Introduction

The “business” of war and the arms industry is another shining example of the upside-down logic of the current economic paradigm. Governments spend money on technologies of oppression instead of tools for development – to the tune of 1.7 trillion dollars per annum. And while almost every other business produces products that positively contribute to society in some way, there can only be one possible Return On Investment for this business: death or destruction. The products of the arms industry are designed to destroy what we normally invest in during peacetime; the lives of other human beings and physical infrastructure and technologies of human civilization. Nothing epitomizes more the anti-human values of the current economic system than the business of war; the ledger books of arms manufacturers show massive arms sales in the billions of dollars yet not a single human life or destroyed building is accounted for.

By global enculturation of people into violence and creating a global economy which is dependent on the sales of war machinery, we cannot help but contribute greatly to the causes and conditions of violence in the world and to the destabilization of peace itself. The arms industry continually plays on peoples fears and reinforces the false logic that war is necessary for peace. For ultimately, once weapons are created, anybody with any agenda can access weaponry thru a combination that has historically been proven to work: ideology and/or money. Authentic and long lasting peace is not in the best interest of the arms industry. In order to keep itself running and earning large profits, the military industrial complex must encourage fear, distrust and conflict to exist in the world.  To do otherwise would be an act of suicide.

 

Generals come to Arms tradeshows like SOFEX to buy shiny, new hi-tech weapons -often used later to create bloodshed among their own civilian populations (Source: Vice News at Sofex and miscellanous news sources)


Corruption in the Arms Industry

Corruption is rife at the very top level of arms manufacturers throughout the world.

BAE’s guilt was just the most public example showing how Europe’s largest defence contractor paid 100 million dollars worth of bribes to the Saudi government in order to win their 44 billion pound contract. This bribery exposed hypocrisy at the highest level of both UK business and government.  There is no morality to arms sales and the bottom line is profiteering at the expense of human lives.

Data from 2003 from the United States shows how arms dealers will sell to anyone on anyside of any conflict:

  • The United States transferred weaponry to 18 of the 25 countries involved in active conflicts;
  • More than half of the top 25 recipients of U.S. arms transfers in the developing world (13) were defined as undemocratic by the State Department;
  • When countries designated by the State Department’s Human Rights Report to have poor human rights records or serious patterns of abuse are factored in, 20 of the top 25 U.S. arms clients in the developing world in 2003—a full 80%—were either undemocratic regimes or governments with records of major human rights abuses.

(Source: Global Issues)

Professor Robert Neild of Cambridge University, researchs extensively about corruption, with focus on the arms trade:

The Cold War arms race enhanced the opportunities for corruption in the arms trade…. It is not just the buccaneering arms salesmen of the USA or theméchant French who have resorted to bribery. The leading arms firms in virtually every major arms-producing country have been implicated, including reputable firms from most respectable countries…. Nor have bribes been paid only to buyers in the Third World….

- Robert Neild, Public Corruption; The Dark Side of Social Evolution, (London: Anthem Press, 2002)

Bribery in the arms trade has not subsided since the end of the Cold War. On the contrary, as military spending has been cut back the arms firms have been seeking markets abroad more fiercely than before…. One recent estimate reckons that in the international arms trade “roughly $2.5 billion a year is paid in bribes, nearly a tenth of turnover.” … [With regards to corruption,] the relevant feature of arms trade is that … government ministers, civil servants and military officers have become so intimately involved in the arms export business that they must have been unable to avoid condoning bribery (for example, by turning a blind eye to it), if not encouraging it (for example, by providing advice when serving in embassies overseas about which members of the local hierarchy it was best to approach and how); or obtaining funds from it for the benefit of themselves, or in the case of politicians, for their political party.

- Robert Neild, Public Corruption; The Dark Side of Social Evolution, (London: Anthem Press, 2002)

 

 I heard high-ranking soldiers say things like, “When I retire I’m going to be on the other side of the table — ha ha ha ha.” What this means is that it’s not uncommon for generals with government-controlled salaries around $100,000 a year to spend the twilight of their careers purchasing billions worth of munitions from arms companies who, in turn, offer these same senior officers state-side “consulting” gigs with multimillion-dollar salaries. It’s blatant payola, the whole thing so corrupt it borders on absurd.

- Shane Smith, Vice News

Corrupt and Illegal Arms Trade goes against Development Work

The OECD Convention and the new English law against bribing foreigners are steps in the right direction, but its success will depend on how far the exporting countries, led by the United States, manage jointly and sincerely to enforce restraint and deal with such problems as the payment of bribes through foreign subsidiaries. Part of the arms trade is as elusive and rotten as the drugs trade.

Many nations are often against measures to improve transparency of international arms transactions for obvious reasons. The fact that Transparency International’s Bribe Payers Index considers the Arms industry one of the top ten corrupt industries confirms the lack of morality of arms manufacturers and their sole concern with profiteering at the expense of human lives.

 The impact of corruption in the arms trade is severe. Corruption in the arms trade costs lives—because of the high level of secrecy in arms deals, weapons can and do end up in the hands of criminal s and violent dictators. It also impedes the ability of states to defend themselves, as the cost of weapons is inflated by kickbacks and bribes, and the quality of weapons diminished. 

- Transparency International

Oxfam has created a practical guide to regulating arms sales so that it does not get into the wrong hands because, as lead author Katherine Nightingale spells out:

Spending on arms or arms races can divert vital funds from public services such as education and health care, and when such spending takes place without accountability and transparency, it can aggravate corruption. Individually and cumulatively, these impacts undermine sustainable development and the achievement of internationally-agreed targets such as the Millennium Development Goals

- Katherine Nightingale, Oxfam

War Cannot Create Peace: The Current Global Warfare System is Destabilizing the World. It must be Dismantled

Military technology is designed to give the user more advantages and less casualties, with the ideal being no casualties on the users side and massive casualties on the other. The United States is the global leader in weapons design but underlying this is a not-so-subtle philosophy of a moral high ground. Hence the belief in being the “police force of the world”. The United States and its allies feel comfortable holding onto a nuclear arsenal but uncomfortable with others developing the same capacity.

In their 2012 book, Warfare Welfare: The Not-So-Hidden Costs of America’s Permanent War Economy, authors Marcus Raskin and Gregory D. Squires make the case that a permanent war economy has had major domestic and international effects; it has made the United States look hypocritical and therefore unable to spread democracy abroad and the money and physical resources that has gone into supplying the war machine has worsened domestic problems by diverting needed funds from civil society investment.

The authors ultimately conclude that meaningful progress on the many foreign and domestic challenges facing the United States can only be made  by making war an unattractive option and dismantling the warfare system. They also offer steps to replace the warfare system, outlining the ideological and material transformations necessary for peace.

The Enormous Scale of Money Spent on Arms

The Arms industry spending makes Peace-building industry spending look trivial.  While the UN was originally created to preserve peace through international cooperation and collective security, in 2011, global military spending was 1.7 trillion dollars compared to the UN’s budget of 30 billion dollars. The UN’s entire budget is just 1.8% of Arms spending. Politicians favor war over peace; the numbers speak louder than their words.

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Via MilitaryEducation.org
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