tv [untitled] February 21, 2011 11:30am-12:00pm EST
less in danger the world security obviously events in the middle east are top of mind. to discuss global military spending i'm joined by joel johnson in washington he's from the teal group corp an american aerospace and defense consulting company in stockholm we have paul holt i'm he is a senior researcher with the stockholm international peace research institutes arms transfer program and in oxford to go to d.p.i. in bass or a he is a policy advisor for oxfam and another member of our cross talk team yell on the hunger for a gentleman this is cross talk means you can jump in anytime you want i to go to very broadly and then go very specific to the middle east and i to go to joel first the united states accounts for two thirds of all. exported arms in the world are more arms creating a more stable world or a more destabilized world or you don't have it you don't see
a direct correlation between the two well i don't see particularly a direct correlation i would that would note i know one of the common arguments is gee sometimes you supply both sides well where we have such as greece and turkey we haven't had conflict between greece and turkey since world war two which is basically when we started working with both of their militaries similarly in the case of egypt and israel. after the seventy three war when egypt basically said change suppliers from. soviet union quote russia the united states again we've had a stabilizing influence i think on both sides it's very hard to find much in the way of at least u.s. arms used against anybody over the last thirty years which is a pretty forty years was a pretty good record you know i like to say u.s. weapons work best when they're not used to the whole purpose of selling weapons to a large degree is so that a country that has them doesn't get attacked by anybody and one hopes they in turn
are are aggressive. or comment on ok ok paul i'd like to go to you i mean and i don't want to jump ahead here but we might see egypt switch sides in one form or another we saw iran's change sides in one nine hundred seventy nine so a lot of that can be played out with a lot of military hardware there but paul i'd like to ask you i mean are more arms creating a more unstable world and according to a jewel it doesn't there's no correlation between the two between the amount of arms in the world and political stability. well i mean there's obviously demand for arms is responding some cases insecurities and what we see in certain parts of the world is increases in arms imports and also efforts to produce weapons by countries in response to sort of perceived threats from other countries that are also receiving weapons so our concern is with regard to i suppose the racism you know mentions turkey and greece not going to war but one could say there's by lot a lot of money and weapons that haven't been used and could that money have been better spent elsewhere i suppose one could ask to try and if i go to you in an
oxford how do you settle on this on this issue here because we see spiraling arms races i mean we heard from jol in and what i want to talk about mostly in this program in the middle east but you know because the saudis want the most sophisticated military hardware it's extremely expensive the israelis want even better and so you just up the ante up the ante up the ante i mean then you have this region that is inherently unstable and then you throw all of this military hardware into it and it's instability on steroids then because as we see it as we're doing this program there's an enormous will not only is there instability there is massive change going on and there's a lot of military on the ground. that's absolutely true but i think the main point that we need to remember here is that insecurity isn't just in the form of an armed actor the u.n. human development reports have identified a whole different set of factors that contribute to people's insecurity so the
question really that needs to be asked is whether or not actually expenditure on arms is the best way to tackle people's insecurity and of course all countries are responsible for their un charter obligations which says that it should be the least diversion of arms least diversion of resources towards arms so it's a question of need what is the proportionality of your expenditure to this need that you identify as your security threat and in some cases arms are not the right response at all joe if i can go to you a lot of people would say cynically i would tend to agree with them too is that when we look at customers in the in the in the arab world in the greater middle east i mean these are governments monarchs dictators that are buying military material to protect their regime not necessarily their people because we've seen over almost the last month we've seen governments opt to use or not to use their military against their own people so it was a lot of people say that it turns into a kind of end user issue i could go much further abroad if we look at the gaza
conflict white phosphorous if that was good if that was supplied from the outside and if that would be tied to an american company one thinks of human rights violations and what not i mean the thing is is that we are we look at where you can see a link on trees by the city but what is their purpose what's their purpose is no one can tell the army was seen as the. as a positive liberating force and in fact that the shots of demonstrators sleeping on tank treads and embracing soldiers tells you something that i think most of the sources of instability in third world countries including the middle east are indeed internal and indeed these weapon systems don't tend to be used against their own people what you tend to see are rubber bullets and tear gas which which is not the kind of thing i think any of us are talking about today. if you look at the reason these countries that i mean there is some instability but it's intriguing if you look at the reason some of these countries are purchasing what they're purchasing whether it be in the middle east where there is uncertainty about where
