After the devastating and heart-wrenching events that occurred in Manchester a week ago, it was clear to me what was needed. A sombre period of grieving for a community rocked to its core by perhaps the most odious event this country has seen in a decade. Manchester rose to this and rather than finding catharsis through division, hatred and anger, the city seems to have come together in an admirable display of solidarity and love – not division. Manchester chose unity.
However, despite the obvious compassion shown by the people in those communities, an elephant hangs in the room, an elephant Westminster politicians ignore: the role the UK has played internationally as a begrudged facilitator of global terrorism, all in the name of economic prosperity. I am not in any way suggesting that the UK is a terrorist state, but I am suggesting that British arms trading supports terrorist actions.
Such a statement as the one above seems outlandish. However an objective analysis seems to make it clear that – with regard to political violence targeted at civilians – the United Kingdom internationally aids, abets and facilitates terrorism globally through its international arms trading.
Perhaps the best indicator of this is the ongoing war in Yemen waged by Saudi Arabia and Iran. In the past 2 years Britain has sold billions of pounds of weapons to the Saudis in order to aid a war which has been internationally condemned by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the UN due to its indiscriminate targeting of civilians. The Saudi regime bombs schools, hospitals and markets, culminating in a third of all their bombs hitting civilian sites. The May-Conservative government cannot claim ignorance here, it is well recognized by impartial organisations that the Saudi mission is amounting to a bloodbath and has absolutely no legality. It is nothing more than violence against civilians for political ends – the definition of terrorism.
Moreover, these atrocities spill over into genuine war crimes as Amnesty International found evidence of cluster bombs being used by the Saudi forces and being supplied by the UK government. At this point there can be no doubt that the UK government is subsidising and facilitating terrorism, well within view of the rest of the world.
Weapons, Weapons, And More Weapons
However, Yemen is not alone. Britain is currently the second biggest arms dealer in the world selling weapons of destruction all over the world, with little regard for the irresponsible hands they land into. The UK has sold weapons to 22 of the 30 countries on its own human right’s watch list and to 39 of the 51 “unfree” countries according to Freedom House. The fact of the matter is that these weapons have been used in heinous crimes and are crucial in facilitating terror all over the world. Ignorance is no excuse and the actions of the UK government amount to the funding of terrorism. However, in the typical Orientalist propaganda peddled by huge swathes of the media, successive UK governments are somehow seen as a spreaders of democracy to the uncivilised Middle East, rather than what they actually are – spreaders of destruction.
The problem here however, is not as succinctly summarised as ‘The British Arms Trade is bad’. The real dilemma is the very notion of a profit motive for death. This profit motive allows BAE systems, Lockheed Martin and others to prioritise murder, death and destruction for great financial reward. And, for as long as such a trade persists without limitation, the world will see ever greater bloodshed, ever greater turmoil and ever greater horrors.