Between July 15 and August 2, Washington signed off on billions of dollars worth of military deals, over a third of which went to autocracies.

By Connor Echols, Responsible Statecraft

Much of the Beltway has been on vacation in recent weeks, doing anything they can to get away from the sweltering DC sun. But while wonks cooled down, U.S. arms sales to foreign countries heated up, with the State Department approving almost $20 billion worth of deals in little more than two weeks — that is, more than $1 billion in military sales per day.

A Saudi Arabian fighter jet takes off from a runway

One third of those sales went to Middle East autocracies, highlighting the contradictions of President Joe Biden’s avowed commitment to democracy promotion. As Lauren Woods of the Center for International Policy noted in War on the Rocks, these deals were likely years in the making, with Biden ultimately giving them “​​the green light to continue.”

“[A]lthough initially signaling a slowdown, this administration now resembles every other recent administration in terms of volume and value of arms sales,” Woods wrote, noting that the United States is by far the world’s leading exporter of weapons. “And this is true for countries with poor human rights records as well.”

The top recipients of recent deals were Germany, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the Netherlands, all of whom purchased more than $1 billion worth of military equipment. Other notable buyers include Kuwait, Taiwan, and Norway, whose purchases helped bring total foreign arms sales this year to nearly $60 billion. But the largest beneficiaries were American defense primes.

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