The Command Post
Iraq
March 31, 2003
The Facts Stand Alone

Graphic and post inside:


update: Given the amount of email I’ve received on this post, I’ve updated the picture to more clearly show that the data only goes to 1990. This is why you may see news information about weapons provided by firms from other countries (e.g., Jordan, Germany, etc.) that is not captured here. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) only felt confident in their information up to 1990. After Saddam invaded Kuwait, any and all arm trades to Iraq would be a violation of the United Nation sanctions. Obviously, these sellers did everything possible to hide these sales and SIPRI certainly does not have all of this information.

In addition, SIPRI does not try to show which weapons are more effective. SIPRI calculated the dollar amount of all weapon transfers (in 1990 dollars). So in terms of dollar value, Russia was responsible for 57% of all weapon sales to Iraq between 1973 and 1990.

Posted By Admiral Quixote (Solport) at March 31, 2003 04:34 PM | TrackBack
Comments

Excellent chart! Very illuminating.

Posted by: susanna at March 31, 2003 04:38 PM

In a slightly different world, the top three would be clamoring to enter Iraq...not to help the people but to resupply the military.

Nice chart. That's getting saved.

Posted by: Charles Hueter at March 31, 2003 04:41 PM

Great chart, but I noticed today on FOX that some quantity of (something, it was early, and I was sleepy) had Jordan markings on it. I think it was tank munitions or something.....

So we may find out after the war that the chart is different then what the picture looks like right now.

Great work on the find though.

Posted by: Sean at March 31, 2003 04:44 PM

Remember, Nike wants Tiger to win because they sponsor him and he uses their products. By the same token, Russia, China and France want Iraq to win (or at least put up a good show with their weapons), because they are arm merchants, investors and consultants. The performance of the Iraqi military is a direct reflection on their sponsorship. Since none of them are out of the arms business, you can see their continued efforts to support their sponsoree

Posted by: BobbyV at March 31, 2003 04:46 PM

Terrific analogy, BobbyV!

Posted by: Corky at March 31, 2003 05:04 PM

Jim Miller, in this post: http://www.seanet.com/~jimxc/Politics/March2003_2.html#jrm793 shows the UK accounting for far more than the US...

Posted by: blooKat at March 31, 2003 05:10 PM

This chart has to be skewed. Does one US chemical warhead equal one Russian AK? Would cheaper blocks of one nation's C-4 mean more than an expesive, but ineffective missle form another nation? The hugely differing levels of munitions this chart is trying to condense makes it suspect.

(Also, the Nike metaphor is flawed. Shoes are not internationally traded illegal weapons. The weapons Iraq utilizes are in almost all cases archaic, thus their reliability/quality is already known by anyone who would want to buy them.)

Posted by: BKS at March 31, 2003 05:11 PM

It's an analogy, not an allegory.

Posted by: BobbyV at March 31, 2003 05:21 PM

"This chart has to be skewed."

The chart appears to be based on sales, therefore on some common currency, probably US $.

It works for me. Economists analyze vastly more complicated systems - national economies - using a simple money metric. We don't have to know "exactly" all the details of an economy to know that for example, the US has a much larger and robust economy than say Kenya.

z

Posted by: ziphius at March 31, 2003 05:26 PM

I would love the irrelevant "we armed Saddam" mantra to be a myth, but something doesn't seem right about this chart. Arms dealers are not exactly a discriminating lot. Saddam’s been a cash-flushed buyer for decades, so why didn't US arms dealers get a bigger piece of the pie (at least for the time period before the 1st Gulf War)?

Posted by: Hutch at March 31, 2003 05:38 PM

Okay. Let's turn the argument around.

Did Bush send in the troops in Iraq because Saddam didn't buy enough from the US? The same Institute (sipri.se) shows the United States is by far the world leader in arms sales (97-2002;
Source: table 8A.2 of this annex of SIPRI's 2002 Yearbook: http://projects.sipri.se/armstrade/appx8a2002.pdf)

Also, two facts omitted by the above graph:

- Data includes CONVENTIONAL weapons, not WMD. This war is about removing Iraqi WMD, some of which have been supplied by the U.S (http://www.washtimes.com/national/20021001-8211716.htm)

- If the providing of bio agents to Iraq is old news, then so is the graph. From 1991 to 2002, no arms sales to Iraq have been registered. To arms sellers worldwide, Iraq has ceased to be a relevant client for 12 years.

