Why the US Sells Weapons to 103 Countries

Johnny Harris
6 Mar 202423:00

Summary

TLDRThis eye-opening video explores the vast and complex global arms trade, mapping the flow of weapons from the United States to over 100 countries around the world. It delves into the underlying motives and paradoxes behind this arms trade, where the U.S. claims to promote peace and security yet profits immensely from the sale of these deadly instruments. Through expert insights and data analysis, the video unravels the intricate web of alliances, resources, and strategic interests that drive this trade, ultimately questioning the effectiveness of using weapons as a currency for influence and stability in today's world.

Takeaways

  • ๐Ÿ”ซ The United States sells weapons to over 100 countries around the world, projecting its influence and power globally.
  • ๐Ÿค Weapons are used as a 'currency' by the U.S. to buy influence, stability, alliances, access to resources, and deterrence against rivals.
  • โš–๏ธ The U.S. claims these arms sales promote peace and security by maintaining a balance of power, but this paradoxically involves selling killing machines.
  • ๐ŸŒ The U.S. has different motives for arming different countries, such as securing the loyalty of regimes, outsourcing policing, and countering enemies like Russia, China, and Iran.
  • โŒ Despite conditions attached to arms sales, the U.S. often lacks leverage to prevent misuse of its weapons by recipients, as seen in cases like Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen.
  • ๐Ÿ’ฐ The profit motive of the military-industrial complex drives the continued production and sale of weapons, creating a conflict of interest for lawmakers.
  • โ˜ฎ๏ธ Weapons sales are intended to stabilize regions, but they can also exacerbate conflicts and end up in the hands of adversaries, as seen in Afghanistan and Libya.
  • ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ The efficacy of using weapons as leverage is questionable, as recipient countries often act in their own interests despite U.S. conditions.
  • ๐Ÿ”ฌ The video attempts to provide a deeper understanding of the complex motivations and consequences behind the global arms trade.
  • ๐Ÿ’ป Independent journalism platforms like Nebula enable coverage of sensitive topics like war and conflict without relying on traditional ad-based funding models.

Q & A

  • What is the main topic of the video series?

    -The video series focuses on mapping and analyzing the global arms trade, particularly the flow of weapons originating from the United States to other countries around the world.

  • Why do countries sell weapons to other nations, according to the experts interviewed?

    -The experts suggest that countries sell weapons to promote peace and security, strengthen alliances, gain influence, and secure access to vital resources. However, they also acknowledge that there are often underlying economic motives, such as generating revenue for the military-industrial complex.

  • What is the concept of 'balance of power' in international relations, and how does it relate to the arms trade?

    -The concept of 'balance of power' suggests that countries build up their weapons capabilities to deter potential adversaries from attacking them, but not to the extent that it provokes an arms race or escalation of conflict. The arms trade plays a role in this calculation, as countries sell weapons to allies and strategic partners to maintain a favorable balance of power in their regions.

  • How does the video attempt to visualize the motives behind the US arms trade?

    -The video creators categorize the potential motives behind US arms sales into five main categories: stability, alliances, friendship, countering enemies or rivals, and securing vital resources. They then map these categories onto the countries receiving US weapons to provide insights into the potential underlying reasons for each arms transfer.

  • Does the US actually achieve its desired influence through arms sales, according to the video?

    -The video suggests that while arms sales can indeed strengthen alliances, the US often struggles to exert leverage over the behavior of countries it sells weapons to, even when conditions are attached. In some cases, the weapons are used in ways that contradict stated US interests, such as human rights violations or fueling conflicts.

  • What is the role of the military-industrial complex in perpetuating the arms trade, according to the video?

    -The video suggests that the military-industrial complex, comprising private corporations that manufacture weapons, has a strong economic incentive to promote and expand arms sales. This is due to the profit motives of these companies, as well as the fact that arms production creates jobs and economic interests that lawmakers are reluctant to challenge.

  • How does the video address the potential dangers of the arms trade?

    -The video highlights instances where US-supplied weapons have been used in ways that violate human rights or fuel conflicts, sometimes even ending up in the hands of groups opposed to US interests. It also notes that weapons can create long-lasting instability and danger, as they don't simply disappear after conflicts end.

  • What role does Nebula, the creator-owned streaming platform, play in supporting the production of this video series?

