Sweeping Military Aid Under the Anti-Terrorism Rug

The following article from from the Federation of American Scientists has been reposted here. It is an article looking at the issue of military aid, post September 11, 2001. This article can be found at its original location, http://www.fas.org/asmp/library/asm/asm48.html.

Sweeping Military Aid Under the Anti-Terrorism Rug:
Security Assistance Post September 11th
Federation of American Scientists, Arms Sales Monitor, No. 48
August, 2002

In this Issue:

Sweeping Military Aid Under the Anti-Terrorism Rug: Security Assistance Post September 11th

During a 6-month commemoration of the September 11th terrorist attacks, President Bush issued an open invitation to governments worldwide to apply for American military aid: "America encourages and expects governments everywhere to help remove the terrorist parasites that threaten their own countries and [the] peace of the world," declared Bush, "if governments need training, or resources to meet this commitment, America will help.

A Flood of Aid

Bush has made good on that promise. From the jungles of Basilan, a Philippine island in the Moro Gulf, to the rugged Pankisi Gorge in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, the flood of U.S. military aid released after the September 11th attack is seeping into an increasing number of disparate locations, washing away aid restrictions and undermining norms of democracy and human rights. Since September 11th, the administration has requested nearly $3.8 billion in security assistance and related aid for 67 countries allegedly linked in some way to the struggle against terrorism. Many of these countries are of dubious relevance to the "war on terror," and some are even waging their own campaigns of terror against their citizens.

Human Rights Concerns

Of the countries currently slated to receive U.S. military aid, 32 were identified in the State Department's 2000 human rights report as having "poor" human rights records or worse. Some of the worst offenders are the administration's new allies in Central Asia. Uzbekistan, for which the Bush administration has requested over $45 million in Foreign Military Financing and International Military Education and Training since September 11th, is among the most egregious abusers described in State's report. President Karimov's security forces have been accused of torture, maltreatment of prisoners leading to deaths in custody, arbitrary arrest and detention, and harassment of detainees' family members.

While proponents of engagement argue that greater cooperation with these regimes helps the U.S. government to promote human rights and democracy, experts note that many regional leaders are less democratic and respectful of human rights now than they were in the early 1990s despite a constant U.S. presence in these states since 1991. Clearly, the U.S. government has not used the supposed leverage that comes with engagement effectively, a failure that could have dire consequences not only for the people of the region, but also for the international community. "[U]nless the U.S. finds some more effective means of leveraging these states," warned Carnegie scholar Martha Brill Olcott at a Senate subcommittee meeting in June, "there could be some highly undesirable and even violent ... regime changes throughout the region." The $403 million in security and related assistance requested for the region since September 11th, to which very few human rights conditions have been attached, will not solve this problem, and may make it worse.

Aid Requested for Central Asia Post 9-11

Numbers in thousands of U.S. dollars

CountryFMFIMETNADRFSATotal
Kazahkstan$5,000$1,000$3,750$44,500$54,250
Kyrgyzstan13,0001,1004,70069,00087,800
Tajikistan3,0003507,55059,50070,400
Turkmenistan7004507,05011,00019,200
Uzbekistan44,7501,20019,200106,500171,650

FMF - Foreign Military Financing
IMET - International Military Education and Training
NADR - Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining and Related Programs
FSA - Freedom Support Act

Dubious Links to Terrorism

The aid recipients listed above are but a few of the many states now receiving "counter-terrorism" aid, despite an often vague or nonexistent connection between the recipient and the global battle against terrorism. In the FY 2002 Supplemental Appropriations bill alone, the administration requested over $1.1 billion in security assistance to fight terrorism in 45 countries. The final version includes $387 million in Foreign Military Financing, or $14.5 million more than Bush's request.

Among the more visible manifestations of the U.S. Special Forces to prepare Georgian and Filipino troops for battle, supposedly against al Qaeda foot soldiers and other terrorists. Yet in each of these cases, the links to the al Qaeda network, let alone the actual presence of al Qaeda soldiers, is dubious.

