Persuading America

Persuading America is perhaps one of the greatest weaknesses in whole Arms Reduction campaign. "Like slaves to power and profit, who heedless of their own significance seek to waste the world's resources on weapons to destroy the earth and its peoples."

The USA has most to gain but is one of hardest to persuade. Here are a few considerations.

Hardest to persuade
1 Voting record / political will
In the United Nations the USA has a record for voting the most against resolutions on arms control and disarmament. See Voting Against Peace & Disarmament. In some cases only them against.
"the ineffectiveness of these resolutions is often attributed to the lack of political will. Yet as the records of voting show, whose political will is lacking? Those States with the largest armies, the highest military expenditures, with the most dangerous and truly evil weapons in their arsenals consistently vote in opposition to the most important disarmament measures. How can we expect political will to arise from those most powerful States that uniquely benefit from the status quo? Why would they muster political will to reduce arms, when its grotesque expenditures and unprecedented arsenals are precisely one of the ways in which they rose to the top of the global totem pole of power?" -Rhianna Tyson, Reaching Critical Will - Report on 2003's UN General Assembly Debates

2 A Nightmare Scenario
One Nightmare scenario that is becoming increasingly closer is that the whole world might become like Israel and Palestine; but with the United States (US) and it's allies against the rest. This scenario implies that the world faces a future in which the infrastructure, human environment and all cultural monuments of those countries that the US sees as enemies (some of whom may be friend now) are destroyed with many civilian casualties
US arms expenditure is greater than next 27 countries combined.
The continued and increased huge expenditure by the US on arms; over US$400 billion per year. This means the US will be driven to either seek ways to use these weapons; or sell them to the rest of the world - killing people to finance future arms development. The exporting of the American philosophy that everyone should have a gun to defend (???) themselves and light weapons to many impoverished countries can only make our bad situation worse. Guns kill people. During the 20th century guns in the US killed more Americans, than all American soldiers killed in all wars.

The propensity for the US to use force (e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan, and over 20 countries the US has bombed since world war 2) and not fully explore or invest in non-violent means of conflict resolution. If only 1% of the spending on the US military was diverted to finding non-violent means of conflict resolution we would have effective solutions. The genius and ability of the American people to solve complex problems is extraordinary. It a shame that many of their best minds are employed making things to kill people.

As Douglas Mattern puts it
"Today the war business is in full swing with thousands of scientists and engineers going to work daily with the task of building or developing new weapons, including space-based weapons that would turn the heavens above into a new source of terrorism for humanity below. "

In this scenario the US may be seen as Darth Vader's master in Star Wars films; with their star wars system targeting earth; while the rest of the world hopes for a Luke Skywalker who can use the force of good to defeat the empire. I love the American people; I always seem to meet nice ones, but some of their government's policies sucks.

3 Gun Lobby strong.
Too many people , corporations and educational institutions in USA profiting from arms trade. Heck they can live a good life style and feed and educate their kids well from the lucrative blood money that comes from working in the arms trade. If it takes spending their lives on earth making and selling things to kill people, heck, they don't mind they are alright.
" It also amazes me how some very religious and moral people fight against contraception yet support and even invest in the arms industry. It is as if the investment in arms is so profitable that it overrides their beliefs, and the extra people are needed as cannon fodder or test subjects for the arms to be used to kill them."

Most To Gain
1. Maintain Power
Less resources on arms by all means they remain number 1.

2. Arms Customers Have Power

People will soon wake up to the fact that buying US weapons is impoverishing them and making the US more powerful. The resources spent on US arms in Africa is helping to fund star wars and more advanced technology. To finance its arsenal US has to sell arms to other countries. People may even stop buying US films and TV shows that export the culture of violence around the world.

The customers of US arms have an important role to play. If they stop buying US weapons; then the US would have difficulty funding their high tec arms programmes. They have given the US the power to control them. Lets face it the US is only going to sell them weapons it can destroy (e.g. Iraq). Once you buy from them you have to keep going back to them..

OK this is very risky. Countries suggesting giving up their armies or reducing arms are likely to have their leaders assassinated, or overthrown in military coups, or aid withheld, or be flooded with arms, or have external forces inciting groups into conflict. Its not going to be popular with the $800 bn a year arms industry, or with countries that make and sell arms such as the Veto 5 or their armies. I remember in 2002 when it seemed as if India and Pakistan were about to start a war against each other. Then I found out that there was a big arms deal in the offing and the US wanted the lions share. Russia's Vladimir Putin gives us a clue (18 Jan 01) "When they tell us that we are apparently working towards the rearming of Iran, here it is necessary to clarify terms. We believe that the political theses that are sometimes used to squeeze Russia out of arms markets, including the Iranian arms market, are simply an instrument of unscrupulous competition." It will certainly be interesting the find out what role arms deals has in many of the crisis that occur.

But lets face it. What good or benefits have the armies and the resources spent on arms bought to many African or developing countries? What can small armies equipped with redundant technology do? We all watched with shock and awe the waste of resources and terrible use of technology in the bombardment of Baghdad during the war on Iraq. Can your army provide real security in such an environment? Are you going to condemn your peoples to a life of poverty by using essential resources to acquire such technology?

I hope that greater transparency in arms dealings, and effective implementation of the recent convention on corruption will enable us to monitor and possibly reduce their activities.
You can sucker some of the people some of the time; but sooner or later they will learn to avoid being suckered. I hope the days of such a huge arms industry are coming to an end.

3. US people will benefit

As US spends the most on weapons, if half of resources save spent on state's own programmes then US people will benefit,
To quote Michael Moore "Spending all this tax money on a bunch of useless warheads we hoped to never use, we let our schools go to hell, we failed to provide health care for our citizens, and more than half our scientists ended up working on projects for the military instead of discovering the cure for cancer or the next great invention to improve our quality of life.
The $250 billion the Pentagon plans to spend to build 2,800 new Joint Strike Fighter Planes is more than enough to pay the tuition of every college student in America.
The combined budgets for the Pentagon over the next 5 years is $1.6 Trillion. The amount the General Accounting Office says is needed to renovate and upgrade every school in America is 112 billion
." Page 170 - Stupid White Men

5. The US will gain the most Profit - selling non-lethal weapons.

They are world leaders in that technology, that will replace the present murderous armaments. Remember, Guns kill people; they do not bring security. During the 20th century guns in the US killed more Americans, than all American soldiers killed in all wars.

6. The US will gain something their influence, power and wealth cannot give them.

The gratitude and respect of the world's people who they help to develop, free from poverty and provide true human security for; by spending resources on humanitarian programs rather than weapons. They have an opportunity to truly make a positive difference to the earth and its peoples.

Karl Miller 2004