    -The video's creator, Johnny Harris, expresses gratitude for Nebula, which allows him to produce independent, high-quality journalism without relying on traditional advertising or sponsorships, which may be reluctant to support content related to war and conflict.

  • What is the significance of the book mentioned at the beginning of the video?

    -The book referenced at the beginning, which details the history of the arms trade and its role in contributing to World War I, serves as a starting point for the video's exploration of how the arms trade continues to operate and influence global affairs today.

  • What is the overall message or conclusion of the video series?

    -The video series aims to scrutinize and critique the arms trade system, highlighting the potential conflicts of interest and perverse incentives that perpetuate the cycle of weapon production and sales, often in ways that undermine stated goals of promoting peace and stability. It calls for greater transparency and accountability in this industry, which has historically contributed to devastating conflicts.

Outlines

00:00

๐Ÿ” Mapping the Global Arms Trade

The video introduces a project aimed at mapping the flow of weapons originating from the United States to various countries around the world. The thicker lines on the map represent higher volumes of weapon transfers. The segment discusses the reasons behind the global arms trade, including promoting peace and stability, maintaining alliances, and projecting influence. Experts are consulted to provide insights into the motivations and implications of the arms trade.

05:01

๐ŸŒ Decoding the Arms Trade Map

The video aims to decode the arms trade map by understanding the motives behind the United States' weapon sales to different countries. The key reasons identified are securing stability, maintaining alliances, accessing vital resources, countering enemies or rivals, and fostering friendly relationships. The map is enhanced with visual representations of these motives, providing a deeper understanding of the underlying motivations for each country's weapons transfers.

10:01

โš–๏ธ The Limits of Influence Through Arms Sales

The video examines whether the use of arms sales as a currency for influence and leverage actually works as intended by the United States government. While it can strengthen alliances, the effectiveness of arms sales in influencing the behavior of recipient countries is often limited. The cases of Saudi Arabia's actions in Yemen and Israel's conduct in the Gaza Strip are highlighted as examples where human rights conditions attached to arms sales have been disregarded, undermining the intended leverage.

15:04

๐Ÿ’ฐ The Military-Industrial Complex Driving Arms Sales

The video explores the economic incentives behind the arms trade, driven by the military-industrial complex and the financial interests of private corporations involved in weapons manufacturing. It discusses how the network of jobs and financial stakes in these companies incentivize lawmakers to approve arms sales, creating a conflict of interest. The profit motive and the desire to enrich these corporations contribute to the continued flow of weapons around the world.

20:05

๐Ÿ•Š๏ธ Reflecting on the Arms Trade and Seeking Change

In the concluding segment, the video reflects on the inherent contradictions and dangers of the global arms trade. While weapons play a role in maintaining stability, the conflicts of interest and profit motives hinder proper scrutiny and decision-making for the greater good. The video highlights the need for change and the importance of critiquing and questioning the arms trade to prevent devastating consequences, as witnessed in historical conflicts fueled by an unchecked weapons industry.

Mindmap

Keywords

๐Ÿ’กArms Trade

The arms trade refers to the business of international transfer of weaponry and military equipment between nations. The video explores the extensive global arms trade by the United States, which sells weapons to over 103 countries. These weapons flows are visualized as 'tentacles of US influence,' suggesting the arms trade is a means for the US to project its power and secure interests abroad.

๐Ÿ’กBalance of Power

Balance of power is a key concept in international relations, referring to the idea that nations build up their military capabilities to match or deter potential rivals, avoiding an imbalance that could provoke conflict. The video explains how the US justifies its arms sales as maintaining the 'balance of power' in different regions by strengthening allies and partners.

๐Ÿ’กMilitary-Industrial Complex

The military-industrial complex refers to the vested interests and symbiotic relationship between the military, the defense industry, and political bodies that drive continued production and sale of arms. The video highlights how profit motives, jobs tied to weapons manufacturing, and potential conflicts of interest contribute to the persistent arms trade.

๐Ÿ’กCurrency of Weapons

The video uses the metaphor of weapons as a 'currency' that the US employs to buy influence, secure alliances, and further its interests abroad. By providing arms, the US expects recipient nations to offer stability, resources, counter rivals, or otherwise support American objectives โ€“ though the effectiveness of this 'currency' is questioned.

๐Ÿ’กHuman Rights Violations

The video cites instances where US-supplied weapons have been used by recipient countries to commit human rights violations, such as Saudi Arabia's bombing of civilians in Yemen despite conditions attached to the arms sales. This undermines the US stated goals of promoting peace and respect for human rights through the arms trade.

