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Fueling the fire: How we armed the Middle East

By Michael Klare

Originally published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists January/February 1991 Vol. 47, No. 1

Saddam Hussein has collected the most modern arsenal in the Third World--with help from the United States, the Soviet Union, the French, the British, the Germans, the Chinese . . .

Warning that "the virtually unrestrained spread of conventional weaponry threatens stability in every region of the world," President Jimmy Carter attempted in the mid-1970s to constrain U.S. military sales to the Third World and to negotiate a mutual curb on arms exports with the Soviets. These efforts failed. Carter's attempt to limit U.S. military sales collided with the use of arms transfers as an instrument of diplomacy--especially in the Middle East--and his overtures to Moscow were forestalled by a resurgence of Cold War tensions. Since then, no serious effort has been made to curb international arms trafficking, and sales to the Third World have skyrocketed. As Carter predicted, unrestrained commerce in conventional arms has fueled local arms races and inspired aggressive powers like Iraq to employ their bulging arsenals in unprovoked attacks on neighboring countries. If the present crisis in the Persian Gulf is to have any positive outcome, therefore, it should be to demonstrate the urgent need to curtail the global arms trade.

The arms-trade danger is underscored by the relative ease with which Saddam Hussein was able to assemble a massive arsenal of conventional weapons. Between 1981 and 1988, Iraq purchased an estimated $46.7 billion worth of arms and military equipment from foreign suppliers, the largest accumulation ever of modern weapons by a Third World country.[1] Included in this largesse were some 2,300 modern Soviet and Chinese tanks, 64 Mirage F-1 fighters armed with Exocet missiles, 2,650 armored personnel carriers, and 350 Scud-B surface-to-surface missiles.[2] These and other imported weapons enabled Baghdad to prevail in the Iran-Iraq War and subsequently fed Hussein's vision of Iraqi dominion over Kuwait and the western Gulf area.

U.S., French, and British troops now face the unappealing prospect of head-on conflict with Hussein's well-armed forces, but Western officials and arms suppliers are understandably reluctant to discuss their role in enlarging the Iraqi arsenal. Although direct U.S. arms sales to Iraq have been largely blocked since the late 1950s when Iraq became a client of the Soviet Union, Washington has on occasion permitted sales of military- related science and technology. Soviet leaders are also tight-lipped about Moscow's contributions to Hussein's military capabilities. But Iraq would not represent such a powerful threat to global peace and stability if world leaders had agreed to the mutual restraints Jimmy Carter proposed in 1977.

On the basis of this experience, U.S. officials should be wary of transferring more arms to the Middle East--at least until some multilateral constraints are in place. Instead, the Bush administration has decided to proceed with a new round of multibillion-dollar sales to friendly nations in the region. In August, Bush authorized the transfer of 150 M-60A3 tanks, 24 F-15 aircraft, and 200 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to Saudi Arabia (a $2.2 billion deal), and in September he approved a $21 billion package of tanks, aircraft, and missiles. The White House subsequently agreed to downsize the second package in order to allay congressional concerns, but the items removed from this sale are incorporated into another package scheduled for early 1991. Bush also agreed in principle to sell $1 billion worth of additional military hardware to Israel, and forgave a $7 billion Egyptian arms debt in order to allow new military sales to Cairo. Meanwhile, as Aerospace Daily reported in early September, other major suppliers--including France and Britain--have been flocking to the Middle East, looking for new military sales of their own, helping to insure that 1990 and 1991 will break all existing records for arms sales to the region.

In approving new arms exports, the administration maintains that the weapons will help deter further Iraqi aggression. But most of the weapons ordered in 1990 and 1991 will not be delivered until 1992, 1993, or thereafter- -long after the present crisis in the Gulf has been resolved by one means or another. These new arms shipments will then be available for other military purposes, regardless of the administration's claims. The intended beneficiaries of these sales will continue to pursue their own political and military objectives--often risking armed combat with their neighbors in the process. The most likely outcome of fresh arms deliveries to the Middle East will thus be intensified regional tensions and a heightened risk of armed conflict.