Posted by: J H Roy at March 31, 2003 05:40 PM

Except for France, China, Russia, and Syria J H. And no, still no WMD has been provided...Same old myth...

Posted by: Nick M (Arrogant Rants) at March 31, 2003 05:45 PM

Except for France, China, Russia, and Syria J H. And no, still no WMD has been provided...Same old myth...

Posted by: Nick M (Arrogant Rants) at March 31, 2003 05:45 PM

Skew?: Poland has troops in Iraq.

The quixotic chart can't even figure out who "supports the status quo," and who doesn't.

View: http://www.casi.org.uk/info/usdocs/usiraq80s90s.html

A sample from said page: "By October 1989, when all international banks had cut off loans to Iraq, President Bush signed National Security Directive (NSD) 26 mandating closer links with Iraq and $1 billion in agricultural loan guarantees. These guarantees freed for Iraq hard cash to continue to buy and develop WMDs, and are suspended only on 2 August 1990, the same day that Iraq invaded Kuwait. Richard Haass, then a National Security Council official, and Robert Kimmitt, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, also told the Commerce Department (CD) not to single Iraq out for dual-use technology restrictions.[55]"


Posted by: melos at March 31, 2003 05:47 PM

JHRoy: Let's not turn the argument around if it's idiotic to do so. If the US under Bush were willing to sell weapons to Iraq, they certainly would have been willing to lift sanctions on it.

Posted by: JB at March 31, 2003 05:48 PM

Guys please refer to original data... NOTHING sold between 1991 to 2002
Another crapy study.
http://projects.sipri.se/armstrade/Trnd_Ind_IRQ_Imps_73-02.pdf

Posted by: dick at March 31, 2003 05:49 PM

"Remember, Nike wants Tiger to win because they sponsor him and he uses their products. By the same token, Russia, China and France want Iraq to win (or at least put up a good show with their weapons), because they are arm merchants,"

Proving what?

Are you saying that this proves that the US is attacking Iraq because it is not a good enough customer? that makes just as much sense using that logic.

Also if this is the case why did the US give Iraq massive intelligence, probably worth millions, when Saddam was fighting against Iran.

Which brings another question up, what does the chart for weapons sales to Iran look like? I can guess at who was at the top on that one.

Posted by: Norm at March 31, 2003 05:54 PM

Guess what norm? Chart for Iran and started from 1993.. No weapons trade from US! That s so kind ! thanks Sipri
http://projects.sipri.se/armstrade/Trend_Ind_IRAN_93-02.pdf

A country who sell weapons is not necessary the country who paid...

Posted by: dick at March 31, 2003 05:57 PM

Note to all: Thanks for the comments - the update should answer all questions I don't specifically address here.

BKS - if you want to attempt to create a chart based upon effectiveness, contact SIPRI. They are always looking for volunteers. In the meantime, using economic values is the best measure that is available.

Melos - regarding status quo; your comments were a bit vague, but I'll try to answer your intent to the best I understand it. Yes, the US was providing some support to Iraq before the Gulf war. (About 1% of all Iraqi war imports per SIPRI, but that's still 1% too much). Poland supplied about 4%. What does that have to do with events since the Gulf War? People (and countries) can learn from their mistakes. The shame is on those who don't learn. The legend shows that the three permanent members of the UNSC that support the status quo were the three with the greatest amount of arms sales to Iraq before the Gulf War. Is it only a coincidence that they want to protect the status quo? I also suspect when the data from 1990 to 2003 is available, they will still be in the top 5.

analogy comments – that is a completely different discussion, but there is probably a lot of truth to it. Many of the Iraqi resources were bought since the Gulf War (e.g,. the Russian jammers). When people see how ‘well’ these resources did against the weapons of the coalition, they may have second thought about purchasing more of them. But probably not – these weapons do just fine for keeping civilians under control.

