by Tyler Durden….. If ever there was a clearer indication of America’s “need for war” it was the latest Durable Goods orders data, which confirmed, absent defense spending, the US economy is in a tail-spin. However, as NYTimes reports, foreign arms sales by the United States jumped by almost $10 billion in 2014, about 35 percent, even as the global weapons market remained flat and competition among suppliers increased, thanks to multibillion-dollar agreements with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.
Defense Spending New Orders has soared 148% in the last 3 months… the biggest rise since 2007
But it is the US arms sales to foreigners that is really flourishing.Despite a stagnant international weapons market and increased competition among suppliers, American foreign weapons receipts rose from $26.7 billion to $36.2 billion last year. According to a new congressional report, as The NY Times reports…
The United States remained the single largest provider of arms around the world last year, controlling just over 50 percent of the market.
Russia followed the United States as the top weapons supplier, completing $10.2 billion in sales, compared with $10.3 billion in 2013. Sweden was third, with roughly $5.5 billion in sales, followed by France with $4.4 billion and China with $2.2 billion.South Korea, a key American ally, was the world’s top weapons buyer in 2014, completing $7.8 billion in contracts. It has faced continued tensions with neighboring North Korea in recent years over the North’s nuclear weapons program and other provocations. The bulk of South Korea’s purchases, worth more than $7 billion, were made with the United States and included transport helicopters and related support, as well as advanced unmanned aerial surveillance vehicles.
Iraq followed South Korea, with $7.3 billion in purchases intended to build up its military in the wake of the American troop withdrawal there.
Brazil, another developing nation building its military force, was third with $6.5 billion worth of purchase agreements, primarily for Swedish aircraft.The report to Congress found that total global arms sales rose slightly in 2014 to $71.8 billion, from $70.1 billion in 2013. Despite that increase, the report concluded that “the international arms market is not likely growing over all,” because of “the weakened state of the global economy.”
So, as has been explained so many times ad nauseum that even the most hawkish warmongerer cannot avoid it, the truth is, America (well it’s corporatocracy) has a 3-step plan to make money…
Step 1: Put on Pants
Step 2: Start Warmongery in Middle-East
Of course, this is hardly news, as Ron Paul told RT: Seen from the proper angle, the dollar is revealed to be a paper thin instrument of warfare, a ripple effect on the people, a twisted illusion, a weaponized money now engaged in a covert economic warfare that threatens their very livelihood.
The former Congressman and presidential candidate explained:
Almost all wars have been paid for through inflation… the practice always ends badly as currency becomes debased leading to upward pressure on prices.
“Almost all wars, in a hundred years or so, have been paid for through inflation, that is debasing the currency,” he said, adding that this has been going on “for hundreds, if not thousands of years.”“I don’t know if we ever had a war paid though tax payers. The only thing where they must have been literally paid for, was when they depended on the looting. They would go in and take over a country, and they would loot and take their gold, and they would pay for the war.”As inflation has debased the currency, other shady Wall Street tactics have driven Americans into a corner, overwhelmed with debt, and gamed by rigged markets in which Americans must make a living. The economic prosperity, adjusted for the kind of reality that doesn’t factor into government reports, can’t match the costs of a military industrial complex that has transformed society into a domestic police state, and slapped Americans with the bill for their own enslavement.Dr. Paul notes the mutual interest in keeping the lie going for as long as the public can stand it… and as long as the gravy keeps rolling in: They’re going to continue to finance all these warmongering, and letting the military industrial complex to make a lot of money, before it’s admitted that it doesn’t work, and the whole system comes down because of the debt burden, which would be unsustainable.”
Unsustainable might be putting it lightly. The entire thing is in shambles from the second the coyote looks down and sees that he’s run out over a cliff.
Gentleman, choose your weapons: Behind the scenes at the special forces arms fair loved by trigger happy generals (and no, the one with the beard isn’t Sacha Baron Cohen)
No, this isn’t a scene from the latest Sacha Baron Cohen comedy The Dictator, this is Sofex 2012, one of the biggest arms fairs in the world
ARMAN CIVIL AIRPORT, JORDAN
Delegates arrive at the Sofex arms fair, Jordan. This is where the men who usually hide in the shadows come to see and be seen
Arising column of smoke draws a smudged line through the clean blue sky.
Terrorists wearing Arab scarves prowl across the roof while their flat bed truck armed with a 50mm machine gun is parked out on the runway.
Inside the departure lounge 20 hostages are being held by armed gunmen.
Overhead, unseen and unheard, a string of parachutists from Jordan’s Royal Special Forces hit the ground running, gathering in their ’chutes.
They quickly position snipers, scout the area and call in air support. A rapid assault begins with two F-16s swooping along the line of the runway.
The terrorist truck is instantly vapourised; the pressure wave rolling across the desert floor.
Chinese People’s Liberation Army officer tests an American rifle at Sofex 2012. Jordan is peculiarly placed to hold this event, surrounded as it is by Iraq, Israel, Egypt and Syria
Suddenly from nowhere two MD 500 scout helicopters pop up, their mini-guns ripping into fleeing terrorists.
