“The United States was the largest exporter of major arms from 2015-2019, delivering 76 percent more materiel than runner-up Russia, according to a new study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute think tank.
The study found that the U.S. provided major arms — defined by the think tank as air defense systems, armored vehicles, missiles and satellites, among other materiel — to 96 countries in those five years, with half of the weapons going to the Middle East.“
“The U.S. contributed about 35 percent of all the world’s arms exports during that five-year time period, partly supported by the increased demand for American advanced military aircraft in Europe, Australia, Japan and Taiwan, said Pieter Wezeman, a senior researcher at SIPRI.
From 2015-2019, Russia’s major arms exports decreased by 18 percent; France’s increased by 72 percent, making it the third largest exporter; and Germany’s increased by 17 percent, making it the fourth largest exporter.
Worldwide arms exports rose nearly 6 percent in 2015-2019 from 2010-2014, and increased 20 percent from since 2005-2009, SIPRI said.
Arm exports to countries in conflict in the Middle East increased by 61 percent in 2015-2019 compared to 2010-2014, the study showed. Saudi Arabia, the country to which the U.S. exported the most arms, was the largest importer globally in 2015-2019. The kingdom’s imports increased 130 percent compared to the previous five-year period. Armored vehicles, trainer aircraft, missiles and guided bombs were among the leading arms purchased by the kingdom.
Despite attempts in Congress to restrict arms exports to Saudi Arabia, the delivery of major arms, including 30 combat aircraft ordered in 2011, continued in 2019 as the U.S. provided 73% of Saudi Arabia’s imports.
In May, U.S. President Donald Trump issued an emergency declaration to push through an $8 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries for precision-guided bombs and related components. In July, he said blocking the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia would “weaken America’s global competitiveness and damage the important relationship [the United States] share with [its] allies and partners.”
U.S. arms exports to Europe and Africa increased by 45 percent and 10 percent, respectively, in 2015-2019. U.S. arms exports to Asia and the Oceania region decreased by 20 percent, as a result of fewer arms exports to India, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.
Since 2018, the U.S. has exported almost 100 major weapons to international organizations like the United Nations, the African Union and NATO, the report said, noting that Russia did not send weapons to these organizations.
Among the top 10 arms exporters outside Europe and North America, Israel and South Korea showed the biggest increase in exports. Israeli arms exports increased by 77 percent in 2015-2019 — a record for the country, according to the study. South Korea, which showed a 143 percent increase during that same time period, more than doubled its number of export clients.”
“Countless civilians in war-torn areas worldwide have endured starvation, witnessed traumatic devastation and violence, and lost everything they had.
The U.S. has been complicit in exacerbating the turmoil in many of these areas. We have withdrawn foreign aid, weakened trade, left NATO and abandoned nuclear treaties and environmental efforts. We no longer recognize allies but create enemies.“
“The United States has been at war for the last 18 years.
While the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power to declare war, the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF) have allowed three U.S. presidents to expand our military presence across the globe.
I am certain that we will continue down this path unless Congress takes back their responsibility to decide if our troops should be sent to war.
It’s clear that there is a financial cost to war.
Endless war has caused our federal budget deficit to soar to a startling one trillion dollars per year. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone have cost us more than $6 trillion with no end to the violence in sight. Yet and still, the Trump Administration and lack of congressional action to repeal the AUMF are inching us closer and closer to another dangerous conflict — one with potentially more devastating stakes — with Iran.
Though the Middle East may seem like it is worlds away for many of us, war and its resounding impacts feel closer to home. Whether you were alive during the Korean or Vietnam Wars, or born after 9/11 and have never lived in a conflict-free world, war has become eerily familiar, if not normal.
I’ve personally witnessed the human cost of war, of veterans physically and emotionally scarred for life. My brother was killed in 1967, six months after his arrival in Vietnam. He was loved, West Point-trained, and he had a bright future.
Then in 1984, twelve years after he served in Vietnam, my nephew snapped and shot both his parents and himself.
But this only part of the story. As a person of faith, I can’t in good conscience only look at how war has affected us in the United States.
Lately, the “art of the deal” supersedes civil diplomacy.
But with sanction after sanction intended to force Iran’s hand, we are instead promoting corruption and engaging in a dangerous game that has us teetering towards nuclear war.
Frighteningly, the administration said the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs could be used to justify potentially going to war with Iran.
Thankfully, lawmakers are paying attention and working to prevent this from happening. Our own U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Virginia, has shown leadership on this issue.
