation in FY 2002.
Weapons Sales and Grants
Israel is one of the United States’ largest arms importers. Between 1994 and
2003, Israel took delivery of $6.9 billion in U.S. weaponry and military
equipment, including more than $6.7 billion through the Foreign Military
Sales program, and another $158.5 million in commercial exports.
Israel has more F-16s than any other country besides the U.S., currently
possessing more than 200 jets.212 In November 2003, the first of an
additional 102 F-16s for Israel rolled off the production line in Texas. The
$45 million per copy F-16I Sufa (Storm in Hebrew) are part of a $4.5 billion
deal between manufacturer Lockheed Martin and Jerusalem. The Israeli defense
company Lahav will customize much of the avionics.
Weapons that Kill
The United States has a significant interest in a stable, democratic, and
economically and militarily strong Israel at peace with its neighbors.
Congressional Budget justification for FY 2005 Foreign Operations, February
But Israel is not “at peace with its neighbors.” A bloody war is being waged
between the Israeli Defense Force and Palestinian militants, and Israeli and
Palestinian civilians are caught in the crossfire. According to the State
Department’s Human Rights Report, in 2004 “76 Israeli civilians and four
foreigners were killed as a result of Palestinian terrorist attacks in
Israel and the occupied territories, and 41 members of the Israeli Defense
Forces (IDF) were killed in clashes with Palestinian militants. During the
same period, more than 800 Palestinians were killed during Israeli military
operations in the occupied territories.”
In the second Intifada, the IDF has adopted aggressive new tactics to combat
Palestinian terrorism, including indiscriminate attacks on civilians,
extrajudicial executions and home demolitions. International groups like
Amnesty International and Human Rig hts Watch, as well as Israeli and
Palestinian human rights groups, have documented Israel’ s use of
“disproportionate, excessive, and lethal force.”
The State Department’s 2002 Human Rights Report cites U.S.-origin
helicopters, fighter aircraft, anti-tank missiles, and flechettes as weapons
used to commit indiscriminate attacks. The use of U.S. weapons in the
conflict between Israel and the Palestinian authority appears to be a clear
violation of the U.S. Arms Export Control Act prohibiting U.S. weapons from
being used for non-defensive purposes. Throughout the course of U.S.-Israeli
relations the State Department has issued statements warning that Israel ”
may have violated” the provisions of the Arms Export Control Act and the
Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement four times.
Curt Goering, the Deputy Executive Director of Amnesty International’s U.S.
section, calls on the U.S. government to “provide guarantees that their arms
transfers are not being used to violate human rights.” The father of a
boy killed by the IDF is more direct, saying, “one word from the U.S.
government would stop all of this.”
Torture remains common in Turkey today.
“A Crossroads for Human Rights?” Human Rights Watch Report, December 15,
Washington sees Turkey as “a major coalition partner in the global war on
terrorism, an active ally and partner in the reconstruction of Iraq and
Afghanistan, and a pro-Western democracy in a troubled region.”
Turkey is so valuable that Washington turns a blind eye to human rights
abuses and lack of democracy, and supports the country’s bid to become a
member of the European Union despite the objections of leaders within that
In 2002, Turkey sought membership in the European Union (EU), but was turned
down for a number of reasons, primarily its poor human rights record. Before
Turkey can join the EU, it must comply with the Copenhagen criteria,
including “democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and,
protection of minorities.” Turkey has not been able to fulfill the
criteria in the past, and does not seem to have made much headway recently.
In December, the European Union agreed to open negotiations with Ankara over
EU membership. These meetings will begin in October 2005.
Military Aid and Weapons
As a member of NATO and Washington’s ally in the war on terrorism, Turkey is
the third largest recipient of U.S. military aid, behind Israel and Egypt.
Between 1994 and 2004, it received well over $1.3 billion in FMF and another
$21.4 million in IMET. Congress granted another $33 million in FMF and
$4 million in IMET in 2005. The President’s request for 2006 is more
modest– $25 million in FMF and $3 million in IMET.
In the midst of a thirty-year plan to modernize its military, Turkey
purchases an enormous quantity of weapons and other military equipment from
the United States. Between 1994 and 2003, Turkey took delivery of more than
$6.8 billion in U.S. weaponry and services.
Turkey and Iraq
Throughout the course of the U.S.-led war against Iraq, military relations
between the U.S. and Turkey have been strained. Ankara was unwilling to
allow use of Turkish territory as a Northern front for intervention into
Iraq and refused the U.S. military access to its Incirlik base. This was a
shocking reversal as the U.S. had the privilege of using this base for the
past 50 years.
Recently, Ankara has been more amenable to Washington’ s requests, and the
two countries are discussing housing 72 F-16 fighter planes on the base.
According to a senior Turkish military official, “the bottom line is that we
will gain nothing by rejecting the U.S. request. Plus a failure to
accommodate the request could be unnecessarily costly. So Turkey’s final
response should be a yes.”
