TransAfrica Forum Issue Brief

(Vol. 4, No. 5)
by TransAfrica Forum
Washington, DC, United States
October-November 1985
6 pages
Contents:  THE ARMS TRAFFIC TO THE THIRD WORLD: U.S. ROLE • THE GROWTH OF U.S. ARMS SALES TO THE THIRD WORLD • THE DIVERSION OF SCARCE RESOURCES • Table 1 U.S. ARMS SALES AND AID (in US$ billions) • Table 2 TOP RECIPIENTS OF U.S. ARMS IN THE THIRD WORLD FY 1975-1984 (in US$ billions) • This ISSUE BRIEF begins with an interview with Stephen Goose, Senior Research Analyst at the Center for Defense Information. Arms sales by industrialized countries are turning the Third World nations in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East into armed camps, and  these arms are more often used against their own citizens than against foreign enemies. As the sophistication of the arms increase, so does the bloodshed inflicted when fighting occurs. Arms purchases divert resources needed for social and economic development. The U.N. reports that Third World countries spend six times more on military hardware than on public health and social services. During the 1950s and 60s, U.S. foreign military sales to the Third World were relatively small, averaging $230 million a year. But under the Nixon administration, key restraints were dropped, and arms sales shot up. U.S. foreign military sales to the Middle East and South Asia jumped from $265.5 million during fiscal year (FY) 1970 to $1.3 billion in FY 1972. U.S. foreign military sales to the Third World totaled $351.8 million in FY 1970; in FY 1978 they amounted to $11 billion, or 81% of U.S. worldwide total of $13.5 billion. The increase in arms sales under Nixon was connected to a growing balance of payments problem and to the need of arms makers to offset the drop in weapons orders for the Vietnam war. Arms sales also fit with the “Nixon doctrine,” a policy favoring sending weapons and equipment rather than U.S. troops to protect U.S. interests abroad. Arms sales to the Third World also generated social tensions, perverted democratic processes, and weakened those patterns of social evolution which represent the only genuine hope for the future of mankind. South Africa, the most militarized and aggressive nation in Africa, may serve as an extreme illustration, but a similar pattern, albeit without the racial dimension, can be found in other places. The Center for Defense Information (CDI) a private, non-profit research organization in Washington, D.C. headed by retired military officers, supports a strong defense, but it opposes excessive expenditures for weapons and policies that increase the danger of nuclear or conventional war around the globe. CDI believes that strong social, economic and political structures contribute equally to national security and are essential to the strength and welfare of the United States. The newsletter includes a quotes by Air Force Lt. Gen. James Ahmann, Northrop Corporation executive and former head of the Defense Security Assistance, and mentions President Jimmy Carter, a Special Defense Acquisition Fund, Official Development Assistance (ODA), the International Development Association (IDA), militarization in Africa, World Bank President A. W. Clausen, Brazilian Air Force Minister Joelmir Campos de Araripe Macedso, the Soviets, and TransAfrica Forum staff Niikwao Akuetteh, Ibrahim J. Gassama, Linus A. Hoskins, Perrin B. Reid, Maryse Mills, and Randall Robinson. 
Used by permission of TransAfrica Forum.
Collection: William Minter Southern Africa Papers