For example, the State Department is sending $64 million to root out terrorists in the Pankisi Gorge, where fighters from the war in Chechnya are seeking refuge. Yet though the U.S. government alleges they have links with al Qaeda, even the Georgian defense minister has publicly voiced his doubts. As quoted in the June 3 issue of Defense Week, General-Lieutenant David Tevzadze asserted, "For me personally, it is very difficult to believe in that [al Qaeda is in the Gorge] because to come from Afghanistan to that part of Georgia, they need to [cross] at least six or seven countries, including [the] Caspian Sea....No, al Qaeda influence can't be in the country." More likely, the U.S. government wants to help shore up the Georgian military's capacity to protect a planned oil pipeline that will traverse Georgia on its way from the Caspian Sea to Turkey.

The decision to go after the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), the band of Islamic militants currently being targeted by U.S. and Filipino soldiers, is equally puzzling. More a criminal organization than anything else, the ASG has demonstrated neither the capacity nor the inclination to engage in the type of transnational terrorist acts that the U.S. public and policymakers fear most. Nor is it any longer a significant ally of terrorist groups like al Qaeda that do have global reach.

A key goal of the U.S. military aid to the Philippines was likely to rescue U.S. missionaries Martin and Gracia Burnham. But even though the rescue effort is over (unfortunately with an American and Filipino hostage being killed), U.S. forces are still planning to start another round of training scheduled to last from October 2002 through June 2003.

The possibility of reestablishing a presence in the South China Sea (with its large reserves of oil and natural gas and strategic shipping routes), which the U.S. lost after being kicked out of Philippine bases in 1991, probably helps explain this decision. Military aid to the Philippines began to rise after a Visiting Forces Agreement signed in 1999 allowed U.S. forces to return for joint exercises. The U.S. government is now pressuring Manila to sign a Mutual Logistics Support Agreement, which will make it even easier for U.S. military forces to maintain a presence on Philippine territory.

Links to a terrorist threat are perhaps most tenuous in Nepal, which is set to receive $20 million in Foreign Military Financing. The aid is intended to help the Nepalese military fight off a Maoist insurgency despite the fact that the State Department admits it does "not have direct evidence of an al-Qaeda presence" in that country. Nor is the group on State's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. According to the State Department, in this case and several others the mere presence of Muslims in the region coupled with a somewhat unstable government is enough of a potential threat to justify doling out millions in military aid.

The strained logic used to justify these military aid requests threatens not only the coherence of the U.S. campaign against terrorism, but many other U.S. foreign policy objectives as well, including the advancement of human rights and regional stability.

Counterinsurgency Quagmires

By offering up aid packages to any state battling "terrorist parasites," the administration has created a strong incentive for regimes facing any type of internal opposition to redefine their insurgencies in terms of the "war on terror." For example, Georgian officials - who appear to be more interested in using U.S. assets to win back the breakaway province of Abkhazia than chasing fighters from the Pankisi Gorge - are therefore proclaiming the presence of terrorists in that region, including links to al Qaeda. So far U.S. officials are resisting pressure to expand the mission, though there is nothing to prevent U.S.-trained soldiers and U.S.-supplied weapons from being transferred to Abkhazia in the future.

Bogota has been more successful in redefining its 38-year-old civil war as a fight against "terrorism," and restrictions on U.S. military aid to Colombia have been loosened as a result. In March, both houses of the U.S. Congress passed resolutions inviting the administration to submit legislation "....to assist the Government of Colombia to protect its democracy from United States-designated foreign terrorist organizations ..." (meaning all three armed groups operating in Colombia, the left wing FARC and ELN and the right-wing AUC). Congress' goal, which was sanctioned by the Bush administration and included in the FY2002 emergency supplemental bill, is to allow U.S. military aid to go beyond counter-narcotics to support counterinsurgency operations (though even now the dividing line between the two is quite blurred).

