The Global Politics of Arms Sales

The Global Politics of Arms Sales

Andrew J. Pierre
Copyright Date: 1982
Pages: 372
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  • Book Info
    The Global Politics of Arms Sales
    Book Description:

    Marshaling a great deal of new information in a highly readable manner, the author explains the reasons for the dramatic expansion of arms sales during the past decade and clearly traces such trends as the rise in sophistication of weapons being sold so as to include the most advanced technologies, and the shift in sales to unstable parts of the Third World.

    Originally published in 1982.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5427-1
    Subjects: Business, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
    (pp. ix-ix)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xviii)
    A. J. P.
    • [PART ONE Introduction]
      (pp. 3-8)

      Arms sales have become, in recent years, a crucial dimension of international affairs. They are now major strands in the warp and woof of world politics. Arms sales are far more than an economic occurrence, a military relationship, or an arms control challenge—arms sales are foreign policy writ large.

      The dramatic expansion in arms sales to the developing world during the 1970s is by now widely known. Less clear is what judgment to make of this important phenomenon.

      To some observers, the arms delivered feed local arms races, create or enhance regional instabilities, make any war that occurs more...

    • Trends In Transfers
      (pp. 8-14)

      It is, of course, the major increase in both the quantity and the quality of arms sent to the Third World that has given this problem its current salience. Complete and reliable data on arms transfers are not readily available. Governments are not inclined to release data that could prove to be embarrassing either at home or abroad. Nevertheless, enough is known to give a reasonably accurate impression of the trends.

      In worldwide terms, arms transfers have more than doubled in the past decade, having grown from $9.4 billion in 1969 to $19.1 in 1978 (in constant dollars).² At the...

    • Uncertain Rationales for Arms Sales
      (pp. 14-27)

      The dilemmas created by the international trade in arms, which face decision makers presented with an arms transfer request, arise from the difficulty in reaching a judgment as to whether a given transfer would be “good” or “bad.” This can best be illustrated by examining some of the justifications traditionally given for making weapons sales or grants. We do this here in general terms, postulating the justifications and questioning or examining their validity, before turning in the following sections to some of the more specific situations and dilemmas that exist in particular countries and regions.

      A major political rationale for...

    • Competing Foreign Policy Aims
      (pp. 28-38)

      The dilemmas that arise in making decisions on arms sales are only in part a consequence of the uncertainty regarding the rationales for the transfers. Another source of difficulty is the existence of multiple foreign policy objectives, not all of which can be satisfied. Thus, difficult trade-offs present themselves, and the resulting decisions may appear somewhat inconsistent with each other, even at times contradictory.

      Should the United States sell sophisticated arms to China, on the ground that it would further assist the normalization of relations? Or should it avoid a step that could strongly antagonize the Soviet Union and contribute...

    • [PART TWO Introduction]
      (pp. 41-44)

      The transfer of arms, as we have seen, has become a newly important determinant of international politics. Nations supply arms to the Third World for a number of reasons. For the superpowers, in playing their global roles, making arms available to states they seek to protect or influence can be a major instrument of policy. As the political and economic disadvantages of maintaining overseas bases and forces have grown since the early postwar period, the superpowers have turned to other instruments. Economic assistance through bilateral channels has decreased, and the role of ideology (“Communists versus Free World”) as a motivating...

      (pp. 45-72)

      It is in the United States that the arms transfer phenomenon has received the most attention. The nation’s policy on weapons sales has become a political and foreign policy issue; the legislative branch has sought to impose controls; and the major and controversial new policy, announced in 1977 in consequence of the change of government, was the basis for overtures for some form of international restraints. Moreover, the United States has long been the world’s largest supplier of arms. During the period 1950–1979 it transferred abroad over $110 billion in arms and related military services, more than half of...

      (pp. 73-82)

      Arms sales play a greater role in the Soviet Union’s policy toward Third World countries than they do in U.S. policy. The West has more to offer the developing world than arms. There are other, often more influential instruments of foreign policy, such as the relative attraction of the Western economic system or the existence of free and democratic institutions. The Soviet economic and political model, as it exists in reality rather than in theory, has far less appeal in most of the Third World. The Soviet Union remains apart from much of the world economy; the West is better...

    • FRANCE
      (pp. 83-99)

      After the two superpowers, France ranks as the third largest supplier of conventional arms. More than one-third of its national arms production is sold abroad. Its arms sales policy generally has been considered to be the most permissive of the major suppliers, with the assumption often made that the French government is willing to sell almost any weapon to anybody. On occasion, French ministers have spoken of a policy of selling arms “without political conditions.” France is also thought to reap major commercial benefits as a result of its laissez-faire attitude toward arms sales.

