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HomeWorld NewsUS Provides Military Assistance to 73 Percent of World’s Dictatorships

US Provides Military Assistance to 73 Percent of World’s Dictatorships

Demonstrators with CodePink protest weapon gross sales to Saudi Arabia outdoors the Hart Senate Workplace constructing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, September 7, 2016. (Photograph: Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Photographs)

For many years, the American individuals have been repeatedly informed by their authorities and corporate-run media that acts of struggle ordered by their president have been largely motivated by the necessity to counter acts of aggression or oppression by “evil dictators.” We have been informed we needed to invade Iraq as a result of Saddam Hussein was an evil dictator. We needed to bomb Libya as a result of Muammar Gaddafi was an evil dictator, bent on unleashing a “bloodbath” on his personal individuals. At present, in fact, we’re informed that we must always help insurgents in Syria as a result of Bashar al-Assad is an evil dictator, and we should repeatedly rattle our sabers at North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and Russia’s Vladimir Putin as a result of they, too, are evil dictators.

That is a part of the bigger, normally unquestioned mainstream company media narrative that the US leads the “Western democracies” in a worldwide battle to fight terrorism and totalitarianism and promote democracy.

I got down to reply a easy query: Is it true? Does the US authorities truly oppose dictatorships and champion democracy all over the world, as we’re repeatedly informed?

The reality is just not straightforward to search out, however federal sources do present a solution: No. In response to Freedom Home’s ranking system of political rights all over the world, there have been 49 nations on this planet, as of 2015, that may be pretty categorized as “dictatorships.” As of fiscal 12 months 2015, the final 12 months for which we now have publicly obtainable information, the federal authorities of the USA had been offering army help to 36 of them, courtesy of your tax {dollars}. America at present helps over 73 p.c of the world’s dictatorships!

Most politically conscious individuals know of a few of the extra extremely publicized cases of this, such because the tens of billions of {dollars}’ value of US army help offered to the beheading capital of the world, the misogynistic monarchy of Saudi Arabia, and the repressive army dictatorship now in energy in Egypt. However apologists for our nation’s imperialistic overseas coverage might attempt to rationalize such help, arguing that Saudi Arabia and Egypt are exceptions to the rule. They could argue that our broader nationwide pursuits within the Center East require briefly overlooking the oppressive nature of these explicit states, so as to serve a broader, pro-democratic endgame.

Such hogwash could possibly be critiqued on many counts, in fact, starting with its class-biased presumptions about what constitutes US “national interests.” However my survey of US help for dictatorships all over the world demonstrates that our authorities’s help for Saudi Arabia and Egypt will not be exceptions to the rule in any respect. They’re the rule.

Sources and Strategies

It was not straightforward to learn how most of the world’s dictatorships are being supported by the USA. Nobody else appears to be compiling or sustaining a listing, so I needed to go at it on my own. Right here is how I got here up with my reply.

Step 1: Decide how most of the world’s governments could also be pretty characterised as dictatorships. A generally accepted definition of a “dictatorship” is a system of presidency by which one individual or a small group possesses absolute state energy, thereby directing all nationwide insurance policies and main acts — leaving the individuals powerless to change these selections or exchange these in energy by any methodology wanting revolution or coup. I examined a variety of web sites and organizations that claimed to keep up lists of the world’s dictatorships, however most of them have been both dated, listed solely the world’s “worst dictators” or had related limitations, and/or failed to explain their methodology. I in the end was left with the annual Freedom within the World stories printed by Freedom Home as the most effective supply for offering a complete record.

This was not fully passable, as Freedom Home has a decidedly pro-US-ruling-class bias. For instance, it categorizes Russia as a dictatorship. Within the introduction to its 2017 Freedom Within the World report, it opines that “Russia, in stunning displays of hubris and hostility, interfered in the political processes of the United States and other democracies, escalated its military support for the Assad dictatorship in Syria, and solidified its illegal occupation of Ukrainian territory.” A extra goal view would notice that claims of interference within the US election by the Russian authorities haven’t been confirmed (until one is inclined to take sure US intelligence companies at their phrase); that Russia was requested by the UN-recognized Syrian authorities for help, in compliance with worldwide legislation (in contrast to US acts of aggression and help for rebel there); and would no less than acknowledge that any Russian intervention in Ukraine occurred within the context of the USA’ brazen help for a coup in that nation.

