Stockpiles of Destruction: Why International Action is Appropriate

A recent New York Times article by C.J. Chivers demonstrates the problems that come with a lack of regulation of military stockpiles. In a world that is categorized by military stockpiles and trying to have a bigger stick than the other guy, events like the one that occurred in this article present a serious threat on both domestic and international levels. Specifically, this article discussed an incident where a technician was killed inspecting scattered pieces of ammunition near a police compound in Libya where just three nights ago rival militias had fought for control over a stockpile of weapons located in the area. During the fighting, some of the containers were damaged which resulted in a large explosion that scattered the containers and weaponry across the area. The technician who died worked with the Danish Church Aid group and was inspecting and clearing the area when some of the weaponry exploded and caused his untimely demise.

Unfortunately, this incident is not an isolated one for the area by any accounts.  These types of ammunition stores, once seen as a means for keeping the country safe, are scattered across the country and some are located directly alongside occupied homes, schools, churches, and roads. Such stockpiles include various weaponry including land mines, rockets, and other explosives complete with fuses and detonators. Such practice is beyond dangerous and is reckless beyond belief as they are poorly secured and located in populated areas. Not only is there concern of rival militias fighting over such stockpiles and the threat of accidental explosions, but such poorly secured storage areas are a gold mine for criminals, insurgents, and possibly even terrorist groups.

While international efforts have tried to take steps to solve the problem, the issue is compounded by the fact that international groups such as the United Nations have no idea how many weapons there are and where they are stored. The international community needs to get this information and aid the people of Libya in forming a more stable government that can effectively monitor and deal with this situation. If this issue is not resolved soon, it could have serious international repercussions if malicious groups take control of these unsecured stockpiles of destruction.


  1. I agree that these stockpiles pose a great risk to the civilian populations in this country, but as Matt properly noted, it’s extremely difficult to know exactly where these stockpiles are located. If a large international organziation like the United Nations has difficulty tracking down the locations of these stockpiles how can we expect other groups or nations to do the same? The issue is further compounded when you consider the fact that Libyans, who have just battled and died to overthrow a dictator and create a new government/country, would likely be hostile to idea of foreign governments sending military personnel into their nation–even in a “humanitarian” capacity. In the end, this will likelty be a problem that the citizens of Libya will have to live with until the situation on the ground is settled and there is a fully functioning government in place.

  2. I agree with Brian’s point that the international intervention would interfere with Libya’s sovereignty, and lead to anger and instability in an already unstable nation. Clearly, as Matt states, this is an issue that needs to be dealt with, as there are stockpiles of weapons all over the world that pose dangers to the people living around them, and to the rest of the world community. However, I believe that the most appropriate way to deal with these weapons is to encourage the nations themselves to work within their own nations to eliminate these dangers. The United States is in a unique position, as the leading financial lender to many of these countries, to put positive pressure on nations to eradicate the danger these stocks of weapons create. I believe that this subtle approach would be far more effective, and much less of intrusive than international intervention.

    Additionally, working towards brokering peace agreements between different sides in countries like Libya, and supporting the economies and infrastructures in these emerging nations, will have a positive effect on the countries themselves. Historically, once nations become stable with strong middle classes, they begin to demand rights and security from their government. Once this happens, governments will have to deal with weapon stocks among other issues in order to stay in power.

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