This prospect dampens hope that the Persian Gulf crisis will help usher in a new era of peace and stability, as some in Washington suggested. "Out of these troubled times," George Bush told a joint session of Congress on September 12, "a new world order can emerge," one in which "the rule of law supplants the rule of the jungle, [and] nations recognize the shared responsibility for freedom and justice." While the Gulf crisis has engendered an extraordinary degree of international cooperation, it has not resulted in any talks on controlling the conventional arms trade. As long as contentious regional powers are able to obtain large quantities of sophisticated weapons, the prospects for averting future conflict are not promising.

The risk of escalating conflicts in volatile Third World areas has led nations to agree on the need to prevent sales of chemical and nuclear weapons and to curb the diffusion of ballistic missile delivery systems. Despite repeated crises, however, there are no such constraints on conventional weapons-especially on modern tanks and aircraft that can be used for aggressive military moves of the sort undertaken by Iraq. Are curbs on arms transfers possible?

"Reverse dependency" Many countries offer some type of weapon for sale, but the trade in major combat systems is highly concentrated. According to the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress, in the 1980s the United States and Soviet Union accounted for three-fifths of all arms sales to the Third World, and five other nations-France, Great Britain, West Germany, Italy, and China-shared another 22 percent. These nations remain the source of most heavy weapons supplied to Middle Eastern countries, and it is their sales policies that must be addressed if the flow of combat gear is to be constrained.

Many factors--political, economic, and military--figure in these nations' arms export behavior. For the superpowers, economic considerations have generally played a secondary role to political and strategic considerations. Samuel Huntington suggested in 1987 that U.S. and Soviet involvement in the Third World reflects "the bipolar structure of world politics and the competitive relationship they have with each other." In their mutual quest for strategic advantage, each superpower has sought to expand its own perimeter of influence while "minimizing the power and influence of the other."' As part of this process, each side has used arms transfers to lure new allies into its own camp or to discourage existing allies from breaking away.

This use of arms transfers began in the Middle East in 1955, when President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt turned to Moscow for the modern weapons the West had denied him. By giving Egypt advanced weapons, Moscow forged a de facto alliance with Cairo, and succeeded, for the first time, in leaping over the ring of hostile states organized by the United States to contain Soviet power in Eurasia. This feat prompted Washington to establish arms- supply relationships with other countries in the region, including Iran, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. These moves, in turn, aroused anxiety among the more radical Arab regimes, leading Syria, and then Iraq, to forge military ties with the Soviet bloc. Egypt switched sides following the October War of 1973, but the Middle Eastern arms acquisition patterns established in the mid-to-late 1950s have remained essentially intact to this day.

In justifying U.S. arms transfers to the Middle East, U.S. leaders repeatedly asserted that supplier and recipient were bound by common opposition to communist expansionism. For their part, Soviet leaders stressed the common struggle against imperialism. However, the recipients' principal motive for acquiring arms was not the struggle between communism and imperialism, but rather a desire to offset the military might of their regional rivals or to deter attack by an antagonistic neighbor. As Stephen M. Walt suggested in his masterful study of Middle East alliance patterns, "The superpowers sought to balance each other, [while] their clients sought outside support to counter threats from other regional states.",

At first glance, this system has a certain logic: each party receives something it wants, and the various arms deliveries balance each other out. In reality, however, the system is fundamentally unstable. No recipient is content with balancing its rivals, but seeks a margin of advantage- either to allow for a preemptive strike (should that be deemed necessary), or to compensate for the other side's perceived advantages. Any major weapons delivery to one side automatically triggers a comparable but larger delivery to the other, prompting a new round of deliveries to the first party, and so on. The only break in this grim pattern occurs when one side or the other seeks to forestall an imminent shift in military advantage to the opposing side by launching a preemptive attack--as has occurred again and again in the Middle East.