iran is going to relate it heavily to internal programs of developing missile intercontinental missiles and nuclear if you look in southeast asia it's a concern as to what china's intentions are with a blue water navy demands on the yellow sea and north korea i mean these are where the markets tend to be is southeast asia east asia and the middle east in each case there is a country that unnerves the neighborhood and if that the contrary you've seen very little in the way of major weapons purchases in latin america where by and large none of the neighbors are terribly concerned about any of the other neighbors ok there's some purchases i speak but yeah i mean paul and i mean it was brought up here i guess iran in directly i mean if you didn't have countries like saudi arabia that were mining state of the art and i mean in huge amounts dollar amounts in some of the other smaller smaller neighbors to saudi
arabia then why that is why iran wants to build up its military i mean it's doing it for at least defensive purposes i mean if someone is militarizing your border or your neighborhood you don't have much option but to react and i'm not justifying or or agreeing with the iranians here but just on it on a principle basis of someone's arming their your border you have to react. well one could raise that as a proportionality aspects and is what is being supplied and discussions on more than sixty billion dollars worth of weapons to saudi arabia is that sort of legitimate i mean but the other point i suppose that come out wanting to pick up with joe is that in latin america we do see concerns with a build up an arms race in there so i would leave those out of the equation but to come back to the to the middle east and i suppose the point that we want to address there with would be really with regard to. i suppose are these convention weapons being supplied as a thought to saudi arabia other countries to persuade them not also to go the nuclear route so we've seen iran going on one of the responses could be i suppose
for them also it's considered taking the nuclear option and i suppose the u.s. could justify its position in terms of where we're providing this conventional armory as a sort of a fourth of a as a means to sort of say ok we're going to more than guarantee your security in conventional terms please don't go the nuclear route so one could perhaps see that dimension there but certainly you would raise the question of the amount of weapons being supplied to the gulf cooperation council states not just saudi arabia but we've noted the united arab emirates as a as a major importer recently as two others also talking about increasing their systems post the defense with regard to defense systems and with combat aircraft that have long range straight capabilities so i suppose you know you would be worried if you were in iran surrounded in that neighborhood to determine if i could go to you in oxford i gave the example ariel in one nine hundred seventy nine when the shar was overthrown in iran and left an enormous amount of american military material behind . and you know god forbid we see you know so much instability that we see the
military being used sold weapons to the middle east over the last thirty years but that does kind of make you think that if one country can fall that has enormous arsenals it can be used for other purposes we we've seen this in iran i mean it could happen again considering the instability that we see you today. absolutely i mean there is there is certainly issues around stockpiled security and management issues which will continue to creep up as arsenals continue to grow out of hand which again comes back to that question of need how do you actually identify what is. the need that a country is necessarily responding to in terms of its arms procurement. more amount of money that is diverted away from social expenditure such as health and education the less we're talking about building up the developmental gain building up the kind of environment where people have the ability to live productive and
dignified lives and when those processes are hindered and when money is essentially diverted away from these kinds of processes that's when you start seeing popular unrest and that's when these kinds of issues start to come back and really push at that nub of what defines need and i think paul raises a good point about proportionality when you identify a threat to what degree do you identify sort of a resource on the local to deal with that particular threat rather than just having a wish list of of the flashiest kit that's available nowadays joe if i can go to you i mean we've been talking about countries in the middle east in their governments and their militaries but i mean american corporations make a killing on this don't they i mean that they did world recession past the bio without any kind of problem at all business is great i mean it's a very lucrative business isn't it and you may want to keep pushing it. let me make a couple comments first and your chronology i think it's worth noting that the
notion that iran somehow feels threatened by saudi arabia is a bit extreme i mean the g.c.c. states of saudi haven't fought anybody for fifty years the wars have been iran iraq where they fought a war and tens of thousands of people died and iran then moved toward creating both missiles and nukes i mean if you're saudi arabia sitting there and you've got. wealth and oil when you're looking at a theocratic dictatorship to the north if you get a bit nervous about life ok joe joe i'm going to jump in here program to jump in here right now and i want to continue with this idea when we get back after a short break we'll continue our discussion on army spending around the world stage . live and if you. live. live.
