Sunday, August 12, 2007

What's an International Gun Buyer to Do?

International gun buyers must be dizzy with all the options available to obtain weapons capable of killing large numbers of people in a short time frame. Do they buy them to support their government of overthrow it? Do they go through official channels or hit the black market for "untraceable" arms? What happens when government officials ignore approved ways of getting guns from their allies in favor of black market weapons from the other side? That indicates something sinister may be afoot.

Welcome to Iraq, the world's newest messy democracy! Iraqi government officials were involved in a secret $40 million black market deal to buy 100,000 AK-47's from Russia and China. Italian authorities became aware of the deal and eventually broke it up with the arrest of 4 Italian middle men.

Doesn't Iraq have enough arms already? Last week the news reported some 200,000 U.S. supplied automatic weapons couldn't be accounted for. Findable or not, that is just the tip of the iceberg in America's efforts to turn the regions newest democracy into monstrous war zone.

The U.S. training command had already reported it would arm all Interior Ministry police by the end of 2006 through its own three-year-old program, which as of July 26 has bought 701,000 weapons for the Iraqi army and police with $237 million in U.S. government funds.

So how does this make you feel? To me Iraq is Bubared, which stands for "Bushed Up Beyond All Recognition". If you have any doubts connect the dots of the following two news items:

One, in a further sign of poor controls on the flow of arms into Iraq, a July 31 audit report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office said the U.S. command's books don't contain records on 190,000 AK-47s and other weapons, more than half those issued in 2004-2005 to Iraqi forces. This makes it difficult to trace weapons that may be passed on to militias or insurgents. The Pentagon, meanwhile, has described the Interior Ministry's accounting of police equipment as unreliable.

Two, an Italian official expressed puzzlement at the Iraqi officials' circumvention of U.S. supply routes. "It seems strange that a pro-Western government, supported by the U.S. Army and other NATO countries on its own territory, would seek Russian or Chinese weapons through questionable channels."

Strange unless those persons were on one side in a civil war or benefited from ongoing violence. That wouldn't be the arms manufacturers, would it?