Pope Francis Spoke against the Weapons Industry to the People who Fund it: Congress
One issue seemingly lost in the hoopla surrounding Pope Francis’ address to Congress last week was his condemnation of spreading death around the world through U.S. arms sales.
“Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood,” Pope Francis told Congress. “In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.”
The accusation was pointed at both sides of the aisle. Defense contractors have profited mightily during the Obama administration, during which arms sales to foreign governments outpaced even those during the George W. Bush administration.
Defense contractors spend about $150 million a year in lobbying efforts and campaign contributions, according to Dan Froomkin at The Intercept. But that investment pays off handsomely; U.S. contractors reaped $23.7 billion in overseas sales in 2014.
The United States is the world’s leading arms exporter, responsible for 31% of the trade from 2010 to 2014, with Russia second at 27%, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The United States’ biggest customer is South Korea, with 9% of the exports, followed by the United Arab Emirates and Australia at 8% each.
Lockheed Martin is the top arms exporter in the world, followed by Boeing. Seven of the top 10 exporters are from the United States.
“This is serious,” Pope Francis told Italian schoolchildren in May. “Some powerful people make their living with the production of arms and sell them to one country for them to use against another country. The economic system orbits around money and not men, women.…So war is waged in order to defend money. This is why some people don’t want peace: They make more money from war, although wars make money but lose lives, health, education.”
To Learn More:
Pope Decries “Shameful and Culpable Silence” on Arms Sales “Drenched in Innocent Blood” (by Dan Froomkin, The Intercept)
Pope Calls For End Of Arms Trade (by Aaron Mehta, Defense News)
Trends in International Arms Transfers, 2014 (by Pieter D. Wezeman and Siemon T. Wezeman, SIPRI) (pdf)
Encouraging Arabs and other Muslims to Kill each other is Good for U.S. Weapons Industry (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
U.S. Dominates Weapons Export Market as Profits Grow with Sales to the Middle East (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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