Sunday, August 26, 2012

The World Trade in Weapons: The Google View

Arms flow from the United States to Colombia. 
Google has created a website displaying the world trade in small arms and ammunition which makes the trade lines appear positively artistic.

A bad trend for the hungry: Colombia's arms sales and
purchases are trending upward.
But the graphics' beauty disguises the fact that these small weapons are creating mayhem and slaughter in nations around the world, including Colombia.

While not as dramatic as tanks, warships and dive bombers, small arms cause a disproportionate number of murder and mayhem around the world, both in domestic and international conflicts and in criminal violence. According to Google's arms project, light weapons and small arms cause 60 percent of the world's violent deaths.

Colombia's arms
are primarily
In purely economic trade terms, Colombia's arms deals are bad for the country: its exports of small arms and ammunition constitute only a few percentage points of its exports. But that of course is unimportant compared to the human suffering these light machine guns, handguns, assault rifles and their ilk cause.

The Google graphics are not complete. They off course do not include illegal arms transfers. And, the most closed and authoritarian nations, such as North Korea, Belarus and Zimbabwe, are precisely the ones least likely to report arms sales and purchases. Venezuela also does not appear to be disclosing all of its arms trades.

Discouragingly for all but arms dealers, the South American nations I looked at appear to be trading more small arms. How's that news for the region's poor and hungry?

The various nations' graphs also illustrate geopolitical connections. Venezuela is tied to Russia; Brazil, which appears to be making money as an arms exporter, trades with much of the globe.

The United Nations is working on a global arms treaty to at least place guidelines on this trade - but has met furious opposition from U.S. gun fanatics.

An arms highway from Russia to Venezuela. 
Brazil has become a major arms exporter. 
Brazil's arms trading trends upward. 
'Nobody wins' this street art tic tac toe game using
bulls eyes and rifles.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours


Ito said...

Fanatic huh? I don't resemble that remark.

Miguel said...

Without entering the debate on gun control, the simple fact is that the proposed United Nations treaty would not affect private gun owners.