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Report: U.S. WEAPONS AT WAR 2005


U.S. Military Aid and Arms Transfers Since September 11

A World Policy Institute Special Report
by Frida Berrigan and William D. Hartung, with Leslie Heffel
June 2005

Table of Contents
Executive Summary
ABCs of Military Aid
ABCs of Arms Sales
Overview of Africa
India and Pakistan
Afghanistan and Iraq
Tables and Notes:
Table I: Human Rights Records of Top 25 U.S. Arms Recipients in the Developing World
Table II: U.S. Weapons Sales to 25 Active Conflict Nations
Table III: Increases in U.S. Military Aid between 2001 and 2006 under the FMF Program


This report is part of a continuing series of issue briefs on contemporary security issues being published by the World Policy Institute's Program on Collective Security and Preventive Diplomacy. This report was researched and written by Frida Berrigan and William D. Hartung, respectively Senior Research Associate and Director of the Institute's Arms Trade Resource Center.

The Institute would like to thank the following foundations and individuals whose support made this report possible: David Brown, Colombe Foundation, Deer Creek Foundation, Kligerman Foundation, Stewart R. Mott Fund, Ploughshares Fund, Proteus Fund, Rockefeller Family Associates, Samuel Rubin Foundation, Strachan Donnelley Trust, Town Creek Foundation and Mary Van Evera.

The authors would like to thank Michelle Ciarrocca and Lesley Heffel for research assistance, and Matt Schroeder and Rachel Stohl for their comments on early drafts.


Perhaps no single policy is more at odds with President Bush’s pledge to "end tyranny in our world" than the United States’ role as the world’s leading arms exporting nation. Although arms sales are often justified on the basis of their purported benefits, from securing access to overseas military facilities to rewarding coalition allies in conflicts such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, these alleged benefits often come at a high price. All too often, U.S. arms transfers end up fueling conflict, arming human rights abusers, or falling into the hands of U.S. adversaries. As in the case of recent decisions to provide new F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan, while pledging comparable high-tech military hardware to its rival India, U.S. arms sometimes go to both sides in long brewing conflicts, ratcheting up tensions and giving both sides better firepower with which to threaten each other. Far from serving as a force for security and stability, U.S. weapons sales frequently serve to empower unstable, undemocratic regimes to the detriment of U.S. and global security.

Among the key findings of this report are the following:

In 2003, the last year for which full information is available, the United States transferred weaponry to 18 of the 25 countries involved in active conflicts. From Angola, Chad and Ethiopia, to Colombia, Pakistan and the Philippines, transfers through the two largest U.S. arms sales programs (Foreign Military Sales and Commercial Sales) to these conflict nations totaled nearly $1 billion in 2003, with the vast bulk of the dollar volume going to Israel ($845.6 million).

In 2003, more than half of the top 25 recipients of U.S. arms transfers in the developing world (13 of 25) were defined as undemocratic by the U.S. State Department’s Human Rights Report: in the sense that "citizens do not have the right to change their own government" or that right was seriously abridged. These 13 nations received over $2.7 billion in U.S. arms transfers under the Foreign Military Sales and Commercial Sales programs in 2003, with the top recipients including Saudi Arabia ($1.1 billion), Egypt ($1.0 billion), Kuwait ($153 million), the United Arab Emirates ($110 million) and Uzbekistan ($33 million).

When countries designated by the State Department’s Human Rights Report to have poor human rights records or serious patterns of abuse are factored in, 20 of the top 25 U.S. arms clients in the developing world in 2003-- a full 80%-- were either undemocratic regimes or governments with records of major human rights abuses.

The largest U.S. military aid program, Foreign Military Financing (FMF), increased by 68% between 2001 and 2003, from $3.5 billion to nearly $6 billion. These years coincided with the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and the run-up to the U.S. intervention in Iraq. The biggest increases in dollar terms went to countries that were directly or indirectly engaged as U.S. allies in the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, including Jordan ($525 million increase from 2001 to 2003), Afghanistan ($191 million increase), Pakistan ($224 million increase) and Bahrain ($90 million increase). The Philippines, where the United States stepped up joint operations against a local terrorist group with alleged links to al-Qaeda, also received a substantial increase of FMF funding ($47 million) from 2001 to 2003. Military aid totals have leveled off slightly since their FY 2003 peak, coming in at a requested $4.5 billion for 2006. This is still a full $1 billion more than 2001 levels. The number of countries receiving FMF assistance nearly doubled from FY 2001 to FY 2006-- from 48 to 71.

