Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



Controversial events of the last few years have presented the American public with the question whether arms transfers by the United States have gotten out of hand. Has our country become the chief "merchant of death," as believed by many at the time of Senator Nye's investigation soon after World War I, or is it the "arsenal of democracy," as generally believed during and after World War II? This article deals with transfers of all kinds of non-nuclear arms from or by the United States, and it examines all types of transfers including grants, transfers on credit, government to government sales, and commercial transactions in which the seller is part of the private sector of the United States. There is an analysis of statutory law and applicable international agreements, followed by a description of the machinery that the United States Government uses to make decisions regarding transfers. The statistics are then discussed, focusing primarily on the current programs, but seeking to discern trends. There is a discussion of United States foreign affairs and military policy involved in arms transfers and a consideration of economic factors. In conclusion there are some comments about the future.