Note to self: Next time create the chart from scratch instead of editing an existing chart.

Posted by: Admiral Quixote at March 31, 2003 06:15 PM

"Saddam’s been a cash-flushed buyer for decades, so why didn't US arms dealers get a bigger piece of the pie (at least for the time period before the 1st Gulf War)?"

Probably for the same reason that the US sold billions in arms to Iran and Saudi Arabia while the Soviet Union was shut out: Cold War client system.

z

Posted by: ziphius at March 31, 2003 06:28 PM

An enlightening chart, but gramatically challenged. One doesn't "import weapons to Iraq." Perhaps someone was drinking too much Special Export . . . .

Posted by: Mark at March 31, 2003 07:22 PM

Mark,
Yes, obviously English was not the native tongue of those at SIPRI. It is mine though and I should have caught it when I was editing it.

Thanks,

Don

Posted by: Admiral Quixote at March 31, 2003 07:32 PM

It's probably worth noting that Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, and the GDR were part of the USSR's Warsaw Pact until 1989. Presumably their dealing were approved, if not managed, by the Soviets. And Romania and Yugoslavia were also Eastern European Communist countries.

Posted by: Bill Woods at March 31, 2003 07:33 PM

The chart is not skewed. Look at the equipment the Iraqis use. The tanks and small arms are basically Soviet -- AK 47s and 74s, T-55s, 64s, and 72s. The planes are a mixture of Soviet MIGs and Frnech Mirages.

The Iraqis also apparently have some old US tanks and tank destroyers running around, but those were either sold to Iraq in the CENTO days (when the Iraqi monarchy was a US ally) or bought second hand.

The only actually military equipment sold to Iraq were some cluster bombs which were run through a Chilean corporation, to avoid the arms embargo.

Most US support for Iraq in the 1980s was intelligence, command and control expertise, and assistance -- not something that comes up on an arms purchase manifest.

As for chemical and biological weapons, you do not need to buy chemical shells, you can make the weapons by purchasing otherwise innocuous ingrediants on the market.

We did give Iraq anthrax samples -- but we gave it to lots of countries, mostly, in theory to train doctores to fight the disease, which is a bane in countries like Iraq that have a pastoral economy.

The only actual military equipment

Posted by: Roy at March 31, 2003 08:37 PM

Thanks for Roy, for answering a question that I was going to ask: what was the 1% we sold to them. I'm still trying to get the whole fix on the Iraqi-US connections and how small they are, but it looks like we had pretty much nothing to do with them.

I did some research and at least by 1988 Iraq was somewhat of a pariah state to the US. The Senate, I believe, was investigating ATCC for biological sales to Iraq, not anthrax IIRC.

Also on the anthrax, it appears that Iraq was committing fraud (surprise surprise) on ATCC to obtain samples of anthrax, like you mentioned Roy.

Posted by: set at March 31, 2003 09:38 PM

I have to agree with the value of US intelligence and other support to Saddam during the Iran - Iraq war, that was worth a huge amount and is the best kind of military aid one can give.

"Which brings another question up, what does the chart for weapons sales to Iran look like? I can guess at who was at the top on that one"

The US would be at th top of the list in weapons sales to Iran during the same period.

Posted by: Nate at March 31, 2003 09:50 PM

I would guess the US didn't supply Iran with weapons after the hostage crisis in 1979 / 80 and especially after Hezbollah killed 241 Marines in Lebanon in 1983 (Hezbollah was Irans terrorist arm).

And I would guess the US helped Iraq for those reasons.

Isn't it a good thing Iran and Iraq destroyed so much of the military stockpile in the 1980's.


Every Iraqi soldier lost and tank lost and plane lost did not fight in GWI.

Posted by: Bruce at March 31, 2003 10:10 PM

For confirmation of this basic picture from a second data source, see this:

http://rantingscreeds.blogspot.com/2002_11_17_rantingscreeds_archive.html#84868343

It's an itemized list of Iraqi military hardware at the time of the Gulf War, and its nation of origin.

Posted by: Varenius at March 31, 2003 10:30 PM

Does this not imply indirectly that US and Britain have the most to gain in this round and hence their continued pro-war propaganda? I mean come on, with all those shares in weapon and oil industry. People are not THAT dumb!