Despite equal treatment of the three "terrorist" groups in the spending act, the administration has not demonstrated the same commitment to targeting the paramilitary AUC, which is responsible for the largest number of recent civilian deaths, as the two left wing groups. Human rights groups have documented the Colombian military's consistent support for the AUC. But this spring, the administration virtually swept aside conditions placed by Congress on past aid, certifying that the Colombian military had taken steps to cut ties with the paramilitaries and bring collaborators to justice despite the lack of evidence for this claim. By continuing to fund the Colombian military, the U.S. government is at best turning a blind eye to, and at worst indirectly aiding, the activities of the paramilitaries. Some members of Congress have shown more interest in addressing this issue, however. The Senate version of the FY2003 foreign aid appropriations bill includes $5 million to train and equip a Colombian military unit to apprehend leaders of paramilitary groups.

In any case, the government is years away from accumulating the power necessary to wrest control of the countryside from its competitors. For these reasons it is difficult to imagine that relaxing the restrictions on U.S. weapons and aid will reduce the violence, and may intensify it as the military's ability to engage the FARC improves.

Destabilizing Arms Transfers

Not only is the new line of military aid of questionable utility for protecting the "homeland," but it may also create security risks for other countries. Despite the steady escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan, culminating in the evacuation of U.S. citizens from the subcontinent in early June 2002, the U.S. has issued a steady stream of licenses for weapons sales to India. The lineup includes such potentially destabilizing technology as the AN/TPQ-37 firefinder weapons locating system, which is seen in Pakistan and India alike as giving India a decisive tactical advantage in certain potential future military campaigns against Pakistan. India is also set to receive ammunition and engines for its light attack jets. Most recently, the Defense Department notified Congress of a potential $75 million sale of six C-130 cargo aircraft to Pakistan, which is also knocking loudly at the door for spare parts for its F-16s.

Jettisoning Restrictions on Arms and Aid

The relentless assault on military aid restrictions that began shortly after the September 11th attacks (see ASM 47, "And the Walls Come Tumbling Down...") has continued unabated. This spring the administration attempted yet again to win blanket exemptions for aid distributed as part of the "war on terror" by including language in the FY2002 supplemental appropriations bill that waives most existing restrictions and reporting requirements. The administration's second attempt was more successful. Two key Defense Department funding allocations - $390 million to reimburse nations providing support to U.S. operations in the war on terror and $120 million "for certain classified activities" - can now be delivered "notwithstanding any other provision of the law." This means there will be none of the normal restrictions placed on this large sum of military aid.

The provision on "classified activities" is especially troubling because it permits "projects not otherwise authorized by law," in other words, covert actions. Not only is the language in the Supplemental opaque, attempts to get more information from a defense committee staffer led nowhere. He refused to answer questions about the intended use of the funds, the applicability of foreign aid restrictions, and reporting requirements on the grounds that all of that information is "classified." In other words, there will be no public scrutiny of this aid, and that's just fine with Congress.

The Bush administration may also be successful in its campaign to ease restrictions on military aid and training to Indonesia despite that country's utter failure to improve its military's human rights practices. In May, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld proclaimed that it is "time for [the restrictions] to be adjusted substantially." If the results of the Senate Appropriations committee mark up are any indicator, Mr. Rumsfeld is likely to get his wish. On July 18th, Senators Stevens (R-Arkansas) and Inouye (D-Hawaii) succeeded in amending the FY2003 foreign operations appropriations bill to lift the ban on International Military Education and Training (IMET) for members of the Indonesian military. The change still has to survive a full Senate vote, debate in the House, and possibly a conference committee process, giving opponents more opportunities to speak out against it. The FY2002 supplemental included $4 million for police training and $12 million for anti-terrorism training. Language in the conference report asserts the State Department has pledged no training will go to the abusive Mobile Police Brigade (BRIMOB) or the infamous Kopassus military units.

On a more positive note, the FY2002 supplemental conditions the distribution of FMF to Uzbekistan on a determination that Uzbek President Karimov's regime is making "substantial and continuing progress" in implementing the "Declaration on the Strategic Partnership and Cooperation Framework" signed by Karimov and Bush on March 12. The Framework commits Uzbekistan to strengthening civil society, establishing an independent media and a true multi-party political system, and reforming the judicial system. Of course, the effectiveness of the agreement depends on the administration's willingness to honestly assess Uzbekistan's progress, something it has failed to do with comparable certification procedures attached to aid to Colombia.

