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Arms Sales Abroad and U.S. Military Assistance No. 418

Adopted 1996
Amended 1997
Reaffirmed 1998
Amended 1999
Reaffirmed 2001
Amended 2002
Revised 2006
Reaffirmed 2007

Arms purchases deplete the resources of developing countries and prevent the use of precious foreign exchange for economic and social development.

ADA therefore urges substantial curtailment of United States arms sales abroad and urges the Bush Administration to reverse the position of the previous administration and to take the lead in the international arena for the reduction of the worldwide arms trade. ADA strongly opposes the resumption of sales of advanced technology arms to Latin American countries.

ADA urges removal of military aid and sales from our foreign aid program. ADA urges that military assistance should be cut drastically so that military assistance is granted only in those very few situations in which a democratically elected government might face a major external military threat from another country.

Too often United States military assistance programs have contributed to entrenched military groups holding authoritarian power in a country. Some military leaders of authoritarian governments received military training from the United States. In many cases the troops in such countries receive U.S. equipment and training.

These U.S. military assistance programs strengthen the most authoritarian institution in the countries. By contrast, political parties, trade unions, legislatures, civilian politicians, and others lack outside support and training to counter military seizure of political power. Colonial administrations built military and civilian bureaucratic institutions but did not build political parties, trade unions, other civilian interest groups, or strong legislatures. As a result, these latter institutions are just in the early stages of development, whereas the military and civilian bureaucracies have been in existence for fifty years. Thus, liberal competitive democracy has a difficult time overcoming military domination in many countries.

In several other countries, a U.S.-assisted military establishment is the primary means an entrenched oligarchy uses to stay in power. In many cases, the military is used to repress political, economic and social change domestically. Often because there is no external threat to a country, a large military is unnecessary. Hence military assistance often supports an authoritarian status quo, and, in fact, often leads to an arms race.

Military aid/assistance should be switched to multinational efforts, possibly by a multinational organization such as the United Nations. Such a multinational organization could sponsor large scale aid/assistance/training programs in nation-building, democracy, individual liberty, and multi-cultural political cooperation.

In addition, ADA calls for the use of foreign aid to help countries convert military production facilities abroad to civilian use.

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No. 409