The following piece from Schnews underlines the extraordinary lengths to which governments go to protect and promote military-industrial interests.
This comes hard on the heels of this week's revelations about the huge extent of US involvement in the development of biological weaponry, including genetically engineered pathogens.
This inevitably throws new light onto the relentless promotion and protection of the genetic-industrial complex by the very governments who most excel at the promotion and exploitation of death and destruction.
ALL THE GUN OF THE FAIR
ISSUE 321, FRIDAY 7th September, 2001
"The price of one British Aerospace Hawk Jet is roughly the amount needed to provide 1.5 million people in the third world with fresh water for life." - Campaign Against the Arms Trade.
"It is the trade in weapons that allows exploitation and murder to continue around the world - On the 11th we are setting our sights on the arms trade." - Disarm DSEi.
Every second the arms industry and global war machine continues to kill people and destroy lives around the world. 2,000 children are killed or disabled by weaponry every day - without counting those left without parents or homes. According to the UN Human Development Report, in 1999 the world's governments spent an estimated £450 billion to run their military machines. This is 14 times more than is needed to eradicate 'absolute' poverty from the world.
Robin Cook - now about as trustworthy as a snake in a cage of hamsters - said back in 1978 (when he was a lowly MP on the up): "Wherever weapons are sold there is a conspiracy to conceal the reality of war... It is a truism that every war for the past two decades has been fought by poor countries with weapons supplied by rich countries." Any hint of integrity he may have had was soon wiped out when Neo-Labour came to power in 1997 - Cook and his cronies lied about their 'ethical foreign policy', but then signed papers to export weapons in every class banned by European legislation.
UK arms companies thrive upon deliberately supplying opposing states, stirring up conflict and making a killing. For example, in 1997 under the pretext of setting up an aid programme to stabilise conditions in Lebanon, British firm Alvis sold the Lebanese 3,500 rifles for £300,000. This after the rifles had been sold as surplus to Alvis for £195,000 by the MoD, who suggested giving the first 500 rifles free of charge as a sweetener! At the same time Israel, who occupied large parts of Lebanon - were also buying weapons from British firms.
Or take the Iran-Iraq war, which saw 1million deaths, again Britain armed both sides. The same thing is happening now in the escalating conflict between India and Pakistan.
Bombs R Us
"In no other export sector is Britain so successful as in the arms business, which is cosseted like no other industry" - John Pilger, 'Hidden Agendas'
While 1in 4 children in the UK grows up in poverty, arms exports are subsidised to the tune of £420m, and the industry as a whole for as much as £4.25 billion. British weaponry companies employ loads of Research and Development (R&D) scientists to make their nasty machinery. SchNEWS wonders if these boffins could do something constructive instead.
In 1976, 13 unions in Lucas Aerospace put their heads together and composed a "Combine Plan." They proposed that instead of military hardware they could make useful products like kidney machines. The plan was ignored. We are now in the ridiculous situation where there is a subsidy of £4,600 per arms export job. If the R&D of £570m is included, this would rise to £11,000 a year. So you are paying the salaries of defence workers. And what are the effects of this work? "The boy near me died and I was thrown a metre in the air. The boy who died was 14 - he had his head cut off." - A 13 year old boy, who lost both legs, describing the effects of playing with an unexploded cluster bomb, dropped as part of NATO's 'humanitarian' bombing campaign in Kosovo.
Cluster bombs are one of the most indiscriminate weapons around, forget all the 'precision bombing' bullshit you see on the telly. Cluster bombs disperse a whole load of 'bomblets' over an area up to three football pitches in size. These bomblets can be anti-armour weapons, incendiary devices or fragmentation bombs (effectively nail bombs) designed to maim rather than kill. The sale of anti-personnel landmines is banned, but to get round it anti-vehicle landmines with anti-handling devices are produced - sensitive enough to be detonated by a human. And who ensured this loophole was included? No prize for guessing it was UKplc.
Excel in Death
You might have missed the news (maybe cos there's been none), but the UK govt is holding an arms fair in London next week. The Defence Systems and Equipment international (DSEi) is the largest arms fair in Europe, and attracts arms dealers from oppressive regimes such as Indonesia, Burma and even the US. Guns of all deadly shapes and sizes, Hawk jets, warships, tanks, etc will be on sale, making that boring old job of keeping peasants in line that little bit easier. Kick-off with a neighbouring state over borders, religion or water? This is the place to get seriously tooled up. Britain is the world's second largest arms exporter, after the US of course. DSEi is taking over the entire EXCEL Centre in London's Docklands.
* Since WW2 there have been more than 250 major wars in which over 23 million people have been killed.
* There are an estimated 500million small arms and light weapons around the world, responsible for 500,000 deaths a year.
Breach the Peace
So what can we do about it? Well there's a Fiesta of Life and Against Death on the first day of the arms fair (Tues). Thousands are expected to pour into Docklands for some serious fun. Samba, carnival, pink and silver costumes, props, direct action and whatever you can make happen.
At the last DSEi arms fair two years ago, people seriously harangued delegates, locking onto trains, blocking roads, launching water-borne sorties, breaching the conference centre, generally being creative and making a positive impact. Make this year bigger and better. While the profits of doom puff on about doing it for peace, let's breach the carefully police orchestrated peace where they do business, break down the barriers surrounding the EXCEL Centre, and make some fuckin' noise about their dodgy exploits. So get a group of mates together or just turn up and let's see what we can do...
* 'Critical mass' bike ride meets at 10am by Waterloo Bridge on September 11th. Bring yer wheels.
* The Fiesta for Life Against Death will assemble at 12 noon on Tuesday 11th at Canning Town Station, Silvertown Way/Newham Way (A13). Bring drums and noisy stuff, get Wombled up... Disarm DSEi office/ London Reclaim the Streets!: 020 7281 4621 for maps and tactics etc. Wombles www.wombleaction.mrnice.net
* Campaign Against the Arms Trade are also organising a procession on the 11th starting at 10am in the recreation ground, Appleby Rd, Canning Town and holding a peace vigil outside the EXCEL Centre by Tidal Basin Rd, London, Docklands. Actions are planned for the rest of the week, and there'll be a camp, cafÃˆ and legal support too. CAAT 020 7281 0297 www.caat.org.uk
* Check www.uk.indymedia.org for reports on the day and afterwards.
"With modern technology, much that can be carried out in the name of biological threat assessment is indistinguishable from preparations for the offensive use of biological weapons, activities such as creating new, genetically engineered pathogens and testing how well they work as aerosols delivered under simulated battlefield conditions."
"There are no defensive measures that can protect civilian populations from biological weapons and no military countermeasures that can reverse the epidemic spread of new and uncontrollable diseases."