๐Ÿ’กWeapons Proliferation

Weapons proliferation refers to the uncontrolled spread and circulation of arms beyond their intended recipients. The video notes examples where US weapons given to rebel groups or allies later ended up in the hands of hostile forces or insurgents, fueling further conflicts, demonstrating the risks of proliferation.

๐Ÿ’กAlliances

Alliances, such as NATO, are formal military partnerships between nations. The US provides weapons to its allies as a way to strengthen their defensive capabilities and preparedness for potential joint operations. Cultivating alliances is one of the key motivations behind American arms sales, as shown on the visualization.

๐Ÿ’กVital Resources

Vital resources like oil, strategic locations, or critical industries are another motivating factor behind US arms sales. The video suggests the US provides weapons to nations controlling such resources to secure continued access and influence over their distribution or protection, such as with Saudi Arabia for oil.

๐Ÿ’กStability

Promoting stability in different regions is cited as one of the stated goals of the US arms trade. By strengthening the military capabilities of partner governments, the US aims to maintain the status quo and prevent destabilizing conflicts or regime changes that could threaten American interests.

๐Ÿ’กDeterrence

Deterrence refers to the concept of dissuading adversaries or rivals from hostile actions by demonstrating sufficient military strength and the capability to respond forcefully. The video shows how the US provides arms to nations bordering its major rivals, like Russia and China, as a deterrent against potential aggression.

Highlights

The United States sold weapons to 103 countries, and that's major weapons. Generally, whenever the United States provides weapons to other countries, they have to agree on how to use them, and they're not supposed to use them to violate human rights.

The big paradox in international relations is that countries will naturally get into conflict with each other unless they calculate that it is unwise to do so, that they actually don't have a chance of winning or gaining anything. So countries are always building up their weapons, so that they have just enough so that their enemy will not attack them, but not too much to where they will provoke some kind of escalation and their enemy will start to get into a race to have more weapons.

The US has influence all over the world. You could look at these lines as almost tentacles of US influence in almost every country on earth, selling jets and guns and tanks and missiles and bombs, and radar and helicopters in exchange for influence.

The US sometimes wants stability in the region, and it achieves that sometimes by wanting stability in terms of we picked you as a government, we would like you to stay in power.

One of the reasons we sell is so that we don't have to be the world policemen everywhere all the time, doing all the work. We can have people who basically outsource it to.

At the end of the day, there is a deep underlying force in all of this, which is that the more weapons we sell, the more money they make. And the people in this town, wanna make a ton of money.

Weapons are one of the most effective ways for the US to get other governments on its side. And so it's a goal of almost every weapons deal.

The US considers many countries allies, but we only included countries that the US is obligated to defend because it's signed a treaty.

Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, and so the US is selling Ukraine weapons, and in exchange the US is stopping Russia from conquering it and other countries in the region.

By selling them weapons, the US is asking these countries to protect and give it access to these resources.

War and coups have made many regions in Africa volatile and unpredictable, and the US hopes that by selling weapons to these governments, it can help them stay in power and maintain the status quo.

The definitions are based on some subjective categories that we came up with. But even still, it's useful to see that American weapons come with expectations that these countries will help the US project influence and power all over the globe.

There's no question some countries welcome it. Our allies like Korea and Japan and so forth. Australia. And it probably does cement those relationships, make it more likely they'll support the US in a crunch.

The Obama administration approved loads of weapons transfers to Saudi Arabia, and in doing so, we had some strings attached. A big one being that those weapons could not be used to violate human rights or genocide, crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva Convention, serious violations of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, attacks directed against civilians who are legally protected from attacks, or other war crimes. And yet, as Saudi Arabia has been waging this war against Yemen, they've done exactly that, using American weapons.

American weapons are being used on both sides of a conflict. It just feels a little bit like deja vu from the book that was written a hundred years ago, stating that this was a problem and it still kind of is.

Transcripts

00:01

(ominous synth music)

00:04

- We've been busy mapping where weapons flow in this world,

00:07

especially those that originate in the United States.

00:10

And this is part two of a series on the arms trade.

00:14

If you watch part one, you'll already know

00:16

that there's a long history

00:17

of businessmen getting rich off of war.

00:20

(synth music)

00:21

But I wanted to see

00:22

what the weapons trade looks like today using data.

