Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/256/24725
Stop This Trade In Death
FOR THE people of Kashmir, India and Pakistan, the prospect of a war which may escalate into a nuclear conflict is terrifying.
George Bush and Tony Blair claim to be horrified but the US and Britain are the world's largest arms dealers.
In 2001 when the Kashmir crisis last threatened a war, British arms exports to India and Pakistan - worth £64 million and £6 million respectively - went ahead. In the past year Blair's government has authorised the sale of billions of pounds worth of military hardware.
According to the Daily Mirror, at least a third of this arms trade goes to nations where there's the "risk of provoking or prolonging conflict". From the arms sellers' viewpoint, it's a sales opportunity. But it's murderous for the countries involved.
In one year British arms dealers sold £6.5 million worth of machine gun parts to Sierra Leone, an African state torn apart by war. They sold Israel £12.5 million worth of combat aircraft, helicopters, tanks and rifles and also sold millions in arms to Egypt, Jordan and other countries in the Middle Eastern cockpit.
Now foreign secretary Jack Straw says that he won't block BAe Systems' sale of Hawk jets to India. Once again, there are no plans for an arms embargo, despite new threats of war.
New Labour no longer talks of an "ethical foreign policy". What drives the government's foreign policy is what is good for British arms manufacturers' profits.
Unfortunately union leaders like Ken Jackson of engineering union Amicus say we should carry on selling weapons as it keeps armaments jobs in existence.
This is wrong as well as heartless. How many jobs have these 'defence' industries destroyed? How about using the arms merchants' resources to produce what people need throughout the world. Instead of producing bombs, guns and military hardware, why not make machines to detect landmines?
Why not build agricultural machinery, medical equipment or even pre-fabricated blocks for emergency housing which is needed in most areas of the world?
We don't just plead with the arms companies to beat their swords into ploughshares. We fight to take them - and other big companies, banks and finance houses - into public ownership under democratic workers' control and management. Then we can use their vast wealth and resources for the public good, not to destroy the world with weapons of annihilation.
In The Socialist 31 May 2002: