So we, in the “West”, try to spread democracy around the world, even to those that don’t want it. We invade other countries in the name of it and we kill and maim in the name of protecting the innocent citizens of countries run by dictators. And, if we can’t do it ourselves, we sell arms to less democratic countries to do it instead. After we have sold them a whole bunch of weapons, that is.
Now, I accept that economics and politics are intrinsically linked, but when I read in my newspaper yesterday about the Annual London Weapons Fair, I tutted and shook my head in resigned sadness. We will never achieve anything in this world, let alone peace and harmony, and we, the western world, are in my mind as bad as any “terrorist”, “islamic fundamentalist” or suicide bomber.
Where’s the moral high ground? And who decides to whom we can sell these evil products?. The F.O. has said that “export licences are under review since the Arab Spring”. That’s reassuring. I hope Paddy Ashdown is doing the review.
The Arms Fair features 1,300 companies, half of which are British (so that makes it alright then). And guess who’s invited? Sixty-five countries, including, wait for it, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq (hey, they’re our friends this week), Pakistan (they don’t need any more surely?), Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kazakhstan. Why not invite the chuffing Taliban whilst you’re at it?
So in effect, all those poor sods killed in Bahrain get killed by weapons made in this country. So the government’s claim that Bahrain’s access to arms is being moderated doesn’t mean much then, does it? I know it has always been that way, but justifying it by saying the defence sector employs 110,000 people in the UK doesn’t wash for me. Fine, build shit to defend ourselves, but to then export the killing machine to authoritarian regimes that don’t care who they kill, including our own citizens, sucks.
Fine, shoot me down (!) as being naive, but it doesn’t sit happily with me. If the government keeps going on with a Holier than Thou attitude, can’t we the people start saying “Oi, government, NO, not in my name!”
Meanwhile, we sit and let Syria and Bahrain do what they want, whilst supplying the Libyan resistance with arms, weapons, tactics, uniforms and a whole bloody air force. What a bunch of hypocrites.
I was no fan of Robin Cook when he was in Government, but his resignation speech with hindsight deserves some recognition. I quote from eight years ago:
“On Iraq, I believe the prevailing mood of the British people is sound. They do not doubt that Saddam is a brutal dictator, but they are not persuaded that he is a clear and present danger to Britain….Above all they are uneasy at Britain going out on a limb on a military adventure without a broader international coalition”
He went on to forecast thousands of civilian casualties and that the Iraq war would only fuel Muslim resentment of the West. (Not his hardest prediction to think of)
So why has no-one heeded his wise words? Is Libya a clear danger to Britain? How long before we go into Iran and force regime change there? Ah, it must be because we haven’t sold them enough arms yet! Grrrrr. I hate being a westerner sometimes.