The greatest danger emanating U.S. arms transfers and military aid programs is not in the numbers, but in the potential impacts on the image, credibility and security of the United States. Arming repressive regimes in all corners of the globe while simultaneously proclaiming a campaign for democracy and against tyranny undermines the credibility of the United States in international forums and makes it harder to hold other nations to high standards of conduct on human rights and other key issues. Arming undemocratic governments all too often helps to enhance their power, frequently fueling conflict or enabling human rights abuses in the process. These blows to the reputation of the United States are in turn impediments to winning the "war of ideas" in the Muslim world and beyond, a critical element in drying up financial and political support for terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda. Last but not least, in all too many cases, U.S. arms and military technology can end up in the hands of U.S. adversaries, as happened in the 1980s in Iraq and Panama, as well as with the right-wing fundamentalist "freedom fighters" in Afghanistan, many of whom are now supporters of al-Qaeda.

At a minimum, the time has come to impose greater scrutiny on U.S. arms transfers and military aid programs. The facile assumption that they are simply another tool in the foreign policy toolbox, to be used to win friends and intimidate adversaries as needed, must be challenged in this new era in U.S. security policy. A good starting point would be to find a way to reinforce and implement the underlying assumptions of U.S. arms export law, which calls for arming nations only for purposes of self-defense, and avoiding arms sales to nations that engage in patterns of systematic human rights abuses, either via new legislation or Executive Branch policy initiatives. Equally important, the automatic assumption that arms transfers are the preferred "barter" for access to military facilities or other security "goods" sought from other nations should be seriously re-considered. Economic aid, political support and other forms of support and engagement should be explored as alternatives whenever possible.


"The only force powerful enough to stop the rise of tyranny and terror, and replace hatred with hope, is the force of human freedom...[and] America will stand with the allies of freedom to support democratic movements in the Middle East and beyond, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."[1]

These words, delivered by President George W. Bush in his 2005 State of the Union address, drew cheers and applause. But shaping this noble rhetoric into concrete policies will mean reversing a decades-long policy of selling weapons and providing military aid to some of the world’s worst tyrants and dictators.

This report demonstrates that under President Bush’s leadership, this trend has accelerated and freedom and democracy have suffered as a result.

The United States transfers more weapons and military services than any other country in the world. Between 1992 and 2003, the United States sold $177.5 billion in arms to foreign nations.[2] In 2003 alone, the Pentagon and State Department delivered or licensed the delivery of $5.7 billion in weaponry to countries which can ill afford advanced weaponry—nations in the developing world saddled with debt and struggling with poverty.

Despite having some of the world’s strongest laws regulating the arms trade, almost half of these weapons went to countries plagued with ongoing conflict and governed by undemocratic regimes with poor human rights records. In 2003, $2.7 billion in weaponry went to governments deemed undemocratic by the U.S. State Department’s Huma n Rights Report, in the sense that citizens of those nations "did not have a meaningful right to change their government" in a peaceful manner.[3] Another $97.4 million worth of weapons went to governments deemed by the State Department to have "poor" human rights records.[4] See TABLE I: Human Rights Records of Top 25 U.S. Arms Recipients in the Developing World for more information.

It is not enough to condemn tyranny and terror. President Bush must act to remove the tools of repression from the hands of tyrants and terrorists. Al-Qaeda and other non-state actors are real threats. But, for many, the central source of tyranny and terror is their own government. The United States provides the military hardware and know-how and then all too often turns a blind eye as governments suppress rights, squash legitimate dissent and sustain repression. In all, four of the five top U.S. arms recipients in the developing world had major issues, ranging from undemocratic governments, to poor human rights records across the board, to patterns of serious abuse.

Does U.S. policy of providing military aid and selling weapons contribute to fighting the war on terrorism? Is it a sound policy for strengthening democracy and self-reliance, as U.S. documents purport? Or does this policy conflate terrorism with human rights abuses and repression by putting more money and high-tech weaponry into the hands of leaders who violate human rights, repress their citizens and wage war on their neighbors?

Weapons at War

For many, war is synonymous with Iraq or Afghanistan, but our research enumerates 25 ongoing conflicts throughout the world. In the last decade, the U.S. has transferred some $8.7 billion in arms and military services to these war zones, $970.5 million in 2003 alone. During that year (the last year for which full data is available) the United States transferred weapons and military hardware into 18 of 25 conflict zones. This is despite the fact that these transfers appear to violate the spirit (if not the letter) of the Arms Export Control Act and the Foreign Assistance Act, which bar the transfer of U.S.-origin military equipment into active areas of conflict.

The 1976 Arms Export Control Act stipulates that arms transfers can only be used by the recipient nation for self-defense, internal security and in United Nations sanctioned operations. The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 bars military aid and arms sales to countries that demonstrate "gross and consistent" patterns of human rights abuses. And the Export Administration Act, passed in 1979, regulates the sale of "dual-use " items that could have civilian or military application.

