The world lives in fear of the “incident”- In Iran perhaps, or Saudi Arabia, or Egypt? —that will ignite the next great conflict; but if you look back on the Thirty Years War and take it as a template for mass loos of life and destruction, it is not hard to conclude that it is men and not events that determine the fate of nations.
…Always beneath peace, there is a fear and suspicion constantly threatening it. There is always the fear that some incident will create war; a combustible atmosphere ready to start a blaze. Even those who might profit by a fire in that quarter are too frightened to exploit it; for it might spread. And so the peace is kept and the dangers are preserved, not eliminated, for to eliminate them is to touch them and to touch them is to set them off. And then, suddenly a spark flies which is not isolated; the complex system of insurance suddenly fails; the wind blows, and all the danger spots are simultaneously alight.
And so today in Iran and Korea, and the Middle East, a series of carefully preserved anomalies and irrational partitions testify to an uncertain balance of powers, and the successive localization of conflict in the interest of peace. On such occasions is is customary to say that the incidents lead to the war: they generate a fear whose pressure is irresistible, and cause men to build up armaments which must be used. In other words, war is inevitable, it is only a question of time. …( to be continued)…
(see link at end)… Weapons sales by the United States tripled in 2011 to a record high, driven by major arms sales to Persian Gulf allies concerned about Iran’s regional ambitions, according to a new study for Congress.
Overseas weapons sales by the United States totaled $66.3 billion last year, or more than three-quarters of the global arms market, valued at $85.3 billion in 2011. Russia was a distant second, with $4.8 billion in deals.
The American weapons sales total was an “extraordinary increase” over the $21.4 billion in deals for 2010, the study found, and was the largest single-year sales total in the history of United States arms exports. The previous high was in fiscal year 2009, when American weapons sales overseas totaled nearly $31 billion.
A worldwide economic decline had suppressed arms sales over recent years. But increasing tensions with Iran drove a set of Persian Gulf nations — Saudiia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman — to purchase American weapons at record levels.
These Gulf states do not share a border with Iran, and their arms purchases focused on expensive warplanes and complex missile defense systems.
The report was prepared by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, a division of the Library of Congress. The annual study, written by Richard F. Grimmett and Paul K. Kerr and delivered to Congress on Friday, is considered the most detailed collection of unclassified arms sales data available to the public.
The agreements with Saudi Arabia included the purchase of 84 advanced F-15 fighters, a variety of ammunition, missiles and logistics support, and upgrades of 70 of the F-15 fighters in the current fleet.
Sales to Saudi Arabia last year also included dozens of Apache and Black Hawk helicopters, all contributing to a total Saudi weapons deal from the United States of $33.4 billion, according to the study.
The United Arab Emirates purchased a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, an advanced antimissile shield that includes radars and is valued at $3.49 billion, as well as 16 Chinook helicopters for $939 million.
Oman bought 18 F-16 fighters for $1.4 billion.
In keeping with recent trends, most of the weapons purchases, worth about $71.5 billion, were made by developing nations, with about $56.3 billion of that from the United States.
Other significant weapons deals by the United States last year included a $4.1 billion agreement with India for 10 C-17 transport planes and with Taiwan for Patriot antimissile batteries valued at $2 billion — an arms deal that outraged officials in Beijing.
To compare weapons sales over various years, the study used figures in 2011 dollars, with amounts for previous years adjusted for inflation to provide a consistent measurement.
A policy goal of the United States has been to work with Arab allies in the Persian Gulf to knit together a regional missile defense system to protect cities, oil refineries, pipelines and military bases from an Iranian attack.