America’s Hottest Export: Weapons

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

From Patriot Missile systems to F-15 fighter jets to high tech helicopters, more than $100 billion in weapons sales have been approved (just to the Middle East) during the first two years of the Obama Presidency. Mina Kimes looks at America’s booming arms sales. She’s the author of “America’s Hottest Export: Weapons,” in the March 7th issue of Fortune magazine.


Mina Kimes

Comments [13]


Well, at least that'll boost our exports, huh?

I think it should be noted that we (US) didn't sell weapons to Libya for a reason. They are using the weapons they obtained against their people. Neither Tunisia nor Egypt did that (in terms of the major military hardware).

If we control the supply of weapons we control the ability to wage war. For better or worse, that's why they call us a superpower.

Feb. 23 2011 09:32 PM
jik from NY

Many countries (particularly Arab) mix-and-match their purchases; a little bit from the US, France, UK, Russia etc as an insurance against embargoes.

Keep an eye on the massive KC-X air tanker program where it looks like the US might be buying a European aircraft at the expense of Boeing.

Feb. 23 2011 02:21 AM
gary from queens

Mike from manhattan:

We will not see our enemies sail warships into our harbors, that is correct.

What they will more likely do is float a barge or boat carrying a nuke or fissionable material close to our shores.

Or they will continue to kill people by acts of terrorism, causing politcal fissures in our society, with people like you wondering what we did wrong to deserve the attacks, and people like me explaining that their cassus belli is theological, not political.

Feb. 22 2011 01:21 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

There is an unofficial agreement between ISrael and the US, that the US can sell or give 3 planes to the Arabs for every one it sells or gives to Israel, but that the Israeli model has to be built to ISraeli specifications and be technologically more advanced than the models sold to the Arab countries, most of whom are either technically still at war with Israel, or are still hostile to its existence.
By doing so, there is reduced political objections to arms sales to Israel's adversaries, and it also puts a constraint on ISraeli arms sales to countries the US doesn't like. Israel is a major competitor in many area, and this reduces Israeli competition. Many ISraeli companies wish ISrael did not accept US aid, because they feel they could produce and outsell American products if there were free competition. Israel today is around the 4th or 5th largest exporter of arms in the world.

Feb. 22 2011 12:43 PM
h l from ny

@jgarbuz that's total speculation about Iran, and still debated. also israel is dangerous with their arms and military use of power. they've violated many laws/treaties, as many people know.

Feb. 22 2011 12:38 PM
h l from ny

What??? did you just brush over this? how is this fair?? and why should we (the US taxpayers - only a minority from israel) have to do this? are we doing this with other countries that need our protection?
"the U.S. commitment to maintain Israel's qualitative military edge (QME)"

Feb. 22 2011 12:31 PM
jgarbuz from QueensIr

Israel and Iran are the only two powers in the region who know how to produce and actually USE the arms they acquire or produce. The Arab countries have proved they have no capability of making good use of the weapons they acquire anyway.
While Israel today is an important arms manufacturer and exporter, Iran's development in the missile field is EXTREMELY rapid and threatening, not only to the region but far beyond. The massive growth in Iran's military capabilities have been underreported, and much worse, underestimated. As was Japan's before WWII.

Feb. 22 2011 12:31 PM
gary from queens

thank you for the stats, dboy. I suppose if the rogue states had economies robust enough to produce more weapons, they would.

Did you have a point?

Feb. 22 2011 12:24 PM

from gotnotruck: We give arms to Israel, right? Not sell them. I know they sell arms too. To whom? Turkey used to be one, but do they sell the ones we gave them or others. And if different where are they made?

Feb. 22 2011 12:23 PM
Mike from Manhattan

Military spending at this level is done to make sure that NO one on this planet has the ability to sail up to our harbors, burn the capitol, and demand repayment of any so called "debts" owed.

Feb. 22 2011 12:22 PM
dboy from nyc

US military spending accounts for 46.5 percent, or almost half, of the world’s total military spending
US military spending is 7 times more than China, 13 times more than Russia, and 73 times more than Iran.
US military spending is some 44 times the spending on the six “rogue” states (Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria) whose spending amounts to around $16 billion.
US spending is more than the next top 14 countries at least.
The United States and its strongest allies (the NATO countries, Japan, South Korea and Australia) spend something in the region of $1.1 trillion on their militaries combined, representing 72 percent of the world’s total.
The six potential “enemies,” Russia, and China together account for about $169 billion or 24% of the US military budget.

Feb. 22 2011 12:14 PM
gary from queens

I would hope that we can distinguish between arms sales to friendly democracies, with stable, liberal democratic institutions, versus Shariah states or other totalitarian nations.

Defense is enhanced for well-armed nations that are in the former category. Weakness is a provocation for aggressive nations. Even land mines that can be electronically deactivated are justifiable defensive weapons against aggressors.

Same with nuclear proliferation. Is anyone concerned about France, Israel, or UK having a nuclear arsenal? But Iran is another story. To say that Iran has the right to nukes because other nations have them is like saying criminals should have the right to arm themselves because police officers are armed.

Let's discuss the economics of this commerce, and keep out the moral equivalence nonsense.

Feb. 22 2011 12:12 PM
Herb E from NYC

Encourage the President Obama & members of Congress to change the nature of the aid to Egypt from military credits to economic and social credits. This is a win for America, a win for American allies in the area, and a win for Egypt. The massive military buildup in Egypt & other Moslem countries is destabilizing. With the acknowledged precarious nature of Moslem governments and the ever-present danger of its growing fundamentalist movement (Brotherhood), it is far more in America's interest to attend to the political, social, and economic needs of the Moslem people so our country can help create a less desperate situation.

The economic impact to America is neutral, since the money comes in the form of credits to buy US goods. It would be better to let the Moslem people buy our cars, our computers, our construction equipment, and other American goods. This policy would encourage peace and a more stable Moslem governmnets. It would also produce demand for American products beyond the scope of foreign aid.

Feb. 22 2011 09:14 AM

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