While some arms transfers are relatively small-- a few hundred thousand dollars-- they carry significant political weight. A transfer of $301,000 in weapons to Angola, for example, does more than provide military hardware. It suggests that Luanda is an ally and that Washington supports or acquiesces in the actions of their military.

In the case of conflict zones like the Philippines or Colombia, where tens of millions of dollars worth of weapons are sold, Washington supplements military hardware with deployment of U.S. troops, advisers, military aid, or training programs, representing an even greater level of U.S. involvement in these wars.

Military Aid

In times of crisis, like the tsunami that killed more than 100,000 people in the last days of 2004, the American people are very generous. And they assume their government is as well. While the United States doles out billions in foreign aid every year, Washington tends to favor military aid and weapons sales over other forms of aid, deprioritizing humanitarian, health or development aid, even though these types of foreign aid have long-term constructive impact.

Since the beginning of the war on terrorism, foreign military aid has increased precipitously. The Pentagon’s largest military aid program, the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program, increased by more than one-third (34%) between 2001 and 2005, jumping from $3.5 billion to $4.6 billion over that time period. President Bush is requesting $4.5 billion in FMF for 2006.

Many countries previously barred from receiving U.S. military aid, because of nuclear testing, human rights abuses, or their harboring of terrorists, began to receive aid in 2001. Two dozen nations-- including Afghanistan, Algeria, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Uruguay-- either became first-time recipients of FMF during this period or were restored to the program after long absences. As a result, the number of countries receiving FMF assistance increased from 48 to 71 between 2001 and 2006—a 47.9% increase.

In that same time period, ten countries saw their aid at least triple, and seven had their FMF assistance increase by five times or more. The biggest gainers in FMF assistance in dollar terms were Jordan (+$127 million), Pakistan (+$300 million) and Afghanistan (+$396 million). None of these countries are democracies that fully respect human rights, according to the State Department’s Human Rights Report. For more details, see TABLE III.

In the conclusion of our report, we offer a number of recommendations to reverse this course and ensure that the United States lives up to its best ideals of freedom and democracy. Briefly, following and fully applying laws like the AECA and FAA (explained above) and resisting efforts by the Executive Branch to make exceptions for the sake of political expediencies like currying favor with strategically located regimes is an important starting point. Congress can also strengthen international law by spearheading the effort to pass the International Arms Trade Treaty. The convention, drafted by Nobel Laureates and supported by many non-governmental organizations, would create legally binding arms controls and ensure that governments control arms using the same basic international standards.

Adoption of these and the other recommendations outlined at the end of the report would further the Bush administration’s counter terrorism agenda much more effectively than the arms deals documented in this report.

The Canadian-based Project Ploughshares calculates that there are 36 armed conflicts being waged in 28 countries and defines armed conflict as "political conflict in which armed combat involves the armed forces of at least one state (or one or more armed factions seeking to gain control of all or part of the state), and in which at least 1,000 people have been killed by fighting during the course of the conflict."[5]

In the tables that accompany this report, we provide information on U.S. weapons sales and military aid to 25 nations where conflict remains active. We have adapted the Project Ploughshares list of conflicts, excluding Sri Lanka and Serbia/Kosovo because conflicts there are coming to an end. Additionally, Project Ploughshares defines the Israel/Palestine conflict as an interstate conflict between Israel and Lebanon, while we define it as an intrastate conflict. TABLE II has detailed data on U.S. weapons sales to these conflict nations.

The vast majority of countries involved in major-armed conflicts in 2003 received some military aid, training or weapons from the United States in the last ten years. In this report, we profile 12 countries involved in (or recovering from) major armed conflict which are top recipients of U.S. military aid and weapons sales. Additionally, we profile Georgia and Uzbekistan, which are not considered conflict countries, but are included because they have received large increases in FMF/military aid since the beginning of the Global War on Terror.

A Closer Look

The United States transferred defense articles to 18 of the 25 countries involved in active conflict during 2003, the last year for which full data is available. In 20 of the nations in conflict in 2003, the United States supplied weaponry some time in the last decade.

In all, the United States transferred $970.5 million in weaponry and related hardware to nations in conflict during 2003. And in the last decade, between 1994 and 2003, the United States transferred a total of more than $8.7 billion worth of military machinery and services to these countries.

While transfers to many nations were relatively small, they have an important symbolic value. Weapons sales suggest U.S. government support for or acquiescence in the actions of the governments involved in these conflicts.

While the bulk of the value of the transfers documented in TABLE II represent shipments to Israel, other longstanding U.S. customers that received major transfers of def ense articles between 1994 and 2003 include India ($128 million), Indonesia ($121.2 million), Pakistan ($429.1 million), the Philippines ($380.8 million) and Colombia ($656.5 million). Given the durability of modern weapons systems, much of this weaponry has no doubt been used in the current conflicts in recipient nations.

