Given tomorrow’s significance, I thought to check the latest figures for the global weapons market.
With a depressing lack of surprise, I found that the US, as it has been for some time, tops the world tables for the sales of weapons to other nations. According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency within DOD, we sold $31 billion and change in FY 2010 — the third straight year with more than $30 billion ways to kill folks sold.
In data assembled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, (which measures arms sales in constant 1990 dollars, which is why its raw numbers don’t line up with DOD’s) the US accounts for about 30% of the total arms sales world wide. Russia is next, followed by Germany, France, and the UK.
In that context, I’m not sure if our number one ranking is a win for American exceptionalism, or if the fact that we are joined at the top of the league table by almost all of the principal World War I combatants simply reconfirms that human beings are exceptionally poor one-trial learners.
*My uncle and grandfather (for whom I am named) were both career officers in the Royal Artillery. My Grandfather Tom served from 14-18, mostly on the Western Front, and received, in addition to multiple medals for gallantry, both the Mons Star and the 14-18 Medal. Hence, I remember not just veterans, but the specific conflict whose ending at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month fixed the office of remembrance on that one specific day.
Image: John Singer Sargent, “Gassed” 1918