Finally, the administration removed Azerbaijan and Armenia from the ITAR list of states barred from receiving weapons, mainly in order to help Azerbaijan defend its oil in the Caspian Sea from threats from Iran. Sanctions were lifted despite the fact that the states' dispute over the contested enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, a dispute that led to a hot war in 1989, has not yet been resolved. Sanctions on the government of Afghanistan were also dropped, and arms and aid are already beginning to flow.

This latest round of military aid has made one thing clear: the U.S. military has found a new excuse to extend its reach around the globe, arming regimes that had previously been blacklisted for human rights abuses, weapons proliferation, or brutal conflict. What remains to be seen is how long Congress and the American public will accept this formula, especially when they see no concrete results in return.

More information on U.S. counter-terrorism aid can be found at: www.fas.org/terrorism/at/index.html.


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Blowing the Barn Door Open:

Advanced Weapons Sales to Latin America

On January 30, 2002, the Chilean government and Lockheed Martin wrapped up five years of negotiations with the announcement that Chile had agreed to purchase ten F-16 fighter jets and related equipment for $636 million. The deal marked the end of a two-decade-old unilateral U.S. moratorium on the transfer of major weapons systems to Latin America.

Not four months later, U.S. government officials declared that they would permit the sale to Brazil of yet another advanced weapon: the AIM-120 advanced medium range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM). Consistent with U.S. policy to refrain from introducing new weapons technology into a region, the AMRAAMs were off limits to Latin American militaries until Peru admitted in September 2001 that it possesses the Russian equivalent, the R-77 medium-range air-to-air missiles (AA-12 Adder). By making these decisions the U.S. government showed its disregard for the risk of a regional arms build-up and the diversion of scarce resources from pressing social needs that this new military spending will entail.

This latest chapter in the dispiriting history of advanced weapons proliferation begins with President Clinton's August 1997 decision to lift the Carter administration ban on advanced weapons sales to Latin America. Pressure from the arms industry - salivating over a market that promised $7 billion in future combat aircraft orders alone - undoubtedly influenced Clinton to lift the ban (See ASM 35). Regardless of the reasons, the administration's decision paved the way for the spread of advanced American technology, not only to Chile but to the rest of Latin America as well.

It was not until four years later that a deal actually appeared imminent, and Santiago quickly came under heavy fire both at home and abroad, largely because new fighter jets were considered an unnecessary expense for a developing nation. Chilean NGOs, legislators and even the President's own political party condemned the proposed sale. Several regional powers, Peru being the most vocal, also called on Chile to forgo the purchase, claiming that the advanced aircraft would upset the regional military balance. In September 2001, Peruvian Defense Minister David Waisman issued a dramatic offer to both refrain from upgrading its MiG fleet and to give up their controversial Adder missiles if Chile would agree not to buy the fighters. Chilean President Lagos summarily dismissed the offer.

Still feeling the pinch of the Argentine economic meltdown, Chileans continued to condemn the sale right up until the government reached a deal with Lockheed in late January. Lockheed's dollar-for-dollar offset package, which includes a General Electric Plant that will provide technical assistance and maintenance for the GE motors installed in the F-16s, undoubtedly made the sale more palatable.

Having inked the Chilean deal, the world's number one arms exporting nation has turned its attention to Brazil, where Lockheed is trying to land a $900 million contract for jet fighters. The U.S. government believes that Brasilia's distrust of the U.S. as a consistent weapons supplier, its air force's clear preference for the Russian Su-35, and the partnership between Embraer - Brazil's leading aerospace industry and the likely beneficiary of any direct offsets package - and the French company Dassault puts the Americans at a distinct disadvantage. For these reasons, the Defense Department felt the need to preemptively pad the sale with some high tech extras, taking the unusual step of sending a congressional notification for 12 F-16s and 48 AMRAAMs to Congress before they were even selected by Brazil. Government officials working on the sale claimed that Lockheed would already be out of the running had the Defense Department not authorized the inclusion of the AMRAAMs in the weapons package.

