The arms trade is deadly corrupt business. It supports conflict and human rights abusing regimes while squandering vital resources. It does this with the full support of governments around the world.’ Campaign Against the Arms Trade [see link at the bottom of the home page]
A fuss broke out today in the UK election campaign about who said what and who did what concerning the invasion of Libya. The argument is that by attacking Libya and not sorting out a stable regime after the fall of Gadhafi, we laid the foundations for the thousands of refugees who attempt to reach Italy from its shores.
Not for the first time in this election, the arguments seems to swirl around everything other than the real one. We have commented before in the role arms have to play in the Middle East and elsewhere. Figures from Janes reveal that the trade is now worth $64bn up from $54bn in 2013. Total Global military expenditure is said to worth around $1,776bn (SIPRI).
UPDATE: May 2015. Transparency International has produced a new anti-corruption index for defence companies. Local companies like Chemring and QinetiQ feature in it.
Articles about the defence industry tend to discuss sales of helicopters, aircraft, ships, tanks and the like – that is big items of military hardware. While these weapons can be deadly, in fact most people suffer from the sale of small arms. It is guns and grenades that are the biggest killers of ordinary people.
The plain fact is that the biggest sellers of arms are 1. USA, 2. Russian Federation; 3. France; 4. UK; 5. Germany (2014). The first four are permanent members of the UN security council. The arms trade supplies the arms which fuels the many wars and conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere. When thousands are displaced from these wars and attempt to flee to somewhere where they can lead a peaceful life, we then refuse to deal with the problem. There is a kind of disconnect between the causes of these conflicts and the inevitable results. We get excited and argue over images of laden vessels in the Mediterranean, and we get upset when one capsizes and hundreds die, but we do not seem to get at all upset over the role of arms companies, dealers and brokers who provide the means for the conflict in the first place.