Thursday, August 09, 2007

BAE - no good, the bad, and the ugly

BAE systems, the company at the centre of the UK-Saudi arms deal bribery scandal, has announced record profits this year of 657 million pounds (before tax), up almost 70% from the previous year. The company explained the sharp rise with the "high speed" of UK and US military operations in Iraq, increasing the demand for support systems. It did not elaborate on the meaning of "high speed", maybe the company does not want to be seen as profiting from the high velocity at which UK and US troops are regularly coming under attack in this final phase of the Iraq adventure before the inevitable withdrawal.

In the profitable but ugly business of dealing in arms and military supplies it is actually good when things go bad. And whilst the news of casualties and incompetence may be embarrassing to the population at home, it is lining the pockets of greedy arms dealers who would probably like to have a new war in the pipeline before the current one is dying out as a source of revenue. For them, Iran is definitely not off the table.

When you make money out of death and misery, lying comes easy, and the justifications don't matter too much. The Iraq war was allegedly fought to save us from weapons of mass destruction and make the world a safer place. Those weapons were never found, and according to an audit report to the US Congress, a lot of other weapons since imported into Iraq have also gone missing. There are some 14,030 weapons which the Americans have lost track of, maybe by having succumbed to the weapon of mass distraction. For arms suppliers this is good news, since the missing hardware will have to be replaced.

The looming Iran war is being sold to us on the pretense of protecting the world from a future nuclear weapon in the hands of the Iranians, whereas the effective result of this spurious argument has already been a further proliferation of nuclear warheads, with America, for example, exporting the technology to India to balance the threat posed by Pakistan. Naturally, countries in the Middle East region would equally want to bring some balance into the threat posed by the large Israeli nuclear arsenal. With its double standards in the approach towards North Korea and Iran, the US is also sending the clear message that nuclear weapons are a real deterrent against American aggression.

Of course, we are all guilty by association. The US, the UK and Australia, and through association the EU are war economies. Without the revenue generated by destructive goods, which do not depend on the forever dwindling purchasing power of these countries' populations, their economies would already have collapsed, since strictly speaking they not only heavily indebted but bankrupt. Snuffing out lives elsewhere in the world creates jobs and income for people in the West to continue their unsustainable lifestyles.

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