Posted by: itchy at March 31, 2003 11:10 PM

"Guys please refer to original data... NOTHING sold between 1991 to 2002 "

No, not necessarily. Read the update under the graph:

"After Saddam invaded Kuwait, any and all arm trades to Iraq would be a violation of the United Nation sanctions. Obviously, these sellers did everything possible to hide these sales and SIPRI certainly does not have all of this information."

Observer

Posted by: Observer at March 31, 2003 11:26 PM

Your update is awfully vague. Also, what is the year by year breakdown for the years 1973-1990? As I understand it, the Mirage fighters that Iraq has are from the 1970s. Does that mean France stopped supplying Mirage fighters in the 1970s? Or did they sell them older-generation fighters in the 1980s?

Oh, and do I need point out the obvious that the facts do not stand alone?

Posted by: Gary Gunnels at April 1, 2003 02:13 AM

Oh, and what exactly are those dollar values? 57% of what? $200 million? $200 billion?

BTW, another interesting point. When the USSR trade with other nations, since it often tended to lack hard currency, it would trade by barter. I'm curious if the Soviets bartered military hardware with their client state in exchange for oil? And if this bartering did occur, whether such is reflected in these ratios?

Posted by: Gary Gunnels at April 1, 2003 02:18 AM

The year by year chart linked to below is better. I can see now why you aggregate the totals. You tend to hide much more than you reveal by doing so. Like the fact that China had no arms sales to Iraq in 1990, and France's arms sales to Iraq had dropped nearly by 3/4ths from 1984 to 1990 (that is from 883 million to 281 million). The US apparently traded with Iraq in formal arms sales from 1983-1988.

http://projects.sipri.se/armstrade/Trnd_Ind_IRQ_Imps_73-02.pdf

This is also a good web site. Says that Britian sold Iraq weapons through Jordan to hide the sales. It appears that what the US sold to Iraq was helicopters.

http://projects.sipri.se/armstrade/IRQ_IMPRTS_73-02.pdf

Posted by: Gary Gunnels at April 1, 2003 02:43 AM

Sorry Gary, it doesn't hide anything. Whether aggregate or by year, this completely blows out of the water the notion that the US installed Saddam Hussien or was a major supplier as has floated around the internet. It's a complete myth. Look at Saddam's destoyed equipment on the battle field. Any US equipment? No.

What your posts reveal is the need to spin France's involvement into some minor role. Nah uh, it isn't going to work. In every year France sold more military equipment than the US to Iraq.

Posted by: Ankchank at April 1, 2003 07:35 AM

People...my goodness.

90% of the comments or questions I see written here can be addressed simply by going and looking at the actual SIPRI study.

Now I'm not implying that Quixote is misleading you (on the contrary in fact). But you should all get in the habit of verifying "facts" before you base your own personal opinions on them.

As anyone who has studied statistics can tell you, you can skew numbers to say anything you want. So always take the oppurtunity to look at the raw data.

My own personal opinion is that Quoixotes graph does, in general, accurately portray the actual data.

Posted by: Kevin at April 1, 2003 03:57 PM

Ankchank,

That's B.S. The whole point of this skewed graphic is to "show" why France, China and Russia did not want a war with the Iraq. It has nothing to do with whether the US "armed" Iraq or not. And if this is not the case, then why does the graph point out who the Permanent Members of the Security Council are, and if the are for or against the so-called status quo? The whole "its for the economic benefit of France, etc." meme is about as pathetic as the "its about oil for the US" meme. Please don't trade in it jackass. I mean come on man, France is going to oppose the US over arms sales that were worth $281 million in 1990, when they have a $1.5 trillion economy to worry about? If you believe that, then there is a tower in Paris I would like to sell you.

And the demonstration of your animus towards France is interesting, BTW. If I am spinning France, then why did I also mention China (in fact I mentioned the fact that China sent no arms to Iraq in 1990 before I said squat about France). It is you who have the bias here, not me.

