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Why the US Sells Weapons to 103 Countries: Understanding the Flow of Weapons

US Sells Weapons

The Power of Weapons: A Deep Dive into the Arms Trade

In a world where weapons are a form of currency, the arms trade plays a significant role in shaping international relationships and projecting power. The United States, in particular, has a long history of selling weapons to countries around the world. But what exactly does this global arms trade look like today? And what are the motivations behind it?

In a two-part video series, journalist Johnny Harris explores the complex world of the arms trade and its implications. Using a map that visualizes the flow of weapons, Harris delves into the reasons why countries buy and sell weapons and the impact these transactions have on global stability.

The Motivations Behind the Arms Trade

The motivations behind the arms trade are multifaceted. On the surface, countries sell weapons to promote peace and security, using them as a form of currency in international relationships. Weapons become a way to secure alliances, maintain stability, and deter potential adversaries. However, there are often deeper, more complex reasons behind these transactions.

For the United States, the largest weapons exporter in the world, selling weapons is a means of projecting influence and power. The weapons flow from the US to countries all over the globe, creating a network of American presence and influence. By providing weapons, the US expects these countries to align with its interests and act in ways that support US foreign policy goals.

The Categories of Influence

To understand the specific motivations behind each arms transaction, Harris and his colleague, Sam Ellis, categorize the types of influence the US seeks in exchange for weapons. These categories include:

  • Stability: The US aims to maintain stability in regions by supporting governments and regimes that align with its interests.
  • Alliances: Through the sale of weapons, the US strengthens alliances with countries, particularly those in the NATO alliance.
  • Friendship: Weapons serve as a way to build relationships and secure the loyalty of governments.
  • Help against enemies: The US sells weapons to countries to counter specific adversaries or rival powers.
  • Vital resources: Some countries control vital resources, such as oil or strategic passageways. The US sells weapons to ensure access and protection of these resources.

By examining these categories, it becomes clear that the US uses weapons as a form of currency to secure various forms of influence and power.

The Complexities and Limitations of the Arms Trade

While the arms trade may seem straightforward on the surface, there are numerous complexities and limitations to consider. One major issue is the lack of control over how countries use the weapons they purchase. Despite agreements and restrictions, some countries violate human rights and use US-made weapons against civilians. This raises questions about the effectiveness of using weapons as a means of promoting peace and security.

Furthermore, the arms trade can have unintended consequences. Weapons can end up in the hands of unintended users, leading to conflicts and instability. The US has experienced this firsthand, with weapons provided to rebel fighters in Afghanistan being used against American forces years later.

Additionally, the influence and leverage that the US assumes it has through the arms trade may not always hold true. The example of Saudi Arabia, a major recipient of US weapons, demonstrates how countries can exert their own leverage and act against US interests. Despite conditions attached to the sale of weapons, Saudi Arabia has violated human rights and used American weapons against civilians in Yemen.

The Role of Money and the Military-Industrial Complex

One significant factor driving the arms trade is money. The production and sale of weapons are lucrative businesses, with private corporations and their shareholders benefiting financially. This creates a conflict of interest within the political system, as lawmakers who approve weapon sales often have ties to these corporations.

The military-industrial complex, as it’s commonly known, perpetuates the production and sale of weapons for economic reasons, as well as to maintain jobs and keep constituents satisfied. This system makes it challenging to scrutinize the arms trade objectively and make decisions based on safety and stability.

Conclusion: A Call for Critical Examination

While the arms trade plays a role in maintaining stability and projecting influence, it is essential to critically examine its implications. Despite the motivations and intentions behind selling weapons, the reality is that they often fall short of achieving desired outcomes.

The complex nature of the arms trade, coupled with conflicts of interest and unintended consequences, highlights the need for transparency, accountability, and a reevaluation of the system. The goal should be to promote genuine peace and security, rather than perpetuating a cycle of violence and instability.

Journalists like Johnny Harris and platforms like Nebula provide independent and in-depth coverage of topics like the arms trade, allowing for a deeper understanding of these complex issues. By supporting such platforms, viewers can contribute to the creation of high-quality journalism and critical analysis.

About Nebula

Nebula is a creator-owned and operated streaming platform that offers ad-free content, including Nebula Originals. These original series, such as Modern Conflicts and Real-Time Histories, provide unique perspectives on geopolitics, strategy, and conflicts. By subscribing to Nebula, viewers can support independent creators and access exclusive content.

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Please note: The content of this blog is based on a video transcript by Johnny Harris and is not an endorsement or reflection of the author’s personal views or opinions.