The arms industry is one of the biggest global industries. The world spends some $1,000 billion annually on the military, and military expenditure out strips nearly every other sector of business, more than anything we spend on public services and welfare institutions.
In more recent years, annual sales of arms have risen to around $50-60 billion. War is big business.
The deaths of millions is treated as another ‘market’ to be exploited for profit.
The military industrial complex is just another arena of business, an opportunity for corporate oligarchies to increase financial revenue.
Only money matters in the trade deals brokered between arms companies and any militia with enough cash to splash out on expensive arms. The cost to life, the many murdered with these arms, is rarely factored in the cost of production.
However, disarmament is still a touchy subject, one that causes widespread controversy. Controversial because at the heart of the arms trade is a dichotomy; a battle between security and freedom.
Some people argue that possessing arms is necessary for security purposes. They claim that to defend against ‘terrorist attacks’ and ‘insurgents’ the world (America and Britain that is) needs a strong global ‘defence’ industry and an expensive arsenal of dangerous military submarines, apache helicopters and atomic weapons.
As reported in the Guardian: “the true cost of replacing and operating the Trident nuclear missile system would be at least £76bn”.
You’ll find the same people claiming that we need to spend millions of pounds on weapons for ‘national security’ reasons are often the same people paid-off – and propped-up in positions power – by business and military elites.
It’s these same sorts of people, earning a living from the arms trade, who claim that the world would be a safer place if everyone had a firearm; that peace and equality can only come from building more tanks, bombs and nuclear weapons.
And yet it’s funny how you’ll rarely see the people making most of the blood money fighting on the front line.
But away from the glossy lies of commercial media outlets, and with a little bit of investigation, you’ll find that when businessmen say ‘defence’ industry they really mean attack industry.
It’s intriguing how little we hear or read about acts of ‘state terrorism’ – the wars waged for commercial ventures.
Not surprisingly it’s mostly well paid government lobbyists and military analysts from arms companies behind the commercial propaganda machine powering a global industry of war.
The bombing of Libya, the invasion of Iraq and the occupation of Palestine have earned large companies like BAE Systems huge sums of money from arms sales to American, British and Israeli forces. Not to mention all the various armed services of other corrupt governments.
The U.K is the 4th largest arms supplier in the world with sales in arms close to $27 billion (2008), mostly to developing nations.
Around the world one in five people still live on less than £1 a day. And so while it’s true some, a very small minority of people, make billions of pounds from arms sales – while safely hidden behind armed fortresses – the vast majority of people are left for dead, or live in abject poverty surrounded by a world of war and violence.
The arms trade perpetuates cycles of war to make ever greater profits; this is the ugly truth we choose to ignore.
The term ‘defence industry’ is a hoax; a scam to have us believe we need weapons of mass destruction for our own security; a trick to con us into believing it’s in our interests to waste vast amounts of public money on stock piles of nuclear weaponry.
By using the threat of ‘terrorism’ and the need for ‘national security’ as cloak for invading countries in pursuit of land, oil and other profitable resources politicians and businessmen encourage individuals to make money from investments in military products – and trading shares in arms companies – on a so-called ‘free’ market.
It is no less than a war economy we’ve created profiteering from the deaths of innocent people in acts of ‘state terrorism’ and preventable wars.
It is common knowledge that large corporations don’t particularly care who they sell to, they are indiscriminate arms dealers selling to whoever bids the highest price.
Arms companies take stock of local antagonisms and global rivalries between differing factions and sell to both sides of the map to maximise profit. Not to mention all the corruption that goes with it, illegal arms deals, bribery and government payoffs.
As factionalism grows in segregated, increasingly ghettoised areas, and in an ever more individualised global economy the fractures apparent in modern society are capitalised on by the arms industry. The development and supply of weapons on a global scale can only lead to greater divisions in society.
With the increased volume and output of arms come more military invasions, occupations and violent killings. Surely it’s not illogical to conclude that more guns equal more shootings equals more unnecessary deaths.
With the expansion of manufacturing in the arms industry and weapons ever more deadly in size and effectiveness the decimation of whole populations can take place with little difficulty and without uch thought.
Without the many millions of arms around the globe – disproportionately sold to the side with more wealth and power – mass genocide could not happen on the scale it has done.
The massacre of many thousands of Palestinian and Lebanese women and children in Beirut between 1982-87 is just one such case.
