Analysis: The Obama administration's new arms sales policy

Latin America and the Caribbean

A new blog post by the Center for International Policy’s William Hartung highlights the first policy directive on conventional arms sales in almost two decades, released by the Obama administration on January 15. The language of the directive emphasizes that human rights be a key part of arms sales decision making, while also pushing for greater promotion of U.S. exports. This new policy comes as the administration has loosened other controls on certain arms exports. Hartung determined:

The release of the new arms transfer policy directive provides an opportunity for Congress to take a closer look at the administration’s arms export decontrol initiative and make changes that will ensure that all significant military items continue to be carefully scrutinized on human rights grounds, and that any loopholes that may make it easier for smugglers to successfully transfer U.S. equipment into the wrong hands are closed.

This new policy will have a significant impact on U.S. arms sales to the region that go through three programs tracked by Just the Facts: the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Sales program, the Direct Commercial Sales program, and the Excess Defense Articles program. In 2011, arms sales to the region through these three programs totaled over $3 billion.

For more information on the directive and its effect, read the post in its entirety on Security Assistance Monitor, a global expansion of Just the Facts that tracks U.S. security assistance worldwide. Stay tuned for the expansion, as Just the Facts will be merged with Security Assistance Monitor soon!