3 Jul 2009

Weapons: US #1 Export?

The phrase "Obama has a lot on his plate" is the understatement of the year. The president has a to-do list a mile long, and every day a new crisis (like the coup in Honduras) gets added to the list. Can we really fault him if he sneaks the occasional smoke?


But before he heads out to the presidential woods, one of the tasks still undone is to update and revise U.S. arms export policy. The last official version of U.S. arms export policy is from the Clinton years. In addition to the usual rhetoric about promoting regional stability, ensuring U.S. military superiority, and promoting "peaceful conflict resolution and arms control, human rights, democratization," Presidential Decision Directive 34 (February 1995) inserted a new consideration: "enhanc[ing] the ability of the U.S. defense industrial base to meet U.S. defense requirements and maintain long term military superiority at lower costs." In other words, a potential arms sale should be judged in part on whether it is good for weapons manufacturers.