Acceleration of Weapons Sales and Changes in the Rules

Prior to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, 27 countries were banned from purchasing U.S.-made military equipment, including Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Sudan, Syria, and Tajikistan.[6]

In the aftermath of terrorist attacks, bans on security assistance to many of these countries have been lifted or suspended, giving the President broad power to provide military aid and weapons to nations contributing to the war on terrorism.

The Bush administration lifted sanctions against Azerbaijan and Armenia. Tajikistan was removed from the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) list of states prohibited from receiving U.S. military goods and products.

These changes have shifted the allocation of military aid. Foreign Military Financing, the Pentagon’s largest military aid program, increased by more than two-thirds (68.4%) from 2001 to 2003, jumping from $3.5 billion to nearly $6 billion over that time period, before leveling off in 2004 and 2005 and requests for 2006 to an average of $4.6 billion (which represents a more than 30% increase over pre-9/11 levels).

Pakistan enjoyed an almost 200% increase in aid between 2002 and 2003, from $75 million to $224 million. Aid to the Philippines jumped from just over $2 million in 2001 to $49 million in 2003, an increase of more than 2,000%. For details, see TABLE III: Increases in U.S. Military Aid Between 2001 and 2003.

In October 2001, Congress passed Public Law 107-57, which included a measure to reduce the notification deadlines for weapons transfers. While the 1991 Foreign Assistance Act required that the President notify Congress 15 or more days before any transfer of emergency drawdowns and excess defense articles, the new act requires only five days advance notice if the President determines that the decision is "important to U.S. efforts to respond to, deter or prevent acts of international terrorism."[7] This new law dismantled an important tool enabling the human rights and arms control community to lobby against weapons sales to problem countries.

That same month, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which handles government-to-government weapons sales, announced a series of changes to their policies aimed at accelerating the process of granting weapons contracts to countries allied with the United States against terrorism.

The DSCA established the "Enduring Freedom Response Cell" to "fast track weapons requests from our allies."[8] Air Force Lieutenant General Tome Walters, director of DSCA, described the new mission of his agency, "If you’re an allied country, let’s say Uzbekistan, and you need radios, we’ll do whatever we can to get the job done."[9] Since the changes have been invoked, weapons sales, military aid, and training programs have surged.

Restrictions on U.S. arms exports to undemocratic and repressive regimes were painstakingly crafted over the last 40 years, and should not be discarded even in the interest of building a coalition to fight terrorism. As Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), observed, "We now have a floating coalition. We can’t have floating arms."[10]

Ignoring History: Role of Arms Trade Boomerang in Fueling Terror

A close reading of recent history would have warned the Bush administration against a policy of offering weapons, military aid and training to new allies in the war on terrorism. The last half-century is full of examples of allies becoming adversaries and political circumstances shifting much more quickly than weapons arsenals can be destroyed.

Washington transferred weaponry to successive South Vietnamese dictatorships throughout the 1960s and 70s in an effort bolster the South’s fight against the Communist North. U.S.-origin arms were often stolen from Southern barracks and after the fall of Saigon in 1975, North Vietnamese troops took possession of huge weapons caches. Massive military assistance that the U.S. provided to the dictatorship of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi in Iran was seized in the 1979 Islamic fundamentalist coup, giving the Ayatollah Khomeini control of a fleet of F-14 fighter planes and other high-tech weaponry.[11]

More recent history is equally instructive in the dangers of the boomerang effect. The last seven times the United States has sent troops into conflict in substantial numbers: in Iraq (2003-present), Afghanistan (2001-present), former Yugoslavia (1998), Haiti (1994), Somalia (1992), Iraq (1990) and Panama (1989); they faced adversaries with weapons or military technology "Made in the USA." The widening war on terrorism and accelerating weapons sales to coalition partners will only increase the likelihood of the boomerang effect continuing to haunt us.

Later in this report, profiles of Afghanistan and Iraq provide background on how U.S. military assistance in the 1970s and 80s outlasted the short-term political justifications for their sale or transfer. For more information on earlier examples, please see detailed case studies in the World Policy Institute’s 1995 Weapons at War report.[12]

On the Bright Side, There is much to criticize about U.S. arms export and foreign military aid policies, but there are positive facets as well. As is mentioned elsewhere in this report, the world’s largest arms exporter has the world’s strongest laws and regulations. In addition, Washington has sometimes withdrawn U.S. military aid and arms exports to rebuke countries that violated human rights or circumvented democracy.

The Bush Administration banned arms sales to Zimbabwe in 2002 after asserting that the March national election "subverted the democratic process" and charging that long-time President Robert Mugabe’s government carried out an "orchestrated campaign of intimidation and violence" in the lead-up to the election.[13]

The administration continues to staunchly oppose the European Union’s plans to lift a more than decade-old arms embargo on China, citing human rights abuses and the country’s tendency to re-transfer weapons related technology as among the arguments for maintaining the ban put in place after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.[14] These are two instances in which concerns about human and civil rights trump strategic rationalizations for arms sales. Unfortunately, these instances remain the exception instead of the rule.