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Nonetheless, the Freedom Home stories seem like the most effective (if not the one) complete gauge of political rights and freedoms overlaying each nation on this planet. It makes use of a group of about 130 in-house and exterior analysts and professional advisers from the tutorial, suppose tank and human rights communities who purportedly use a broad vary of sources, together with information articles, tutorial analyses, stories from nongovernmental organizations and particular person skilled contacts. The analysts’ proposed scores are mentioned and defended at annual overview conferences, organized by area and attended by Freedom Home workers and a panel of professional advisers. The ultimate scores symbolize the consensus of the analysts, advisers and workers, and are supposed to be comparable from 12 months to 12 months and throughout nations and areas. Freedom Home concedes that, “although an element of subjectivity is unavoidable in such an enterprise, the ratings process emphasizes methodological consistency, intellectual rigor, and balanced and unbiased judgments.”

One can stay skeptical, however a key consideration is that Freedom Home’s pronounced pro-US bias is definitely a plus for functions of this venture. If its group of specialists tilts towards a pro-US-government perspective, which means it will indulge each presumption in favor of not categorizing nations supported by the USA as dictatorships. In different phrases, if even Freedom Home categorizes a authorities backed by the USA as a dictatorship, one might be pretty assured that its evaluation, in that occasion, is correct.

For functions of the current evaluation, I used Freedom Home’s 2016 Freedom within the World report, although its 2017 report is now obtainable. I did so as a result of the 2016 report displays its evaluation of political rights and civil liberties as they existed in 2015, which might roughly correspond with the army help and arms gross sales information that I had obtainable for federal fiscal 12 months 2015 (October 1, 2014 – September 30, 2015) and calendar 12 months 2015. (I’ll work on a brand new report when such information for fiscal 12 months 2016 turns into obtainable.)

Freedom Home makes use of a scoring system to gauge a nation’s “political rights” and “civil liberties,” so as to charge every nation as “free,” “partly free” or “not free,” with a variety of scores for every class. It describes its scoring system as follows: “A country or territory is assigned two ratings (7 to 1) — one for political rights and one for civil liberties — based on its total scores for the political rights and civil liberties questions. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the greatest degree of freedom and 7 the smallest degree of freedom, corresponds to a specific range of total scores.”

For functions of deciding whether or not a nation could possibly be categorized as a “dictatorship,” nevertheless, I centered solely on the “political rights” scores, classifying nations with a political rights rating of 6 or 7 as a dictatorship. This doesn’t imply that civil liberties are unimportant, in fact, however the goal right here is to evaluate the diploma of absolutism of the political management, not freedom of expression, press, and so forth. After all, within the overwhelming majority of instances, nations with low political rights scores even have low civil liberties scores. Nevertheless, a political rights rating of 6 or 7 corresponds most intently with our definition of dictatorship, primarily based on Freedom Home’s characterization:

6 — International locations and territories with a ranking of 6 have very restricted political rights. They’re dominated by one-party or army dictatorships, non secular hierarchies, or autocrats. They could permit a couple of political rights, equivalent to some illustration or autonomy for minority teams, and some are conventional monarchies that tolerate political dialogue and settle for public petitions.

7 — International locations and territories with a ranking of seven have few or no political rights due to extreme authorities oppression, generally together with civil struggle. They could additionally lack an authoritative and functioning central authorities and endure from excessive violence or rule by regional warlords.

Whereas it could be debatable whether or not it’s acceptable to think about a rustic with no “functioning central government” as a dictatorship, I’d submit that the label is suitable if that nation is dominated de facto by warlords or rival armies or militias. In impact, that merely signifies that it’s dominated by two or extra dictators as an alternative of 1.

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By Freedom Home’s measure, then, there have been 49 nation-states that could possibly be pretty characterised as dictatorships in 2015, as follows:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Brunei, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa), Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Laos, Libya, Mauritania, Myanmar, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Yemen.

It ought to be famous that Freedom Home included in its rankings a number of different entities with a political rights rating of 6 or 7 whose standing as an impartial state was itself disputed: Crimea, the Gaza Strip, Pakistani Kashmir, South Ossetia, Tibet, Transnistria, the West Financial institution and Western Sahara. My depend of 49 dictatorships on this planet in 2015 excludes these subordinated or disputed state territories.

Step 2: Decide which of the world’s dictatorships obtained US-funded army or weapons coaching, army arms financing or licensed gross sales of army weapons from the USA in 2015.

For this step, I relied on 4 sources, the primary two of which took appreciable digging to find:

A. “Foreign Military Training in Fiscal Years 2015 and 2016 Volume I and Volume II (Country Training Activities),” US Division of Protection and US Division of State Joint Report back to Congress.

