"The arms business, is founded on human folly. That is why its

depths will never be plumbed, and why it will go on forever."

-Sam Cummings (King of the Small arms trade)


 An arms merchants view of the world

"He sits in the center of a spider's web, its threads spun round the world, and waits for the orders and inquiries that (whether he can satisfy them or not) provide him with a continuous sense of the world's tensions and expectations of war. Thus placed, he loves to expatiate on the human folly that has been responsible for his fortune."

From an article called

"Want to start a war?" by Anthony Sampson in Esquire Mar 78-about the largest private arms dealer in the world-an American named Cummings who lives in Monaco. (At the present time the -2003 the title belongs to Victor Bout, who lives in Moscow---see further down)



"Cummings likes to portray his arsenals as an index of the world's folly; their stocks go up and down according to the state of war or peace. 'Of course I'd like to see this building filled up with arms,' he said. 'World peace would give me a chance to build up my inventory. But people are always ordering more arms, which runs down the stocks again. I don't see any prospect of that changing. There are huge new markets opening up; soon there will be the rearming of China, which everyone in the business knows will happen; that will bring the story around full circle since Chiang Kai-shek left twenty-nine years ago. And then Russia. And then Europe again. There' s never any end to it. "

-Sam Cummings


*Ed note  (Sam Cummings is out and now Victor Bout is the King)

"Maybe I should start an arms-trafficking university and teach a course on U.N. sanctions busting" 

Victor Bout


"You wouldn't want to be on his bad side. He's wily; he's hard to catch. He was always several steps ahead. He would acquire anything and move it anywhere for anyone. While Victor Bout might be running arms to your own opposition, you know he'll also ferry arms against a U.N. embargo for you."

Gayle Smith


"Arms are of all tools unblessed, they are not the implements of a wise man. Only as a last resort does he use them."



"In 1992 and 1993 the Pentagon quietly facilitated a mammoth military shipment to Turkey at no cost. According to the U.N. arms registry, the U.S. government turned over 1,509 tanks, 54 fighter planes, and 28 heavily armed attack helicopters to Turkey. The weapons were slated for reduction after the Cold War under a 1990 treaty on conventional forces in Europe, Instead of scrapping them, the United States simply gave them away. There was no congressional oversight or public debate about the transfer, nor was there much question about the purpose of the unprecedented arms shipment. As Jane’s Defense Weekly revealed as early as 1993, " a high proportion of defense supplied to Turkey is being used in operations against the PKK. (Kurds)


"What they want is not the war, but a precarious peace."

Richard Lewinsohn

The Profits of War


"What a country calls its vital economic interests are not the things which enable its citizens to live, but the things which enable it to make war. Petrol is more likely than wheat to be a cause of international conflict."

Simone Weil

The Power of Words


"War-making is one of the few activities that people are not supposed to view "realistically;" that is, with an eye to expense and practical outcome. In all-out war, expenditure is all-out imprudent-war being defined as an emergency in which no sacrifice is excessive."

Susan Sontag


Percentage of war deaths inflicted by major weapons systems (fighter planes, bombers, smart-bombs, missiles, artillery, etc) in the last 50 or more wars, worldwide………..10

Percentage of deaths in those wars inflicted by small arms 90




We should indeed "cry for Argentina"-in fact for all of Latin America-when the news is announced that the Clinton administration is considering removing long-standing U.S. restrictions on selling high-tech weapons to South American countries.

Just when South America, after years of slithering and sliding, has finally got itself out of the mud of economic malaise, its spendthrift generals supposedly relegated to the outer fringes of decision making, this change in American policy could throw the balance of power between civilian and military in exactly the wrong direction. The last thing the general need is to be tempted by expensive items of once forbidden fruit.

Take Argentina-although its record in destabilizing military interference is only slightly worse than its neighbors’. The last time Western arms salesmen were regularly satisfying every whim of South American generals, the country picked a quite unnecessary fight with Britain over ownership of the offshore Falkland or Malvinas Islands. It as a high-tech war, surpassed only, quite a few years later, by the Persian Gulf War.

