CL Response: The Arms Race

 

1996

 

The current Congress struggles with a number of critical arms trade issues in this session:

The Code of Conduct legislation that would tie human rights standards to all U.S. arms sales to other governments and lifting the ban on specific arms sales to Latin America that have kept that region relatively free of arms competition for the last two decades; and landmine legislation that would ban the manufacture and sale of these deadly instruments of war that are more likely to maim and kill women and children than soldiers. 

 

In each of these instances the true import of each piece of legislation becomes clearer when a consistent ethic of life is applied. The potential impact of landmine legislation on military operations pales in significance to the maiming and killing of innocent women and children gathering food in fields. Up until World War II, there was a world ethic that the rights of non-combatants were to be paramount in warfare (too often honored in the breach even then).

But to permit public argument that women and children will just have to continue to suffer

until military strategy can be re-adjusted defies any sense of human respect for innocent life.

 

The Code of Conduct legislation similarly confronts a consistent ethic of protecting life against human rights violations by the world's authoritarian regimes with an economic policy that seeks to use arms sales to keep the U.S. economy strong, especially after the adjustments necessary in the post-Cold War world. A nation that consistently treasures and respects human life would not choose economic strategies that are known to imperil the victims of brutal foreign governments. It is hoped that the current problems of Central Africa would convince the U.S. once and for all that there is no economic price worth the human misery that has been inflicted upon these nations by arms sales from outside. Leaders from all over Africa have pleaded with the world to stop these sales that only tempt and maintain the tragic conflicts that are occurring there.

 

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