History is not without irony and intrigue and one would have thought that the US would have been more careful under the Bush administration with monitoring its arm supplies into Iraq. Islamic State (IS) is armed to the teeth with American-manufactured weapons and flush with money from the Arab elite. They are using the same industries across the globe that thrive on conflict to their advantage. IS is using weapons and ammunition manufactured in at least 21 different countries, including China, Russia, and the US. A report, released October 6th by Conflict Armament Research says that IS has no difficulty tapping into a huge pool of arms supplied not only by the world's big powers but also by new exporters like Sudan. Additionally, the group's income from oil sales and other sources is high enough to finance purchases of additional weapons.

Recovered shells from IS fighters suggest that their arms were not just seized from Iraqis but also from Syrian troops. Recovered shells were manufactured in Iran and Syria. The next biggest numbers of shells were found to be Chinese and American in origin. The US shells were meant for M16A4 assault rifles, and were made at the US Army's munitions factory in Missouri, according to the report. The plant produces a shocking 4 million rounds of small caliber ammunition every day. With such volumes, we have a massive monitoring problem on our hands.

On September 18, Congress passed a law authorising the Defense Department to re-equip Iraqi forces and provide arms to "appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian opposition." But the law requires monitoring where the weapons wind up. Lawmakers are supposed to review the monitoring plan two weeks prior to new exports. But the process is barely in formation and a decade too late in coming. Under normal circumstances, sales of defense goods are coordinated by the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency. The agency oversees everything from the initial contract with a weapons supplier to the end-use tracking of the weapon creating a paper trail. But in the mid-2000s, the agency started using weaker end-use monitoring requirements, to keep arms flowing into Iraq quickly. There was no centralised database of what was poured into Iraq and even with serial numbers, the Iraqi army didn’t have the capacity to be aware of missing weapons.  This is one very factual argument that puts the blame on the US. Arms manufacturing companies are not off the hook. This is the time for states, from Russia to Sudan, to revaluate the economic incentives of arms dealing. They all have blood on their dollars.