Explaining the Sales

Few arms sales are more deserving of skeptical inquiry than the two above. Neither Chile nor Brazil face any serious short-term external security threats, and even credible theoretical threats are difficult to identify. Brazil has had to deal with spillover from Colombia's civil war, but containing errant rebels does not require Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missiles. The same goes for Chile. Chile's neighbors lack both the intent and the capacity to pose a serious military threat, according to Jane's Information Group. Both governments would be better served by investing the millions set aside for new war planes in combating a more immediate threat to their peoples' health and well-being: poverty and the risk of fallout from Argentina's economic crisis.

So why the sales? While U.S. defense industry lobbying undoubtedly played a key role, several additional factors facilitated the deals. The first is the Pinochet-era "Copper Law." While the Chilean air force may have sought to acquire new planes anyway, the "Copper Law" - which requires that 10% of the revenue from Chile's National Copper Corporation be used to buy weapons - makes a certain level of spending on arms a fait accompli and therefore easier to justify.

The second is Peru's mid-1990s defense spending spree. A mini arms race sparked by border tensions between Peru and Ecuador prompted former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori to purchase 18 MiG-29S/UB, 18 Sukhoi Su-25A/UB fighters and advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles in 1997, the missiles now being used to justify hawking its own AMRAAMs in Latin America. U.S. officials insist that they have done everything they could (including offering Lima a lot of money) to convince the Peruvians to "do the right thing" by giving up their Adders. Since there is no public record of the negotiations, it is difficult to evaluate this claim. Regardless, Peru's arms control efforts, which include a proposed ban on beyond visual range air-to-air missiles in Latin America, are bearing fruit and may prompt them to sell their Adders back to Russia. Even if they do, say U.S. officials, "the toothpaste is out of the tube," and the offer to sell AMRAAMs to Brazil still stands.

The U.S. policy of playing "follow the leader" - exercising restraint only until other countries do otherwise - is a recipe for failure, and for endless proliferation. The success of the Carter moratorium - in the mid-1990s, per capita spending on defense in Latin America was the lowest in the world - is proof positive that a determined U.S. effort to limit the spread and accumulation of advanced weaponry can make a big difference. Building on this accomplishment requires that the current administration find the political will to lead rather than follow.


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The 2002 Foreign Military Training Report: A Mixed Bag

In May, the Bush administration released the 2002 Foreign Military Training Report (FMTR), an annual summary of most military training programs run by the Departments of State and Defense. According to the report, U.S. training programs in FY2001 and FY2002 are likely to involve 108,500 foreign soldiers and civilian officials from 176 countries.

This year's report is a mixed bag. The content and format is a vast improvement over last year's report. The administration could do better, however, both in terms of the content of the report and the training programs themselves.

Reasons for Tempered Celebration

This year's FMTR reverses the past two years' trend of cutting out additional categories of data from the declassified section. Restored in this year's report is data on the training location, the unit or government agency to which the trainee is assigned, and the dates of the training. This information is crucial for enforcing key restrictions on military aid such as the Leahy Law, which bans military aid to specific units of foreign security forces that commit human rights abuses.

Evidence of a persistent, if sporadic, U.S. commitment to enforcing its own human rights and nonaggression norms is also present in this year's report. The FMTR notes that the U.S. decided to deny most forms of military training to several regimes - including Rwanda, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Belarus, Fiji, Equatorial Guinea, Uganda and Cote d'Ivoire - because they were involved in regional conflicts or because of their regimes' anti-democratic behavior.

But Before We Uncork the Champagne...

But before we can toast a new era of transparency and accountability in the history of military training programs, both the FMTR itself and the training programs it documents still need to be improved in many ways. The report itself lacks consistently detailed information about the units to which the students are assigned, refers to courses that are either not included or mislabelled in the course descriptions section, and includes no information about several problematic training programs implemented by the intelligence community and Private Military Companies (PMCs). Finally, many of the regimes denied certain types of military aid were nonetheless permitted to send students to the Defense Department's Regional Centers for Security Studies.

