US Foreign Policy

U.S. Foreign Arms Sales

At a time of increased Congressional interest in stopping specific U.S. foreign arms sales but also limited and worsening transparency, Stimson organized a session for House staff on the role that Congress plays in overseeing this tool of foreign policy.

 The conversation opened with a discussion of the main categories of arms sales, the primary legislative vehicles for these sales, and how provision of these goods and services to foreign partners can further U.S. national security interests. Staff inquired about recent regulatory reforms which have undermined Congress’ oversight role and asked why it remains so hard for Congress to stop a sale. They also asked about what safeguards currently exist in the law to make sure weapons aren’t diverted and how these safeguards can be strengthened. The discussion also touched on high-end intrusion software and the extent to which human rights training of foreign partners is efficacious. Two experts supported this conversation: Rachel Stohl, a Managing Director at the Stimson Center and Director of Stimson’s Conventional Defense Program, and Brittany Benowitz,Chief Counsel at the American Bar Association’s Center for Human Rights.


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