As they circle overhead, the final stage of the assault begins.
Four UH 60 Black Hawks, sombre fat hearses, rumble in. A seven-man squad fast-ropes out of the first and lands on the roof of the departure lounge; the other three touch down around the building, disgorging three more assault teams.
Suddenly the departure lounge door blows and the soldiers pour inside. Gunfire and screaming follows.
A terrorist, dashing out of the building on to open ground, is chased and brought down by the team’s alsation in a whirl of teeth and cheap denim.
Overhead the scout helicopters move aside as a huge C130 transport plane drops in and pulls up next to the lounge.
Bullets for sale: A Turkish ammunition stall offers the very latest in ballistic style
The plane’s rear ramp drops down and a special operations all-terrain vehicle hurtles out of the back, ready to pick up casualties.
There aren’t any – the mission is a success. Hostages flow out of the building and onto the ramp at the back for a hasty take-off, along with the sole surviving terrorist.
‘That was slick!’ says the U.S. Army pilot standing next to me, as he plants a cigarette in the corner of his mouth.
‘You’re in a video game right now. It was badass! It takes great coordination or you could crash – that happens a lot.
London firm Ariel Maritime’s stand at the Sofex 2012 arms fair
‘You’re flying up there hunting around for targets and you don’t see the other heli, then bump!’
He should know. The crowd I’m standing with is peppered with U.S. marines, army rangers, green berets and navy seals from 50 different countries, along with arms dealers, a couple of kings and some Italian generals pilfering all the pens they can carry.
This is Sofex 2012, one of the biggest arms fairs in the world, which brings together special forces commanders from around the world to discuss terrorism and homeland security.
It’s where the men who usually hide in the shadows come to see and be seen.
Sex sells: There’s little to link an attractive model and a horse with international arms dealing… but it doesn’t seem to bother the shotgun-wielding guest in this picture
SPECIAL FORCES COMMANDERS’ CONFERENCE, AMMAN
The entourage of King Abdullah II sweeps into the conference hall, which today looks like a university lecture theatre filled with a bunch of torturers from old Steven Seagal movies.Men with structurally unsound epaulettes buzz and fawn around him.
On the big screen is a picture of the King, and the head of a desert eagle, representing Saladin.
Jordan is peculiarly placed to hold this event, surrounded as it is by Iraq, Israel, Egypt and Syria, with Al-Qaeda groups in Yemen and Somalia only a stone’s throw away.
Add to this the recent instability of the Arab spring, the atrocities in Syria and the uprising in Bahrain and you have a room full of very busy, extremely paranoid men.
An army colonel sitting next to me is happy to inform me that Jordan has an economy like Greece, high unemployment and no natural resources.
He says Jordan needs nuclear power and holding these get-togethers seems like a good way of proving how responsible and stable they are.
Out in the lobby the delegates are munching mini croissants and drinking coffee.
Special forces officers from various countries share croissants and a joke. Handshakes are more of a wrestling match than a social nicety
There are officers from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, piratical looking chaps from Croat special forces, Singapore Rangers, Austrian special forces (who wear William Tell hats) and Ukrainians, whose spectacular head gear is a cross between an old schoolmaster’s mortar board and a bin lid.
Handshakes are more of a wrestling match than a social nicety.
They are joined by representatives from Lebanon, Bahrain, Yemen, Iraq and Libya. Various Thai and South Korean commanders have a ball taking snaps of themselves with American special forces officers, who they treat like Justin Bieber.
The big American generals and commanders are the real rock stars here, and Brigadier General Sean Mulholland, Deputy Director of Ops for SOCOM, delivers the first speech.
SOCOM is the U.S. Special Operations Command, whose Seal Team Six last year killed Osama Bin Laden. SOCOM has its own $7 billion budget to spend on vehicles, kit, training, IT and weapons for its 60,000 soldiers.
Due to the recent instability of the Arab spring, the atrocities in Syria and the uprising in Bahrain, you have a room full of very busy, extremely paranoid men
At a time when the regular U.S. army, marines and air force budgets are shrinking, SOCOM’s is being increased.
As Mulholland grinds his way through his PowerPoint presentation, many of the officers natter or actually nod off.
The Chinese officials, however, listen intently, holding up their mobile phones to take pictures of every slide.
With the speeches over, I make my way to the buffet past three body-building Spetsnaz Russian commandos wearing identical black combat gear and jump boots, and bump into British defence attaché to Jordan, Colonel David Brown.
I ask him if this event is really more about networking, as no one except for the Chinese seemed to get anything out of the PowerPoint presentations.
‘The networking aspect cannot be ignored,’ he says, ‘If one’s honest, the purpose of these 20-minute slots is to say here I am, this is what I do, here are some talking points.’It’s the conversations over the next three days that really get people together.’
One of the delegates tries the JRESCO grenade-launcher simulator
SOFEX ARMS FAIR, AMMAN CIVIL AIRPORT, JORDAN
This is day one of Sofex (Special Operations Forces Exhibition), where corporations and manufacturers from General Dynamics down to the lowliest logistics firm hawk their wares to the region’s most elite and well-funded military units.