The marked increase in the number of Joint Combined Exercises and Training (JCETs) missions - which are used to teach deadly warfare skills to foreign troops under the pretense of training U.S. soldiers - is another area of concern. JCET activity in the Philippines increased dramatically, jumping from 343 Filipino participants in FY2000 to 573 in FY2001, despite the fact that the Armed Forces of the Philippines continued to be accused by the State Department of violating international human rights norms. Lastly, the FMTR reveals that the U.S. continues to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses committed by recipient countries that are geostrategically important. Forty-two of the regimes that received combat training were accused by the State Department of having "poor" human rights records or engaging in "serious" abuses.

Whither the FMTR? Current Concerns

Annoyed by the time it takes to compile the report and convinced that few people bother to use it, some U.S. officials are trying to scale back or eliminate the report altogether. Both the House and the Senate have bills that would limit the scope of the 2003 report. The Senate bill (S. 1803) would eliminate the reporting requirement for NATO countries and major non-NATO allies unless this information is requested by ranking members of a relevant congressional committee. The House version (H.R. 1646) is much worse. The administration would be entirely relieved of its responsibility to assemble the report unless a ranking committee member requests it. Even then, only those countries specified by the requestor would have to be included.

Even if Congress ends up preserving the report, the message sent by the House is clear: the training report is both burdensome and expendable. Such a brazen attack on so crucial a report should serve as a wake up call for advocates of transparency and accountability in security assistance programs; the report's survival could depend on their willingness to speak out on its behalf.


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Weapons Alert!

Armed, Unmanned, and Dangerous

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have recently attracted a flurry of attention in Congress and the defense media - both of which are increasingly attuned to potential terrorist threats following September 11. "UAV" refers to any unmanned, non-rocket-propelled aircraft that flies within the atmosphere, that is, anything from a propeller-driven drone to a cruise missile. The major fear of U.S. policymakers is that terrorists or rogue states might use UAVs as a delivery system for weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Iraq, for example, is converting L-29 trainers into WMD-capable UAVs, according to Senate testimony by Vann Van Diepen, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation.

Managing this risk will not be easy. Since February, three meetings of the Senate Government Affairs Committee have stressed that low costs and the wide variety of acquisition paths open to purchasers (most UAV technology has legitimate civilian and commercial applications) make UAVs an attractive weapon for terrorists and hostile states.

One way to deal with the threat is through the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), a set of voluntary multilateral export control guidelines designed to prevent the proliferation of missiles that can carry WMD. But the expandable design of most UAVs combined with the commercial availability of much of their technology mean that an MTCR-compliant UAV could easily be upgraded using civilian technologies to make it capable of WMD delivery. What's more, the GAO reported in October 2001(GAO-02-120) that many MTCR items are subject to "unclear jurisdiction" in the U.S. arms export control system, meaning they could easily fall through the system's cracks.

Of course, the MTCR cannot be effective if its participants choose to ignore it. This spring, the Bush administration quietly developed a new UAV export policy that would make it easier to sell UAVs capable of delivering WMD. In accordance with MTCR rules, UAVs that fall under Category I of the MTCR (capable of carrying 500 kilograms at least 300 kilometers) had been subject to an unconditional strong presumption of denial, but under the new policy they will be granted a case-by-case review. Why the President would eschew a growing consensus of alarmed experts is unclear. Could he be responding to pressure from an industry increasingly keen on exporting UAVs for commercial and defense purposes? In any case, it is certain that dealing with the threat of UAV proliferation will require both reform of the MTCR's ability to deal with dual-use technologies like UAVs and a stricter adherence by the U.S. and other members to the spirit as well as the letter of the MTCR.

Stingers, Stingers Everywhere

Apparently U.S. officials believe that Islamic militants are capable of achieving what the CIA has failed to do for the past decade: track down Stinger missiles missing since they were distributed to the Afghan Mujahideen and Angolan rebels in the 1980s and bring them back to the United States. One problem - the militants would use them to shoot commercial airliners out of the sky.