She supported the bipartisan Khanna-Gaetz amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to prohibit an unauthorized war with Iran and help us avoid unnecessary, violent confrontation in the future.
That amendment passed the House by a vote of 251-170.
House leaders Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer will be looking to her as they negotiate the final version of the NDAA with the U.S. Senate.
We a looking to Rep. Luria to work with her colleagues in Congress to ensure that the final NDAA contains provisions that prohibit unauthorized war with Iran and repeals the 2002 AUMF to help reassert Congress’s authority over war and peace.
War is never the answer. The human toll at home and abroad, as well as the ballooning financial burden of these endless wars are too much to bear.
Congress and the administration must shift the focus from military intervention to diplomacy if we are to achieve lasting and sustainable peace.”
“Despite their locations on opposite ends of the Pacific, Australia and Japan share many concerns: the safety of their shipping via sea lanes, the increased pressure put on them by China’s rise in power and a complicated alliance with the United States. As Washington’s reliability and effectiveness as an ally diminish, it’s logical that a more robust relationship between Australia and Japan would extend beyond the economic realm into the security sphere. To that end, Australia and Japan have been working to develop a security structure independent of their alliance with the United States intended to eventually bring in additional allies, both Asian and European.
The long diplomatic relationship between Japan and Australia began under Japan’s Tokugawa government in 1854. After the countries’ military confrontation during World War II, a strong trade relationship bloomed. Today, the foundations are being set for an Indo-Pacific security structure with both nations as its cornerstones.
In June 1976, Japan and Australia signed the Basic Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, laying out their bilateral relations for the first time since World War II ended. Their relationship, especially in the economic realm, has increased in scope and complexity ever since. Australia is now Japan’s fourth-largest trading partner — and its top supplier of energy and mineral resources. The two countries signed the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in 2015, and Australia lists Japan as its second-largest trading partner. Together they organized the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership when President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the original Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations in 2016.
On the security front, their relationship is deepening as well. The “2+2” talks involving Japanese and Australian defense and foreign ministers started in 2010. Out of those came the Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA), calling for increased bilateral military cooperation. That agreement would allow access to each other’s territory by their respective military personnel. As reported in The Diplomat on April 10, a major sticking point remains rules over capital punishment for military personnel. Japan allows soldiers to be executed, but Australia does not. Negotiations over that point continue, however. Interestingly, the RAA allows provisions for additional allies to be brought on board at a later date.
A Loss of Trust in the United States
In a July 2018 essay titled “With Trump at large, Australia needs a Plan B for defense,” Peter Jennings, executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a traditional booster of the U.S.-Australian alliance, argued for measures boosting Australian security. While the piece made clear that the Australian defense relationship with the United States should continue, it said that the country should increase defense spending, consider security ties with Japan, develop nuclear submarines and add to its military ranks.
In March 2019, Hiroyuki Akita, a writer and editor for the Nikkei Asian Review, referenced Jennings’ call in his article advocating that Japan form a security alliance that includes not only Australia but also France, England and even Belgium. Like Jennings, he stressed the importance of maintaining the current treaty with the United States but noted that it was “not inconceivable” that the alliance could unravel.
Reading the Writing on the Wall
Japan is currently involved in the Talisman Sabre war games organized by Australia. Although its participation in this exercise was set for some time, in June, Tokyo dramatically scaled up its security forces’ planned participation. Japanese warships and amphibious troops will be joining the war games for the first time.
This is an obvious sign Japan is taking security ties with Australia more seriously, but the Japanese government has been laying the groundwork for that relationship for some time. The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has been developing a legal framework to allow for the transfer of military assets between the two. In its annual paper published February 2019 regarding permits for the transfer of military equipment to foreign lands, the ministry not only details the issuance of permits for military equipment and technology to Australia but also calls for a stronger overall security relationship. The ministry had been working on this project since October 2014, the paper indicated. The Japanese government is not only diplomatically but institutionally setting the course for a military relationship with Australia.
Canberra is actively encouraging the Australian public to support deeper ties with Japan. Australian Defense Minister Christopher Pyne in January 2019 publicly supported Japan’s increased defense spending despite worries articulated about the implications for the stability of the Indo-Pacific region. In July, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Australian media that he regretted not being able to secure a contract with Japanese developers in 2016 to help develop Australia’s new class of submarine. Tokyo had coveted the contract, which ultimately was awarded to French developers in 2015. Those and an increasing number of other public comments by Australian leaders concerning their country’s relationship with Japan show a growing willingness on their part to accept a new security framework with Japan as a cornerstone.
