The United States has long been the top arms supplier in the world. In recent years, it has even increased its global dominance, with a customer base of at least 98 countries and its share of total global exports growing to 36 percent.
Yet public opinion data shows that Americans aren’t fans of U.S. arms sales. This year, the Chicago Council Survey found that seven in ten Americans (70%) believe that selling weapons to other countries makes the United States less safe. Indeed, over the past twenty years, Americans have consistently opposed the U.S. giving or selling arms to other countries or groups.
In 2018, 54 percent of Americans said they opposed the U.S. policy of selling weapons and other military equipment to Saudi Arabia. In 2015, nearly six in ten (56%) Americans opposed the United States sending arms and military supplies to the Ukrainian government in response to the situation between Russia and the Ukraine. Numerous polls conducted from 2012 to 2016 showed majority opposition (ranging from 56-74%) to the U.S. and its allies sending arms and military supplies to anti-government groups in Syria. And in 1999, 62 percent of Americans said the United States would only make the situation worse if it did more to provide arms to Albanians during the Kosovo War.
Be it specifically or generally, despite America’s global market dominance in the arms industry, Americans have tended to oppose U.S. arms sales.