Foreign Military Financing: Congress appropriates grants to finance foreign nations’ purchases of American-made weapons, services and training. Between 1950 and 2005, the U.S. government has provided over $121 billion in FMF to militaries around the world.

Economic Support Fund: These grants are designed to promote “economic and political foreign policy interests of the United States” by “providing assistance to allies,” with the aim of “mitigating the root causes of terrorism.” While U.S. law makes clear that ESF is not intended for military expenditure, the grants are frequently used as a de facto military aid, with foreign governments using the funds to free up their own resources for military programs.

International Military Education and Training IMET grants are given to foreign governments to pay for military training provided by U.S. military officials and with U.S. weapons. In 2004, $91 million was allocated to train 11,000 solider/students from more than 100 countries.

The U.S. government also provides military aid in the form of Counter-Narcotics Assistance (CNA).


There are two major channels through which American arms manufacturers sell weaponry to foreign countries. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) are government-to-government agreements negotiated by the Pentagon and the purchasing country. Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) are agreements negotiated between the manufacturing company and the purchasing country and then licensed by the State Department.

Congressional approval must be sought for weapons sales of $14 million or more, and defense services and technical assistance valued at $50 million or more. In recent years, these requirements have changed for NATO allies, Australia, Japan and New Zealand, and now these countries can bypass the Congressional approval process for weaponry valued less than $25 million or technical assistance valued at less than $100 million.

Within the State Department, the Office of Defense Trade Controls maintains the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), a list of all the categories of goods that are considered munitions. ITAR also names those states ineligible to receive U.S. armaments.

The U.S. government transfers weapons from its stocks for free or at greatly reduced prices through the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program. Through the Emergency Drawdown program, allied governments can receive fast track grants of weapons to address crisis situations. Both programs are managed through the Defense Department.


"This isn’t target practice! This is about killing people!"
U.S. military trainer in Niger, April 2005.[15]

Overview of U.S. Arms and Aid to Africa

In the wake of September 11th, and in keeping with its interest in securing access to oil and other key natural resources, the Bush administration has been rapidly expanding U.S. military involvement in Africa. While most recent increases in U.S. arms sales, aid and military training in Africa have been justified as part of what the administration refers to as the "Global War on Terrorism" (GWOT), oil has been a major factor in the administration’s strategic calculations from the outset.

In his first few months in office, President Bush’s first Secretary of State, Colin Powell, stressed the need to improve relations with oil producing nations like Nigeria and Angola. Similarly, the report of Vice-President Cheney’s Energy Task Force stressed the importance of gaining and maintaining access to African oil resources, which U.S. intelligence assessments expect to increase to as much as 25% of U.S. oil imports by the year 2020.[16]

The Congressional Budget justification underscores the strong pull of oil interests in Bush administration decision making. The entry on Equatorial Guinea notes that "over the course of the past five years, U.S. companies have invested approximately $5 billion" in the country’s oil sector.[17] The entry for Sao Tome and Principe is more forward-looking, noting that "in the coming decade, U.S. companies are expected to participate in the development of petroleum resources in Sao Tome’s territorial waters."[18] Nigeria is cited for its "large oil and gas reserves," while the entry on Angola stresses the need to "help ensure U.S. private-sector oil access to a source of seven percent of U.S. petroleum imports, a figure likely to rise in the coming years."[19]

Beyond oil, U.S. military officials have cited "a growing terrorist threat" in northern and sub-Saharan Africa to justify a program of stepped up military engagement in the region. General James Jones, head of the U.S. European command, has suggested the need to create a "family of bases" across Africa that would range from forward operating locations that would include an airfield and facilities to house 3,000 to 5,000 U.S. military personnel to "bare-bones" bases that U.S. Special Forces or Marines could "land at and build up as the mission required."[20]

These new facilities would not be considered "formal" bases like the growing U.S. base in the Horn of Africa in Djibouti, which has a regular deployment of 1,800 to 2,000 troops stationed there. While new basing arrangements are being worked out, a major increase in U.S. military exercises and training missions throughout Africa will be used to sustain a regular U.S. presence.

Military Aid, Training, and Sales on the Rise

While the millions of dollars being spent on U.S. military aid and sales to Africa pale in comparison to the billions being expended in the Middle East and South Asia, all of the major U.S. bilateral aid and sales programs have increased sharply in recent years.

Funding to sub-Saharan Africa under the largest U.S. military aid program, Foreign Military Financing, doubled from $12 million in fiscal year 2000 to a proposed $24 million in the FY 2006 budget proposal, and the number of recipient nations has grown from one to nine.

