– Anurradha Prasad
(CMD and Editor-in-Chief, News24)
Bharat Ek Soch: The question arises as to what America ultimately wants between the Israel-Hamas conflict… whether the war ends or prolongs?
A very popular idiom goes like this – “As you sow, so shall you reap.” It means that the outcome of one’s actions will be in line with the actions themselves. America portrays itself as a champion of modern democracy in the world, the largest economic powerhouse in the world, the largest military power in the world, and the world’s largest arms dealer. But that America is the most troubled due to the gunfights among its own people, the violence, in its own country.
There is gunpowder in America’s mindset, guns in its culture. The position at which America stands on the world map today owes much to the business of arms and ammunition. In today’s date, the Israeli army is fighting Hamas with American weapons. Meanwhile, Hamas also possesses ‘made in America’ weapons. In the hands of the Lebanese army also there are American weapons. Most of the armies of Arab World countries or extremist groups have weapons and ammunition made by American companies.
In such a scenario, most parts of the world experience tensions using American weapons. Now, the question arises: What does America want in the Israel-Hamas conflict? To end the war or prolong it? Also, should the Russia-Ukraine conflict end or continue for a year or two? This question needs serious contemplation. How does the American gun culture put thousands of people to death, with the same bullets and guns that America makes hefty profits by selling worldwide?
America’s ‘Blood Business’
In this era, America’s share in the global arms trade is close to 40%. Even if we add the figures of the Arms Deals of the top five weapon-exporting countries of America, i.e. Russia, France, China, Germany, and Italy, America’s side will still remain heavier. Israel buys about 80% of its required weapons from America. It is also claimed that most of the weapons used by Hamas to challenge Israel are ‘made in America’. How did Hamas get US-manufactured armaments? It can be related to Qatar. Doha, the capital of Qatar, also has a political office of Hamas. The top commanders of Hamas, who claim to fight for the Gaza Strip, regularly hold discussions with the prestigious office in Doha, which communicates with the whole world. But in such a situation if America has declared Hamas, an extremist organization, then how did American weapons end up with Hamas? America has never asked its friend Qatar to close the Hamas office. So, it is important to raise questions as to what if American weapons have reached even the extremist organizations like Hamas. This can be related to the fact that it creates tension in the region and forms a new atmosphere for the purchase and sale of weapons.
Where to go to buy weapons for security?
For over 20 months, Ukraine has been fiercely fighting with Russia. Probably, Russia would have never thought that Ukraine would sustain for so long. But the fact remains that Ukraine may have the shoulders, but the gun is America’s. America’s ammunition is being used. In the past 20 months, Ukraine had launched so much ammunition and rockets that American Ammunition depots in Israel were almost empty. The demand for ammunition has increased in European countries due to the tense situation and insecurity created by the Ukraine-Russia conflict. The Arab world is also following the same path. Now, think about countries bordering Israel-Palestine or countries neighboring Ukraine-Russia, where should they go to buy weapons for their security? In the market for weapons, most countries will think of America because American companies are experts in making all kinds of small and large weapons. In today’s date, America is the world’s largest arms dealer. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI, between 2018 and 2022, America’s share in the global arms trade is 40%. Russia is in second place, and France is in third place. In such a situation, it is necessary to understand that America continues to make significant profits by selling weapons to many countries around the world.
A pact of cooperation, friendship, and diplomacy
Sometimes in the name of democracy, sometimes in the name of fighting terrorism, sometimes in the name of stopping communist forces, sometimes in the name of human rights, and sometimes in the name of providing security, America has never missed a chance to open the arms market. In various regions appearing on the global map, an atmosphere of fear and tension has been created to boost the arms race leading to a profit-making scenario for America and Russia. Throughout history, whenever America has faced economic crises, it has played a crucial role as a crisis manager in some war or the other.
The gun culture in America is not just about arming others. Even within the United States, there is a thriving market for firearms. The love for guns has become ingrained in the minds of the American people, a phenomenon known as gun culture. In this gun culture, America has turned into a kind of demon for its citizens, where thousands of them are killed every year. Just this week, a lone individual in Levis, America, took the lives of 22 people in a rampage and then ended his own life. The nation that takes pride in distributing security guarantees worldwide is itself not secure. There may hardly be a day when there is no shooting incident in some part of the country, with bloodshed becoming the norm.
In a country with a population of about 330 million, there are more than 390 million firearms owned by its citizens. Approximately 45% of the world’s civilian-owned guns are in the possession of Americans. This results in frequent gun incidents and shootings in the United States, making it an unfortunate common occurrence.
Who holds pressure on American legislators?
The superpower America has another darker side to it, where guns are ubiquitous, people are possessive, and the thirst for each other’s blood seems to be unquenchable. The dangerous nature of the American gun culture can be understood by an incident that took place at the beginning of the year. In Virginia, a six-year-old child shot his teacher, perhaps in a fit of anger. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, in 2021, gun-related incidents claimed the lives of 4,752 children, an increase from over 4,300 in 2020.
Whenever a major shooting incident occurs in the United States, questions about the authorities not taking stringent steps to end the gun culture arise. The answer lies in the National Rifle Association (NRA), a powerful organization representing the firearms industry. Regardless of their political affiliation, both Republicans and Democrats receive substantial financial support from the NRA. In fact, it was reported that the gun lobby provided Donald Trump with a $200 million campaign contribution in 2016. Consequently, any decision that goes against the NRA is akin to walking on hot coals for American politicians.
America, the world’s largest arms dealer
After a mass shooting at Oregon College in 2015, the world witnessed tears in the eyes of then-American President Barack Obama, who expressed his intention to bring gun policy changes in Congress. However, what transpired was quite different. About 70% of the U.S. Congress members stood in support of the country’s gun lobby. As a result, taking action against the gun lobby had become extremely challenging for American leaders.
On one hand, America thrives as the world’s largest arms dealer, filling its treasury with the trade in firearms. On the other hand, the senseless disputes and small altercations within the country result in countless lives lost, where life’s value has diminished. The idea of profiting from conflicts and disputes among others is weighing heavily on America. In such a scenario, American leaders can take a cue from the poetry of India’s former Prime Minister and senior BJP leader, Late Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. His poem carries a message:
कह दो चिंगारी का खेल बुरा होता है
औरों के घर आग लगाने का जो सपना
वह अपने ही घर में सदा खरा होता है
अपने ही हाथों तुम अपनी कब्र न खोदो…
This is a reflection of the need for introspection and change within America’s gun culture, which has turned into a grave concern for the nation.