Tag Archives: arms

Hypocritical Tories verbally attack human rights abusers – but go on selling them weapons

Dominic Raab: his pretty words about human rights mean nothing, now that his colleague Liz Truss is selling bombs to Saudi Arabia again.

How utterly disgusting.

The Conservative government has made a great show of imposing sanctions on human rights abusers – while still selling weapons to the same people so they can continue abusing others.

The UK’s poor excuse for a Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, announced sanctions against individuals in Saudi Arabia, Russia, Myanmar and North Korea including asset freezes and travel bans, imposed immediately.

“Those with blood on their hands won’t be free … to waltz into this country, to buy up property on the Kings Road, do their Christmas shopping in Knightsbridge, or siphon dirty money through British banks,” Raab told parliament.

Oh, really?

What about the leaders of Saudi Arabia which – as a nation – has been harming human rights left, right and centre?

The Tories have just finished a review of that nation’s behaviour – forced on it by a court ruling that suspended arms sales there.

They are resuming sales of arms to Saudi Arabia despite having found “credible incidents of concern”.

The Tories said even though they represented “possible” breaches of international humanitarian law (IHL), the UK government viewed these as “isolated incidents”.

What utter drivel. The Tories just want to give Saudis more weapons to continue bombing Yemen into the Stone Age (for example).

Indeed, pathetic self-serving cheese-loving International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said as much:

“The undertaking that my predecessor gave to the Court – that we would not grant any new licences for the export of arms or military equipment to Saudi Arabia for possible use in Yemen – falls away.”

Since the bombing of Yemen started in March 2015 the UK government has issued export licences worth £5.3 billion, including £2.5 billion of licences relating to bombs, missiles and other types of ordinance.

In one stroke, she made a nonsense of her colleague Raab’s statement that “global Britain will be an even stronger force for good in the world, in the years ahead”.

“Stronger”? You have to be a force for good in the first place – and that clearly isn’t true.

Remember also that the UK itself is guilty of “grave and systematic violations of human rights” in its treatment of sick and disabled people, according to the United Nations. The Tories haven’t lifted a finger to stop those violations in four years since the finding was announced.

This Writer supposes that the government had to find something to do with all the weapons it won’t need for the UK’s own armed forces, now that they are being trimmed down almost to nothing.

Defence chiefs have drawn up plans to slash the army by a quarter and reduce the Royal Marines to a bit part as part of Boris Johnson’s defence and security review.

In the worst-case scenario:

• Army manpower would fall from 74,000 to 55,000

• The Royal Marines commando brigade would be disbanded, losing its artillery, engineers and landing craft. Royal Navy minesweepers would also face the axe

• The RAF would shut several airbases and shed its fleet of Hercules transporters.

There are other cuts but those are behind The Times‘s paywall. The government’s own website doesn’t seem to have this information.

The defence cuts would make the UK ripe for attack, of course, should any aggressive country feel like it; these cuts are an offence against the government’s first responsibility, which is to defend the UK’s people.

But Boris Johnson isn’t interested in that. He’s too busy raiding the national piggy-bank for all it’s worth.

Source: UK on collision course with Saudis over new human rights sanctions | Law | The Guardian

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Will the UK send more riot gear to a despotic Trump? Of course. It makes a profit

Sacrilege: Donald Trump had people tear-gassed so he could have this picture taken, outside a church, with a Bible. It seems he hasn’t read the New Testament… and if he stepped inside the church, would he disappear in a puff of brimstone?

Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas K. Lane

UK prime minister Boris Johnson is being urged to ban the sale of riot control equipment to the United States in response to shocking images of police attacking peaceful protesters against the killing of George Floyd.

Trump seems to be entirely out of control. He had peaceful protesters tear-gassed so he could take part in a photo shoot in front of a church, clutching a Bible, in what many people (including myself) may describe as a blasphemy.

This is symptomatic of the attitude he has displayed since public opinion boiled over in the wake of George Floyd’s killing. Many – including media pundits – believe he has turned the corner into dictatorship:

His attitude to the classes seems to support this:

For clarity, let’s have a look at some video clips of what has been going on:

https://twitter.com/LowkeySinistra/status/1267109420955086848

We need these clips by members of the public, too. If we didn’t have them, Ice T would be right:

Look at how news reporters have been targeted:

There have been exceptions, though – and it is important to note them. Not all in the police or the military agree with Trump that peaceful demonstrations should be put down with an iron fist:

It seems US police have been learning “brutality and repression” in specially-funded trips abroad. I make no comment about the country providing the training.

The good news is that, after Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for the killing of Mr Floyd, the three other officers involved are also to face criminal charges. It has been said that Tou Thao watched while J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas K. Lane helped hold the victim down:

And a civil rights investigation has been launched into the activities of Minneapolis police.

Back with the president, it seems the affair has killed Trump’s approval rating among US citizens. Now 54 per cent of them disapprove of him – the highest disapproval rating for any US president.

Trump should be happy – he’s always trying to say he’s top at something, and now he is.

All of this takes us back to the UK’s response to all this. Boris Johnson has been urged to stop exporting arms and riot equipment to the United States, so it cannot be used to harm peaceful protesters in the way we’ve seen in the videos (above):

According to the Independent article, neither Johnson nor any government spokesperson has yet commented on the issue.

This Writer’s opinion? There won’t be any cessation of arms trading with the US – it makes Tory-donor UK firms a fortune every day.

And Trump supporters can’t help shooting themselves in the foot (if only metaphorically). After Piers Morgan tweeted critically about the depths to which Trump has dragged his country, a US Twitter user made it clear that they did not want people from the UK to be involved in that country’s business. The response from a Brit was well-deserved and entirely appropriate:

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Theresa May just embarrassed the UK internationally – twice with one speech

Theresa May addressed the United Nations – and almost nobody bothered to turn up.

