There is a need to dispel the misplaced notion that the quantum of US arms sales will drop because the world is in the grip of a recession and the money supply is low.
According to American sources, US weapons sales to foreign countries in 2008 are higher by 45 per cent as compared to the year 2007. As the year comes to a close, the US would have offered about US$34 billion in weapons to Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other countries. This figure in 2007 was US$23.3 billion, also higher than the figure of US$21 billion for the year 2006. What is important to note is that the sales blitz had continued in the midst of the American sub-prime crisis which was visible from the middle of 2007.
The coalition supported regime in Iraq has emerged as the principle procurer of American weapons for whom more than US$12.5 billion in possible foreign military sales has already been processed. This does not include the demand for the F-16 combat fighter planes, which is still going through the indent, consideration, clearances, orders stages and so forth. But, a sale is a foregone conclusion. A factor much to the elation of Lockheed Martin, the Bethesda based weapons giant and the manufacturer of F-16s. The company in his annual report informed of a 13 per cent increase in profitability, from US$778 million last year to US$882 million in 2008.
With the deeply permeated American psychosis against Iran, which has permeated the Iraqi regime and its policy planners, Baghdad now clamours for Abrams tanks, attack helicopters, Hellfire missiles, heavy transport aircraft, and other weapon systems. The argument put forth is that only through the multi- billion dollar weapon acquisitions can his country reduce it's dependence on the United States military. In Machiavellian realism, however, we would call it close interdependence in the exercise of political power.
As recently as September 2008, when the American crisis was in full bloom, weapons giants like Boeing, Raytheon, and BAE Systems, sponsored an ultra sales inspired conference to hold a thematic discourse on "Defense Priorities in an Age of Persistent Conflict." A representative from the American Navy at the level of an undersecretary, a senior Pentagon Deputy Director, several weapons manufacturers, and defense representatives from France, the Netherlands, Canada, spoke on the occasion. That this group chose to extol on this ominous theme clearly indicates a concerted drive to promote weapon sales with ill conceived armed conflict scenarios. Amelioration of the conflicts on the other hand did not receive the same attention of the members of the American state. This is arms business at its best.
Who says that the American military is tightening its belt? The military budget will spiral: from an expenditure of US$316 billion in 2001, to more than US$515 billion for fiscal year 2009 commencing in October this year. This is over and above the annual funds needed for nuclear weapons and nearly US$150 billion for the "global war on terror," The huge tally adds up to much more than the total money spent by the rest of world on their military. Theis syndrome will receive great impetus and proliferate as Barack Obama is on record espousing the cause of modernizing the American military for the 21st century and expanding the size of the armed forces. Obviously, we see a phenomenal rise in military spending, imminent in the very near future.
The active role of the American military industrial complex is well documented over the years. The fear is that, in the current recessionary scene, the other weapon producing nations may similarly launch drives for energizing their own weapon sales. The French defence manufacturers were already doing their best in the aforesaid seminar and their regime is actively promoting the Rafael combat planes world wide. Among other wherewithal. Russia has in the last few years, enunciated a policy of promoting its global arms sales as one of the principle means of supporting the country's fledgling economy. It's promotions are bound to be invigorated to prop up several factories deeply hit by recession. There is a substance in the view that many unfinished contracts, for which the Russian arms industry was hitherto in the dock, would be speeded up. India is one such buyer, likely to transfer large funds in the next year or so, for speeded up deliveries.