IN 2015, POPE FRANCIS directed a provocative question to the U.S. Congress: “Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society?”
As the source of roughly 36 percent of the world’s military exports, the United States is the largest weapons supplier in the world. According to data released last spring by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the U.S. exported arms to at least 98 countries in the past five years. These deliveries often included advanced weapons such as combat aircraft, short-range cruise and ballistic missiles, and guided bombs.
Ten of the 25 countries buying the most weapons from the U.S. are NATO members or part of other U.S. security alliances. In 2017, the U.S. set a record of $75.9 billion in weapons sales in a year, pursuant to congressional approval. Saudi Arabia is the biggest recipient of U.S. arms. In August 2018, the Saudi military used a 500-pound, MK 82 guided bomb built by Lockheed Martin, a U.S. weapons manufacturer, to destroy a school bus in a market in the Yemeni town of Dahyan. They killed more than 50 people, including 40 children. One of the victims, Ali Mohammed Hassan Da’i, was 10 years old. Another, Ali Zaid Hussein Tayeb, was 9 years old.