In mid-May, U.S. officials issued an intelligence alert to the airlines and law enforcement warning them of the threat posed by Russian made SA-7 surface-to-air missiles and their U.S. equivalents. The warning was circulated after a discarded SA-7 launcher was found outside a U.S. base in Saudi Arabia.

The alert is yet another reminder of how weapons distributed to "friends" today can haunt us for years, if not decades, afterwards. Distributed by Reagan's secret agents with about as much discretion as a drunk host passing out beers at a summer barbeque, the Stingers have since found their way into the arsenals of a truly unsavory lot: the Chechen Rebels, the Algerian Armed Islamic Group, the Tamil Tigers (Sri Lanka), and - the kicker - Osama bin Laden, who, according to reports cited in Jane's Intelligence Review, handed out the deadly missiles to his personal bodyguards. Considering that Stingers have a shelf life of up to 22 years, there's no telling whose backyard they might show up in next.


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New Name Means BISness as Usual at Commerce

The Commerce Department recently changed the name of the office in charge of controlling dual-use exports (goods with both civilian and military use). Previously called the Bureau of Export Administration, the office now has a more telling title, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). In addition to making a catchy pun, the new name may reflect the relative weight the Department places on export promotion versus national security protection: industry's needs are served first, U.S. security comes second.

The new name also underscores an old problem with dual-use controls at Commerce _ the fox is guarding the henhouse. The same office that is supposed to control exports is also promoting them. The Bureau's press release on the name change boasts that it "spearheads the Department of Commerce's efforts in defense trade advocacy and monitors the health of the U.S. defense-industrial base."

Export promotion is mainly done through BIS's Defense Trade Advocacy Program, which according to their web site, can "generate high-level, government-to-government advocacy on behalf of U.S. firms," helping them to "succeed in today's highly competitive global defense market." The site proudly states that the program has "successfully supported approximately $22 billion in U.S. exports since 1994." No similar gloating is done about preventing dangerous exports.


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Israeli (Ab)use of U.S. Weapons

Israel's military campaign against Palestinian extremists took another ugly turn on July 23rd when Israeli F-16s dropped a 2000 lb bomb on an apartment complex housing Salah Shehada, the leader of the military wing of Hamas. The bomb leveled three apartment buildings, killed 15 people (including 9 children), and injured many dozens more. Adding to a chorus of international criticism, President Bush called the attack "heavy handed" and announced that the State Department would investigate.

The Bush administration's decision to look into the incident marks a small improvement over past U.S. responses to Israeli excesses. By repeatedly failing to investigate Israeli use of U.S. arms in the past, the U.S. government has been undermining its own export laws. The Arms Export Control Act prohibits weapons sales for purposes other than internal security, legitimate self-defense and use in regional and collective arrangements that are consistent with the UN Charter. Suspected breaches of this law are to be reported to Congress and, if the President determines that a violation has occurred, legislators or the President can then block weapons sales to offending country.

Critics of sanctions against Israel emphasize the volatility of the region, asserting that a perceived loss of U.S. support could embolden Israel's enemies and lead to more violence. This argument downplays the damage done by Washington's unconditional support for Israel, which encourages the Israeli government to continue its counterproductive military actions and damages U.S. credibility as a mediator in the conflict. In addition, allowing Israel to violate U.S. export laws with impunity sends a message to Israel and other arms importers that when geostrategic questions are at play, U.S. laws can be broken. Finally, under international law, by providing the weapons used to violate humanitarian law (in this case the deliberate targeting of a civilian site), the U.S. government shares the responsibility for the violation.


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Arms Hawking in Korea

Boeing's foreign competitors have been puzzling over what went wrong with the recent South Korean fighter aircraft sale. The winning F-15K aircraft's closest competitor, Dassault's Rafale, beat out the F-15 in the initial evaluation stage, which compared the competing aircraft in terms of life-cycle costs, operational capabilities, compatibility with existing weapons systems, and technology transfers. Yet Boeing still managed to clinch this $3.2 billion sale. Since the initial reports naming Boeing as the winner began to surface, the deal has attracted vociferous criticism by foreign arms manufacturers for unfair business practices and heavy-handed U.S. government influence over the outcome of the sale.