you the latest in science and technology some of. the future. well. you know about to remind you we're speaking about military budgets in the greater middle east. but first let's see what russians think about their country's defense spending it all comes down to weapons due to global economic crisis many countries cut defense budgets in the united states and the world's largest weapons produce and seller president obama is trying to cut defense spending the russian public opinion
research center asked russians if the government should provide more money to maintain a strong military force so don't think their motto run a should be increased seventeen percent say it should remain at current levels and only three percent believe government spending can be reduced for many a larger defense budget means safety in today's world peter. ok i'd like to maybe want to go back to be around issue in a second but i don't talk about just how transparent arms transfers are in the middle east and i'd like to go to paul on that i mean from small arms all the way up to the big ticket items is there enough transparency for your taste to keep an eye on what's going what's going into the region. assert certainly not from the region itself i mean it it's one of the few regions that has a very very poor record with regards reporting its imports to the u.n. register of conventional arms sort of a universal mechanism that all states can report paul why is it all if i can
interrupt why is it so poor why is there the records of war while they very often point to the fact that they're concerned with the nuclear state. nuclear forces in israel an imbalance is there and the lack of transparency on issues other than conventional arms and that's one of the reasons given but i think it's also to do with regard to the fact that we're talking about big deals in the region and concerns with corruption corrupt business practices also being there and so there's no passageway i think in general with regard to security issues for a range of reasons from the security all the way across to sort of the corrupt practices. in oxford i mean what about the transparency issue there because if you don't know what your neighbor is doing then that creates more insecurity i mean if this is a vicious circle around going around in around. absolutely and this is one of the main reasons why oxfam is part of a large coalition working towards lobbying governments to deliver a very strong arms trade treaty and one of the key elements of the arms trade
treaty is this question of transparency because frankly at the moment no country is compelled to report any of their dealings the un register happens to be a voluntary mechanism and there are no global architecture that compels countries or obligates countries to respond to and provide open and transparent information about their procurement and indeed their exports and their shipments of arms and this hopefully will be one of the benchmarks of the arms trade treaty which will ensure that countries have an idea that they have is that there's a certain set of rules and responsibilities that they all must adhere to and actually that comes back to your question because if everybody knows what everybody has then that certainly reduces the myth of of the sort of insecurity that gets perpetuated by lack of information with this new treaty involve also private companies that export weapons to systems to countries and not just governments well
at the end of the day most private most companies that are that are actually exporting if they're doing it by the law it has to go through the governments the governments of the producers have to provide an export license and as such are compelled to report that information joe how would the industry feel about that at least in the united states about having these this kind of truly global treaty that would keep track of arms transfers is that something. the companies that build all these nice shiny weapons for. for hopefully no use in the greater middle east how do they feel about it. well we wouldn't have any problem because we are transparent i mean i have used recently both superdad and the un registry and of course the u.s. is. reports to both and provides all the information you want in the state department publishes data defense department publishes data customs department publish data you just commented about the package to saudi i mean. notified of every major
purchase that's put in the federal register congress reviews it so i mean that there is no secret about what we provide anybody. with a couple of exceptions probably actually dealing with the u.k. in a nuclear stuff but in terms of the countries here and arrested in what we do is is highly public and of course no company does anything without as i just pointed out a license from the state department or a sail through the defense department who in turn makes its own name and then i guess i don't have any problem at all joe i guess i kind of missed something in this conversation if we go back to paul you satisfied with that answer because you said there's a lack of transparency and saying there is complete transparency what's the difference between the two where the clarification would be that i mean joe is correct in terms of what happens to dish in these there's a lot more transparency on the sort of export is letting you know what they do and in some countries there are sort of requirements in law to report upon arms transfers and you have that in the european union you have that in the u.s. and to some degree in canada south africa it's not perfect but it's certainly
better than what you get on the recipient side of the import of sight so in terms of we see what's going into the middle east from what's reported by export is it's a full picture but it's a pretty good picture and much better than what you get in terms of what they're doing in the region the problem of course becomes you know the fact that not all states are not transparent russia for example doesn't provide beyond the u.n. registers the mission information and what it's doing with states in the region so you know there is an imbalance between different countries around the world and you can as was mentioned before use not to create misperceptions threats but the same time some of the counter arguments that might be given would be well if i know what they have than are actually being clones of by more. you know it's the sort of devil's advocate role here is the argument against sort of greater transparency in these were god is also that it can feed into all these races but also then how do we end the arms race in the middle how do we end the arms race in the middle east it seems like we have no answers here at all here is even if we have this treaty if i. do play on what do you think about that i mean what how can you start
