Of Militias and Mercedes-Benzes

The how, why, and everything that can go wrong when we arm the world.

It’s hard to overstate how much arms trade and aid factor into US foreign policy. Missiles, aircraft, guns, and more — we sell and give them to others as a way to exert global power without ever putting boots on the ground.

It’s a trend Congress has passively greenlit for years. But every deal comes with risk.

US weapons have a history of ending up in the wrong hands. Or disappearing entirely. Other times, the “right” hands use weapons to perpetuate devastating civilian harm.

On this episode of Things That Go Boom, we dive into the complex world of arms transfers to ask, “Where does Congress fit into scrutinizing US deals?”

The short answer is… it generally doesn’t. That is, unless it wants to.

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GUESTS: Lauren Woods, Center for International Policy; Jodi Vittori, Georgetown University


Human Rights, Civilian Harm, and Arms Sales: A Primer on US Law and Policy, Center for Civilians in Conflict.

The Hidden Costs of US Security Cooperation, Lauren Woods, Responsible Statecraft.

Sending Weapons To Ukraine Could Have Unintended Consequences, Jordan Cohen, Inkstick.

Mitigating Patronage and Personal Enrichment in US Arms Sales, Jodi Vittori, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.