The dirty truth behind many of the wars that our political / media world gets itself so excited about is that they wouldn’t be happening without the arms that we (the “western” world) sell so copiously. Amnesty International has a page, appropriately titled Killer Facts, on the extent of the arms trade:
Killer Facts: The scale of the global arms trade
The top 10 exporters of conventional arms (excluding small arms/ light weapons – SALW) 2010-15
USA US$55.006 billion
Russia US$42.404 billion
China US$9.943 billion
Germany US$ 9.467 billion
France US$ 8.932 billion
UK US$ 7.627 billion
Spain US$ 5.310 billion
Italy US$ 4.360 billion
Ukraine US$ 4.156 billion
Israel US$ 3.280 billion
Total arms sales from the top 100 arms-producing and military services companies in the world (excluding China) rose by 104% from 2002-2013 and in 2013 stood at US$401 billion. …
War is great for business. Case in point, the brutal sarin attack in Syria, The Guardian asks an uncomfortable question:
Could Britain have sold sarin chemicals to Assad’s regime?
Evidence that the sarin nerve agent was used in the chemical attack that killed more than 80 and injured hundreds of others in Syria’s northern province of Idlib last week has triggered awkward questions for the government over the part played by the UK in the Assad regime’s development of a chemical weapons programme.
Human rights groups and arms control campaigners have highlighted the government’s own admission that in the 80s the UK exported the chemicals necessary to make sarin to the Syrian regime. The UK also sold specialist equipment after the millennium which it now appears was diverted to the chemical weapons programme.
Export data collected by Campaign Against the Arms Trade, which dates back to 2008, provides no evidence that any chemicals were supplied to Syria in the last nine years.
However, in July 2014 the then foreign secretary, William Hague, confirmed to parliament that the UK had indeed exported chemicals that “were likely to have been diverted for use in the Syrian programme”.
Hague revealed that the exports included several hundred tonnes of the chemical dimethyl phosphite (DMP) in 1983 and a further export of several hundred tonnes in 1985; several hundred tonnes of trimethyl phosphite (TMP) in 1986; and a quantity of hydrogen fluoride (HF) in 1986 through a third country.
Hague told parliament: “All these chemicals have legitimate uses, for example in the manufacture of plastics and pharmaceuticals. However, they can also be used in the production of sarin. DMP and TMP can also be used for the production of the nerve agent VX. That is why the export of such goods is strictly prohibited under the UK export regime introduced since the 1980s and progressively strengthened.”
He added: “From the information we hold, we judge it likely that these chemical exports by UK companies were subsequently used by Syria in their programmes to produce nerve agents, including sarin.” …
Outrage over the attack is perfectly appropriate. So is outrage over the obscene profits that business makes from selling dangerous materials and weapons.