Human Rights: Still a Problem
The government does not respect human rights, particularly in the southeast
Kurdish areas. There, law enforcement officials are routinely implicated in
extrajudicial killings, torture and beatings. According to the State
Department’s 2003 Human Rights Report, “security forces reportedly killed 43
persons during the year; torture, beatings, and other abuses by security
forces remained widespread… Security forces continued to use arbitrary
arrest and detention… The rarity of convictions and the light sentences
imposed on police and other security officials for killings and torture
continued to foster a climate of impunity.”
Ankara disrespects and abuses religious, political and ethnic minorities. It
has also aggressively taken part in two conflicts: against Greece over the
island of Cyprus and against the Kurdish population in the southeast portion
of the country.
The country’s long-running conflict with the Kurdish minority is rife with
human rights abuses. The conflict stems from a 1980 uprising by the Kurdish
Worker’s Party (PKK) over the desire for political and cultural rights based
on a Kurdish identity. Many Kurds were forcibly evacuated from their
villages by Turkish armed forces and are unable to return due to ongoing
threats from the military, landmines, paramilitary fighters, or lack of
resources to rebuild their homes.
Reversing the Trend: Reforming Arms Transfers and Curbing Military Aid to
U.S. arms transfer and military aid policies undermine our efforts to
counter terrorism effectively. Since September 11, 2001, funding to foreign
militaries has increased and restrictions on military transfers have been
waived at an unprecedented rate. Many countries whose militaries are
implicated in serious human rights abuses are now allied with Washington and
receive U.S. aid and weaponry.
This section makes concrete and specific recommendations aimed at promoting
greater accountability in arms and military aid transfers. Adoption of these
recommendations would further the Bush administration’s counter terrorism
agenda much more effectively than the disastrous arms deals documented in
Follow U.S. Law
The United States has some of the most comprehensive laws regulating the
sale and transfer of weaponry in the world. As mentioned earlier in the
report, the Arms Export Control Act requires that U.S. arms transfers are
used only for self-defense, internal security and in United Nations
sanctioned operations. The Foreign Assistance Act bars military aid and arms
sales to countries with poor human rights records. And the Export
Administration Act safeguards and regulates the sale of “dual-use” items
with both civilian and military application.
These three laws include strong wording about how U.S.-origin arms and funds
should be used and by whom. But neither the FAA nor the AECA define exactly
what qualifies as a “pattern of gross violations of internationally
recognized human rights.” Thus, in many instances, the arms industry is able
to follow the letter of the law, while violating the spirit of these
eligibility criteria. Nonetheless, strict adherence to these laws would
significantly curb arms sales and military aid to dictatorships, human
rights abusers and countries in conflict.
Ratify the Organization of American States Firearms Convention
The United States was instrumental in drafting the OAS convention, and was
one of the first countries to sign the document, but the Senate has yet to
ratify it. The Convention creates a mechanism for exchanging information,
cooperating on investigations, and ensuring that law enforcement personnel
are adequately trained. It would also increase regional capacity to
identify, investigate and prosecute illicit firearms manufacturers and
California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Security and Fair Enforcement in Arms
Trafficking Act of 2004 would require the State Department to submit an
annual report on U.S. efforts to achieve universal ratification and
implementation of the OAS convention. The bill, S. 2627, was referred to the
Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in 2004, and a 2005 version is
Cooperate with Other Nations to Ratify International Arms Trade Treaty
An international campaign to promote adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty is
gaining momentum and should be supported. The Arms Trade Treaty would create
legally binding arms controls and ensure that all governments control arms
to the same basic international standards. The strength of the treaty is
that it reinforces governments’ existing obligations under international
human rights and humanitarian law in regards to arms transfers. As
enumerated in the treaty, existing international law prohibits governments
from transferring arms:
To countries under UN Security Council arms embargoes;
When the arms in question are incapable of being used in a way that
distinguishes between combatants and civilians;
When such transfers or use of the arms are prohibited under customary
When the transfers would violate any existing international treaty by which
the government is bound; and
When the transfers are used to commit serious violations of human rights or
international humanitarian law, or to commit genocide or crimes against
Enact Senator Richard Lugar’s Conventional Arms Threat Reduction Act
The bill, known as CATRA, would give the United States new tools to
eliminate the threat posed by vulnerable stockpiles of conventional weapons.
These include tactical missiles and man portable air defense systems
(MANPADS). If passed, the law would authorize the State Department to seek
out surplus and unguarded stocks of conventional armaments for elimination
As Richard Lugar (R-IN) notes, “Too often, conven-tional weapons are
inadequately stored and protected. This presents grave risk to American
military bases, embassy compounds, and even targets within the United
States. We must develop a response that is commensurate with the
The bill was introduced November 16, 2004 and Lugar expects to reintroduce a
new version during the 109th session of Congress.
Increase Transparency and Accountability through Better and More Timely
The Pentagon and U.S. Intelligence agencies should publish regular reports
on use of U.S. weaponry in ongoing conflicts and assess how arms transfers
are affecting counter-terrorism operations.
TABLES AND NOTES
Table I: Human Rights Records of Top 25 U.S. Arms Recipients in the
Table II: U.S. Weapons Sales to 25 Active Conflict Nations
Table III: Increases in U.S. Military Aid between 2001 and 2006 under the