Item: The Associated Press reported on July 15 on the UN’s proposed Arms Trade Treaty to regulate weapons worldwide: The French Ambassador, Eric Danon, “said the treaty aims to regulate the legal trade of conventional weapons for the first time by requiring countries to track arms exports and imports and help fight the illicit weapons trade. Countries are debating whether the treaty should also track bullets and other ammunition.”
Most Americans are aware that U.S. forces are involved in missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Those who pay closer attention to the news may know that American troops are also active in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. But according to Nick Turse of TomDispatch.com, those six nations comprise only five percent of the total number of countries in which the Department of Defense is conducting operations. “A secret force within the U.S. military,” says Turse, “is undertaking operations in a majority of the world’s countries” — at a rate of 70 such operations per day.
While much of the nation's news for the past several weeks has been focused on the national debt, the killing of 30 U.S. and seven Afghan troops, along with an interpreter on Saturday reminded Americans of a debt to fighting forces that cannot be repaid. The shooting down of a Chinook transport helicopter by the Taliban insurgents, killing all on board, was another grim reminder that the cost of war cannot adequately be measured in trillions of dollars.
When Chalmers Johnson, a retired Asian scholar and former Naval officer during the Korean War, visited Japan in the mid-1990s, he was surprised to discover 38 U.S. bases on Okinawa alone, half a century after U.S. forces captured the island in the last great battle of World War II. If Johnson, past president and founder of the Japan Policy Research Institute at the University of San Francisco and author of numerous scholarly books on Asian affairs, had been unaware of the enormity of America’s military involvement in far-off lands, it is hardly surprising that the public at large has been even less aware. The American people, he would later observe in The Sorrows of Empire, “do not realize that a vast network of American military bases on every continent except Antarctica actually constitutes a new form of empire.”
The United Nations is preparing to finalize its Arms Trade Treaty in 2012, better known in the United States as the Small Arms Treaty, after a series of talks in the Third Preparatory Committee took place last week. The final talks on the treaty have been scheduled for four weeks next summer, and new rules indicate that a majority vote is not necessary in order for the treaty to be passed.