We Can Leave This Place an Empty Stone

We should probably debate this more as a society.

The United States again ranked first in global weapons sales last year, signing deals for about $40 billion, or half of all agreements in the worldwide arms bazaar, and far ahead of France, the No. 2 weapons dealer with $15 billion in sales, according to a new congressional study.

Developing nations continued to be the largest buyers of arms in 2015, with Qatar signing deals for more than $17 billion in weapons last year, followed by Egypt, which agreed to buy almost $12 billion in arms, and Saudi Arabia, with over $8 billion in weapons purchases.

Although global tensions and terrorist threats have shown few signs of diminishing, the total size of the global arms trade dropped to around $80 billion in 2015 from the 2014 total of $89 billion, the study found. Developing nations bought $65 billion in weapons in 2015, substantially lower than the previous year’s total of $79 billion.

The United States and France increased their overseas weapons sales in 2015, as purchases of American weapons grew by around $4 billion and France’s deals increased by well over $9 billion.

I know that some of these weapons help provide stability and peace, but I have a very hard time believing that the net effect of pumping $40 billion worth of weapons into the world in a single year can possibly be to reduce the level of global violence and or avoid increasing the lethality of conflict.

I also know that you can’t erase $40 billion of economic activity and foreign exports without it having a negative effect on the national economy.

I don’t know what the correct balance is, but what I really don’t like is the sense I have that we’re economically dependent on maintaining a huge market for our arms manufacturers.

But, then I’m just an aging Deadhead, so what do I know?

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com