The good news is that international arms sales leaped $36.9 billion from the previous year, and the United States turned out to be the best salesman. It marketed almost half of that amount.
Nearly every country wanted more arms this year, either for revolutions or to halt them. Religious wars were very profitable. You can't have a good one unless you have the most up-to-date weapons to fight it. The best customers are the Israelis and the Arabs; the Irish Protestants against the Irish Catholics; the Pakistanis versus Indians; Muslims against Croats; and Taiwanese against the Chinese-and onward, until death do they part.
Don't get the idea that America is selling arms to our enemies. This is how it works. U.S. arms dealers sell guns to Egypt, which sells them to Yemen, and it, in turn, sells them to Iran. We never follow up on secondary sales as long as the Egyptian credit card is good.
Harry Bloomquist, one of the richest arms merchants, said, "The world may be in a recession, but these are boom times for arms sales."
Almost every developing country wants to blow up its neighbor. Africa is a hotbed of action. Heads of state need guns to stay in power and the rebels need guns to overthrow their government. South American drug cartels will pay top dollar for the latest airplanes, and the various governments involved will borrow millions of dollars to purchase missiles to shoot them down.
"We can go into any country in the world and write up a sale."
"But how can we work for peace when we are preparing so many countries for war?" I asked.
He said, "The more weapons one side has, the safer it feels."
Bloomquist said the Russian arms dealers represent the second-largest chunk of sales, at $8 billion.
"But they have had a lot of recalls because they are selling old weapons as new ones. Also, Russian soldiers are selling their weapons because they haven't been paid.
"The Chinese are buying French weapons and Sri Lanka is purchasing British implements of war. Castro trades sugar for machine guns, and Zaire barters its diamonds with Germany for Swedish helicopters."
Bloomquist said, "The biggest sellers are police weapons. Every country needs tear gas shells, rubber bullets, truncheons, handcuffs, leg arms and riot gear. And, of course, everyone wants the latest boutique torture instruments."
"What do arms dealers call themselves when they meet each other on the road?" I asked Bloomquist.