Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

2018 to be a bumper year for America’s weapons sales

the global deregulation of American firearms which could, in turn, according to critics, put such weaponry ever more easily in the hands of both criminal gangs and extremist groups

As Donald Trump might put it, major weapons contractors like Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin cashed in “bigly” in his first year in office.

This year will undoubtedly be a banner year for arms companies. The only question is: Might it also mark the beginning of a future movement to roll back unconstrained weapons expenditures?

Tomgram: William D. Hartung, 2018 Looks Like an Arms Bonanza OpEd News.com, By Tom Engelhardt  11 Jan 18 This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com.

Here’s a cheery note for you: the last mass killing of 2017 took place moments before midnight on New Year’s Eve. A 16-year-old New Jersey boy picked up a semi-automatic rifle, “lawfully acquired” by a member of his family, and killed his father, mother, sister, and a family friend. In doing so, he helped ensure that 2017 would be the deadliest year for mass killings in our modern history. (There is now, on average, slightly more than one mass killing a day in this country.) Nonetheless, guns of all sorts, including military-style assault rifles and even bump stocks like the 12 Stephen Paddock evidently used to turn his semi-automatics into functional automatics and slaughter 58 people from a hotel window in Las Vegas, are still readily available. Nowhere on Earth, not even in ravaged Yemen (which takes second place in gun ownership), is more weaponry available to more types of people. As the years go by here, such weapons are more easily and openly carried with only the most minimal of background checks (or less than that). Think about this: Americans, 4.4% of the people on this planet, own 42% of the guns and commit 31% of the mass killings.

Oh, and I did promise you that there was something cheery in all this, didn’t I? So here it is: the Trump administration, knowing a good thing when it sees it, is now hard at work ensuring that American weapons makers will make it a remarkably similar world. Its officials are intent, it seems, on recreating the planet in an American image. Keep in mind that U.S. arms makers like Lockheed, Raytheon, and General Dynamics already monopolize the global arms market in a way that should (but in this country regularly doesn’t) stagger the imagination. U.S. weapons sales in 2016, for instance, took about 50% of global market share and many of those major weapons systems went into planetary hot spots, including Yemen (thanks to the American-backed Saudi war of annihilation there). Weaponry from other countries, year after year in this century, came in a distant second, third, or fourth. Between 2012 and 2016, in fact, the U.S. sold weaponry to at least 100 countries.

So Washington is already, in significant ways, arming the world, but evidently, as far as President Trump and the weapons makers he loves are concerned, not yet enough of it. As a result, his administration is reportedly planning to open the global spigot on the very sorts of weapons now regularly used in this country for mass killings, making it far easier for American gun and ammunition manufacturers to sell to anyone interested abroad and far harder for law enforcement here to track whose hands those weapons end up in. Administration officials supposedly plan to cut down on oversight for such sales by making the Commerce Department, not the State Department, responsible for them, while streamlining small arms export controls, a process the Obama administration began. At news of this, the (non-bump) stocks of gun manufacturers surged.

Think of this in Trumpian terms as the global deregulation of American firearms which could, in turn, according to critics, put such weaponry ever more easily in the hands of both criminal gangs and extremist groups. If this happens, we’ll truly be in an open carry, NRA world, and Donald Trump will have fulfilled a campaign promise made at that organization’s annual meeting last year. (“You came through for me and I am going to come through for you.”)

From nuclear weapons to handguns, “arms control” increasingly seems like a concept from another century. There are nonetheless voices still speaking up against the wholesale American weaponization of the planet and one of the most knowledgeable is that of TomDispatch regular William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. So let him fill you in on what the coming boom years are likely to look like for the Pentagon, the arms makers, and their weaponry. Tom

War Pay 
Another Good Year for Weapons Makers Is Guaranteed 
By William D. Hartung

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As Donald Trump might put it, major weapons contractors like Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin cashed in “bigly” in his first year in office. They raked in tens of billions of dollars in Pentagon contracts, while posting sharp stock price increases and healthy profits driven by the continuation and expansion of Washington’s post-9/11 wars. But last year’s bonanza is likely to be no more than a down payment on even better days to come for the military-industrial complex.

President Trump moved boldly in his first budget, seeking an additional $54 billion in Pentagon funding for fiscal year 2018. That figure, by the way, equals the entire military budgets of allies like Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Japan. Then, in a bipartisan stampede, Congress egged on Trump to go even higher, putting forward a defense authorization bill that would raise the Pentagon’s budget by an astonishing $85 billion. (And don’t forget that, last spring, the president and Congress had already tacked an extra $15 billion onto the 2017 Pentagon budget.) The authorization bill for 2018 is essentially just a suggestion, however — the final figure for this year will be determined later this month, if Congress can come to an agreement on how to boost the caps on domestic and defense spending imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011. The final number is likely to go far higher than the staggering figure Trump requested last spring.

And that’s only the beginning of the good news for the big weapons companies. Industry officials and Beltway defense analysts aren’t expecting the real increase in Pentagon spending to come until the 2019 budget. It’s a subject sure to make it into the mid-term elections. Dangling potential infusions of Pentagon funds in swing states and swing districts is a tried and true way to influence voters in tight races and so will tempt candidates in both parties.

President Trump has long emphasized job creation above much else, but if he has an actual jobs program, it mainly seems to involve pumping more money into the Pentagon and increasing overseas arms sales. That such spending is one of the least effective ways to create new jobs evidently matters little. It is, after all, an easy and popular way for a president to give himself the look of stimulating economic activity, especially in an era of steep tax cuts favoring the plutocratic class and attacks on domestic spending………

This year will undoubtedly be a banner year for arms companies. The only question is: Might it also mark the beginning of a future movement to roll back unconstrained weapons expenditures?

William D. Hartung, a TomDispatch regular, is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy and the author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook.   https://www.opednews.com/articles/Tomgram-William-D-Hartun-by-Tom-Engelhardt-Arms-Sales_Budget_Military-180111-894.html

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January 14, 2018 - Posted by | General News

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