The Pentagon’s International Military Education and Training (IMET) program has increased by 35% from 2000 to the 2006 proposal, from $8.1 million to $11 million, and from 36 participating nations to 47. Foreign Military Sales more than quadrupled from fiscal year 2000 to fiscal year 2003 (the most recent year for which full statistics are available), from $9.8 million to $40.3 million. And Commercial Sales of arms licensed by the State Department grew from $.9 million to $3.8 million over the 2000 to 2003 period.

These bilateral programs are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of overall U.S. military aid commitments going forward. The U.S. European Command has requested $125 million over five years for the Pan-Sahel Initiative, for training and exercises with Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and other nations in the region. U.S. engagement under the program has gone far beyond traditional training to include involvement in combat operations.

Craig S. Smith of the New York Times offers the following description of the role of U.S. forces in a 2004 operation against the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, a designated terrorist organization, and its leader, Ammari Saifi: "The United States European Command sent a Navy P-3C Orion surveillance aircraft to sweep the area, relaying Mr. Saifi’s position to forces in the region. Mali chased him out of the country to Niger, which in turn pushed him into Chad, where, with United States Special Forces support of an airlift of fuel and other supplies, 43 of his men were killed or captured."[21]

Other major U.S. military commitments include a proposed $100 million program for military and anti-terrorist training in East Africa, and a $200 million pledge to train and restructure Liberia’s military forces. The first $35 million of this amount has been committed to a training program run by DynCorp, a private military company with a mixed record in operations in the Balkans, Colombia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

In addition to programs targeted to specific countries or regions, the ACOTA program (African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance) has received $38 million in funding over the past three years, with the stated goal of training "select African militaries to respond effectively to peace support and humanitarian crises on their continent." Participants in the program have included Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Senegal and Botswana.[22]

Transparency and accountability are major missing components with respect to current U.S. military operations in Africa. There is no single source that summarizes U.S. exercises or Pentagon-run training missions like the Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET program) in any detail.


Washington has much to learn from Algeria on ways to fight terrorism.
William Burns, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and North African Affairs, 2002. [23]

Civil war has wracked this oil-rich nation for more than 12 years, killing as many as 150,000 people.[24] The war erupted in 1991 when the military-backed government called off elections that would have instated an Islamic government. Since then, the civilian population has been caught between Islamic insurgents and the military.

For many years, the dictatorship’s political abuses and the reality of civil war made it an international pariah, but in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, Algeria overhauled its public image.

Algerian President Abdel-Aziz Bouteflika has visited the White House three times since 2001.[25] Richard Erdman, the American ambassador in Algiers, explains that, " Algeria is an important ally for us in the war on terror."[26]

Military ties between the two countries are growing. In January 2002, Algeria began hosting U.S. naval ships and the two countries have conducted joint anti-submarine warfare maneuvers.[27] In December 2002, Washington announced it would abandon its ten-year-old arms embargo,[28] and the two countries have begun discussing the establishment of an American military base in southern Algeria.[29]

An Open Door for Military Sales

Emboldened by this collaboration, Algerian officials are pushing for new U.S. military technology, such as advanced night-vision technology and all-weather combat aircraft, as well as radar and ground-based sensors.[30] In fact, when President Bouteflika visited the United States in 2001, he met with executives from Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman at a summit organized by the Corporate Council on Africa.[31]

Despite this warming trend, Algerian access to U.S. weaponry remains limited. All U.S. weapons transfers are decided on a case-by-case basis. In recent years, only non-lethal systems, such as radios, global positioning systems, night vision equipment and sensors have been transferred.

But, non-lethal systems still give the Algerian military a lethal advantage over Islamic guerillas. For example, an August 2002 transfer of night vision equipment aided the military in tracking and attacking insurgents.

Algeria does not receive FMF or ESF, but all signs point towards more military aid in the future. As the State Department explains in its Congressional Presentation, Algeria "has demonstrated it is an important partner in the global war against terrorism; it remains in the U.S. interest to help the Algerian military increase its professionalism, effectiveness and improve its interoperability with the U.S. and other allied forces. The threat of terrorism from internal Algerian extremist groups and those with ties to international terrorist organizations continues to plague Algeria and threaten U.S. interests in the region."[32]

With these goals in mind, the allocation of military training funds has been increasing in recent years. In fiscal year 2002, the U.S. provided $67,000 in IMET funding. The request for 2006 is $750,000, an increase of more than 1000% in four years.[33] The Congressional justification explains the importance of a new relationship with Algeria by saying that the nation "shares our interest in fighting terrorism, plays an important leadership role in the Arab world, Africa, and the Mediterranean basin [and] possesses enormous gas and oil resources."[34]

Shared Interests? Human Rights Abuses Continue

While diplomatic and military relationships between the two countries have certainly progressed and will continue to do so, the human rights situation has not improved apace. There is no evidence that more military aid and training will bring about peace and stability.