This instability is mirrored in the relations between client and supplier. By agreeing to provide arms to a client, the supplier seeks a local ally for its ongoing struggle against the other superpower. Once the relationship has been forged, however, the recipient comes to expect continuing and even expanded arms deliveries in exchange for its continued loyalty to the supplier--and any reluctance on the part of the supplier will be condemned as evidence of inconstancy and unreliability. Such charges usually have the effect of prying additional or more advanced weapons out of the supplier' s hands.

The result is "reverse dependency." The patron finds itself beholden to the good will of the client, and must satisfy the client's appetite for modern arms. As Walt points out, "A large [military] aid relationship may actually be a reflection of the client's ability to extort support from its patron, rather than being a sign of the patron's ability to control its client. " For the Soviet Union, the principal beneficiaries of reverse dependency were Egypt (until 1973), Syria, and Iraq; for the United States, they were Iran (until 1978), Israel, and Saudi Arabia.

Carter, Iran, and CATT It was the U.S. arms-supply relationship with Iran that first prompted U.S. policymakers to perceive a need for restraints. The relationship was initially forged in 1954, after the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency engineered the over-throw of Mohammed Mogsadeq and installed Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi as virtual dictator. During the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, Washington provided Iran with a steady, but not exorbitant, supply of munitions in order to balance Soviet military deliveries to neighboring Iraq. In the early 1970s, however, there was a sharp increase in U.S. arms deliveries as the Shah, with mounting oil revenues at his disposal, sought to greatly enhance Iran's overall military capabilities. Iran's desire for arms was complemented, moreover, by a U.S. desire to recover some of the petrodollars sent to the Middle East in the aftermath of the 1974 OPEC oil price increase, and to implement the so-called Nixon Doctrine, which called for Third World allies to shoulder more of the burden of regional defense against Soviet-backed insurgents and regimes.

Between 1972 and 1978, Teheran ordered $20 billion worth of advanced U.S. armaments--the largest arms export endeavor ever concluded with a Third World nation up to that point. For the first time, U.S. officials agreed to transfer front-line U.S. combat equipment, including F14 aircraft, Spruance-class destroyers, and Phoenix air-to-air missiles. These sales were widely applauded by Defense Department officials and American arms makers. But Congress became concerned when the scale of the transactions were revealed and when it was disclosed that U.S. companies were using bribes to get Iranian officials to sign military orders. According to a 1976 Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff report, "U.S. arms sales to Iran were out of control" in the early 1970s, with senior administration officials routinely approving the Shah's extravagant arms purchases.

Suggesting that the United States had become "a kind of arms supermarket into which any customer can walk and pick up whatever he wants,"' Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey in 1975 sponsored legislation to give Congress veto power over major U.S. military sales. The resulting measure, later incorporated into Section 36(b) of the Arms Export Control Act of 1976, gives Congress some control over arms transactions, but unfavorable court decisions, and a waiver allowing the president to overrule congressional reservations when he concludes that critical national security issues are at stake--which Bush used to rush tanks and aircraft to Saudi Arabia in September--have diluted congressional power.

With Carter's election in 1976, the momentum shifted to the White House. On May 13, 1977, Carter formally adopted an "arms export restraint policy"--Presidential Directive No. 13 (PD-13)--which imposed an annual ceiling on the dollar value of U.S. arms sales to all non-NATO nations except Israel, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand, and restricted the export of certain high-technology weapons to Third World countries. "I have concluded," Carter affirmed on May 19, "that the United States will henceforth view arms transfers as an exceptional foreign policy implement, to be used only in instances where it can be clearly demonstrated that the transfer contributes to our national security interests." [6]

The Carter policy also called for negotiations with other suppliers--including the Soviet Union--that might lead to the adoption of multilateral curbs on arms transfers. Carter made clear that the United States would adhere to self-imposed limits only so long as it appeared likely that other major suppliers would follow suit. "I am initiating this policy," Carter noted, "in the full understanding that actual reductions in the worldwide traffic in arms will require multilateral cooperation. "