On sale is everything a growing special forces unit might need, from inflatable boats to large Russian cargo planes.
The halls are divided into four areas: America; Russia (including Rosoboronexport, the Russian state controlled arms trader that recently fulfilled arms contracts with the Assad regime in Syria, and which has a nice line in attack helicopters and armoured vehicles); China; and the rest of the world.
On sale is everything a growing special forces unit might need, from inflatable boats to large Russian cargo planes
The Chinese hall seems to sell products knocked off from the other three. Walls are lined with gun racks and every kind of military gizmo you can imagine, from virtual shooting ranges to hand-held missiles.
Some of the products are genuinely brilliant.
An American firm, Field Forensics, has created a small box that fits in the palm of your hand and works as a mini explosives laboratory, like a litmus test.
‘The guys using this might enter a building, find a load of chemicals and not know if they are drugs or explosives,’ says British security expert Kevin Cresswell.‘With this they’ll know if it’s an explosive, and if so to be extra careful.’
Rather unnervingly, to demonstrate how it works he tips some TNT powder on my hand.
While we are talking, a Chinese man in a suit begins to methodically photograph everything on the stand. He opens bags and lays out the contents, snapping them from left to right.
U.S. marines, army rangers, green berets and navy seals from 50 different countries, along with arms dealers, a couple of kings and some Italian generals pilfering all the pens they can carry, attend the fair
‘Chinese intelligence,’ laughs Cresswell.There are a small team of these photographers working the hall, methodically snapping new products either for Chinese arms companies or the government.
As the photographers continue, Cresswell points at the bomb suit behind him: ‘This suit is South African – it’s brilliant.’They’ve got a copy of the same suit in the Chinese hall, made by a Beijing company for a third of the price.’He shakes his head. ‘The only problem is it doesn’t offer anywhere near the same protection.’
The large British contingent is overseen by UK trade association ADS (Aerospace, Defence, Security).
It’s important for the Exchequer that things go well here: the UK arms industry employs 300,000 UK residents and turns over approximately £35 billion a year.
A staged special forces hostage rescue operation
Gordon Lane is managing director of ADS. I ask him if this is part of a big push to gain a chunk of the $100-billion-a-year Middle East defence market, which is presently dominated by the U.S., France, and Russia.
‘Well yes, but there’s much more to it than just business.
‘On a political level, if you think what has happened in the last 18 months to two years, being able to influence these countries is important.’They have big connections to the UK and our military; we have had a connection to countries like Oman for years, and in these countries loyalties and relationships count for a lot.’The fact that we have been here for a long time is not lost on them, the fact that there is a special envoy here is quite special and deliberate.’
Among the British brands represented is Magnum (a brand of footwear firm HiTec), which has designed a boot for maritime special forces units.
Assorted military observers watch from the stand
‘At the moment they are wearing normal diving boots, which don’t give them any support as they might also have to walk up to five kilometres on land,’ says Magnum’s Simon Marshall.
‘So what we’ve done is taken a normal outsole on one of our boots and altered the design for the maritime counter-terror boys so that it drains really quickly.
‘They are on trial with 15 different marine-based special forces units around the world. Worldwide, we might sell 5,000 pairs of these a year.
Fiction: Sacha Baron Cohen in The Dictator
‘People who come to the stand at this show are serious,’ he adds.
‘These guys have got their own budgets so don’t have to wait for four years for tender.
‘If they like something they have a credit card and they just buy what they want. It’s a simple way to do business.’
Newcomers this year are the Palestinian Civil Police.
Manned by a couple of senior policemen, their stand is furnished with a potted tree, a large marble sculpture of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and a framed picture of PLO leader Yasser Arafat.
‘We are not selling anything here,’ says Major Jafar.‘It’s our first time at Sofex and it is our strategy to raise the name of Palestine, with positive propaganda of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian authority, to say that we are here and we are living and fighting to keep ourselves alive.
‘The tree is the olive tree. It’s a symbol of peace – the Palestinian people all the time are planting this tree within our land, and sometimes the Israelis incur and sometimes they destroy these trees so it’s a symbol that we are still here.
‘We won’t move, if you destroy it we will plant another one.’
It’s quite a moment. His eyes start to fill up with tears.‘Hold on,’ he says, wiping his eye, ‘I’ll get you a gift bag.’
Data from SIPRI: Arms exports for the 15 largest exporters, year 2014 (http://armstrade.sipri.org/armstrade/page/toplist.php)
OBS: million dollars at constant 1990 prices–multiply by 1.8 to adjust for CPI inflation
1. United States 10194
2. Russia 5971
3. France 1978
4. United Kingdom 1704
5. Germany 1200
6. Spain 1110
7. China 1083
8. Israel 824
9. Italy 786
10. Ukraine 664
11. Netherlands 561
12. Sweden 394
13. Switzerland 350
14. Turkey 274
15. Canada 234
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