Monday, May 21, 2007

I'm sleeping in a fighter plane

Those on the right who blindly trust capitalism and free markets should be thrilled with this LATimes story:
THEY DON'T CALL US the sole superpower for nothing. Paul Wolfowitz might be looking for a new job right now, but the term he used to describe the pervasiveness of U.S. power back when he was a mere deputy secretary of Defense — hyperpower — still fits the bill. Consider some of the areas in which the United States is still No. 1:

Any guesses? Anyone, anyone? In what area are we the leaders:

Certainly not progress, as Reagan used to intone on GE's General Electric Theater, during his salad days as an actor in the '50s: "Progress is our most important product."

Hardly. Today we are world leaders in:
• First in weapons sales: Since 2001, U.S. global military sales have totaled $10 billion to $13 billion. That's a lot of weapons, but in fiscal 2006, the Pentagon broke its own recent record, inking arms sales agreements worth $21 billion.

• First in sales of surface-to-air missiles: From 2001 to 2005, the U.S. delivered 2,099 surface-to-air missiles like the Sparrow and AMRAAM to nations in the developing world, 20% more than Russia, the next largest supplier.

• First in sales of military ships: During that same period, the U.S. sent 10 "major surface combatants," such as aircraft carriers and destroyers, to developing nations. Collectively, the four major European weapons producers shipped 13.

• First in military training: A thoughtful empire knows that it's not enough to send weapons; you have to teach people how to use them. The Pentagon plans on training the militaries of 138 nations in 2008 at a cost of nearly $90 million. No other nation comes close.

Cool! And just to prove that we are Equal Opportunity enablers:
Turkey and the U.S. signed a $1.78-billion deal for Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter planes. As it happens, these planes are already ubiquitous — Israel flies them; so does the United Arab Emirates, Poland, South Korea, Venezuela, Oman and Portugal

Catch that? Israel, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Oman all have the same war planes from the U.S.

The article continues:
Maybe the only way to break through this paralysis of analysis would be to stop talking about weapons sales as a trade and the export of precision-guided missiles as if they were so many widgets. Maybe we need to start thinking about them in another language entirely — the language of drugs.

After all, what does a drug dealer do? He creates a need and then fills it. He encourages an appetite or (even more lucratively) an addiction and then feeds it.

"Just Say No" worked so well in the Drug War, maybe it will work for arms as well.

Nope, not when we can make a buck. Still, I wonder how many American soldiers have been killed by munitions we sold Iraq and Iran?

(Graphic from

Update: From
The LA Times on Sunday reported that the US is 32nd in longevity, 29th in preventing maternal deaths during childbirth and 38th in preventing infant mortality. So, number one at death-dealing, not so great at life-preserving.