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Biden breaks all-time record for most weapons sold during fiscal year

Originally published: Al Mayadeen on May 14, 2023 by The Intercept (more by Al Mayadeen)  | (Posted May 15, 2023)

A report issued by The Intercept on Thursday reveals that the U.S. has sold weapons to the majority of states labeled as autocratic in the year 2022, a year during which the U.S. sold weapons to a combined total of 142 countries and territories.

The total of weapons that were sold that year reportedly amounted to $85 billion in bilateral sales.

Of the 84 countries that are labeled as autocracies, the U.S. reportedly made sales of weapons to at least 48 percent to 57 percent of them, according to The Intercept.

Data was gathered using recently released country-level data for last year’s Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) authorization that was issued by the State Department Directorate of Defense Trade Control, as well as the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) figures for fiscal year 2022.

There are two ways through which the U.S. fulfills its foreign demands: either through FMS or through DCS. The FMS implies that the government acts as an intermediary in the purchase of raw materials from a private company and then delivers the goods to foreign clients.

On the other hand, the DCS involves a system in which a U.S. company readies an agreement with a foreign government.

Both systems require approval from the U.S. government.

“While Biden signaled early on that his arms sales policy would be based primarily on strategic and human rights considerations, not just economic interests, he broke from that policy not too long after entering office by approving weapons sales to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other authoritarian regimes,” the report states.

‘Battle between democracy and autocracy’

The Intercept notes that data provided by the U.S. government lacks clarity as it fails to disclose who the client states are and what their mode of governance is.

This comes in light of the White House’s narrative about defending the values of democracy and the “rules-based” order against global autocracies.

“Democracies have become stronger, not weaker. Autocracies have grown weaker, not stronger,” Biden previously said in one of his addresses.

During a speech in Warsaw in 2022, Biden likened the battle between democracy and autocracy to one “between liberty and repression” and “between a rules-based international order and one goverened by brute force.”

“The most pressing strategic challenge facing our vision is from powers that layer authoritarian governance with a revisionist foreign policy,” the White House’s 2022 National Security Strategy reads.

According to the State Department’s annual tally, “which uses an opaque but seemingly broader accounting of yearly FMS and DCS figure,” figures for the year 2022 show a record number of arms sales ever made in years.

Weapons sales in Biden’s full fiscal year as president were recorded at a staggering amount of $206 billion—a number slightly higher than the previous record-holder set by Donald Trump of of $192 billion.

Arming countries through military aid programs to fulfill U.S. strategic interests is also considered in this context.

The largest amount delivered in military aid to date is the Ukraine conflict with more than $75 billion of U.S. taxpayer money spent on financial and military assistance to Kiev.

The Biden administration has resorted to the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) to enable such money transfers to occur. Through the use of PDA, Congress has recently greenlit up to $1 billion worth of weapons aid for Taiwan.

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