Human rights lawyer Mostefa Bouchachi, interviewed by the BBC News says, "People are tortured systematically here. Eighty percent of my clients tell me when I visit them in prison that they have been tortured by police."[35]

The State Department’s Human Rights Report supports this statement, saying Algeria’s "human rights record remained poor overall… There continued to be problems with excessive use of force by the security forces as well as failure to account for past disappearances. New allegations of incidents and severity of torture continued."[36]


"Angola has been a terrific place to do business."
Jim Blackwell, the director of Chevron Texaco’s operations in Angola, 2004.[37]

Angola is slowly emerging from a brutal war that pitched the Marxist government against rebels backed by the United States. The ensuing calm is being heralded as a major turning point for Africa.

The civil war claimed the lives of more than 500,000 Angolans and displaced another two million, ending in 2002 when rebel leader Jonas Savimbi was assassinated.[38] Since then, more than one million Angolans who had fled the country are returning and rebuilding has commenced.[39]

Angola is not a major recipient of U.S. aid. The total request for FY 2006 is $30.7 million, which amounts to just over $2.00 for each Angolan.[40] But as this nation of 14 million emerges from 30 years of war, it seems that the United States is preparing to once again take an active role in Angola’s economic, political and military trajectory.

According to Washington’s 2006 request for military aid, Angola can contribute to international peacekeeping efforts, and to "the international fight against terrorists, drug traffickers and organized crime," because it has "one of Africa’s largest and most experienced militaries."[41]

To that purported end, all areas of military aid are on the rise. The White House is requesting $400,000 in FMF for 2006, after allocating $300,000 in 2005. In addition to this aid, Angola is now eligible for Excess Defense Articles and has been identified as a candidate for the African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance.[42]

Oil Wealth: Not Trickling Down

Angola has huge oil reserves, providing the United States with more oil than Kuwait. Despite pumping more than a million barrels a day, the country’s oil wealth does not trickle down. According to Oxfam, 78% of the rural population lives in "deep poverty," and 80% of Angolans have no access to basic medical care.[43]

The United States is Angola’s largest trading partner, purchasing about 50% of its oil exports and providing public income that was promptly diverted away from development to sustain the long war.[44] In a 1999 report, Human Rights Watch documents how the Angolan government paid for arms purchases with bank loans, oil profit remittances and mining concessions. Hundreds of millions of dollars were generated when the Angolan government offered oil exploration concession blocks to multinational oil companies like BP-Amoco, Exxon, and Elf. Those funds were then used to purchase weapons.[45]

According to a January 2004 updated, HRW found more than $4 billion in Angolan oil revenues were missing and had been squirreled away into private offshore bank accounts or used to purchase military hardware.[46]

U.S. Legacy: Support for Brutality

In 1986, President Reagan welcomed rebel leader Jonas Savimbi to the White House. He expressed his hope that the leader of UNITA, a rebel group backed by U.S. and white-ruled South Africa as a bulwark against Soviet interests in Africa, would win "a victory that electrifies the world and brings great sympathy and assistance from other nations to those struggling for freedom."[47]

That "freedom" proved to be brutal for Angola and extremely expensive for the United States. Like so many other African countries, Angola was a battleground for the proxy war between the U.S. and USSR.

Even prior to the 1974 revolution that ended Portuguese rule, the two superpowers had taken sides among the various Angolan independence movements. External military assistance from the United States, South Africa and Zaire supported UNITA and the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), while the Soviet Union, China and Cuba provided arms and aid to the Popular Movement for Angolan Liberation (MPLA).

Authorized U.S. aid to UNITA/FNLA began in the mid-1970s, with a first installment of $300,000.[48] Despite passage of the Clark amendment in December 1975 that barred military transfers, covert aid included 622 mortars, 42,100 antitank rockets, and more than 20,000 rifles.[49] But this military support remained largely concealed from the public, Congress and the media.

In the 1980’s, despite faltering international support for UNITA in response to Savimbi’s increasingly erratic behavior, the indiscriminate use of landmines, and civilian hostage-taking, U.S. continued to aid the rebels with a total of approximately $250 million in weaponry between 1986 and 1991, including highly sophisticated small arms and light weapons like Stinger aircraft missiles.[50]

In its current Human Rights Report, the State Department acknowledges that Angola ’s "human rights record remained poor… Members of the security forces committed unlawful killings, were responsible for disappearances, and tortured, beat, raped, and otherwise abused persons."[51]


This man’s plan is working
President Bush of President Uribe in Cartagena, Colombia, November 2004.[52]

For four decades, Colombia has been torn apart by civil war. The three-sided conflict has claimed the lives of at least 200,000 people and displaced another two million.[53] Everyday, five people are forcibly disappeared.[54]

Since the start of Plan Colombia in 2000, the United States has granted billions of dollars in military and police aid, training and weaponry, despite the government’s record of human rights abuses and its support for the vicious paramilitary group United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).

