|Artist: Dave Derrett|
Can anyone honestly answer those questions with a positive assurance that one side or the other totally won? WW II was ostensibly won by the Allies. Yet, when approximately 40 million people were killed on the Allied side (with almost 2/3rds of those being civilians) it becomes almost impossible to claim that the Allies won.
What of Vietnam? First the French, then the Americans and their allies were expelled forcefully from the country with the claim that the Viet Cong won. But, Vietnam and its people were left devastated. Even today, forty years after the end of hostilities, hundreds of people are being killed every year by left-over bombs in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
So, who wins wars? No-one it seems.
There is one group that always wins, though, and they are prepared to back either or any side in a war. The arms dealers.
The arms trade is big business. BIG business. It is estimated that over $1.5 trillion is spent every year on arms. That is big.
Who are the arms dealers, and where do they come from? Before answering that, a brief background aside.
The UN has a body called the Security Council whose primary function is the maintenance of international peace and security. It is comprised of five permanent members (China, France, the US, Russia and the UK) and ten non-permanent members elected for two year terms.
Back to the arms trade. Just five countries control over 90% of the world’s arms trade. Guess which? Correct: China, France, the US, Russia and the UK. The five permanent members of the Security Council. Surely that is a conflict of interest.
Not only is it big business, but the arms trade is also a notoriously corrupt business. Transparency International considers it to be one of the world’s most corrupt industries, with corruption estimated to be more than $20 billion per year.
Professor Robert Neild of Cambridge University has written extensively on corruption and has this to say about the arms trade:
“The Cold War arms race enhanced the opportunities for corruption in the arms trade…. It is not just the buccaneering arms salesmen of the USA or the méchant French who have resorted to bribery. The leading arms firms in virtually every major arms-producing country have been implicated, including reputable firms from most respectable countries…. Nor have bribes been paid only to buyers in the Third World….”Recent Wars
Two recent examples help to show that it is the arms dealers who are the only winners in war. Syria is presently being torn apart by arms supplied by Russia, Iran, China, North Korea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Lybia, Croatia and others and numerous weapons obtained on the black market.
Ukraine has large arms resources, so much so that in 2012 it was the world’s fourth biggest arms exporter. Ironically, it was only in April this year that Ukraine stopped exporting arms to Russia. The US is considering sending arms to Ukraine with a number of prominent US politicians calling for the US to arm Ukrainians. Many of these politicians have links to the arms industry, either directly or through arms companies funding their campaigns.
In both cases it will not be the Syrian people or the Ukrainian people who are the winners. Over 2 million Syrians have already fled their homeland to neighbouring countries.
No one wins wars. It is time that we realised this and stopped spending money on arms. All that we are doing is lining the pockets of a corrupt, irresponsible and unnecessary business.