A Long-Term Trend Accelerates
A tighter security relationship between Japan and Australia has been developing since the conclusion of the Economic Partnership Talks in 2014. Talks between the Australian and Japanese defense ministers began in May 2010 at the 2+2 negotiations. The countries’ prime ministers released the Japan-Australia Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation in 2007, the first such declaration outside of their relationship with the United States. Both Australia and Japan have eyed one another as a strategic partner now for 12 years and have been acting accordingly.
The Reciprocal Access Agreement did not spring from a void, but rather is a product of years of relationship-building between two Pacific middle powers with much at stake: the stability and security of the Indo-Pacific region in face of a rising China and a declining and increasingly unreliable United States.
Doubts about U.S. direction have deepened in both countries, especially so in the wake of the Group of 20 summit in June. The repercussions of Trump’s musings about ending the U.S. security pact with Japan and of his visit to the North Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone and embrace of leader Kim Jong Un have yet to fully play out. But it’s certain that decision-makers in Japan and Australia alike could read the president’s actions in the context of the standing Pacific security framework as discouraging.
Japan and Australia have begun work on a Pan-Asian, Indo-Pacific security structure that would include Western Europe but not the United States. Though this structure does not currently exist, the framework of what it would take to build it does. Both countries still wish to maintain security ties with the United States, and publicly state so. However, given their uncertainty about the direction that the current White House will take, neither side appears comfortable with the status quo. As a result, both countries will continue to move forward with alternative means to guarantee their security in the Pacific.”
“Weapons are never enough, nor are the billions of dollars being spent.
Winning “hearts and minds” is key because that is essential to social cohesion, to finding a common direction, to keeping the peace.
This perspective is worthwhile as we seek to understand and define power. To do so, it is worth pondering the difference in your life between common descriptions of power and what, to you and those around you, is truly powerful.
Great influence, as it turns out, emanates not from arsenals or banks, but rather, as it has since the dawn of time, from the human heart.
To succeed on a global scale you must understand, touch, reach, and respect those hearts just as you must do so closer to home. In fact, until those disciplines are mastered, true power, like true peace, will elude all those who seek it.
Consider the fate of virtually every dictator who amassed the tools of the state to impose his or her will on the masses. They fell. What brought them down?
People mobilized by their love of freedom, their love of justice, their love for their countries, their love for one another. Ideas and manifestos and revolutionary tactics may be mentioned in the course of such uprisings, but the glue that binds them together, the fuel that drives them forward, is love in its different forms.
Ask a revolutionary—or anyone who has ever sought to drive change in the world—what the path is to such change. Good talking points or the strongest connection to the heart?”
The firm believes the Russian Federation will not survive the decade in its present form, after a combination of international sanctions, plunging oil prices, and a suffering ruble trigger a political and social crisis. Russia will then devolve into an archipelago of often-impoverished and confrontational local governments under the Kremlin’s very loose control.
“We expect Moscow’s authority to weaken substantially, leading to the formal and informal fragmentation of Russia” the report states, adding, “It is unlikely that the Russian Federation will survive in its current form.”
Russia is the world’s largest country and its 8,000 weapons are fairly spread out over its 6.6 million square miles. According to a Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists study, Russia has 40 nuclear sites, which is twice as many as the US uses to house a comparable number of warheads. This policy of dispersal makes it difficult for an enemy to disable the Russian nuclear arsenal in a single attack, but it also makes the Russian stockpile difficult to control.
The Bulletin report also found that the Russia was uncertain exactly how many short-range “tactical” or city-busting “strategic” nukes it has, nor what the weapons’ state of assembly or alert status may be.
Stratfor fears that the dissolution of the Russian Federation could cause an unprecedented nuclear security crisis. Not only could the command-and-control mechanisms for Russia’s massive and highly opaque nuclear arsenal completely break down. Moscow might lose its physical control over weapons and launch platforms as well.
“Russia is the site of a massive nuclear strike force distributed throughout the hinterlands,” the Decade Forecast explains. “The decline of Moscow’s power will open the question of who controls those missiles and how their non-use can be guaranteed.”
In Stratfor’s view the US is the only global actor that can formulate a response to this problem, and ever that might not be enough to prevent launch platforms and weapons from falling into the wrong hands.
“Washington … will not be able to seize control of the vast numbers of sites militarily and guarantee that no missile is fired in the process,” the Forecast predicts. “The United States will either have to invent a military solution that is difficult to conceive of now, accept the threat of rogue launches, or try to create a stable and economically viable government in the regions involved to neutralize the missiles over time.”
