Discover more from Speaking Security
US sold weapons to 57% of the world’s autocracies in 2022
Speaking Security Newsletter | Note n°205 | 13 May 2023
New analysis out from me this week in The Intercept (article, tweet). I compared recently-released US arms sales data with democracy ratings from the V-Dem dataset and found that last year, the Biden administration approved weapons sales to 57% of the world’s autocratic countries.
These findings fly in the face of Biden’s preferred framing of international politics as a “battle between democracies and autocracies,” a narrative that lends itself more to a self-righteous foreign policy than an honest or productive one. Dividing the world between democratic and autocratic countries — in the spirit of “with us or against us” — makes conflict more likely and has had a chilling effect on calls for diplomacy and détente. It’s also harder to cooperate with the international community while insisting you’re locked in an existential fight with roughly half of them.
^alt text for screen readers: U.S. sold weapons to 57 percent of the world’s autocracies in 2022. This pie chart shows the 48 autocratic countries the U.S. sold weapons to last year in light gray and the 36 that it didn’t sell arms to in dark gray. Arms sales data: Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, Defense Security Cooperation Agency. Country designations: Varieties of Democracy, Regimes of the World.