progressively demilitarizing this very militarized region or are just going to have to live with it but that's not necessarily there and they would relish that i think. as if they are saudi and the g.c.c. states to me in part are somewhat comparable to a singapore switzerland they're small populations they want people to know they have weapon system they basically want to be left alone and as is the case with the swiss or the singaporeans who are small populations in and have historically wanted to be left alone weapons accordingly but have never been aggressive with anybody in the neighborhood but they do look with the mask and at the people they have in their neighborhood they're going to wind down some things i mean let's get some transparency for example in terms of iran and its nuclear program or its indigenous development and i think i always find that you know iran's nuclear program the i.e.e.e. says it doesn't have any evidence of it but it gives every single country in the
region if they're an american ally this is the bogeyman ok and so if they do have a nuclear weapon then developed it then what difference is all of this military going to have against it it doesn't seem to make much sense to me and if i go to you in oxford i mean is this using it as an excuse for militaries to have nice shiny planes and things like that. well i mean again it's it keeps coming back to that same question which is which is essentially need i mean as i've said the lack of transparency has created and complete era of mistrust where there is no confidence building measures that can actually proactively be taken months the countries in the region and that continues to perpetuate this need that we need more we need bigger we need shiny and we need more powerful but at the same time there are of course major constraints to this a lot of this procurement is actually coming off the back of a fairly small resource on will open in some cases and those questions need to be
asked where is this money coming from or what is the impact of this procurement on the rest of the government's ability to do its job where we're asking about questions such as debt because of course all of this shiny can't can't just be purchased you know with the change in your pocket if you've got the relevant cash reserves and that then deplete the power of your currency if you buy it on credit that then creates massive public debt that the country will then have to pay back for many many many years so the question isn't necessarily about arming and militarizing but it's about what that point what about procurement is actually attempting to address what's the problem and our arms necessarily the response to that problem what you think about that paul i mean there are a limited resources there is so great attempt to secure yourself to make you safe you could actually hurt seriously damage your economy and the military would be of no value to you whatsoever. yeah i mean indeed the question of the resources is
comes up again and again but i suppose there's also the fact that with some of the transfers the middle east from the u.s. in particular they're paid for by military aid with you know israel in egypt receiving considerable sums from the u.s. each year in terms of financial assistance that's used to spend on weapons so the u.s. is also in a sense sort of helping with the procurement there and in a sense i guess alleviating the burden but also you know causing that some of the concerns for for the region that are raised i suppose also with regard to the the gulf cooperation council states and doing nothing i guess would point to the fact that saudi arabia does have some incursions into yemen and is using its shiny kit purchased from the u.s. and other states so i don't want to sure about that but nine a solo one can all of course discuss the hooty problem there but to say that they're not using it at all i think is it would be a question there but to come back to the pounds point the issue of you know confidence building measures i mean one can look to for example what happened in europe with the cold war the end of the cold war the conventional forces europe agreements the exchange that happened there even though the conditions were not.
perhaps different but we have in the coming years the conference on the middle east and perhaps conventional arms could also be put on to the to gender and one of the things that could be looked at in that context is not just the nuclear dimension but also perhaps this that particular aspect and to do that i think would have to start work now in terms of finding people who are willing to discuss this issue join you to give you the last word if you ever worry about a defense companies in the united states that might you know a good day made so much money off of this market at deals where translate as we just heard of saudi arabia now yemen might actually be used in that in its destructive force will really be seen because we have a region that is really armed to the teeth. well i guess all i can do is is look at history and by and large the people that have us weapons have have not been aggressors in these various. minus israel has been minus israel minus israel right . israel is always a bit of an exception and i've got to get into that one because that has
a lot to more to do with domestic politics than it does anything else. but it and secondly i mean i am sympathetic that particularly countries with low capita income shouldn't be spending a lot of money weapons in general that's the case not everywhere ok joe you have to jump in here we've run out of time here many thanks to my guest today in washington stockholm and in oxford and thanks to our viewers for watching us here on c n x time remember crosstalk.
on r t tonight's the middle east on fire protesters in libya burning government buildings are misreports of the country's leaders fled experts and politicians blamed western involvement in stoking violent unrest in the region we've got the latest for you just ahead tonight also. writing the past wrongs latvian jews want compensation for what they lost during world war two and claim that governments turning a blind eye to the crimes of the nazis were considered a liberating force in the country's official history. and the u.s. is facing an increasing population of out of work graduates since the struggling economy fails to provide employment.
for good evening from moscow it's eight pm monday night my name's kevin owen and our top story this hour dozens of people have been reported killed in the libyan capital tripoli as violence continues to spread across the country kid minister to buildings have been set on fire with thousands of anti-government activists still on the streets calling for the end of the forty one year rule of colonel gadhafi the son of the libyan leader blamed exiles and outsiders for taking the country to the brink of civil war he says troops loyal to the government will quote fight until the last man is standing the army said to be using live ammunition against demonstrators with international organizations pretty the death toll at over two hundred thirty in a televised address the leaders son said that number was exaggerated and they also dismissed.