Wednesday, June 14, 2006

SIPRI (part 4): Putting things into perspective.

In our series on the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report that just came out, here are two more interesting points which are, I think, worth stressing:
The first one concerns the ambiguity of the American policy which

The US policy has elements of ambiguity that have been apparent under the leadership of President George W. Bush. The USA is equally wary of frameworks that might constrain its freedom of action, and of regional ventures that may rise to challenge its power, while US policies sometimes—deliberately or not—drive wedges between regional neighbours. Even so, the US line in 2005– 2006 has become more benign towards European (and African) security coordination.
The second more worrisome point is the privatization of defence services which as result is drawing new kinds of suppliers into military contracting - the good old mercenaries. (a good case is Iraq of course). According to the report, this also adds to their difficult task of assessing military and weapon spending already rendered hard by "military secrecy, the coverage of military budgets, the nature of military prices and the uniqueness of military products".
It also means that military spending in the traditional sense of the word is becoming less relevant since the focus is now on the individual rather than the state and that the blurring of the dividing line between internal security and external defence has increased.
One of the reasons I liked the report is that they acknowledge the difficulty of drawing definite conclusions in part because of the privatization of arms exports:
Transparency will suffer if a tendency for commercial pragmatism in national arms export policy spreads and reduces political willingness to report on national arms exports. At the same time, it remains difficult to interpret the data that are actually being reported.

That is also something I wish the media had reported about.


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