That is the latest annual report, required by part 656 of the Overseas Help Act (FAA) of 1961, as amended (22 U.S.C. § 2416), and part 652 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 (P.L. 110-161), which requires “a report on all military training provided to foreign military personnel by the Department of Defense and the Department of State during the previous fiscal year and all such training proposed for the current fiscal year,” excluding NATO nations, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

This report supplies information on US expenditures for army coaching applications below the Overseas Navy Gross sales (FMS) program, Overseas Navy Financing (FMF) grants, the Worldwide Navy Schooling and Coaching (IMET) program, the Part 2282 International Practice and Equip (GT&E) program, the Aviation Management Program to offer pilot coaching (ALP), and the Overseas Help Act (FAA) drawdown program, which authorizes the president to direct the drawdown of protection articles, companies and coaching if an “unforeseen emergency exists that requires immediate military assistance to a foreign country” that can’t be met by different means. Such expenditures are listed by recipient nation, in some element. For functions of this examine, I embrace expenditures below these applications as US-funded army coaching.

The report additionally supplies information on US expenditures for narcotics and legislation enforcement, world peace operations, facilities for safety research, drug interdiction and counter-drug actions, mine elimination help, catastrophe response, non-lethal anti-terrorism coaching and different applications that I didn’t depend as army help or coaching for functions of this survey. It’s definitely greater than doable that US help below these applications may play a job in offering de facto army help to recipient nations, however I err on the aspect of warning.

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The report describes the IMET program as together with civilian contributors, and together with coaching on “elements of U.S. democracy such as the judicial system, legislative oversight, free speech, equality issues, and commitment to human rights.” One may conceivably criticize my inclusion of IMET coaching, due to this fact, on the bottom that it truly trains overseas civilians and troopers in democratic, anti-dictatorial values. Nevertheless, the IMET program is presumably known as “military” coaching and schooling for a cause. It trains college students in “increased understanding of security issues and the means to address them,” and supplies “training that augments the capabilities of participant nations’ military forces to support combined operations and interoperability with U.S. forces.” Accordingly, I feel it’s truthful to depend IMET as a type of army help, whereas acknowledging that it arguably would possibly, at instances, play a pro-democracy function.

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B. US Division of State, “Congressional Budget Justification FOREIGN ASSISTANCE SUMMARY TABLES, Fiscal Year 2017.”

Desk 3a of this publication supplies the precise fiscal 12 months allocations for overseas help applications, by nation and by account, together with the 2 applications that curiosity us right here, Overseas Navy Financing and IMET. In that regard, it’s considerably duplicative of the earlier supply, however I reviewed it as a verify.

C. Division of Protection Safety Cooperation Company (DSCA), Monetary Coverage And Evaluation Enterprise Operations, “Foreign Military Sales, Foreign Military Construction Sales And Other Security Cooperation Historical Facts As of September 30, 2015.”

This supply supplies the full greenback worth of army articles and companies bought to overseas governments for FY 2015, together with the worth of agreements for future deliveries and the worth of precise deliveries, which I’ve offered within the desk under. It additionally consists of different information on overseas army financing (credit score or grants) prolonged to overseas governments and supplies yet one more supply on IMET coaching.

D. Stockholm Worldwide Peace Analysis Institute (SIPRI), “Transfer of major conventional weapons: sorted by recipient. Deals with deliveries or orders made for year range 2015 to 2016.”

SIPRI supplies an interactive software by which the consumer can generate a listing of main weapons transfers by provider, all or some recipients, and the 12 months. Though it solely counts “major” standard weapons transfers, I reviewed it as an extra verify on the accuracy of the chart. It basically affirmed the accuracy of the DSCA report however there have been some doable anomalies. For instance, the DSCA stories solely $8,000 value of army gross sales to Uganda in FY 2015 however SIPRI stories the switch of 10 RG-33 armored automobiles, two Cessna-208 Caravan gentle transport planes, and 15 Cougar armored automobiles in 2015. The discrepancy could also be as a result of three-month distinction between fiscal 12 months 2015 and calendar 12 months 2105, completely different strategies of relationship the switch, variations in valuation or some unknown issue.

Step 3: Generate the Chart

The primary column within the chart under lists the 49 nations labeled by Freedom Home as dictatorial in nature. The second column exhibits these nations that obtained some US army coaching in FY 2015, relying totally on supply B, but additionally checking supply C. The third column exhibits these nations that obtained an settlement for future army gross sales or transfers from the USA in FY 2015, with the greenback worth of the army articles listed, primarily based on supply C, but additionally checking supply D. The fourth column exhibits these nations that obtained an precise supply of army articles from the USA in FY 2015, with the greenback worth of the army articles listed, primarily based on supply C, but additionally checking supply D.

US Support for the World’s Dictatorships, Fiscal Year 2015

2017 0923 Whitney chart 2US Help for the World’s Dictatorships, Fiscal Yr 2015. (Chart: Wealthy Whitney)

I plan on offering related stories on US help for dictatorships all over the world on an annual foundation. I’ll start work on a report overlaying Fiscal Yr 2016 as quickly because the related information turns into obtainable.

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