00:26

So after months of working on this,

00:28

we finally got a map that looks nice.

00:30

It looks pretty.

00:31

The thicker the lines, the more weapons flow.

00:34

So in this video I want to go deep into these lines

00:37

to show you what they can teach us about

00:39

how the United States projects its power, about what happens

00:43

when you sprinkle weapons all around the globe.

00:45

I've been looking at every one of these countries

00:47

and with the help of my new colleague, Sam, I'm hoping

00:50

to bring you in into a much deeper understanding

00:52

of the American arms trade.

00:54

I also wanna let you in on some

00:55

of the conversations I've been having

00:56

with experts in this field,

00:58

which for me was very helpful in decoding all of this.

01:03

Hello. Hello.

01:04

- I'm Jeff Abramson.

01:05

I'm a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy

01:07

and I also lead something called The Forum on the Arms Trade

01:10

which is really where my passion is.

01:12

- I'm Bill Hartung.

01:13

I'm currently a senior research fellow

01:15

at Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.

01:18

I've been working on arms trade issues since the 90s.

01:21

- Why do we sell weapons to other countries

01:25

in the first place?

01:26

- I mean, at the most basic level it is

01:28

to promote peace and security.

01:30

When we talk about the currency

01:31

of international relationships,

01:33

sometimes weapons become that currency

01:35

and what we desperately need is alternate currencies.

01:39

- Well, there's the textbook reasons and real reasons.

01:42

The Pentagon would tell you it promotes stability,

01:46

it helps allies defend themselves.

01:48

So there's this kind of strategic argument,

01:50

but it's really about if you believe the US should be able

01:52

to go anywhere, fight any battle, beat any adversary.

01:57

It's kind of premised

01:58

in a fairly militarized view of foreign policy.

02:01

- The United States sold weapons to 103 countries

02:04

and that's major weapons.

02:05

Generally whenever the United States provides weapons

02:07

to other country, they have to agree on how to use them

02:10

and they're not supposed to use them

02:12

to violate human rights.

02:13

But it's hard to see the leverage

02:15

that the United States can use with that government.

02:17

(synth music)

02:22

- One last thing I wanna do before we dive fully in is give

02:24

you a theoretical point in IR, international relations.

02:27

Understanding this will help us understand

02:29

this map much better.

02:30

It's this concept of balance of power.

02:32

The big paradox in international relations

02:35

is that countries will naturally get into conflict

02:38

with each other unless they calculate

02:40

that it is unwise to do so,

02:42

that they actually don't have a chance

02:43

of winning or gaining anything.

02:45

So countries are always building up their weapons

02:47

so that they have just enough so that

02:50

their enemy will not attack them,

02:52

but not too much to where they will provoke some kind

02:55

of escalation and their enemy will start

02:57

to get into a race to have more weapons.

03:00

Every country is making this calculation all of the time,

03:03

this balance of power with their rivals in their region.

03:06

And weapons systems and capabilities tends

03:09

to be the ingredients that are used for that calculation,

03:14

for that balance of power.

03:15

When the US government approves a bunch

03:17

of weapons being sent to some country,

03:19

in all of their press releases

03:20

they always say the same thing, which is that

03:22

this sale will not alter the balance of power in the region.

03:25

An imbalance of power is what leads

03:28

to escalating conflict and instability.

03:31

What an irony that the promotion of peace

03:33

and security is sell killing machines to other countries.

03:37

- There are people who believe

03:39

this creates better peace and security.

03:41

At the moment of the transfer it seems like a good idea.

03:44

It feels like you've gotta provide them

03:46

or like this is the only solution is you put these weapons

03:48

in this situation because we're out of options.

03:52

- The first takeaway from this is just

03:55

what you can see immediately,

03:57

that the United States has a massive presence

04:00

all around the world.

04:01

You could look at these lines as almost tentacles

04:04

of US influence in almost every country on earth,

04:07

selling jets and guns and tanks and missiles and bombs

04:11

and radar and helicopters in exchange for influence.

04:15

- I'd say at the real global level is this idea

04:18

that if we are engaging in you in the arms trade,

04:22

if you are buying weapons from us,

04:24

we will have some say in how you act.

04:28

- But that's about all this map will show you.

04:31

The US has influence all over the world.

04:32

It's something we kind of know.

