This guest post is written by Jeff Abramson, organizer for the Forum on Arms Trade and nonresident senior fellow with the Arms Control Association. The assessments here are not endorsed by other experts, the Arms Control Association, the Forum on the Arms Trade, nor the candidates.
The next U.S. president will need to make many decisions that are fundamental to how the United States provides weapons and training to other parties, supports (or disregards) agreements to responsibly trade arms and in some cases ban those the international community has deemed unacceptable, as well as how it uses force itself.
In analyzing speeches, candidate websites, past records, and other public information, a new Forum on the Arms Trade resource indicates that there is still much unclear about how leading candidates would approach security assistance to the Middle East and Latin America, address transparency and policy issues around armed drones, or support key international treaties including the Arms Trade Treaty and Mine Ban Treaty.
Below are some of the key findings in brief and indication of areas where more detail is needed to understand how the leading candidates might steer the United States on issues with critical impact on peace, security, human rights, and so much more.
Security Assistance to the Middle East
Both candidates are expected to support security assistance to some countries in the Middle East as well as some use of U.S. military forces there. Clinton has generally expressed a desire not to put U.S. "boots on the ground" in the region. Trump has expressed some willingness to work with Russia, but it is difficult to assess how and to whom he might provide weapons and training, or where he'd directly use U.S. military airpower or other military force.
Hillary Clinton is expected to support security assistance to the region, having said that she supports a "Plan Colombia" approach to Latin America. Donald Trump is expected to favor reduced security assistance based on his comments that security assistance is, on a general level, expensive for the United States.
Both candidates have indicated support for using armed drones, especially targeting terrorist threats. Clinton has explicitly mentioned attacking terrorist leaders, while Trump has generally been less specific regarding targets. No statements have been identified thus far on the transfer of armed drones nor promoting transparency in their use.
Although no official recent statements have been found from either candidate, Clinton is expected to support the Arms Trade Treaty while Trump is expected to oppose it.
Clinton has expressed support for the United States joining the Mine Ban Treaty. No statement have been found by Trump on the topic, but he is not expected to support the treaty.
The project welcomes new information, which can be emailed or simply added as a comment to this post, Assessments made by the project, which will be updated until the time of the election, are not endorsed by Forum on the Arms Trade- or Arms Control Association-listed experts nor the presidential candidates.