“Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.”
I thought I’d kick off in true Alan Partridge fashion, with a loosely connected quote from the cuddly Simon & Garfunkel. It introduces the concept of the ‘fair’, an event usually associated with candy floss, spinning teacups, Old Mrs Travers’ homemade cakesales, dodgems, carousels (or to keep it British, merry-go-rounds). All rather harmless undertakings, if not a little frivolous.
Though the fair that’s on the horizon for London next week could not be further from the breezy cheer of our quaint British tradition. The DSEi Arms fair provides over 1,500 arms companies from around the world a chance to peddle their arsenals to nearly 30,000 ‘trade visitors’ and military delegations (basically open to anyone with enough cash, dosh, wonga, squids, moolah, spondulix etc).
“So what’s actually on offer at this dodgy fair?” Ok well let’s say you’re fine with the ‘legal’ weaponry that’s on sale (yes it’s weaponry used to kill and maim your fellow human beings, but you take the view that although it’s rather horrible, this equipment is sometimes a necessary evil). That’s fine, we’ll come back to that later, for now let’s start by looking at the illegal stuff on sale.
Well, you’ll find Cluster bombs (three years ago, the UK joined 100 other countries in banning “all use, stockpiling, production and transfer” of cluster weapons; they are considered particularly lethal because they are designed to release dozens, sometimes hundreds of “bomblets” on their targets. They have killed and injured hundreds of civilians long after conflicts have ended. One third of all such casualties are thought to have been children).
You’ll find heaps of illegal torture equipment, including leg irons, gang chains, shackles, 250,000 volt stun guns -
- “Hold on” I hear you say, “that’s quite enough! You mean to say these immoral things were actually promoted and sold on our prestigious country’s soil?”
Yes, the same prestigious country that authorised the sale of chemicals (capable of being used to make nerve gas) to Syria (and just in case you’ve been living under a rock of considerable poundage for the last month, nerve gas was recently used there). Not so prestigious after all.
Over the next week, London’s Docklands basically becomes a colossal armoury for an international voyeuristic orgy of sadism and brutality.
1/3rd of all the world’s militaries are likely to trot on down to the arms fair. That includes a lot of hardened dictators and fruitcakes with more balls than brains to the ratio of 100:1. And it’s even likely that some adversaries and hostile nations will literally be browsing shoulder to shoulder for weapons to eventually use against one another.
Why not come on down today! Check out the explosive deals on grenade launchers, ogle at vacuous bimbos dressed as Lara Croft, sip champagne whilst making friends with other fogies that profit from death. What a day out! It’s a chauvinist’s fantasy, a fucking troglodyte’s dream… guns, sluts and booze. And a healthy portion of corruption (the arms trade accounts for 40% of corruption in all global trade).
Well even if you did want to enter this small-minded, myopic event – you can’t. It’s not open to the public; it will all take place in secret, behind heavily protected security fences and police lines. The whole thing is designed to allow arms dealers to trade their wares unhindered by transparency or protest.
A costly event. So who pays for it all? …Why you and I of course! The whole bash is subsidised by the taxpayer.
The government and the arms companies enjoy claiming that the arms trade keeps people in work and helps the UK economy but as the Financial Times put it; “You can have as many arms export jobs as you are prepared to waste public money subsidising.” The government now employs 160 civil servants to be salesmen on behalf of private arms companies, whilst being paid by the taxpayer. (and often with very little regard to who it is selling the arms to).
To put it plainly we are all helping to fund arms deals. Makes one rather queasy, if not a little vexed, no?
Let’s quickly move back to the ‘legal’ weapons. Well quite simply, it doesn’t matter where we draw the line between what weapons are legal and what weapons are illegal if the potential buyers are using the them on innocent civilians, pro-democracy campaigners and peaceful protesters. And some of the world’s worst human rights abusing countries attend the fair, countries like Bahrain who like to kill protesters with tear gas, Russian companies who supply Syria with its arms, companies that profit from Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The scum of the earth.
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that even if UK and other ‘well off’ countries don’t get directly involved in the conflicts of the world, they move to arm one, or even both of the sides at war.
Why? For cash, dosh, wonga, squids, moolah, spondulix. Over 1.5trillion dollars are spent on military expenditures worldwide every year.
War is big business. It’s funded, it’s subsidised, it’s provoked, it’s encouraged. It’s almost unstoppable. (Arms fairs have been shut done from public pressure before)
So I’ll leave you an apology. I’m awfully sorry for offloading upon you this agitated bulging sack of information and indignation. I hope it bugs you as much as it all bugs me. And seen as the world has been remembering Martin Luther King recently I’ll end with a quote from the great man himself…
“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”
More info on campaigning and fighting against the arms fair and the arms trade here:
Campaign Against The Arms Trade
Stop The Arms Fair