(Source: Defense News, 21 Jul 2018.)
The U.S. State Department recently announced its plan to put into effect the Conventional Arms Transfer policy, which adds economic security as a factor when the government considers whether to approve arms exports.
The goal of the plan is to boost American weapons exports. Council President Keith Webster, President Obama’s last director of international cooperation at the Pentagon, called the policy “a major first step toward improving government decision processes and policies.” Aerospace and defense firms rely on innovation and U.S. government support to compete on a global scale, he added.
The export council offered around 30 recommendations on how to hardwire economic security and defense-industrial base considerations into the government’s international arms sale decisions.
Despite the positive feedback, there have been concerns from arms control advocates who say the policy could fuel conflicts around the world and aid regimes that do not respect human rights.
“If the administration is serious about claims that these changes make for responsible policy, it should add much greater transparency into the arms transfer and monitoring process,” Forum on the Arms Trade’s founder and coordinator, Jeff Abramson, wrote.
Leading the world in arms transfers, the U.S. is expected to reach $47 billion government-to-government sales this year, whereas $42 billion sales were approved by the State Department for all of 2017.
Lt. Gen. Charles Hooper, head of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, said during the Farnborough International Airshow on July 18, “Defense exports are good for our national security, they’re good for our foreign policy. And they’re good for our economic security. And as the administration and our leadership has said, economic security is national security.”