Posted by: Gary Gunnels at April 1, 2003 11:12 PM

Kevin,

The graph hides data, as any graph which aggregates everything would. A more accurate graph would have a year by year run down of arms sales. It would show the peaks and valleys in other words of the support for Iraq from these various countries. For example, after 1983, France's arms sales plummet. So that means it had a bunch of contracts with Iraq that were frontloaded as far as this period is concerned. The Soviet support for Iraq also waned over mid to late 1980s as I recall. These trends create a whole series of questions that the graph presented ignores entirely. It would have been very easy to put together a graph which showed these yearly trends, but Quixote didn't want to do this apparently. Which makes me suspect his intentions.

Posted by: Gary Gunnels at April 1, 2003 11:18 PM

Gary Gunnels said:

"BTW, another interesting point. When the USSR trade with other nations, since it often tended to lack hard currency, it would trade by barter. I'm curious if the Soviets bartered military hardware with their client state in exchange for oil?"

Uh, Gary, the USSR was *selling* military equipment, not *buying* it. Think about it.

Posted by: John C at April 2, 2003 05:02 AM

Gary -

Again, the original SIPRI data has the differential sales on a year-by year basis (in spreadsheet-type format, not a bar chart). Yes, aggregating does lose information (as well as make other information more apparent), but look at the original SIPRI data.

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at April 2, 2003 08:33 AM

John C:

Where do you get that Gary said that the USSR was "buying" weapons?

Looks like he said something similar to "I wonder if the Soviets bartered weapons for oil."

OK, most of us native English speakers know that "barter" is a synonym for "trade". And unless I'm confused about the meaning of the prepositional phrase "in exchange for", I'd say it sounds like the Soviets gave the Iraqis weapons, and instead of money, they got oil in return.

Learn to read.

Posted by: OHearn at April 2, 2003 12:11 PM

Bruce Cleaver,

Actually all it does is *hide* information.

Posted by: Gary Gunnels at April 2, 2003 12:12 PM

John C,

I never wrote they weren't sending arms to Iraq. I was curious whether they were bartering arms for oil. The neccessary context of such a query is that the USSR was often cash-strapped (who the heck wanted rubles?), and that it would be interesting if they took money instead of oil. Generally, if the Soviets wanted some raw material, or other product from a country, it often tended to try to barter for it. You give us 500 units of x, and we will give you 300 units of y. But I am wondering if the opposite occurred in this case since the USSR had its own oil fields (in other words, oil was not a commodity that they were in short supply of). Since they likely didn't need Iraqi oil (remember these middle eastern countries often settle their debts with oil), were they using Iraq's ability to garner money from the West as a means of getting hard currency themselves?

Posted by: Gary Gunnels at April 2, 2003 12:26 PM

Intentions and Aggregation
This graph has generated a lot of email and comments. Most of the emails have been positive, but even those who didn’t think the information meant anything important have been polite with a few exceptions. Those exceptions implied that the graph tried to hide things by aggregating the data together instead of showing individual sales from 1973-1990 and implied the Dissident Frogman and I were trying to hide things. For the few people who felt this way, get a grip.

The chart has been widely copied and the original source of the data is provided on the chart itself. For those that want to see a greater level of detail, they should review it. Personally, I like seeing the original source and would have expected many people to go there as well. Nor do I think seeing the years actually adds much information. The sales almost make a bell curve with the majority of the sales from 1980-1988, when Iran and Iraq were fighting. Obviously, Iraq’s demand for weapons was higher in those years (along with replacements for immediately afterward). But the source was available for anyone who was interested in these details.

There was no intent to deceive - if there were, I would have simply linked to SIPRI’s massive report (100 plus pages) and let people try to figure out exactly where to look. Instead, a source was given that links to a one page chart provided by SIPRI. Also, I have been giving presentations for many years now. According to every presentation class I ever took, as well as experience, one is supposed to simply graphs as much as possible and have the more detail available for the few who so desire. Well enough of this, my thanks to the majority of people who offered constructive questions and comments.

Based upon your emails, I have offered an even simpler chart with more commentary at Solport. I’ll also repost it on today’s CP shortly.

Posted by: Admiral Quixote at April 2, 2003 01:18 PM