Their allegations were not without substance. In November 2001, Senator Christopher Bond (R-MO) was quoted in the St. Louis Dispatch as warning the Koreans that if they "make the wrong decision...very unfortunate things could happen" to the relationship between the U.S. and Korea. The Senator raised more eyebrows in January by meeting with South Korea's Defense Minister. Saint Louis, Missouri is the home of Boeing's F-15K production line.

Two months later, fury over the competition erupted again when a Korean air force colonel involved in the selection process accused his superiors of exerting pressure on the air force evaluation team to recommend Boeing. According to a report in the Seoul Yonhap, a senior Korean defense official warned the colonel that failure to select Boeing could result in the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula.

Both the Russians and the French publicly expressed anger over U.S. tactics used to secure the tender and, according to a June 6 article in the Korean Times, Dassault claims it will cease to bid on future South Korean contracts.

Whispers of scandal aside, this sale would appear to be reason for celebration in the U.S., especially for those employed by aerospace giant, Boeing. The real story is not so rosy, however. The deal included offset and coproduction agreements ensuring that the sale will generate over 30,000 new jobs in South Korea, while only protecting 1,000 jobs for Boeing workers in the U.S.


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New Documents on the Arms Trade

Documents preceded by an asterisk (*) can be found on our web site at: www.fas.org/asmp/resources/govtdocs.htm.


Export Controls: Classification of Jurisdiction for Missile Technology Items Needed, GAO-02-120, 9 Oct. 2001.

Export Controls: Issues to Consider in Authorizing a New Export Administration Act, GAO-02-468T, 28 February 2002

International Trade: Critical Issues Remain in Deterring Conflict Diamond Trade, GAO-02-678, 14 June 2002

*Israel: U.S. Foreign Assistance, CRS IB85066, Updated 15 March 2002.

Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program: Background, Status, and Issues, CRS RL30563, Updated 15 February 2002.

Pakistan-U.S. Relations, CRS IB94041, Updated 12 February 2002.

*Saudi Arabia: Current Issues and U.S. Relations, CRS IB93113, Updated 6 March 2002.

*Supplemental Appropriations for FY2002, Combating Terrorism and Other Issues, CRS RL31406, 10 May 2002.

Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990, CRS RL30957, Updated 18 June 2002.

*Taiwan: Recent Developments and U.S. Policy Choices, CRS IB98034, Updated 15 March 2002.

*Turkey: Issues for U.S. Policy, CRS RL31429, 22 May 2002.

*Andean Regional Initiative (ARI): FY 2002 Assistance for Colombia and Neighbors, CRS RL31016, Updated 14 February 2002.

*Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Political Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests, CRS IB95024, Updated 19 March 2002.

*Colombia: Summary and Tables on U.S. Assistance, FY 1989-2003, CRS RS21213, 3 May 2002.

Defense Inventory: Control Weaknesses Leave Restricted and Hazardous Excess Property Vulnerable to Improper Use, Loss, and Theft, GAO-02-75, 25 January 2002.

*Defense Trade: Lessons to Be Learned from the Country Export Exemption, GAO-02-63, 29 March 2002

*Egypt-United States Relations, CRS IB93087, Updated 19 March 2002.

*Export Administration Act: Controversy and Prospects, CRS RL30689, Updated 11 March 2002.

*Export Controls: Army Guidance on Cooperative Research and Development Agreement Compliance with Export Control Laws and Regulations, GAO-02-529R, 8 April 2002

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Federation of American Scientists Arms Sales Monitoring Project

Founded in 1945, the Federation of American Scientists is a public interest organization of natural and social scientists and engineers dedicated to the responsible use of science and technology. Since 1991, the Arms Sales Monitoring Project at FAS has worked for a reduction in global weapons production and trade.

Tamar Gabelnick, Director of the project, edited this newsletter with contributions by Research Associate Matt Schroeder and interns Michelle Lucey-Roper and Chris Snyder. You may reproduce and cite this publication freely.

All newsletters can be found on our web site at: www.fas.org/asmp/library/armsmonitor.html.

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  • Posted: Sunday, September 01, 2002

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