Government Manufacture of Munitions

September 9, 1936

Report Outline
Restraints on International Arms Traffic
League of Nations and Arms Manufacture
Extent of Public Munitions Manufacture
American Neutrality and Arms Exports

Restraints on International Arms Traffic

Production by the government of ail munitions, with the exception of aircraft, needed by the American armed services was recommended in a report submitted to the Senate on April 20, 1936, by the Special Committee on Investigation of the Munitions Industry, headed by Senator Nye (R., N. D) Authority to proceed with nationalization of the armament industry of France was recently granted the cabinet of Premier Blum. Developments in both the United States and Europe point to the eventual adoption by an increasing number of nations of a policy of public production of munitions supplies, not merely as a means of curbing abuses by private arms manufacturers and traders but as the logical outcome of a growing tendency to impose restraints on the international arms traffic for the purpose of penalizing aggression or reducing the likelihood of involvement, in war.

Arms Embargoes and Public Munitions Production

Last year, in the case of the Ethiopian struggle, the League of Nations for the first time applied sanctions against a nation found guilty of aggression, closing to Italy the possibility of importing arms from League members. In the meantime, arms exports to both Italy and Ethiopia had been embargoed by the United States. Under the new American neutrality legislation declaration of an embargo upon arms shipments to belligerent nations immediately upon the outbreak of hostilities has been made mandatory upon the President. Although this legislation does not cover civil warfare, the administration has successfully discouraged arms shipments to either side during the current conflict in Spain. Most of the European nations, apprehensive lest the Spanish trouble spread into a general conflagration, have agreed to withhold arms from both the loyalist and insurgent forces and have set up an international committee at London to supervise observance of the agreement.

If nations cart no longer feel reasonably certain of being able to augment their munitions supplies from foreign sources in the event of a prolonged war, it seems plain they will be obliged to develop their own national resources to meet such emergencies. Such action can probably be most easily carried out by government itself in countries where profit possibilities have not been favorable enough to produce a munitions industry already. Greater self-sufficiency in armaments, in turn, might hasten the general trend toward public manufacture, since it would cut into the peacetime as well as the wartime business of private manufacturers in exporting nations. It remains true that among the chief arras-producing nations sales to the domestic government are more important than those to foreign governments. In that direction, however, the munitions makers are under fire from groups like the majority of the Nye committee, which would withdraw government patronage for reasons of economy as well as reform.

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
Defense Industry