      In reality, the situation is more...

      (pp. 100-108)

      As a West European country of approximately the same population and size as France, and with a comparable, indeed greater, experience and tradition in the production of armaments, Britain has many of the same incentives for selling arms. Britain ranks below France as a supplier, although not so much so that it could not surpass France in any given year. Many of the characteristics of the arms transfer picture in the two countries are similar, as, for example, the economic dimensions of weapons exports. Yet important differences are worth noting. The existence of an autonomous arms-manufacturing capability is not accorded...

      (pp. 109-122)

      Several countries have placed serious restrictions on their arms transfers either for reasons of past history (Japan and West Germany) or to give support to their claim for neutrality (Sweden and Switzerland). All four are technologically advanced countries with a clear ability to export sophisticated arms in considerable quantities. What is strikingly noteworthy is that the self-imposed denials do not appear to have done their economies any real harm, for these are the countries with the most solid currencies in the world and are among those with the most prosperous economies. In each case, as we shall see, there are...

      (pp. 123-128)

      Apart from the arms-exporting states discussed thus far, there are several with small but well-established arms industries: Belgium, Italy, Canada, and Czechoslovakia. Belgium, which manufactures chiefly light arms, grenades, mines, and machine guns, is noteworthy because it exports 95 percent of its production. Its small arms are to be found throughout the world and are of a type that can easily be smuggled into strife-torn countries, such as Lebanon. Belgium has perhaps the least restrictive policy of all nations, yet, like those of the other countries listed above, its exports remain comparatively small, only 10 percent of those of France....

    • [PART THREE Introduction]
      (pp. 131-135)

      More nations wanting more arms is one striking characteristic of contemporary world politics. Proportionally, the largest increase in conventional weaponry has been in the Third World, which receives most of its arms through imports from the developed countries. The trend toward the increased purchase of advanced arms, which set in during the 1970s, is likely to continue and to be reinforced for the rest of the twentieth century, at a minimum. By one estimate, the value of major weapons imported by Third World countries has been increasing each year since 1974 at a rate of 25 percent (in constant prices).¹...

      (pp. 136-209)

      The importance of the Middle East in world politics does not need elaboration. Four wars within the past three decades, and the continuing danger of the eruption of a new conflict, attest to its volatility. The region also provides more than half of the world’s oil supply, giving it a unique economic significance. Oil is the lifeblood of the advanced industrialized states, and their dependence upon petroleum from the Middle East is acute. Western Europe receives over 60 percent of the oil it consumes from the Middle Eastern countries, and the United States has also become increasingly dependent upon them,...

    • ASIA
      (pp. 210-231)

      The second largest arms recipient region in the developing world is Asia, comprising both East Asia from Japan to Indonesia and South Asia from Bangladesh to Afghanistan. This region accumulated far more arms from outside suppliers during the past two decades than either Latin America or sub-Saharan Africa even if we exclude the large transfers into the Indochinese states because of the Vietnam War. According to ACDA statistics, arms transfers to Asia between 1969 and 1978 came to $34.4 billion, of which $18.2 billion went to the two Vietnams, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand.64The geographical spread of nations in Asia...

      (pp. 232-254)

      In contrast with the Middle East or Asia, Latin America is not a region purchasing huge amounts of arms. Only 6 percent of the arms imported by developing countries between 1969 and 1978 are accounted for by Latin America.72Most countries of the region spend less than 2 percent of their gross national product on military expenditures, with the notable exception in recent years of Peru and Chile, which have spent more than 5 percent, and Cuba, which by one estimate spends 8 percent.73The sophistication of the weapons to be found in the armed forces is several notches below...

      (pp. 255-272)

      In the late 1970s the increase in the flow of arms into sub-Saharan Africa was greater than in any other region of the Third World. Africa remains the least heavily armed region of the world, as measured by such indices as military expenditures per capita and the number of soldiers per civilians. It still has the smallest quantities of weapons, especially of the more advanced ones. Yet the trend is clearly in the direction of rapidly escalating expenditures on arms, with African nations as a whole already spending more of their GNP on defense than Latin America. The value of...

    • New Significance of Arms Sales
      (pp. 275-278)

      Arms sales are now firmly ingrained in international politics. Although there is nothing novel about arms sales, during the past decade they have acquired a new significance in world affairs. Three fundamental reasons account for this. The first is, of course, the sheer increase in the quantity and quality of the weapons being transferred, a trend that became particularly marked in the mid-1970s. Furthermore, the number of states acquiring major arms from abroad has risen.

