George Graham

Arms Sales Drive Global Bloodshed

As I watch the carnage on TV, women and children writhing in death as bombs rain down on their homes, I wonder why. The answers don’t come easily. This time it’s Syria that’s in tumult, and it looks like the most horrific conflict yet. The quick response is to ask why the world is standing by as the blood flows in the streets. What makes Syria so different from Libya? NATO did not balk at intervening in Libya, bringing down the Gaddafi regime and causing the dictator’s death.

The United Nations was blocked from intervening in Syria by Russia and China, which have veto power in the Security Council. Why the veto?

One answer appears to be the huge sale of Russian arms to Bashar al Assad, the ruthless dictator who is massacring his people. China also sells arms to Assad, though not nearly as much as Russia. Do I think Russia and China would prevent the world from helping Assad’s hapless victims because of the money they get rom him? What else can I think?

What if the bombs and bullets ripping through those Syrian homes were made in the USA? Would America have said no to the UN’s rescue proposal?

I hate to think so. But there are other repressive regimes in the world, other dictators who would not hesitate to massacre their subjects. And some of them get their weapons from America.

America is by far the world’s largest arms supplier. And the world spends more on arms than on food – more than a trillion dollars a year.

Here’s a table I found on the web:

Supplier                      Total Sales in US $ (billions)  Percent of total sales
United States 170.764 39%
Russia 81.059 18%
France 37.4 8%
United Kingdom 29.803 7%
China 15.272 3%
Germany 22.807 5%
Italy 15.134 3%
Other European 47024 11%
Others 23.654 5%


I don’t know the details; the arms trade is shrouded in secrecy and critics say it’s among the most corrupt operations in the world. We hear details only when a massive deal is struck – like the recent multibillion-dollar sale of fighter jets to Saudi Arabia.

From what I read on the web, the militaryindustrial complex is spread across America, providing jobs and economic support for just about every congressional district. The idea that Congress might want to cut back “defense spending” is laughable. And so is the idea that the production of weapons is driven solely by the country’s security needs.

It’s all about money. The industry does 80 to 90 percent of its business with the Pentagon. Congress budgeted $725 billion for “defense” in 2011.

Now, with the war in Iraq at an end and an imminent drawdown of troops in Afghanistan, the American war machine faces a decline in domestic demand .

I wonder if that has anything to do with the clamor for war with Iran?

And the conflageration in the Middle East?

Picture above shows proesters” Assad poster.

Click here for insight into the international arms trade.


About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for