The forecast doesn’t go into detail about what kind of “military solution” might be appropriate. US Special Forces could conceivably transport fissile material out of the country or temporarily secure the most vulnerable sites, but those materials would have to be evacuated to another country, something that would undoubtedly raise tensions with whatever authority still rules in Moscow. In fact, the surviving Russian government would probably consider any US or allied military action to be an act of aggression.
Regardless of the extent of the collapse, Stratfor predicts a major security vacuum in Russia in the next decade.
“American citizens and U.S. leaders pay more attention to the Islamic State, Ebola, Russian aggression in Ukraine, negotiations to end Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and other national security issues than to the South China Sea. But with about half of global shipping passing through waters disputed by a half-dozen nations, crises and conflict there would be terribly disruptive to the global economy and could bring major powers to blows.
President Obama’s second daylong summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping will be the best chance this year to clarify some fuzzy lines on Asia’s biggest potential flash point: the South China Sea. This is the time to further clarify U.S. interests, including whether the United States cares about possible outcomes to the region’s many territorial disputes.
China is extremely clear about its interests in this region: It seeks to administer most of the South China Sea within an expansive “nine-dash line” that snakes along the coasts of Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines. Along with claims to the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands with Japan, China includes these territorial ambitions among other “core interests” like Tibet or Taiwan, making compromise very difficult.
To bolster its claims, China is building airstrips and entire new islands, in addition to a litany of other moves seen as destabilizing by neighboring claimants. These rival states are taking similar steps in a tense undeclared conflict over the rocks, shoals, fisheries and mineral rights of this resource-rich area. But China outmatches all of its neighbors in terms of power, and its assertiveness – from moving a billion dollar oil rig with an armada of ships into waters claimed by Vietnam to a Hollywood-style barrel roll by a Chinese fighter jet over a U.S. Navy surveillance plane in international waters in August – has gone from largely reactive and uncoordinated to more deliberate and centralized.
By contrast, the United States has no claims to defend and does not take a position on the sovereignty of the islands or their surrounding waters. So U.S. officials have sought to be evenhanded in articulating America’s principles-based interests: the maintenance of peace and stability, the freedom of navigation, the free flow of commerce and the peaceful settlement of disputes. This U.S. position, adopted in 2010 in the wake of notable acts of Chinese pressure and coercion, garnered regional support by showing that the United States would focus on curbing bad behavior, regardless of the perpetrator. It was the perfect recipe for a region in which countries dread conflict between Washington and Beijing. But it also threatened to leave the misimpression that the United States is indifferent to the outcome of territorial disputes so long as they are settled without war. This is simply not true.
As President Obama reiterates the interests listed above, he might also consider adding the following:
First, it is contrary to U.S. interests to have any one power dominate the South China Sea. In a region with overlapping claims and conflicting interests, collaborative management is the only path to long-term stability. Dominance by one nation would be endlessly contested, with others hedging against possible threats to freedom of navigation and access, instead of the region cooperating on common goals like stewardship of natural resources and the protection of international shipping.
Second, how disputes are settled matters to Washington and will affect U.S.–China ties. The United States should make clear that the use of coercion and pressure – as China has exacted on Japan and the Philippines – might affect other areas of the U.S.–China relationship, possibly to include trade and investment. Washington has not yet linked pressure by Beijing on neighbors to other areas of bilateral cooperation, leaving Chinese leaders to believe that even bullying neighbors will not stop positive cooperation with the United States other areas. President Obama can make that less certain.
Third, propose a management structure to avoid the kinds of accidents at sea or in the air that could escalate into a bilateral crisis. Repeated dangerous moves by the People’s Liberation Army Navy and Air Force to enforce China’s sovereignty claims in international waters have already tempted a major incident. The United States and China may have differing interpretations of what behaviors are acceptable under international law, but this cannot prevent the sides from adopting a more robust mechanism for avoiding and managing crises.
Finally, the United States should pursue deeper engagement with China on U.S. alliances and partnerships in Asia. China consistently claims that U.S. alliances are outdated and aimed at containing China. And China’s regional diplomacy and assertiveness have aimed to undermine America’s security ties, which remain vital to U.S. power and leadership in Asia. The United States believes the entire region, including China, benefits from the extension of a U.S. security umbrella to regional states, not least because it helps prevent arms racing that could include the proliferation of nuclear weapons, among other destabilizing capabilities. Establishing mechanisms for consultation between China and the U.S. with its allies could help manage tensions. For instance, a recent U.S.-China-Australia trilateral military exercise was a good start and should be replicated with other regional partners.”