HIGHTOWER: Merchants of War

"We're #1, We're #1, We're #1...."Yes, a new study ranks the US of A #1 as the largest arms merchant in the world. U.S. arms dealers sold $15 billion worth of deadly war toys last year, giving them almost half of the world market.But that only counts the big stuff. The U.S. also is a major purveyor of "small arms" and so-called "light" weapons -- everything from revolvers and assault rifles to mortars and grenade launchers.It's the smaller-caliber weaponry that is favored by terrorists, dictators, ethnic cleansers, crime syndicates, and the other thugs of today's post-Cold War world. These weapons are cheap, easy to use, portable ... and highly effective. As an investigative reporter for the Progressive calculates, small arms have been used to kill up to four million people this decade -- 90 percent of them civilians.Bizarrely, our State and Commerce Departments will not reveal what corporations get the licenses to sell and profit from these weapons, or reveal how many of which weapons are shipped where -- even though these very arms may end up being used against our troops, our allies, or other U.S. citizens abroad. Instead, the government treats these records as "confidential business information," according the the New York Times. Far from trying to limit such sales, the Commerce Department actually encourages them.Arms sales are a rip-off for the people of developing nations, too. The Times reports that an American arms pusher has sold tons of weapons to the Solomon Islands. A U.S. military official noted, "Here you have a country that has no money for basic services for its citizens, for schools, hospitals, roads. What's the compelling reason for spending money on arms. Can't we just be the ones to say no?"This is Jim Hightower saying ... To start saying no to the arming of the world, contact Demilitarization for Democracy on 800-560-BOOM.

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