Of Profits and Blood

By Richard Lutz

The day Robin Cook died on a Highlands mountain, I was in Scotland too on the hills.

I was lying on a hotel bed and saw it on the tv. I yelled over to my friend- we had just clambered over a bunch of mountains and were dog tired- and said: ‘I wonder how this is gonna play out- with Cook dead and all.’

Well, 6 years on, it means his lost political idea of an ethical foreign policy is, truly, a thing of the past. He was the last vestige of an ideal that Britain could relate to other countries without the hatred and venom of war and profits embedded in talks and deals.

All you have to do is look at what is happening in the North African and some of the Mid Eastern despotic regimes. People are getting shot, murdered, gassed and beaten. They are not receiving this punishment- some of it fatal- from water pistols and firecrackers. They are getting killed by UK arms.

Britain trades with fascist brute force, thugs with UK weapons killing men and women demonstrating just to have the right to say what they want and vote for who they want.

Here in Britain, it is has always enraged me when MPs jump up and down if a local company in his/her constituency receives some sort of military contract. It meant jobs for workers or more importantly jobs for voters.

‘We are proud to be making an effort’ MP John Jobsworth would say. ‘And keep peace alive.’

These are words stripped of meaning. What he really means is that come hell or high water, he can look to some factory in his charge and say I can count on those workers voting for me because I ensured we made hardware for Libya, Saudi Arabia or Egypt.

Unfortunately, this pol didn’t have the guts or brains to understand if someone in the Black Country or Manchester was manufacturing shackles or bullets of rockets for bloodlust tinpot dictators, some brave and honest folks would get their body shredded.

Here are some facts. Facts that are stained with democratic blood and are forged right here in the Midlands, England, the UK.

According to figures out earlier this decade the UK rakes in $4b from overseas arm sales. That’s half the US total but still makes the UK a larger international salesman of guns and arms than Russia, France and China.

The suppliers include some of the country’s biggest employers: GKN, Rolls Royce and BAE.

If some half assed politician or trade unionist, cries out: ‘What about our jobs?’ you have to say: ‘’And what about the heads rolling in the streets?’

To be fair, Britain said on Friday it was revoking more than 50 arms export licences for Bahrain and Libya. But the sales go on in other doubtful places

This week, for instance, the UK arms industry descended on Abu Dhabi for Idex, the region’s most important weapons fare. A tenth of all the global exhibitors are from Britain. Gerald Howarth, the minister leading the delegation, declared that “we have ambitious plans”.

Ambitious…and bloody.