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There is no doubt that the gun has had more influence in changing the course of history than any other competitor – money/Capitalism, Credit, or the Internet and the good news is that the international arms trade is still booming to this day. story-thumb-nail-image

In September this year the Docklands in East London will play host to DSEI 2015, a biennial government-sponsored arms fair that is among the biggest in the world.

DSEI, which will be unimpeded by the Arms Trade Treaty, will bring hundreds of major arms companies and arms dealers together with some of the worst dictators and warmongering regimes.

At the same time 300,000 are fleeing conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, while ISIS flattens world heritage, destabilizes, beheads with American arms all that come in its path, while Israel grabs Palestinian land and Americans have the right to arms to kill each other,

This deadly carnival of the grotesque could not take place without the practical and political support of government ministers and their departments.

The promotions don’t stop at hosting arms fairs and trade missions.

Britain even has a government department dedicated to the promotion of arms sales: the UK Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organization (UKTI DSO). Despite its obscure name and low profile, UKTI DSO is right at the heart of the government’s support for the arms trade, employing 128 civil servants for the sole purpose of boosting international arms sales.

Arms sales, which fuel insecurity and abuse around the world, only account for 1.4 per cent of British exports and just 0.2 per cent of the jobs.

On top of that, the industry receives an annual public subsidy, which one study estimates to be around $1 billion. The mindset that puts helping companies secure lucrative (for them, not the taxpayer) deals before all else.

The simple fact is that Britain, and other countries, could stop arming tyrants right now.

Britain has consistently pulled out all stops to try to maximize them.

Every year the government publishes its Human Rights and Democracy Report; the most recent report listed 28 ‘countries of concern’ and yet in the last 12 months it has licensed weapons to at least 18 of them.

That doesn’t need an Arms Trade Treaty. It needs the political will.

Soldiers patrolling Monrovia, Liberia, 2003

We can’t have it both ways. We can’t be both the world’s leading champion of peace and the world’s leading supplier of arms.”

The boundaries between the formal arms trade and “the shadow world” are extremely fuzzy.

The arms industry is unlike any other. The industry is hardwired for corruption. It is responsible for 40% of all corruption in world trade. It operates without regulation. It makes its profits on the back of machines designed to kill and maim human beings.

Armed conflict was responsible for 231m deaths last century.

Respect for human rights is often overlooked as arms are sold to known human rights violators.

These weapons land up in places you don’t want or expect them to.

You might say that the arms trade may not always be a root cause, because there are often various geopolitical interests etc. However, the sale of arms can be a significant contributor to problems because of the enormous impact of the weapons involved. Furthermore, some oppressive regimes are only too willing purchase more arms under the pretext of their own war against terrorism.

This rush to globalize arms production and sales ignores the grave humanitarian and strategic consequences of global weapons proliferation.

Industrialized countries negotiate free trade and investment agreements with other countries, but exempt military spending from the liberalizing demands of the agreement. Since only the wealthy countries can afford to devote billions on military spending, they will always be able to give their corporations hidden subsidies through defence contracts, and maintain a technologically advanced industrial capacity.

And so, in every international trade and investment agreement one will find a clause which exempts government programs and policies deemed vital for national security. Here is the loophole that allows the maintenance of corporate subsidies through virtually unlimited military spending.

So who profits most from this murderous trade?

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council—the USA, UK, France, Russia, and China. Together, together with Germany and Italy  are responsible for eighty-eight per cent of the arms sold between 2004 and 2011.

Each year, around $45-60 billion worth of arms sales are agreed.  That is $235 for every person on the planet.

Most of these sales (something like 75%) are to developing countries.

World military spending has now reached one trillion dollars, close to Cold War levels. Recent data shows global spending at over $1.7 trillion. 2012 saw the first dip in spending — only slightly —since 1998, in an otherwise rising trend.

The highest military spender is the US accounting for almost two-fifths of the world’s spending, more than the rest of the G7 (most economically advanced countries) combined, and more than all its potential enemies, combined.

While international attention is focused on the need to control weapons of mass destruction, the trade in conventional weapons continues to operate in a legal and moral vacuum.

  • More and more countries are starting to produce small arms, many with little ability or will to regulate their use.
  • Permanent UN Security Council members—the USA, UK, France, Russia, and China—dominate the world trade in arms.
  • Most national arms controls are riddled with loopholes or barely enforced.
  • Key weaknesses are lax controls on the brokering, licensed production, and ‘end use’ of arms.
  • Arms get into the wrong hands through weak controls on firearm ownership, weapons management, and misuse by authorised users of weapons.

Arms sales (agreements) by the Leading Recipient Developing Nations, 2004-2011 (in billions of current U.S. dollars)

Ranked Country               Amount spent               Percent of total

1 Saudi Arabia                       75.7                            21%
2 India                                  46.6                             13%
3 UAE                                    20.3                               6%
4 Egypt                                 14.3                               4%
5 Pakistan                             13.2                               4%
6 Venezuela                          13.1                               4%
7 Brazil                                  10.9                                3%
8 Algeria                                10.3                               3%
9 Israel                                  9.5                                 3%
10 South Korea                      9.2                                 2%
11 All other developing countries 145.168                  39%

Arms sales (agreements), by Supplier, 2004-2011 (in billions of constant 2011 U.S. dollars)

Supplier                     Total Sales in US Dollars(billions)                    Percent                                                                                                            of Total                                                                                                              Sales

United States Sales to Developing countries: $151.644bn (69%)Sales to Industrialized countries: $68.964bn (31%)220.608 44%
Russia Sales to Developing countries: $79.078bn (95%)Sales to Industrialized countries: $4.245bn (5%)83.323 17%
France Sales to Developing countries: $27.491bn (66%)Sales to Industrialized countries: $14.469bn (34%)41.96 8%
United Kingdom Sales to Developing countries: $25.869bn (96%)Sales to Industrialized countries: $1.168bn (4%)27.037 5%
China Sales to Developing countries: $17.601bn (99%)Sales to Industrialized countries: $0.207bn (1%)17.808 4%
Germany Sales to Developing countries: $11.046bn (51%)Sales to Industrialized countries: $11.022bn (49%)22.068 4%
Italy Sales to Developing countries: $8.652bn (61%)Sales to Industrialized countries: $5.626bn (39%)14.278 3%
Other European Sales to Developing countries: $26.999bn (56%)Sales to Industrialized countries: $21.26bn (44%)48.259 10%
Others Sales to Developing countries: $19.887bn (74%)Sales to Industrialized countries: $7.222bn (26%)27.109 5%

Perhaps at the forthcoming Climate Change Summit in Paris we should arm all the delegates. As we all seem bent on self-destruction why wait for climate change to start off the wars that are inevitably on the horizon.

To stop Wars,  ” We must take the profit out of war by taking the profit out of arms deals.”

If you are interested here is what is happening to your Planet.