I remember a small group of us being briefed in London by the rather well-informed deputy director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, colonel Jonathan Alford. "Given Argentina’s massive armory," he warned, "with its state-of-the-art French Exocet missiles together with its geographical advantages, the outcome is going to swing on electronics. On this Britain might just have the edge." It did, just.

It was a futile war that won Argentina nothing but shame. Its only virtue was to totally discredit Argentina’s military junta, whose bloated military budget was way out of line with the country’s economic resources and one of the major contributors to rapid inflation and government mismanagement. There was in short, a lot to cry about.

Latin America has changed beyond all recognition in the last few years. Military regimes have fallen by the wayside although in Peru, Columbia, and Chile, the armed forces still wield a disproportionate influence and have a dangerous degree of autonomy.

Democracy is now widespread, if in many cases the governing institutions remain imperfectly formed. After the years of painful adjustments, economic self-disciple in today producing dividends.

An important sign of the maturing Latin America has been the fall in military budgets. South Americans this century, unlike other people in the world, have talked more about war than actually practiced it. Brazil the continent’s largest country, hasn’t been to war since 1870. Now, at last, peacetime savings are showing up in the budget statistics. Thus, one assumes, President Bill Clinton must have very good reasons to upset this applecart, aside from the need to make money for the American arms industry. But what are they?

The guerrilla insurgencies that during the cold war provided a national security rationale for military dominance have ended for the most part. One kidnapping in Peru by a marginal group does not a mighty insurrection make. The rapid dismantling of tariff barriers and the pace of economic growth are making "hard" political boundaries "soft."

So why should South America be hungry for new arms? The White House spokesman answered: "The arrival of democracy in all but one of the countries in the region changes the environment in which some of our existing policies might apply"-which is about as contrary, not to say facile, an answer as one could get.

Having made such a profound change in their political and economic culture, the last thing the South Americans need are super war machines."

Jonathan Power (The Statesman, New Delhi ,Jan 31,1997


"There can be no profit in the making or selling of things to be destroyed in war. Men may think that they have such profit, but in the end the profit will turn out to be a loss."

-Alexander Hamilton


"My friends, let me tell you, we are not masochists....We don't like to spend billions of dollars and get insulted in the process."

-Prince Bandar  (explaining to a group of McDonnell Douglas executives why the Saudis had so dramatically diverted their petrodollars away from the U.S. defense industry)



"War is hell, but not for men like Victor Bout, Tim Spicer, Arcadi Gaydamak, and Jacques Monsieur. For them, war is big business. Bout, nicknamed "the merchant of death" by one British government official, owned the world's largest private fleet of huge Antonov cargo planes, which he used to trade guns and weapons systems for diamonds and precious minerals. Spicer is a leading figure in Sandline, one of the world's most prominent private military companies (PMCs). Gaydamak, who claims to be one of the five richest men in Israel, reportedly has ties to arms smuggling, resource exploitation, and PMCs. Monsieur is believed to be one of Europe's biggest arms traffickers. Together, these men represent "a new breed of opportunists that has come to dominate the global landscape of conflicts since the end of the Cold War," say the authors of "Making a Killing: The Business of War," a new report from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) at the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity.

   A two-year effort by 35 editors, writers, and researchers on four continents, the report provides a chilling look not only at characters such as Bout but at the 90 PMCs that operate in 110 countries; corrupt African governments in places like Liberia and Angola that are little more than criminal syndicates"; oil companies such as the now defunct Elf-Acquitaine, which supplied arms to both sides in Angola's civil war; and Western governments that either turn a blind eye or use these entities to further their own ends. See the ICIJ's Web site for the full text of the report."

Foreign Policy Mag-Jan/Feb 2003

Book: "WARHOGS" by Stuart D. Brandes….

               Book: "Arms and Warfare: Escalation, De-escalation, and Negotiation" by M. Brzoska & F.S. Pearson 


© 2010



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