Transparency International’s report shows that Western nations have been trading arms in Middle East without oversight.


One student can’t change American foreign policy. Not even one city can change federal policy. But if enough people can influence honest, anti-war politicians, there may be hope.

Transparency International recently published a report claiming that Western nations, chiefly the United States, Russia, Germany and Britain, have contributed to corruption in the Middle East and Northern Africa through their trade of weaponry lacking any oversight.

The problem with unregulated trade of arms is that the 17 countries the organization lists are mostly corrupt already. Countries of serious risk of further corruption are essentially all of the northern most African countries excluding Tunisia, and the majority of the Arabian peninsula.

According to reports by The Intercept, those 17 countries collectively spent about 7.6 percent of global military budgets, and these numbers have increased dramatically in the last decade.

The foreign policies of the U.S. government have been problematic for years, but most recently, the assistance and trade to people who became the Islamic State are very dangerous.

In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, Daniel Byman gives some insight into the seemingly narrow counter-terrorism tactics of the U.S.

“The Middle East is too complex for any single paradigm,” Byman said. “Widening the policy aperture will be difficult, but it will advance a broader set of U.S. objectives beyond counter-terrorism.”

If we as citizens supported politicians and ideas that didn’t fight “terrorism” with war, but rather by containment and non-entanglement, there could be real change with our involvement in the Middle East. Shaping strict policies that disallow any arms trade to countries deemed to be rogue or threatening could significantly change how we deal with groups like ISIS or Al Qaeda.

Unfortunately for the upcoming 2016 Presidential Election, there are no candidates who are truly anti-war. Even as liberal as Bernie Sanders is with his foreign policy, he still has a ways to go if he wants to disrupt American politics fully.

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So, in order for students to have an impact, they need to support local and state politicians who can raise their voices against the interventionism of the U.S. military and arms dealers in the Middle East.

That impact could be in the form of voting, signing anti-war petitions, joining peace organizations or even writing to men and women in Washington urging them to act. One student may be insignificant for federal policy, but influencing others is the best tool they have. If money is driven out of politics, like it was in Seattle on Tuesday, there may be even more hope for students and everyday citizens to take their voice back.

Brian Fogel is a freshman studying journalism and a photographer for The Post. Do you think people should vote for a candidate who is anti-war? Tweet him @FrianBogel or email him at