04:34

I want to get a deeper understanding of what's going on

04:37

with each of these lines, which is why I reached out

04:40

to my good friend Sam Ellis.

04:41

Sam Ellis, creator of Search Party.

04:44

Do you have time to help me out?

04:45

- Yeah, let's do it. - Let's do it.

04:46

Sam specializes in taking something

04:48

that's complicated and giving us a better insight into it,

04:52

helping us learn from it using design and visual language.

04:57

So Sam's down here and we're going to figure out

05:00

how to decode this map.

05:02

- There's a place that collects all and that's our guy.

05:05

- What we are trying to do here

05:07

is we want to understand the why

05:10

'cause this map doesn't say why.

05:12

It doesn't say what is the US' motive in this.

05:14

It's often securing the loyalty of a regime somewhere

05:17

and weapons are the currency for securing loyalty.

05:20

- The US sometimes wants stability in the region

05:22

and it achieves that sometimes by wanting stability

05:25

in terms of we picked you as a government,

05:27

we would like you to stay in power.

05:29

- One of the reasons we sell is so that we don't have

05:31

to be the world policemen everywhere all the time

05:35

doing all the work.

05:36

We can have people who basically outsource it to.

05:39

- What I'd like this map system

05:41

to somehow convey is that what the US buys

05:45

with the currency of weapons varies.

05:47

And I think it would be really interesting

05:49

to zoom in to some of these case studies

05:52

and somehow show what the US is buying.

05:55

So it's stability, it's allies--

05:58

- It's ally, stability, resources, relationship,

06:01

and we put all the categories on

06:02

and then you zoom into the different combinations.

06:05

Let's zoom into Saudi Arabia. They have all four.

06:06

Why do they have all four?

06:08

Let's go to Columbia. They have two. Why two?

06:11

- So when we zoom into these cases,

06:15

we should be more descriptive and less analytical.

06:16

- So what do you think the map is gonna look like?

06:19

Do you think that the the most weapons are gonna go

06:21

to the country with the most number of badges?

06:24

- Yes.

06:25

At the end of the day, there is a deep underlying force

06:30

in all of this, which is that the more weapons we sell,

06:33

the more money they make.

06:34

And the people in this town

06:35

wanna make a (beep) ton of money.

06:36

(ambient music)

06:40

- Okay, so the goal here is to take this map,

06:42

which shows who the US is selling weapons to

06:44

and add what they're asking for in return.

06:48

But that's a lot easier said than done.

06:49

Because the US doesn't say exactly what it wants back

06:52

for these countries in exchange for weapons,

06:54

it's hard for us to make any definitive claims.

06:57

But I think if we look at these countries' locations,

06:59

their history and their relationship with the US,

07:02

we can surmise that the US is asking

07:04

for basically five main things: stability, alliances,

07:08

friendship, help against an enemy or a rival

07:11

and vital resources.

07:12

So we looked at the more than 100 countries

07:14

that the US sell's weapons to and tried to estimate

07:17

what they could give the US in return.

07:19

And then we mapped it.

07:21

(synth music)

07:26

So now we can see not only who the US sell's weapons to,

07:29

but we have an idea of why.

07:31

And although this is based on subjective estimations by us,

07:34

it's still useful to see that American weapons come

07:37

with expectations, namely

07:39

that these countries will help the US project its influence

07:42

and its power all over the globe.

07:46

So if we think of weapons as a currency,

07:48

then the most common thing it's buying is friendship.

07:51

Weapons are one of the most effective ways for the US

07:54

to get other governments on its side.

07:56

And so it's a goal of almost every weapons deal.

07:58

But some countries have more to offer than others.

08:01

If we zoom to Europe, you'll see

08:03

that the US is also buying stronger allies.

08:06

The US is in the NATO alliance with most of these countries

08:09

so the US sells them weapons as a way

08:11

to make their defenses as strong as possible

08:13

and to prepare them for the possibility

08:15

that they may have to fight a war together.

08:17

The US considers many countries allies,

08:20

but we only included countries that the US is obligated

08:22

to defend because it's signed a treaty.

08:25

Ukraine is an example of a country that the US sells lots

08:28

of weapons to but isn't in the NATO alliance.

08:31

Instead, the US is asking for Ukraine to counter an enemy.

08:35

We've defined four countries

08:37

as the main enemies or rivals of the US.

08:39

The US often sells weapons to their neighbors

08:41

as a way to fight a war against them

08:43

or deter them from starting a new one.