At Carter's urging, U.S. and Soviet representatives began the Conventional Arms Transfer Talks (CATT). Most observers expected little progress, and were surprised when the first few rounds of talks, held in Washington and Helsinki in December 1977 and May and July 1978, resulted in agreement on parameters of a regime to restrain conventional arms transfers. In October 1978, U.S. negotiator Leslie Gelb testified that "harmonized national guidelines" similar to those of the London Suppliers' Group (for nuclear technology) were "realistic possibilities."[7] But before further progress could be achieved, CATT fell prey to a souring international environment and to bureaucratic wrangling within the Carter administration that pitted Gelb against the president's hawkish security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski; no further talks were held after a fruitless negotiating session in December 1978.[8]

By late 1979, Carter's unilateral arms restraint policies and the CATT process had been essentially abandoned. The decline in presidential enthusiasm for these measures was prompted, to a considerable degree, by Iran's Islamic revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan-- events that largely erased any public or congressional support for U.S. initiatives of this type. In a more fundamental way, however, the policy of restraint was doomed from the start by the administration's failure to question the polities of arms sales. Washington still viewed arms transfers as an effective tool for diplomacy--one of the few such tools available- -and Carter was never able to significantly reduce the role of military sales in U.S. relations with such allies as Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.

The fate of Carter's initiatives became apparent early on. In February 1978, only nine months after PD-13 was signed, the White House approved a multibillion-dollar sale of advanced jet fighters to Egypt, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. The "aircraft sale of the century," as it was called at the time, had been in the works for several years, and its cancellation would have provoked howls of dismay from the nations involved, along with threats to shop elsewhere--threats Carter was not prepared to face. For much the same reason, Carter then approved a new $8 billion arms request from the Shah, despite Iran's internal unrest, which his advisers warned could result in chaos. Any hopes of keeping arms exports under the ceiling Carter had set were dashed in 1979, when, as part of the Camp David Accords, the United States agreed to provide billions of dollars worth of new arms to Israel and Egypt.

"Arms replace security pacts" By the time Ronald Reagan became president in 1981, arms export restraint was no longer a major objective of U.S. foreign policy. Nonetheless, Reagan felt compelled to denounce his predecessor's initiatives and to promulgate a new, open-door approach to foreign military sales. In a May 1981 speech unveiling the new policy, Undersecretary of State James L. Buckley affirmed that "this Administration believes that arms transfers, judiciously applied, can complement and supplement our own defense efforts and serve as a vital and constructive instrument of our foreign policy."' Reagan quickly approved the sale of F-16 fighters to Pakistan, F-15s and AWACS radar patrol planes to Saudi Arabia, AH-1 Cobra helicopter gunships to Jordan, and similar items to other U.S. clients in the Middle East and Asia.

U.S. arms flowed to the Third World in record amounts. Capped by a $5 billion sale of F-15s and AWACS to Saudi Arabia, total U.S. military sales rose to $19.1 billion in fiscal 1981, an all-time record. Only the oil-induced recession of 1983-84, which greatly constricted the spending ability of would-be Third World arms buyers, prevented new records from being set in subsequent years. The recession notwithstanding, Washington continued to use arms sales to extend U.S. influence abroad and to counter similar efforts by the Soviet Union. "Arms sales are the hard currency of foreign affairs," an unidentified State Department official told U. S. News and World Report in 1983. "They replace the security pacts of the 1950s."[10]

What was true for Washington was true for Moscow. Lacking funds to offer economic assistance or capital investment, Soviet leaders employed the one foreign policy tool available to them in seeking influence abroad: arms transfers. According to the Congressional Research Service, Soviet arms transfers to the Third World from 1981 to 1988 amounted to a whopping $139 billion (in constant 1988 dollars), an amount that exceeds the U.S. total by a significant margin. The major recipients of Soviet arms in the 1980s were clustered in the Middle East and South Asia, with the largest deliveries going to Algeria, India, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and the two Yemens.

