Spoils of War: The Human Cost of America's Arms Trade

John Tirman, Author Free Press $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-684-82726-1
A seller-driven global market for increasingly lethal U.S.-made weapons can only further destabilize the current international order--or so argues Tirman (The Fallacy of Star Wars) in this sophisticated polemic. Tirman, executive director of the Winston Foundation for World Peace, couples the Sikorsky Blackhawk assault helicopter with Washington's policies toward Turkey, and uses them as focal points for his interlocking case study of a foreign policy and domestic economy that, he says, is overdependent on arms production and arms sales. Far from being a post--Cold War phenomenon, this pattern is found by Tirman in Nixon-era policies, when an emphasis on developing regional clients led the U.S. to begin strengthening Turkey's armed forces with large infusions of high-tech weapons that were then used to repress Kurds as much as to deter the Soviets. Subsequently, Tirman avers, an increasingly saturated U.S. market for military helicopters led Sikorsky executives and politicians from the corporation's home state of Connecticut to seek the export of more copters rather than to accept the stresses involved in restructuring. The more Blackhawks delivered to Turkey, the easier it became to kill Kurds, says Tirman, and the greater became the military's influence in Turkish society. While the impact of U.S. arms on Turkey's Kurdish policies is arguable, Tirman offers a compelling demonstration of the moral and pragmatic shortcomings of current American policies on arms export. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
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