interesting article I just read
Within your circle of friends and acquaintances, you probably know some doctors, some lawyers, some artists, and maybe even an actor or a professional athlete. But chances are you don't know any international arms dealers. What the arms dealer does is pretty straightforward: He sells arms. But there are obviously plenty of aspects of this profession that remain hidden to most. Here are five of them.
1- Dealing arms isn't illegal
Believe it or not, dealing in private arms is a perfectly legal profession in most countries. In fact, few countries have any laws at all that forbid brokering an illegal arms deal. Remember; the broker is usually nothing more than a middleman with a phone, a computer and a bank account. When arms dealers do find themselves in trouble, it is often when they run afoul of international law by engaging in high-profit, illegal transactions. In these instances, it is not specific arms-dealing laws that are being broken, but rather import and export laws, or U.N. sanctions that are being circumvented.
While some arms dealers concede that better laws and serious enforcement efforts might curb or stop the arms trade, the dirty little secret of the business is that, although we all profess to despise them, virtually every country on the planet needs and wants arms dealers. For that reason, most arms dealers, even those who make illegal deals, operate without significant interference -- and, in some cases, tacit approval.
2- The AK-47 is often used as a loss leader
That AK-47 assault rifle is everywhere, and it costs about $75 to buy, transport and sell. But many of the high-profile arms dealers don't bother with this gun at all because the margins it offers are too low. In fact, some dealers use these rifles as a loss leader, giving them away at first. After they have established a rapport with the buyer (remember; this is a business built exclusively on trust, as there are seldom courts to turn to if the other party breaks the deal), the dealer can then sell the buyer on a more sophisticated line of arms.
The arms dealing industry benefits greatly from the nature of war, which is fundamentally competitive. If your adversary has only knives, guns will suffice, but when they get guns, you'll want tanks.
3- Arms buyers need not pay cash
Arms sales follow conflicts and one of the biggest ongoing conflicts of the late 20th and early 21st centuries is the fight for the diamond mines of West Africa. Many arms dealers take their pay in this region in so-called "blood diamonds." According to some estimates, 4% of the diamonds circulating on the world market are blood diamonds.
Over 50 countries have agreed to respect the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which forbids the import of diamonds without proper accompanying certification, and a number of human rights groups have put additional pressure on buyers around the world. Nevertheless, the market for diamonds remains strong, regardless of their origins.
4- Arms dealers' salaries run into the millions
Naturally, exact salary figures aren't available, but according to Jean Bernard Lasnaud, a French-born arms dealer living in Florida, between $1 million and $2.5 million (U.S.) in merchandise will be unloaded in an average year. Another arms dealer, Viktor Bout, is estimated to have made $50 million in profit by selling arms to the Taliban in the late '90s. Arms dealers can make additional money by offering their services to American arms manufacturers. Boeing reportedly recently filed a lawsuit against Dale Stoffel, an arms dealer, for breach of contract. Had their deal gone as planned, Boeing would've received 34 Russian missiles, slated to be used to test American ship defense systems.
5- Arms dealers will sell anything and everything
It's tempting to think of an arms dealer simply as a guy who can sell you guns and ammunition, and more sophisticated hardware when necessary. But a better way to understand what arms dealers do is to think of them as war providers. Whatever is necessary for your war, they can provide everything from tanks and rockets to planes, medicine, uniforms, and rations. Military hardware is purchased in one country (usually a former Communist country, where the military needs a way to make money), and then transported by plane or ship to its final destination. Most arms dealers charter planes and ships, but a select few operate their own fleets. According to estimates, Viktor Bout's companies run an air fleet of between 40 and 60 aircrafts, shuttling arms all over the world.
Arms dealing is one of those professions that guys always wonder about. And why not? It involves a lot of money, international intrigue, travel, and probably some pretty wild stories. Adding to the allure of the profession is the fact that most of us are probably never going to meet an arms dealer.
As long as there are arms dealers, the public will be interested. And as long as there are wars, there will be arms dealers. Global conflict and terrorism are everywhere, and while it's sad to say, they are a part of our daily lives.
You don't get to choose how you are going to die or when. You can only decide how you're going to live.