As in past years, both superpowers also sought to woo away each other' s allies and clients, often using arms transfers in the process. The Soviet Union, for instance, has readily supplied Jordan and Kuwait with modern weapons when leaders of these countries encountered difficulty in obtaining high-tech systems from the West. The United States, for its part, has encouraged several long-standing Soviet allies, including India and Iraq, to diminish their military dependence on the Soviet Union. Consistent with this policy, the Reagan administration raised no objection to French sales of advanced missiles and aircraft to Iraq, or to Brazilian sales of multiple-launch rocket systems. In a further effort to pull Baghdad out of the Soviet orbit, Reagan (and later Bush) authorized the sale to Iraq of $1.5 billion worth of sophisticated U.S. scientific and technical equipment-much of which has apparently been used in the development of conventional, nuclear and chemical weapons. Indeed, so eager was Washington to forge finks with Iraq that Reagan and Bush continued to allow deliveries of such equipment even after it had become evident that this technology was being diverted for military purposes, and long after Iraq had used chemical weapons in attacks on Iran and its own Kurds.

As a result of these deeply entrenched arms-supply patterns, many Middle Eastern nations now possess arsenals comparable or superior to those found among the front-line states in NATO and the Warsaw Pact. But if the genesis of these arms-supply relationships was the early Cold War, it would seem logical for them to fade as the Cold War draws to a close. U.S. and Soviet leaders have lent some credence to this assumption. In an August 1990 letter to U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze wrote that "the Soviet Union considers that the inclusion on the U.N. agenda of the problems of restricting international sales and supplies of conventional weapons is a logical development of the trend toward the internationalization of the dialogue on most important questions of world polities."" President Bush and Secretary of State James Baker have made similar comments, noting that the control of conventional arms transfers should be considered along with efforts to curb the proliferation of nuclear arms, chemical weapons, and ballistic missiles.

Despite progress on the rhetorical front, however, the superpowers have taken no steps to curb their exports of conventional arms to the Third World. As noted above, the United States has announced record-breaking sales to Saudi Arabia, and sales of sophisticated arms to Egypt, Israel, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates are in the offing. The Soviet Union continues to supply major equipment to India, Libya, and Syria, and was pouring arms into Iraq until the moment Saddam Hussein ordered the invasion of Kuwait.

Economic conditions have something to do with this. The Soviet Union is desperately in need of hard currency for its industrial rehabilitation, and weapons are among the few commodities it can successfully market abroad. Arms exports give U.S. weapons manufacturers an attractive "safety valve" at a time of declining military spending at home. But political factors remain a major determinant of the superpowers' arms transfer policies. Moscow and Washington once sought Third World allies in their struggle with one another; today they seek allies in order to better position themselves for global influence in an uncertain, polycentric era.

In the view of senior U.S. strategists, this era is likely to witness the emergence of regional powers, many of which will be armed with weapons of mass destruction, and some will be hostile to long-term U.S. interests. "The emergence of regional powers is rapidly changing the strategic landscape," President Bush noted in an address to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in May 1989. "In the Middle East, in South Asia, in our own hemisphere, a growing number of nations are acquiring advanced and highly destructive capabilities," posing a significant threat to U.S. security. In this environment, any effort by the United States to protect its overseas interests through military means--as in Operation Desert Shield--will require the cooperation of friendly Third World powers. "Where American intervention seems necessary," the U.S. Commission on Integrated Long- Term Strategy affirmed in 1988, "it will generally require far more cooperation with Third World countries than has been required in the past.""

And cooperation is secured through arms transfers. In arguing for congressional approval of the administration's September 1990 emergency arms package for Saudi Arabia, Undersecretary of State for International Security Affairs Reginald Bartholomew told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that these sales are intended to "develop the interoperability that will allow the U.S. and other friendly forces to reinforce the Saudis more effectively should that ever again be necessary," and to "help contribute to stronger and more stable post-crisis security arrangements."" In other words, arms sales are the essential glue for the "regional security structure" that Secretary of State James Baker told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on September 4 the administration wants to establish in the Middle East.

