Weapons Out of the Wrong Hands
Encouraging Reliance on U.S. Military Equipment Among Allies
The U.S. wants to keep weapons, and the technology to make them, away from countries that might use them against U.S. forces or in ways that jeopardize regional or global stability.
In his National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement, President Clinton makes clear that this objective and the related global military spending issue are paramount:
We will continue to seek greater transparency, responsibility and, where appropriate, restraint in the transfer of conventional weapons....
The main issue for the U.S. is reducing the transfer of conventional weapons, and the technology to make them, to countries that might become international aggressors in the future. The U.S. also has a interest in preventing regional arms races that could lead to conflict, and could jeopardize the economic growth and political stability of friendly countries.
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The United States has a strong interest in promoting the transfer of U.S. weapons and technology under certain circumstances. If the U.S. is to minimize its role of world policeman, it is important that friendly countries are able to defend themselves and to deter potential aggressors. Further, the U.S. often wants other countries to act collectively with the U.S. to prevent or turn back aggression, and such collective action is possible only if security partners have adequate military equipment. Further, operations with allies are greatly eased if those allies are using U.S. (or at least interoperable) military equipment.
As the defense budgets of the U.S. and many of its allies have shrunk in recent years, the possibility of turning to cooperative design, development, and production of weapons systems has also become more attractive. At a minimum, the rising importance of off-the-shelf technologies and hardware from the commercial sector that can be incorporated into weapons systems guarantees greater internationalization of such systems.
Finally, for the first time in its history, the U.S. finds that many of its defense production lines are dependent on exports. Washington thus has an interest in promoting arms transfers to responsible regimes in order to maintain a healthy defense industrial base at home.