Australia and the global arms trade

Joining the major ‘global arms trade’ players: Australia’s lost innocence

Why is the global arms trade truly such an evil and destructive business? Why is the Australian government keen to become a major player – especially when it’s clear we cannot really compete (in terms of either cheapness or quality) with such countries as Russia and China and those from Europe already orchestrating such misery and suffering on many unfortunate peoples and countries?

War is a terrible thing. But if you ever get attacked by crooks, thugs and some invading army it’s a basic human right to defend yourself and those close to you. However, we are confident that there is truly a special place in hell for those who encourage wars for corrupt or profiteering purposes, and especially those who do this to exploit the suffering of innocent civilians (which seems to happen in most wars these days). This includes the global arms trade – also those who sell as well as lay the landmines which so often around the world remain a permanent threat to young school children as well as farmers and villagers well after the war or conflict has finished (e.g. 1). Almost by definition this therefore not only includes the kind of predatory and opportunistic arms dealers such as Abhishek Verma  ( known in international defence and armament companies circles as the ‘lord of war’) (2 and cf also 3) , but also the corporations involved and government bureaucrats who support this all for financial reward. As the documentary Shadow World has outlined, “With leaders all over the world on the take for millions, the defense industry has spawned a global business that profits from war, supports corruption everywhere, and must, for its survival, fan the flames of civil wars and global conflict… [the arms trade] can kill without even firing a shot: by using up precious resources that should have been devoted to controlling lethal diseases and other problems the world faces.” (4)

I never thought I would see the day that Australia would seek to be added to the list of those promoting a cynical national cashing in on the human misery, suffering and destruction caused by the arms trade. Yet the Australian government has just announced a plan to make the country ‘one of the world’s top 10 arms exporters’ (5). Not only this but whilst claiming it has no money to fund needed infrastructure projects (e.g. the growing M1 disaster at the back of where I live here on the Gold Coast) (6), but it plans to do so with a $3.8 billion funding of an investment which experts in the area are already projecting will in any case very likely be a great waste of money trying to compete with Russia, China and the many European countries involved in this. For instance, as one researcher was quote in a related Age article on this, ‘”Australia has no comparative advantage and many other countries produce or can produce them cheaper,” he said, citing China, South Korea, Turkey and Japan as formidable future competitors.’ (7)

We realise that the Australian government budget is in trouble (i.e. both the main political parties share the blame on this historically). But as we have discussed in earlier posts, this is as much the fault of bad or non-sustainable policies as it is of the corporate tax-avoidance scams and wider consumer-driven globalisation imperatives – all which help produce the triple whammy of increased cost of living, decreased available (traditional/sustainable) jobs and general loss of quality of life/standard of living. On top of it all, there is the growing risk that more military ‘arms’ in the world will come back to haunt all future generations in every country – for instance, in the form of growing terrorist threats (how would you like it if you had to negotiate as a daily reality the threat of stray bullet, bomb or land-mine? – maybe one day your children or grandchildren might just have to do that?).

And those who say that this justifies increasing the production and availability of weapons small and large to profiteer should realise that this is a self-reinforcing argument for mutual destruction as well as disingenuous sleight of hand exploited once again by rip-off merchants.

[I grew up on an outback station where guns were needed (e.g. to control the threat of destructive wild pigs) and am comfortable with that. But you just have to look at the senseless massacres (especially in schools by disconnected youth) in the US (e.g. 8) to see that making guns freely available to all in a modern city context in the 21st Century is an example of the self-defeating purposes as well as corruption, destruction and sheer madness ultimately of the wider global arms trade – and those who profit from it without a conscience and can have no genuine self-respect.

  • CKR 14/2/2018










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