08:46

Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014,

08:48

and so the US is selling Ukraine weapons

08:50

and in exchange the US is stopping Russia

08:53

from conquering it and other countries in the region.

08:55

In the Middle East, the US sells weapons to a number

08:58

of countries as a way to counter its other enemy, Iran.

09:01

The primary example is Israel

09:03

who gets a huge number of weapons from the US.

09:05

But the US also sells weapons to countries

09:07

that control vital resources that it needs.

09:10

In the case of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, that's oil.

09:13

But a vital resource can also mean a strategic passageway

09:16

like the Suez Canal in Egypt where a lot

09:18

of the world's shipping goes through.

09:20

By selling them weapons, the US is asking these countries

09:23

to protect and give it access to these resources.

09:26

In Africa, the US sells weapons to many governments,

09:29

not just to secure resources, but also to try

09:31

and make them more stable.

09:33

War and coups have made many regions in Africa volatile

09:36

and unpredictable, and the US hopes that by selling weapons

09:39

to these governments, it can help them stay in power

09:42

and maintain the status quo.

09:44

It's important to understand

09:45

that these labels often overlap like in East Asia.

09:49

China, a major US rival is pushing

09:51

to assert its control over this region

09:53

and the US is responding by selling weapons

09:56

to countries standing in its way.

09:57

Some are allies, some control vital resources

10:01

like Taiwan's semiconductor industry.

10:03

Then there are many that the US feels it needs to strengthen

10:06

so that China can't destabilize the region.

10:08

So now we can see not only

10:10

where these weapons flow, but why.

10:12

The definitions are based on

10:14

some subjective categories that we came up with.

10:16

But even still, it's useful to see

10:18

that American weapons come with expectations

10:20

that these countries will help the US project influence

10:23

and power all over the globe.

10:27

- Okay, thank you Sam.

10:29

Man, I'm glad Sam came into this story.

10:30

He is the master of taking complex systems

10:34

and breaking them down to get a deeper understanding

10:37

of really rich data.

10:39

Search Party is the channel I started

10:41

with Sam last year and it is awesome.

10:45

It's similar to what we do here,

10:46

but with a very different journalistic approach.

10:48

You should go subscribe because it's really good stuff.

10:52

So for the final chapter of this video,

10:55

I'm going to address something that many of you familiar

10:59

with the arms trade are maybe thinking about right now

11:02

which is, does all of this actually work?

11:06

If weapons are a currency for influence

11:08

and the US is using that currency to buy stuff,

11:11

to buy influencer stability around the world,

11:14

does that actually work the way that the Pentagon

11:17

and the United States government think it does?

11:19

The short answer is sometimes, but not really.

11:24

Where weapons really do work is in keeping alliances strong.

11:29

- There's no question some countries welcome it.

11:32

Our allies like Korea and Japan and so forth. Australia.

11:36

And it probably does cement those relationships,

11:39

make it more likely they'll support the US in a crunch.

11:43

- But when it comes to trying to use weapons as an incentive

11:48

to get countries to behave the way you want them to,

11:51

that's where it kind of starts to break down.

11:53

And the best case for this is Saudi Arabia.

11:56

You can see on this map

11:57

we give a lot of weapons to Saudi Arabia.

12:00

The Obama administration approved loads of weapons transfers

12:03

to Saudi Arabia, and in doing so,

12:06

we had some strings attached.

12:08

A big one being that those weapons could not be used

12:10

to violate human rights or from the horse's mouth:

12:14

genocide, crimes against humanity,

12:15

grave breaches of the Geneva Convention,

12:17

serious violations of Common Article 3

12:19

of the Geneva Conventions, attacks directed

12:21

against civilians who are legally protected from attacks

12:24

or other war crimes as defined by 18 USC 2441.

12:29

Translation, Saudi Arabia is not to use these weapons

12:32

against civilians in any of their conflicts.

12:34

And yet, as Saudi Arabia has been waging this war

12:36

against Yemen, they've done exactly that,

12:39

using American weapons.

12:41

They've bombed hospitals, weddings, and even a school bus.

12:45

And we know that this is American weapons

12:47

because investigators and journalists have looked

12:50

at the wreckage of these attacks

12:53

and looked at the actual serial numbers, concluding

12:55

that these are American weapons,

12:57

that they flow through these lines.