      A second, and more consequential reason, is the decline of other, more traditional instruments of reassurance and diplomacy, such as alliances, the stationing of forces...

    • The Need for International Management
      (pp. 278-281)

      The conditions outlined above are likely to lead to a less stable and secure environment in the Third World, with a propensity for armed conflict. Hence, there would be much to be gained by the development of some international restraints on arms sales. It is important to bear in mind, however, that arms sales are neither “bad” or “good” in themselves. Arms sales may or may not be destabilizing, and even “stability” may not be an acceptable aim in all instances. All depends on the particular case and how it is perceived. Certainly it is not inevitable that the transfer...

    • Past Approaches to International Restraints
      (pp. 281-285)

      The record is, to be generous, a very mixed one marked by a number of unproductive approaches. As far back as the Middle Ages, nations were reaching informal agreements on the selling of arms, such as the understanding among the Christian nations of Europe not to transfer weapons to the “infidel” Turks. There were cries of anguish when these agreements were periodically broken. Provisions in the General Act for the Repression of the African Slave Trade, known as the Brussels Act of 1890, prohibited the introduction of all arms and ammunition other than flintlock guns and gunpowder, except under effective...

    • The Conventional Arms Transfer Talks with the Soviet Union
      (pp. 285-290)

      The most interesting attempt to develop suppliers’ restraints was that of the Carter administration, although there were no results for reasons to be examined. From the outset, as the new administration set forth its guidelines for American policy on arms transfers, it was understood that the other major suppliers would be approached. America’s laissez-faire practice on arms sales required reform under any circumstances, it was thought, but it was also recognized that no unilateral policy of restraint could long succeed without some restraint on the part of the other suppliers. Shortly after the inauguration, Vice President Mondale left for major...

    • Forms of Multilateral Regulation
      (pp. 291-296)

      Cooperative, multilateral regulation of arms sales must be seen in a long-term perspective. The goal is not impossible, but if it is ever to be achieved, time will be necessary. There must first be a greater recognition of the new importance of arms transfers in world politics, and the bad as well as the good that can come from this. There must also be greater clarity regarding the desirability of creating some management, if not restraint, of the global politics of arms sales. The initial aims should remain modest. As arms transfers are part of foreign policy for both the...

    • Priority to the European-American Dimension
      (pp. 296-301)

      In the future, if an attempt is made to develop some pattern of cooperative, multilateral regulation among the principal suppliers of arms, we should initially seek arrangements between the United States and the West Europeans rather than place priority upon the development of Soviet-American accords. This would reverse the order pursued by the Carter administration. A serious effort to engage the West Europeans was never made, according to Barry Blechman, a former assistant director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, in part because of a lack of policy coordination among the Departments of State, Defense, and the ACDA.10


    • East-West “Rules of the Game”
      (pp. 301-303)

      After the Western suppliers have developed among themselves some pattern of multilateral regulation of arms sales, they should turn their attention to the East. We need to find some way to damp or keep within acceptable boundaries the East-West rivalry and competition in the Third World. Otherwise local conflicts and disputes are likely to escalate, draw in the superpowers, and get out of hand. Third World conflicts may well be the most likely source of war in the 1980s. In recent years Moscow has shown an increasing ability and a decreasing reluctance to become involved through arms and advisers in...

    • Third World Arms Industries—A Limited Role as Suppliers
      (pp. 303-306)

      When considering possible restraints on arms sales by the suppliers, attention must be paid to the substantial number of countries that are creating their own armament industries. Many of these are located in the Third World, as we have noted. They will want to export arms, as some already do, to reduce their unit production costs and earn foreign exchange as well as to gain other economic and political benefits. Will this not enormously complicate, or even make impossible, the achievement of any coordinated suppliers’ restraint? A 1979 Senate Foreign Relations Committee report, commenting on the Conventional Arms Transfer negotiations,...

    • Recipient Perspectives and Regional Approaches
      (pp. 306-312)

      The attitude of the recipient states toward any form of arms restraint would, of course, be critical. Ideally, states within a region might initiate restraints on transfers into their area by agreements among themselves to curtail purchases. This is what has been attempted with limited, but not insignificant, success in the Declaration of Ayacucho among the Andean nations. The comparatively small volume of transfers to most parts of sub-Saharan black Africa provides another good opportunity for genuine, regionally inspired restraint. Regional (or subregional) arms control arrangements, such as zones of limited armaments, might involve quantitative ceilings on the purchase of...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 313-336)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 337-352)
    (pp. 353-353)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 354-354)