In her epic, Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Guns of August, historian Barbara Tuchman detailed how the First World War began in 1914, and how the belligerence, vanity and poor policies of powerful leaders led millions to gory deaths in that four-year conflagration. Before people realized world wars had to be numbered, the First World War was called "The Great War" or "The War to End All Wars," which it wasn't. It was the first modern war with massive, mechanized slaughter on land, sea and in the air. We can look at that war in retrospect, now 100 years after it started, as if through a distant mirror. The reflection, where we are today, is grim from within the greatest war-making nation in human history, the United States.
With the ongoing civil war in Syria and the United States governments campaign to yet again involve itself in another conflict in the Middle East it is a good idea to know where the guns and ammunition that are sustaining the conflict are coming from. There is now a handy site that will allow you to track the global trade in small arms and ammunition. Mapping Arms Data will allow you visualize and make connections between the conflict zones and the countries that export weaponry.
While the final funerals for the victims of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre have been held, gun violence continues apace, most notably with the Christmas Eve murder of two volunteer firefighters in rural Webster, N.Y., at the hands of an ex-convict who was armed, as was the Newtown shooter Adam Lanza, with a Bushmaster .223 caliber AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. James Holmes, the alleged perpetrator of the massacre last July in Aurora, Colo., stands accused of using, among other weapons, a Smith & Wesson AR-15 with a 100-round drum in place of standard magazine clip.
Quick: What is more heavily regulated, global trade of bananas or battleships? In late June, activists gathered in New York's Times Square to make the absurd point, that, unbelievably, "there are more rules governing your ability to trade a banana from one country to the next than governing your ability to trade an AK-47 or a military helicopter." So said Amnesty International USA's Suzanne Nossel at the protest, just before the start of the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which ran from July 2 to July 27. Thanks to a last-minute declaration by the United States that it "needed more time" to review the short, 11-page treaty text, the conference ended last week in failure.
The violent deaths of Brian Terry and Juan Francisco Sicilia, separated by the span of just a few months and by the increasingly bloody U.S.-Mexico border, have sparked separate but overdue examinations of the so-called War on Drugs, and how the U.S. government is ultimately exacerbating the problem.