Whether the Soviet Union has similar intentions cannot be determined. It is clear that Soviet leaders want to maintain close ties with regional powers like Syria and India, and to establish new ties-cemented by arms transfers if necessary--with other powers in the region. Potential buyers are still able to play one suitor off against the other, obtaining favorable conditions for the acquisition of ever more capable weapons. Whatever impact the end of the Cold War may have in other areas, it has not diminished the intensity of local arms races--or the likelihood of regional conflict--in the Middle East.

Seven ways to curb arms There is no escape from this pattern if the major powers continue to view arms exports as tools of convenience in their quest for political advantage, and if regional powers continue to rely on military means to resolve disputes with their neighbors. U.S. and Soviet leaders-and subsequently, the leaders of France, Britain, and China--must be convinced that a stable international order cannot be achieved in a world of uncontrolled arms transfers, and that curbs on arms are essential to post-Cold War stability. At the same time, Middle Eastern leaders must be persuaded that the best hope for long-term protection against dissension and bloodshed lies with a regional peace agreement that respects the national aspirations of unrepresented peoples, eliminates nuclear and chemical weapons, and limits the acquisition of offensively oriented conventional weapons.

These objectives may take years of effort, but intermediate goals could build momentum for more sweeping and long-lasting objectives. Seven measures could produce real improvements in global security:

Reconvene the CATT talks. As the only U.S. Soviet negotiations ever undertaken in this field, the Conventional Arms Transfer Talks are a useful mechanism. At the original sessions, CATT negotiators reportedly reached agreement on many basic elements of nomenclature, scope, and applicability which could save months of future talks and consultations. Resuming CATT talks would also send a powerful signal to other suppliers and to recipients that the two superpowers had agreed on the need to constrain the arms traffic.

If the talks are resumed, the two sides should agree to set a mutual ceiling on arms transfers (perhaps $8-10 billion each per year) while pledging to negotiate lower levels in subsequent talks, after experience has been gained in implementation and verification. The superpowers should also agree to ban or restrict the sale of particularly inhumane and destabilizing weapons such as wide-area cluster bombs, fuel-air explosives, incendiary devices, shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, and long-range bombers.

Expand and enhance the MTCR. The Missile Technology Control Regime, established in 1987 to restrict exports of ballistic missile technology, represents an important precedent for multilateral action. But it has critical defects: several countries that have played a vital role in the transfer of missiles and missile technology to areas of conflict are not signatories-notably Argentina, Brazil, China, and the Soviet Union. And the MTCR generally exempts technology used in developing missiles for space exploration, most of which can be converted to military use.

To be effective, the MTCR needs to be substantially strengthened. Including the Soviet Union should be the most immediate priority,, particularly as Soviet officials have already met with their U.S. counterparts to discuss possible cooperation in this area, and an agreement would be consistent with policy statements issued by Soviet leadership. It would then be easier to persuade other holdouts to join. Restrictions on the transfer of sensitive technology, including space-related technology, should be tightened.

Establish controls on other advanced military systems. Instruments similar to the MTCR should be established for controlling the export of other destabilizing weapons, including cruise missiles, submarines, and deep-penetration strategic bombers.

Convene an international conference on nuclear and chemical disarmament in the Middle East. No lasting progress toward regional security can be made unless the nations of the Middle East agree to restrict possession of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. A Middle East agreement will require progress in other areas, including boundary disputes. But the history of East-West negotiations demonstrates that progress on arms control will not occur unless countries talk to one another, and preliminary negotiations can often result in the adoption of confidence-building measures that help set the stage for political accommodation.

When the crisis in the Gulf is resolved, efforts should be made to convene a U.N.-sponsored regional conference on nuclear and chemical disarmament, which might also provide the impetus for adopting confidence-building measures tailored to the Middle East. These could include international inspection and monitoring of nuclear and chemical facilities; establishing "hot lines" for communication between hostile nations in a crisis; and mutual promises to sign and abide by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the proposed Chemical Weapons Convention. A U.N. conference could also develop into an ongoing negotiating process, as did the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Impose economic and trade sanctions against nations developing nuclear weapons. The U.N. trade embargo has prevented the transfer of materials and technology to Iraq's weapons development and production facilities, including its nuclear and chemical installations. These sanctions should be maintained until Baghdad agrees to dismantle its nuclear and chemical weapons facilities under international inspection. When the current crisis is over, the United Nations should develop an array of trade and economic sanctions to apply against nations that persist in developing such weapons after international norms are established. Sanctions could be limited to a ban on transfers of military technology in the case of states that agree to participate in regional negotiations, or entail more stringent measures if states refuse to participate in such a process.

