"U.S. Arms Showing Up In Hands of Pro-Assad Militias" (USA Today, July 10, 2013):
U.S. and Western weapons have been reaching Iranian-backed Shiite militias fighting to keep Bashar Assad's forces in power in Syria.Why is this the least surprising development of 2013? I'm glad you asked:
"U.S.-Approved Arms for Libya Rebels Fell Into Jihadis’ Hands" (New York Times, December 5, 2012):
The Obama administration secretly gave its blessing to arms shipments to Libyan rebels from Qatar last year, but American officials later grew alarmed as evidence grew that Qatar was turning some of the weapons over to Islamic militants, according to United States officials and foreign diplomats."Flood of US Weapons in Afghanistan and Pakistan Fueling Militant Groups, Experts Say" (Global Post, June 22, 2011):
Some of the U.S. weapons bound for U.S. and Afghan troops in Afghanistan are being stolen, landing instead in the hands of those they are meant to be used against, and fueling militant groups in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, Pakistani officials say."Arms Sent by U.S. May Be Falling Into Taliban Hands" (New York Times, May 19, 2009):
Insurgents in Afghanistan, fighting from some of the poorest and most remote regions on earth, have managed for years to maintain an intensive guerrilla war against materially superior American and Afghan forces.
Arms and ordnance collected from dead insurgents hint at one possible reason: Of 30 rifle magazines recently taken from insurgents’ corpses, at least 17 contained cartridges, or rounds, identical to ammunition the United States had provided to Afghan government forces, according to an examination of ammunition markings by The New York Times and interviews with American officers and arms dealers."Afghan Arms Are at Risk, Report Says" (New York Times, February 11, 2009):
The American military has not properly tracked tens of thousands of weapons the Pentagon bought and shipped to Afghan security forces, leaving the arms at risk of being stolen or sold to militants, according to a federal report that is to be presented at a House panel hearing on Thursday."U.S. Is Said to Fail in Tracking Arms Shipped to Iraqis" (New York Times, October 30, 2006):
The American military has not properly tracked hundreds of thousands of weapons intended for Iraqi security forces and has failed to provide spare parts, maintenance personnel or even repair manuals for most of the weapons given to the Iraqis, a federal report released Sunday has concluded.At this point, not having an American-made weapon in the Middle East is like not having a smartphone here. It's probably a source of social embarrassment.
This list, of course, is by no means exhaustive. The USA Today report informs us that these militias in Syria might have come across these arms on the black market in the wake of a "major U.S. sale to Iraq" that took place back in 2009. That "sale" included 80,000 M-16s, 25,000 M-4s and 2,550 M-203 grenade launchers. Word on the street is the grenade launchers were Buy 1 Get 1 Free.
Fear not, though. Neil Hedlund, a spokesman for the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency, assures us that, contrary to what you might have heard, U.S. arms "are transferred to foreign militaries only under strict controls that prohibit transfers to third parties." Well, okay, then.
It's hard to believe that this is just pure recklessness and incompetence. Say what you want about the people running the U.S. war machine, but they're not stupid, and they're not naive. A simpler explanation is that said people just don't give a damn. Weapons manufacturers and defense contractors get rich, everyone gets armed to the teeth, a lot of people in the Middle East die, the endless cycle of violence and terrorism continues, and the goal of perpetual war is achieved.