U.S. contributes directly to armed conflicts around the world

With kind permission from Peter Rosset of the Institute for Food and Development Policy (or FoodFirst.org as it is also known), chapter 10 of World Hunger: 12 Myths, 2nd Edition, by Frances Moore Lappé, Joseph Collins and Peter Rosset, with Luis Esparza (fully revised and updated, Grove/Atlantic and Food First Books, Oct. 1998) has been reproduced and posted here. Due to the length of the chapter, it has been split into sub pages on this site.

Fifth, through military aid, the United States contributes directly to armed conflicts around the world-which are a major cause of hunger and famine. Since the end of the Cold War, U.S. military aid has declined, yet in 1998 it still totaled $6 billion, outweighing development assistance by a six-to-one ratio.41 Arms sales add significantly to the impact of our military aid. Needing to cope with an overproduction problem in the post-Cold War era, American defense contractors have aggressively sought overseas markets, usually with government subsidies to do so. U.S. arms sales in the early 1990s exceeded those of all other nations combined.42 Global military expenditure by governments is estimated at $1 trillion annually,43 and that doesn’t take into account illicit arms trafficking to nongovernmental belligerents. For every four weapons involved in such trafficking, three are estimated to come from the United States, many of them originally via aid or credits.44

Between 1985 and 1995, the belligerent parties in forty-five conflicts around the globe obtained $42 billion worth of weapons from the United States. In 90 percent of the fifty most significant conflicts in 1993-94, one or more parties received U.S. weapons or military technology.45 Through trafficking, arms sales, and military aid, the United States helps keep dozens of civil wars and other armed conflicts around the world alive and kicking. This is particularly alarming in light of our conclusion in chapter 3 that contemporary episodes of famine are often the product of armed conflicts like that which took place in Somalia. U.S. arm sales and military aid make that possible.

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  • Posted: Saturday, November 25, 2000

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