The reflection below is from Kathi Lynn Austin, an arms trafficking expert who has tracked arms dealer Viktor Bout for years. He is being sentenced today in a New York Court.
“With the sentencing today in a New York Federal court, the final chapter closes on one of the most prolific international arms traffickers, Viktor Bout. The inspiration for the “Lord of War” film, this former Soviet officer commanded one of the largest fleets of aircraft for the speedy transport of weapons and other military material for nearly two decades.
Having tracked the billion-dollar war profiteer from one war zone to the next for much of my professional life, I attended every day of his trial last Fall. Part of Bout’s defense was that he was nothing more than a businessman that merely transported weapons, often for governments. In response, the U.S. prosecution argued that such business “is of the most dangerous order…in an era in which transnational, non-state actors pose a grave threat to international security, people like Bout—who are willing to function as a bridge between arms suppliers and organizations seeking to inflict mass violence—are of a particular concern.
The time has come to elevate transport agents and intermediaries of the arms trade to more than just an area of concern. Given their recognized role in aiding and abetting global crime, violence and terrorism, an international standard to regulate their activities is a sensible first step. If the ATT neglects this important player in the weapons supply pipeline, it will leave open the very loophole that has allowed opportunistic war profitters like Bout to flourish. Whatever the length of sentence imposed on Bout today, the most lasting and effective deterrent would be an all-inclusive ATT.”