Sunday, September 14, 2008
Bush legacy? War is the answer
If anyone still wonders what U.S. President George W. Bush's legacy is going to be, think about war. The United States already has committed to sell or transfer $32 billion in weapons to other countries this year, nearly three times more than in 2005, the New York Times reported today. The total includes tanks, helicopters, jets, missiles and warships, the newspaper said. Bush administration officials say the weapons are not intended to stoke conflict but are aimed at increasing stability in volatile regions, such as the Middle East, south Asia and Latin America. “This is not about being gunrunners,” said Bruce S. Lemkin, the Air Force deputy under secretary who is helping to coordinate many of the biggest sales, told the Times. “This is about building a more secure world.” International weapons sales began to surge in 2006, reflecting changes in alliances around the world. For example, many countries formerly part of the Soviet Union or dominated by it are now buying weaponry from the United States, which also is rearming Iraq and Afghanistan. Around 60 countries also share $4.5 billion in military aid from the United States to buy U.S. weapons, including Israel and Egypt, the largest recipients. Arms control advocates and members of Congress have begun questioning the stepped-up sales, the newspaper said. “Sure, this is a quick and easy way to cement alliances,” said William D. Hartung, an arms control specialist at the New America Foundation, a public policy institute, told the Times. “But this is getting out of hand.” Rep. Howard L. Berman of California, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said he supported many of the individual weapons sales but he worries that the sales blitz could have some negative effects. “This could turn into a spiraling arms race that in the end could decrease stability,” he told the Times.