Last week’s conviction of Viktor Bout, the so-called Merchant of Death, was a rare moment of triumph in the fight against the illicit arms trade.
But it points to the fundamental hypocrisy at the heart of the global trade in weapons: Governments protect corrupt and dangerous arms dealers as long as they need them and then throw them behind bars when they are no longer useful.
Arms deals stretch across a continuum of legality and ethics from the formal trade to the gray and black markets. In practice, the boundaries between the three markets are fuzzy.
With bribery and corruption de rigueur — a Transparency International study estimated that the arms trade accounted for almost 40 percent of corruption in all global trade — there are very few arms transactions that do not involve illegality, most often through middlemen, agents or dealers like Mr.… Seguir leyendo »