Military and Police Aid

Under President Bill Clinton, the U.S. initiated the $1.3 billion Plan Colombia, ostensibly aimed at strengthening the military to combat the drug trade. President Bush now has his own version- the Andean Counter-drug Initiative (ACI). Since its establishment in 2001, the Bush Administration has requested $1.33 billion in police and military aid for Colombia through ACI.[55]

Colombia also receives U.S. military aid through existing programs. After allocating just $17 million in 2003, Congress agreed to increase FMF to $98.4 million in 2004 and $99.2 million in 2005. For 2006, President Bush has requested another $90 million.[56]

Colombia also receives significant military training assistance. In 2004, Congress granted the President’s request of $1.6 million in IMET funds, up from $1.1 million in 2003.[57] The Center for International Policy found that IMET is only a small part of overall U.S. efforts to train Colombian troops. The $1.1 million granted in 2003 trained 590 soldiers. But through this and other channels, U.S. forces have trained almost 13,000 Colombian military and police personnel since Plan Colombia was established.[58]

According to a study by the Rand Corporation, U.S. weapons and military training have "fanned the flames of the violence in Colombia." Their detailed report, Arms Trafficking and Colombia, traces the path of small arms and light weapons from U.S.-origin stockpiles in Nicaragua, El Salvador and other Cold War battlegrounds in Central America to Colombia, where they are used by State Department-labeled terrorist groups.[59] These weapons have ended up in the hands of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the rightwing AUC.

In his second term, President Bush is continuing these failed policies under a new moniker- the "war on narco-terrorism." President Bush made Colombia one of his first state visits after the November 2004 reelection, promising more than half a billion dollars in new military and police aid and praising President Uribe’s counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism agenda.

Weapons for Colombia

Between 1994 and 2003, Colombia took delivery of $571.6 million in FMS weaponry and another $84.8 million in commercial exports, for a total of more than $656 million in U.S. weapons.[60]

In November 2004, Colombia announced it was in the market for 24 fighter jets, and defense officials began meeting with plane-makers from Brazil, China, the United States and South Korea. Given the preponderance of U.S. weaponry and military hardware in the Colombian arsenal, it is hard to imagine defense officials choosing another country’s fighter plane in this deal worth an estimated $234 million. Colombian defense officials hope to take delivery of the new planes by 2007.[61]

War on Drugs, War on Terrorism: Same War, Same Victims

The U.S. weaponry and military aid that has fueled the brutal war in Colombia have not succeeded in stemming the flow of drugs into the United States. In fact, a study by the Washington Office on Latin America found that the cocaine is 31% cheaper on the streets of the United States than it was before Plan Colombia was initiated.[62]

Nonetheless, President Bush is committed to continuing these failed policies in his second term. While in Cartagena in November 2004, President Bush told reporters, "President Uribe and I share a basic optimism. This war against narco-terrorism can and will be won."[63]

Washington has eagerly shifted from the war on drugs to the war on narco-terrorism, freed up more money for Uribe’s war and changed U.S. law to allow the Colombian president to use U.S. military assistance to directly engage the FARC.[64]

Domestically, Uribe defines any opposition, including criticism from human rights groups, as terrorism, and has used the rhetoric of the war on terrorism and concerns about security to enact legislation curtailing citizens rights.[65]

Political Violence and Human Rights Abuses

To be a trade unionist in Colombia is to have one foot in this world and one in the next.
Dan Kovalik, lawyer with the United Steel Workers of America.[66]

Along with the FARC and the AUC, the Colombian military and police are collectively responsible for the most human rights violations in the Western Hemisphere.[67]

According to the State Department’s 2004 Human Rights Report, "some members of the security forces continued to commit serious abuses, including unlawful and extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances. Some members of the security forces continued to collaborate with the terrorist AUC, which committed serious abuses."[68]

Some of the worst political violence and human rights abuses took place in areas controlled by U.S. oil companies. A portion of U.S. military assistance is designated for protecting oil businesses- specifically Occidental Petroleum. Amnesty International asserts that in 2003, $99 million in U.S. aid went to protecting the oil pipeline.[69]

In January 2003, 60 U.S. Special Forces arrived in Arauca to train units from the 18th Brigade. Dan Kovalik, a lawyer with the United Steelworkers, visited Arauca in November 2004, and met with the head of the 18th Brigade. Writing in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, he describes the brigade as "notorious for gross violations of human rights against the civilian population," including the assassination of three union leaders in August 2004.[70]

Nuclear Neighbors

The United States imposed sanctions on rivals Ind