Reduce or restrict international aid to nations developing domestic arms industries. Many of the more affluent Third World countries are developing elaborate military-industrial complexes modeled on those found in the major military powers of the industrialized "North." These complexes contribute to the worldwide diffusion of conventional weapons, and, in the case of Iran and Iraq, help to sustain regional wars of great duration and ferocity. Most of these countries receive significant technical and economic assistance from the North that enables them to divert scarce national resources to pet military projects. In the future, such assistance- -whether provided by individual governments or by multilateral agencies like the World Bank--should be denied to states that divert an excessive share of their national income to military-industrial purposes.

Establish an international clearinghouse for intelligence on clandestine arms technology transfers. Iraq's apparent success in acquiring sophisticated arms-making technologies through black market arms channels highlights the need to collect and process intelligence on clandestine arms operations. A clearinghouse could track suspicious "front" operations in target countries and inform police and military authorities of any apparent wrongdoing. Such a mechanism might draw on the staff and experience of COCOM (the Coordinating Committee for East-West Trade Policy), the Western agency established to intercept transfers of high-technology goods to the Soviet bloc.

In the absence of controls, the arms trade will continue to operate as in the past, and there will be a continuing series of regional crises and conflicts. But these seven measures could significantly improve the global security environment and set the stage for a comprehensive solution to the Middle East's outstanding security concerns.

Presidents Bush and Gorbachev have spoken glowingly of the new world order they hope to construct on the ruins of the Cold War system. But a new order cannot be built on the premises that have guided international behavior in the past. Obsolete practices will have to be abandoned, particularly the practice of supplying implements of war in return for political promises and favors. Only when munitions are eschewed as an instrument of statecraft and diplomacy will a more peaceful order be possible.


1. Richard F. Grimmett, Trends in Conventional Arms Transfers to the Third World by Major Supplier, 19811988 (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, 1989), p. 51.

2. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI Yearbook 1990 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), and earlier editions.

3. Samuel P. Huntington, "Patterns of Intervention: America and the Soviets in the Third World," The National Interest (Spring 1987), pp. 19-20; for a discussion of supplier and recipient motives, see Andrew J. Pierre, The Global Politics of Arms Sales (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982).

4. Stephen M. Walt, The Origins of Alliances (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1987), pp. 50-103.

5. Quoted in New York Times, Oct. 19,1975.

6. U.S. Congress, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Changing Perspectives on U.S. Arms Transfer Policy, Report by the Congressional Research Service, 97th Cong., 1st sess., 1981.

7. U.S. Congress, House Committee on Armed Services, Indian Ocean Arms Limitations and Multilateral Cooperation on Restraining Conventional Arms Transfers, Hearings, 95th Cong., 2d sess., 1978, p. 17.

8. See Jo L. Husbands and Anne Hessing Cahn, "The Conventional Arms Transfer Talks," in Thomas Ohlson, ed., Arms Transfer Limitations and Third World Security (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), pp. 110-25.

9. James L. Buckley, address, Aerospace Industries Association meeting, Williamsburg, Va., May 21,1981 (U.S. State Department transcript).

10. Quoted in Wall Street Journal, June 19,1983.

11. Izvestiya, Aug, 16, 1990 (translated in Foreign Broadcast Information Service-Sov-90-159, Aug. 16, 1990, p. 6).

12. U.S. Commission on Integrated Long-Term Strategy, Discriminate Deterrence (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1988), p. 10.

13. Testimony, October 3, 1990 (State Department text).

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