Spoils of War: The Human Cost of America's Arms Trade

Spoils of War: The Human Cost of America's Arms Trade

by John Tirman
     
 
Details the human, economic, & political dimensions of several major armaments deals brokered by the U.S. government. This tale of modern warfare is told in 3 interwoven stories: the world of Washington policymaking; the hot spots of the Middle East, particularly Turkey; & a key venue of Amer. arms manufacturing, Connecticut. These 3 disparate places have

Overview

Details the human, economic, & political dimensions of several major armaments deals brokered by the U.S. government. This tale of modern warfare is told in 3 interwoven stories: the world of Washington policymaking; the hot spots of the Middle East, particularly Turkey; & a key venue of Amer. arms manufacturing, Connecticut. These 3 disparate places have combined to produce one of the worlds great human-rights catastrophes — the destruction of Kurdistan, the unsovereign homeland to 20 million people. Makes a powerful argument that the U.S. economy can break its dependency on what amounts to the sale of death.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A seller-driven global market for increasingly lethal U.S.-made weapons can only further destabilize the current international orderor so argues Tirman (The Fallacy of Star Wars) in this sophisticated polemic. Tirman, executive director of the Winston Foundation for World Peace, couples the Sikorsky Blackhawk assault helicopter with Washington's policies toward Turkey, and uses them as focal points for his interlocking case study of a foreign policy and domestic economy that, he says, is overdependent on arms production and arms sales. Far from being a postCold War phenomenon, this pattern is found by Tirman in Nixon-era policies, when an emphasis on developing regional clients led the U.S. to begin strengthening Turkey's armed forces with large infusions of high-tech weapons that were then used to repress Kurds as much as to deter the Soviets. Subsequently, Tirman avers, an increasingly saturated U.S. market for military helicopters led Sikorsky executives and politicians from the corporation's home state of Connecticut to seek the export of more copters rather than to accept the stresses involved in restructuring. The more Blackhawks delivered to Turkey, the easier it became to kill Kurds, says Tirman, and the greater became the military's influence in Turkish society. While the impact of U.S. arms on Turkey's Kurdish policies is arguable, Tirman offers a compelling demonstration of the moral and pragmatic shortcomings of current American policies on arms export. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews
A heartfelt if quixotic critique of America's role as a ranking supplier of weaponry, from the executive director of the Winston Foundation for World Peace. Drawing on a variety of sources, Tirman (Empty Promise, 1986, etc.) focuses on two client states, Iran and Turkey, and the role of the American-made Sikorsky helicopter, to make his absorbing case against the emergence of the US as a leader in the transnational arms trade. Characterizing the so-called Nixon Doctrine as political cover for America's exit from Vietnam, he charges that it was subsequently employed to justify making Iran and later Turkey regional military powers in aid of stabilizing the oil-rich Middle East. The author goes on to assert that these initiatives failed as Tehran became home base for a theocracy famously hostile to the West and Ankara used state-of-the-art Sikorsky helicopters to oppress Turkey's Kurdish minority. At the same time that he details the horrific uses to which US armaments have been put, Tirman recounts the hard times that followed the end of the Cold War and the consequent decline in defense budgets as well as an increase in coproduction deals with offshore customers. Although the author makes a good job of illustrating the problems that can accrue from Washington's bipartisan efforts to make advanced US weapons key instruments of economic and foreign policy, his briefly stated proposals for preventing them stand in need of a reality check. Arguing that voluntary sales curbs by America would bring other vendor nations (China, France, Germany, et al.) into line, for example, he urges establishing benchmark standards for human rights and social programs in client countries. Similarly,Tirman commends preventive diplomacy, heavy taxes on imported petroleum, and a ban on exports of offensive weapons to states that might abuse them. A spirited and principled assault on the US's latter-day status as a merchant of death, albeit one more notable for pacifist passion than practicality.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780788160516
Publisher:
DIANE Publishing Company
Publication date:
02/28/1999
Pages:
310
Product dimensions:
62.50(w) x 92.50(h) x 1.00(d)

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