In February of 2001, the government responded to pressures to relieve some of the suffering, the Emir loosened many of the laws. The U.S. considers Bahrain and important non-NATO ally in the War against Terrorism, often using Bahrain as a staging area fro entry into Iraq. For this reason, the Bush administration continues to support increases in arms transfers to Bahrain. Weapons transferred to Bahrain have included large and small weapons from shot guns to M60 tanks.
In 1999 Indonesian armed forces killed citizens in East Timor in response to the formation of anti-independence militias that were being organized. The government forces were equipped with U.S. M-1-6 rifles and other U.S. military equipment. The militia was also equipped with $1 billion in U.S. arms and training. In this case, the U.S. had been supporting the illegal occupation of East Timor since 1975. The U.S. supplied arms to both forces and as a result, had to accept partial blame for the conflict in the eyes of the world. One of the key points of contention among the militia was human right abuses from the Indonesian military. Some of these atrocities included murder of refugees in camps, many of which were committed with U.S. arms.
The Turkish government had a policy of restricting freedom of speech and freedom of association. They also demonstrated an oppressive and brutal attitude towards it Kurdish population. Since 1984, the Turkish government had received $10.5 billion in arms from the U.S. When their war against Kurdish rebels began in 1998, U.S. arms played a major role in the suppression of the already oppressed Kurds. However, the U.S. continued to supply the Turkish government with arms for one year after the conflict developed. In this case, the U.S. government helped to support the genocide of a group of people, simply base on their national origin.
The case of Bahrain demonstrates the extent of arms proliferation in countries that do not produce their own. Bahrain also demonstrates the conflict that exists regarding policies and practice. In recent conflicts, small weapons have played a greater role than larger weapons. Due to this trend, the UN is promoting a program to reduce the number of small arms available for conflict in regions. One of the key programs under the UN Convention on Small Arms is to develop a uniform reporting system for small weapons. Participation in this program is voluntary. However, the United States was willing to comply.
There are several concerns over the reliability of these reporting instruments that could affect future policy. The first is that countries may not reveal all of the small arms that are passed into other countries. They may also not know where the final destination of arms when they arrive in destination. The person that they sold them to may be legitimate, but from there the country of origin has little control. They could be destined for the hands of criminals through illegal deals once they are out of the United States. There is no way of knowing how many legitimately exported weapons end up in the hands to illegal arms dealers once they reach their destinations.
The UN convention is an attempt to provide some level of accountability in the small arms trade, with the intention of keeping arms out of the hands of those that would have the intention of harming others and mistreating their citizens. Accountability will have several affects. The first is that countries will be forced to develop better tracking systems. The second will be that they are no longer self-regulating. They have to adhere to the rules set forth or face sanctions from the UN. Increased accountability will force governments to be more careful in its arms sale and the tracking of those arms once they leave the country.
There are many variables that cannot be tracked, such as this case. Such problems with the accuracy of the data plague many of the reports collected by the UN and other world organizations. Under this reporting system, countries would be motivated to present themselves in the best possible light. There are many factors that could effect the accuracy of the numbers, including private weapon sales. In today's global economy, it is easy to conduct worldwide trade. One no longer has to rely on large distribution centers for these transactions. Private arms may make it into the hands of other governments that are not accounted for in the reports. These arms do not necessarily represent arms that were voluntarily sold by the government, but they still represent arms that made it into the hands of one side or the other.
Government Policy vs. Actions
Thus far, a few key examples of U.S. policy and U.S. actions regarding arms supply to countries that engage in human rights violations have revealed a disparity between U.S. law and actions in this regards. There are many more examples that could be sited, but the examples chosen represent the most blatant instances where U.S. policy and the actions taken by the government are in conflict. We have seen that the U.S. not only has a policy that forbids it from supplying arms to countries that oppress their citizens, there is a law against it. This law is consistent with many treaties that exist, as well as resolutions passed by world organizations that require accountability. These regulatory instruments are not perfect and there are many chances for bias, but they will become an increasingly important instrument in the race to disarm oppressive regimes.
In 1999, the U.S. accounted for 54% of all international arms deliveries worldwide This makes the U.S. A major player in the arms race. In this same year, the State Department granted $53.7 billion dollars in export licenses to various entities. Not all of these will result in actual sales, but a significant portion of them will result in completed deals. These numbers place the U.S. In a globally dominant position as far as the weapons industry is concerned.
President Carter pointed out that we are the world's "champion of peace" and world's biggest arms supplier at the same time. This duality destroys U.S. credibility and creates a sense of distrust when it comes to disarmament negotiations. The U.S. response has been to toughen its policies and selection criteria for countries with which to enter into arms negotiations. This new rhetoric sounds like an effective tool, but only if it is reflected in actual practice. If one considers U.S. past history, these promises will never materialize when the money comes to the table.
The office of the President continues to support tighter human rights legislation. Yet, the U.S. supplied military technology to one side or the other in 92% of the world's active conflicts. According to this same presentation, participation ranged between 10-90% of the total arms needed in the conflict. In 1999, the U.S. supplied $6.8 billion in arms to countries that clearly did not meet the criteria for inclusion in the International Code of Conduct on Arms Sales. The statistics and presentation of official policy tell the story. The U.S. continues to supply arms to governments that represent oppressive forces to their citizens, or a particular ethnic group. Not only do they supply the weapons, they are a leading force in the ability for many of these groups to arm themselves. The U.S. has become a one-stop shopping for anyone who can come up with the money, even if it means directly violating U.S. law and policy.
The number of cases where the U.S. provided arms to countries that practice human rights violations demonstrates that, regardless of what the U.S. says in its policies, it still places the money made from arms sales higher than the lives of the people. The cases sited in this research are not isolated, but are only a small representative sample of the cases that exist. The U.S. continues to supply arms to the highest bidder, even it if violates U.S. And International law. This is in direct conflict with U.S. promotions of humans rights on all levels. The U.S. is a harsh critic of those that suppress the basic rights of its citizens. It has even criticized those whom it has supplied weapons to in the past. The U.S. has a policy of supplying arms to the oppressor and then denying allegations when they are questioned. The U.S. would gain much more credibility if it were to change its actions to match the policies that it has in place.
Bahrain." Available from http://www.fas.org/asmp/profiles/bahrain.htm. Accessed December 6.
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. 2006. UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Hundred and eighty-third plenary meeting Resolution 217(a)(III) of the United Nations General Assembly, December 10, 1948. Available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78715.htm. Accessed December 6, 2007.
Deen, T.U.S. Ramps Up Arms Supplies to Repressive Regimes. May 26, 2005. Available at http://www.antiwar.com/ips/deen.php?articleid=6080. Accessed December 6, 2007.