The gunrunner President

American weapons makers have dominated the global arms trade for decades. In any given year, they account for between one-third and more than a half by value of all international weapons sales.

Until recently, the Trump administration had focused on the promotion of big-ticket items like fighter planes, tanks, and missile defense systems around the world. Now Trump has specifically instructed American diplomats to put special effort into promoting arms sales. This has effectively turned them into agents for the country’s largest weapons makers.

Meanwhile, huuman rights and even national security concerns have taken a back seat to creating domestic jobs via such arms sales. Evidence of this can be found in, for example, the elimination of the Obama administration arms sales suspensions to Nigeria, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia. Despite Saudi Arabia’s commission of acts that one member of Congress has said “look like war crimes” in its Yemeni intervention, and his defence of the Saudi regime in the matter of the assassination of Jamal Khasogghi, Trump continues to protect his much-vaunted arms sales. No one has accused him of having any shred of moral fiber.

The fact is that fuelling death and destruction actually generates significantly fewer jobs per dollar than almost any other kind of investment. In addition, many of those jobs will actually be located overseas, thanks to production-sharing deals with weapons-purchasing countries like Italy, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and other U.S. allies. In particular, Saudi Arabia is seeking to ensure that, by 2030, half the value of the kingdom’s arms purchases will be produced in Saudi Arabia. The McClatchy news service summed up the situation in this headline: “Trump’s Historic Arms Deal Is a Likely Jobs Creator — In Saudi Arabia”.

Meanwhile, the Department of Defense has brokered agreements for sales of major systems worth $46 billion in the first six months of 2018, more than the $41 billion in deals made during all of 2017. And that, it seems, is just the beginning. (Tomgram, Aug 14 2018 edited review of “The NRA and the Gun Industry in the Global Stratosphere By William D. Hartung”)

So the priority of the American diplomat overseas is to sell arms! As if there were not sufficient violence and ethnic division in the world already, made worse by modern methods of slaughter. This is supported by the christian supporters of a president who is scrapping the restraints put upon other disagreeable, repressive regimes, put in plce by his predecessors. People who subscribe to the peaceable ideas of Epicurus should be appalled. The problem is that every day there is yet another shock to our sense of decency, as ataraxia gets daily more difficult to achieve.

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