Meanwhile in the real world …  number 452 in an occasional series.

U.S. government-to-government arms sales are growing fast and will likely exceed the bullish estimate of $40 billion for 2009, the Pentagon’s top arms sales official said on Wednesday at the Paris Air Show.

Vice Admiral Jeffrey Wieringa, head of the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, told Reuters it was unclear if arms sales would keep rising, but noted that was possible since several large weapons competitions were underway, and many countries had aging equipment to replace.

Arms sales were at a “pretty unprecendented level” after averaging $8 billion to $13 billion per year in the early 2000s, Wieringa said in an interview.

Sales in the first half reached $27 billion, some 60% of the year’s expected total, making it likely the actual 2009 total would top $40 billion, he said.

Wieringa said the Obama administration was committed to building international partnerships, and arms sales were an important instrument of that policy.

“We sell stuff to build relationships,” he said.

Boom times for irony too.