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In 2006, I wrote in “From monkey sapiens to homo intentional, the Phenomenology of the nonviolent revolution” the following paragraph related to the reasons to invade Iraq: “…organise a marketing exercise in which new weapons could be displayed (in action) in order to support the lagging arms trade, affected by the end of the Cold War. The way images of the accuracy and precision with which a plane could destroy a bridge were shown, again and again, as well as minute details of the qualities of missiles, etc, strongly recalled TV shopping. We heard much later that they were not that precise and there had been plenty of civilian casualties (called “collateral damage“, to dehumanise them), but business is business.”
This week declassified secret documents reveal that at the time of the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq the British government saw its participation in the war against Saddam precisely as a “unparalleled opportunity” to increase its weapons sales:
“In a letter marked “secret”, written on 19 August 1990, days after Saddam Hussein’s forces had invaded Kuwait, Clark [Alan Clark, then defence procurement minister, to the prime minister, Margaret Thatcher] wrote a private memo to Thatcher in which he described the expected response from the US and its allies as “unparalleled opportunity” for the Defence Export Services Organisation (now known as the DSO).
“Clark explained: “Whatever deployment policies we adopt I must emphasise that this is an unparalleled opportunity for DESO; a vast demonstration range with live ammunition and ‘real’ trials.”…” The government’s efforts reaped dividends. The war provided a significant fillip for arms sales to the region and helped nurture a strong relationship that continues to this day.”…” Over 10 years, the report ranks Britain as the second biggest arms dealer in the world behind the US.” The Guardian.
The Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI), euphemism for the Arms Fair, is coming to London as it has been doing every two years, from 12 to 15 September this year and no doubt the wars in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya will provide again ”a vast demonstration range with live ammunition and ‘real’ trials” for potential buyers amongst whom it is usual to find representatives of oppressive regimes and those interested in what’s new on instruments of torture.
The destructive power of these death machines continue to increase beyond anything imaginable. We are reminded of Albert Einstein’s quote “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
Those who think that war, including nuclear war, is an acceptable or even inevitable part of life cannot continue to be the people we elect to be in power, to have power over our lives. Only the will of people prepared to defy the Media in their criticism and slander of Peace and Nonviolence oriented candidates (e.g. Jeremy Corbyn) can change the direction of the war and arms trade. The politics of fear makes us create our own demise, our own incarceration in a contradictory life in which we allow our taxes to buy the weapons that kill people in our own and distant countries. We accept to live in this soul-destroying contradiction because the alternative voices are stifled and silenced, or simply ignored.
We are lucky, we have options, we just need to listen carefully and plan what actions are within our possibilities.
Active nonviolence does not demand sacrifices, only a joyful and meaningful commitment to life and compassion.