We are still witnessing a mass-genocide taking place in Gaza today. This could not be happening on the scale it has been happening without a well-equipped Israeli military, supported by British and U.S government arms sales.
Surely more weapons and ammunition in global circulation is not the answer to ‘terrorism’ but will only increase the chances of armed violence.
To tackleto root causes of ‘terrorism’ we need to plough money, time and dedication into public services and community projects, not just nationally but globally.
Surely free education for all children; better health services and greater employment opportunities; good working conditions and fair pay; a more equal distribution of wealth; stopping racism and fascism; ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; upholding civil liberties and human rights through democratic judicial structures; inclusion of all people in society no matter ethnicity, class, colour, sexuality or gender through participation in the political system; all seem more reasonable suggestions to make when attempting to tackle inequality and injustice, and could be set into motion as social policy instead of in an arms industry and a foreign policy of war.
Most ordinary people seek freedom from military oppression and tyrannical leaders.
Much of the world’s poor have struggled for generations to be free from the chains of colonial violence, exploitation, discrimination, prejudice, and a lack of opportunities, but have been oppressed at every turn by the military invasions of imperialist empires seeking to gain the riches of the land.
Arms companies have capitalised on this, selling cheap weapons to desperately poor communities having to arm themselves against imperial invaders.
Many rightly argue that the growth of the arms industry can only result in larger numbers of mass-murder victims and many more bloody wars over territory and resources; hence disarmament is the only way forward.
Today many of us believe it is our right to live free from tyranny and exploitation, that it is wrong and undemocratic for small elite groups to use brutal ‘force’ to wield political and economic power over a population.
In other words it is wrong to use violent military attacks to suppress democratization and the voices of those deprived of basic human rights to a decent quality of life.
Yet the arms industry only serves to exasperate political rivalry and social antagonisms. Stirring up tensions and creating a market for intolerance, where education might heal the mental scars of oppression and inclusion might mend the rifts between members of society.
Everyone deserves from birth a quality of life and standard of living that allows for opportunities to learn, grow and prosper in a friendly and healthy environment.
Every day we take for granted the civil liberties we are afforded by years of dedicated campaigning and peaceful protesting.
In the fight to achieve the basic rights to a fair trial before the law; the minimum wage; welfare services and benefit schemes; a national health service; and the vote; many lost their lives.
But when weapons are used to quell campaigns for social justice and the right to live free from domination, arms companies are only too happy to supply arms to any political authority keeping them in business.
When it’s from our bank accounts that money is ending up in the pockets of large arms companies – and us who profit from war – we must act.
When our governments and business institutions decide to spend billions of tax payers’ money on military weapons, like apache helicopters worth at least £49,000,000 (which produce a great many casualties and fatalities) we must stop this corruption and profligacy.
And when the British government sells arms to corrupt military regimes, like Hawk Jets to the Suharto regime of Indonesia used to kill thousands in East Timor, I think it is our moral duty to speak out.
As political factions become increasingly militarised the supply of arms to corrupt regimes and imperial powers alike only goes to further antagonisms between different social groups and communities.
I consider the distribution and increased enhancement of weaponry, through research and development, a war crime.
An arms industry that produces and distributes greater numbers of technologically advanced weaponry is not going to stop people fighting, but investing in education, jobs and a more equal distribution of wealth and power might minimise the chances.
No good can come of a cluster bomb, only indiscriminate killing of both innocent civilians and soldiers.
Nothing positive comes from attempting to create and develop weapons with greater destructive capacities.
Ever more deadly toxic gases, ever larger firearms and ever bigger atomic bombs only leads to more extreme violence and greater risks of global insecurity.
The mass murder of millions of innocent people in illegal wars must end. The business of war must be stopped, and conflict prevented in the future with peaceful diligence.
Producing more arms solves nothing; a call for increased militarisation (more guns, tanks and bombs) is immoral.
The increased manufacture and distribution of weapons in the name of profit is a disgrace to humanity and is jeopardising the possibility of a world without unnecessary violence.
A constant threat of military violence – with capabilities of mass genocide – is always prevalent while we continue to invest in a massive arms industry, but preventable if we engage in disarmament.
Instead of investing in the arms industry we should be investing in sustainable development programmes trying to combat the problems of poverty, resource depletion, water shortages and energy crisis’s – to name a few.
We must stop fighting amongst each other and work together, stand shoulder to shoulder in an act of solidarity to fight against social injustice and environmental devastation.