Ben Chacko describes Britain’s arms manufacturers exports, especially to war zones, as ‘the gift that keeps on giving’.
The top 100 arms companies continue to grow amid the pandemic
Sales of arms and military services by the industry’s 100 largest companies totalled $531 billion in 2020—an increase of 1.3% in real terms compared with the previous year, according to new data released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
The arms sales of the top 100 arms companies in 2020 were 17% higher than in 2015—the first year for which SIPRI included data on Chinese firms. This marked the sixth consecutive year of growth in arms sales by the Top 100.
The Campaign Against the Arms Trade estimates that the real value of arms to Saudi Arabia is over £23bn, while the value of sales to Britain’s despotic allies is nearly £25bn.
To give a sense of scale, Chacko adds, £1bn is about the amount of money spent on agency and locum doctors in the NHS.
Jeremy Corbyn’s Chatham House speech was published in The Spectator (2017)
It stated that – if elected in 2019 – Labour would have re-examined the arms export licensing regulations to ensure that all British arms exports are consistent with Britain’s legal and moral obligations.
Export licences for arms when there is a clear risk that they will be used to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law would not have been granted.
Weapons supplied to Saudi Arabia, when the evidence of grave breaches of humanitarian law in Yemen is overwhelming, would have been immediately halted.
Vested interests then combined to ensure that profit-threatening Corbyn (still regularly cited by Boris Johnson) was not elected
Professor Denise Garcia (right), an academic who advises the United Nations on arms control and the military uses of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, wrote in Nature (August 2020):
“The real enemy is upon us. The frequency of heatwaves, droughts, forest fires, floods and hurricanes has quadrupled over the past four decades, and is rising. By 2050, almost 100 million people could be forced to migrate from coastal areas and other places that will become uninhabitable as a result of climate change (see go.nature.com/3agzsij). . .
“Big armies haven’t helped countries to fight COVID-19 — precisely the opposite. The five countries with the largest defence budgets were unprepared and were hit hard. The United States, China, India, Russia and Saudi Arabia together accounted for almost two-thirds (62%) of global military expenditure in 2019, and US, Indian and Russian rates of infection are some of the highest so far, with the United States topping both lists”.
Is the tide turning in the United States, offering a major correction to escalating militarism and an atrophying welfare state?
In the Jacobin, Stephen Semler reports that Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Mark Pocan (D-WI) — co-chairs of the Defense Spending Reduction Caucus — introduced legislation to draw down US military spending which has been referred to the Committee on Armed Services. The People Over Pentagon Act would cut the Department of Defense budget by $100 billion and reinvest the money in nonmilitary federal programs – a first step in funding human needs rather than padding the bottom lines of weapons contractors.
Professor Garcia: “Britain should end foreign military adventures forthwith and address its social, economic and environmental challenges. The real enemy is upon us – redirect military budgets to tackle climate change and pandemics”.