12:59

- Although Saudi Arabia was dropping bombs,

13:03

most people in Yemen viewed it as an American war.

13:05

Sent arms to Saudi Arabia that slaughter people in Yemen.

13:10

But there was sort of this notion of,

13:11

well, they're an oil supplier.

13:12

They're a bulwark against Iran

13:14

and those so-called larger strategic interest

13:18

overrode the human rights imperatives.

13:21

- Shout out to Bellingcat,

13:22

the open source investigative journalism project

13:24

that helped uncover a lot of this stuff.

13:26

So Saudi Arabia isn't obey the conditions

13:29

that we put on these weapons,

13:31

and Congress tried to pass a resolution that said

13:33

that they were gonna cut off some of this military aid

13:35

that we were giving to Saudi Arabia.

13:37

The problem is a lot of the power

13:39

to approve these weapon sales rests

13:41

with the executive, the president.

13:42

So President Trump actually vetoed this resolution.

13:45

And even under the Biden administration,

13:47

even though there was like a brief pause,

13:48

the weapons have kept flowing, making it very clear

13:52

that this leverage that the US thinks it has

13:56

because it's the provider of all of these weapons,

13:59

is actually kind of reversed.

14:01

Turns out Saudi Arabia has a lot

14:03

more leverage than we thought.

14:05

- The ideas of the United States has kind

14:07

of captured Saudi Arabia by having this weapons

14:10

and defense arrangement, that the Saudis need to rely on us.

14:13

They will do things that we ask them to do.

14:15

But I think the opposite is now happening,

14:17

that Saudi Arabia's been able to turn the tides

14:19

and say, "Hey, if you don't provide this,

14:21

"we'll find an alternate partner."

14:23

The relationship has been perverted.

14:26

- Okay, but Saudi Arabia is a monarchy.

14:28

Maybe we have better luck influencing fellow democracies.

14:32

So let's look at Israel, who receives more military aid

14:35

from the United States than any other country.

14:37

- I think Israel's the prime example of the lack of leverage

14:40

that you would think a well developed

14:43

long-term weapons relationship would have.

14:46

- The US government has come out

14:47

and said that they are not happy with the way

14:49

that Israel is conducting its war

14:51

against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

14:53

And yet what we see here is an effort

14:55

to push more military aid to Israel without any pause

14:58

or withdraw of these weapons transfers.

15:01

- And that's the reality of the arms trade is that

15:03

we can hope countries will take things into mind.

15:06

We can tell them we want to do things,

15:09

but ultimately they end up making local decisions

15:12

for their local needs.

15:13

- There's a lot more cases just like this,

15:15

like the Philippines, where the Duterte regime has used

15:18

American weapons to carry out a brutal war on drugs,

15:21

murdering and jailing civilians in the process.

15:24

What's confusing about this is that

15:26

in some sense the weapons are working for US interests.

15:29

We sell them these weapons, we give them these weapons,

15:32

we buy their support in deterring our enemy.

15:35

But in the process, these weapons that we use

15:38

as our currency are used for other things

15:41

that have nothing to do with deterring our enemy.

15:43

And sometimes it gets really out of control,

15:45

like we give a lot of weapons to Turkey, a NATO ally.

15:48

Turkey will then transfer that to its proxies in Syria

15:51

who will use them to fight against American-backed rebels

15:56

that are also using US weapons.

15:58

So American weapons are being used

15:59

on both sides of a conflict.

16:02

It just feels a little bit like deja vu from the book

16:05

that was written a hundred years ago, stating

16:08

that this was a problem and it still kind of is.

16:10

The other big issue with using weapons

16:12

as your main currency for influence around the world

16:15

is that weapons don't just go away.

16:18

Back in the 80s, the CIA transferred a bunch of weapons

16:21

to rebel fighters in Afghanistan

16:23

who were fighting against the Soviets.

16:25

Decades later, those same weapons were being used

16:28

by those fighters and their descendants to fight

16:31

against Americans who were then invading Afghanistan.

16:35

Same thing happened in Libya.

16:36

We gave a bunch of weapons there and they leaked out

16:39

and ended up in the hands of militants

16:42

and insurgents in Syria and South Sudan.

16:44

So if weapons are this currency

16:46

that don't actually give us leverage

16:47

and that can create more danger than stability,

16:50

why do we keep making them

16:52

and sending them to over a hundred countries?

16:55