Traffic in Arms

April 28, 1965

Report Outline
Provision of Arms in Troubled Areas
Past Efforts to Control Arms Traffic
Competition in the Furnishing of Arms

Provision of Arms in Troubled Areas

Main Segments of International Arms Traffic

Disclosure by the State Department in mid-April that the United States was discussing arms transactions with five Middle Eastern countries—Israel and the Arab states of Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia—pointed up the extent of this country's departure from a long-standing policy of trying to avoid contributing in a major way to the Middle East arms race. Military aid pacts with Israel and Jordan, and sales of supersonic jet fighters to Saudi Arabia, had previously been reported on the verge of conclusion. Addition of two more states to the arms recipients made the coverage east of Egypt nearly complete.

The approaching Middle East agreements give emphasis to a growing world problem—the multiplication of small or underdeveloped countries that are becoming saddled with large and overdeveloped armies. In the post-Korea period, the power blocs of West and East built up the armies of client states through arms grants and training assistance. Later, as more and more former colonial territories gained independence, the United States on one side and the Soviet Union on the other viewed arms aid as necessary to help establish or fortify its influence (and keep out the influence of the other) in the new nations. Thus by far the biggest part of today's international arms traffic consists of shipments under government-to-government military assistance programs or government-approved sales to recognized authorities in other countries.

Another large part of the international arms traffic takes place in a twilight zone—clandestine operations by intelligence agencies to assist one of two or more rival factions in a foreign country, and covert or overt operations in support of forces in rebellion against a legitimate government. A third sector of the global arms traffic comprises unlawful shipments of arms by private dealers more interested in profits than politics. The purchaser may be a government denied access to arms through legitimate channels, or it may be a revolutionary movement in Africa, Asia or Latin America.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Arms Sales and Trafficking
Jun. 19, 2012  Small Arms Trade
Dec. 09, 1994  Arms Sales
Apr. 17, 1987  Third World Arms Industries
May 04, 1979  America's Arms Sales
May 07, 1976  World Arms Sales
Sep. 02, 1970  International Arms Sales
Apr. 28, 1965  Traffic in Arms
Sep. 09, 1936  Government Manufacture of Munitions
May 11, 1933  Arms Embargoes and the Traffic in Munitions
Apr. 27, 1925  Conference for Control of the International Traffic in Arms
Arms Control and Disarmament