This is the result of seven years of Conservative-led government, along with 38 years of neoliberal political ideology: The UK’s international reputation is in tatters and nobody wants to hear what our representatives have to say.

That’s why Theresa May was speaking to a practically-empty hall at the United Nations, when she got to deliver her keynote speech.

What’s the point of telling the UN it needs to reform if hardly any of the UN’s members were listening?

While Mrs May was speaking, This Writer understands that she made a derogatory reference to countries that break international treaties.

It seems she should have checked one such treaty that the UK has signed, before opening her mouth.

The report by the Commons’ International Development Committee states that “the Arms Trade Treaty, along with UK national arms export criteria and the EU Common Position on arms exports, which regulate the UK trade in arms, say that licences cannot be granted ‘if there is a clear risk that the items might be used in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law.’

The UK sells arms to Saudi Arabia, which is at war with Yemen, so the following is important: “We heard powerful evidence from representatives of humanitarian organisatinos who said that they had witnessed bombing and targeting of civilians and civilian objects on the ground in Yemen, which suggests that there is more than a clear risk of IHL violations by the Saudi-led coalition.”

The report goes on to say: “Several States Parties appear in direct violation of legally binding Treaty obligations by continuing to supply arms to Saudi Arabia where there is a clear risk that they will be used in breach of international law in Yemen.” The UK is among those states.

The fact is well-known so Mrs May was branding herself – and by extension, the whole of the UK – a hypocrite by attacking others for doing exactly what she has been doing: Breaking an international treaty.

Ah, but Mrs May is a Conservative, isn’t she? They don’t think they have to abide by any rules other than those they make up for themselves.


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Banksy donates funds from latest art sale to anti-arms campaigners

[Image: Banksy.]

This Site has already reported gory Tory Michael ‘Bomber’ Fallon’s plan to sell arms to anybody, regardless of their credentials, as soon as he possibly can.

Here’s the alternative view, courtesy of Banksy.

This Writer would support Banksy’s worldview over Fallon’s, every time.

Street artist Banksy has donated £205,000 from the sale of his latest artwork to peace campaigners.

‘Civilian Drone Strike’ shows three drones bombing a child-like drawing of a house, with a shocked girl and her dog next to it.

Money from the sale of the piece was split between Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), and human rights group Reprieve.

‘Civilian Drone Strike’ was on display at the Stop the Arms Fair art exhibition in east London, which ended yesterday (September 15).

The exhibition was being held alongside the world’s largest arms fair, the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI), to highlight the inhumanity of the arms trade.

Source: Banksy donates funds from sale of latest artwork to anti-arms campaigners


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Skilful work is needed to cut the slaughter-supporting rebels out of Labour

The Labour MPs who rebelled against Jeremy Corbyn over Yemen are desperate to provoke him into expelling them - so they can retain their seats in the House of Commons. What if he made it impossible for their constituency parties to continue supporting them?

The Labour MPs who rebelled against Jeremy Corbyn over Yemen are desperate to provoke him into expelling them – so they can retain their seats in the House of Commons. What if he made it impossible for their constituency parties to continue supporting them?

It is nauseating to hear that Labour MPs – who rebelled against a three-line whip in order to support the killing of innocents in Yemen – did it for no better reason than to undermine their leader.

But it seems right-wing Labour has failed to think its actions through (yet again) and should suffer the consequences of its actions.

In refusing to support the motion against supplying arms to Saudi Arabia, these MPs defied a three-line whip. Normally, this should trigger a certain course of action – withdrawal of the party whip from the MPs concerned, who must sit as independents until the whip is restored.

This would suit the rebels, because they could use any such action against them to justify splitting away from the Labour Party – and claim that Mr Corbyn was responsible.

But nobody can support a decision to continue allowing innocent people to be killed – especially members of the Constituency Labour Parties, on whom these MPs rely to campaign for them in the run-up to elections.

The rebelling MPs cannot say they are following Jeremy Corbyn’s example, defying the party whip on a matter of principle, because his rebellions were always against wars and harm to ordinary people – and never in support of the Conservative Party.

So This Writer tends to agree with the Skwawkbox blog. Mr Corbyn should select a few of the more prominent rebels – those who have repeatedly tried to undermine him – and make an example of them.

If he publicly explains that they are losing the whip because they have shown de facto support for the Conservative Party, and for the killing of innocents, then it will be impossible for them to argue that they were making any kind of principled stand.

The line could be that, if they don’t want to support Labour values, perhaps they should resign their seats and stand for another party, or as independents.

How well do you think they would manage on their own?

Almost 100 Labour MPs (not 100 or 102 as you may have read, since a handful of those who didn’t vote were absent because of serious illness or family situations, including Corbyn loyalists on the front bench) rebelled against their party to vote against a Labour parliamentary motion put forward by Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry for the withdrawal of support for the Saudi-led coalition that has been targeting schools, hospitals and rescue services in Yemen, costing thousands of civilian lives.

The vote was lost by fewer than 100 votes.

Those Labour MPs have made themselves responsible for further deaths of innocents – according to the papers, simply in order to undermine Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. But it goes further than that.

I believe that these Labour MPs are attempting to provoke Corbyn into taking action against them so they can use it as justification for splitting from the party.

Here’s what parliament.uk says about the consequences of defying a 3-line whip: “Defying a three-line whip is very serious, and has occasionally resulted in the whip being withdrawn from an MP or Lord. This means that the Member is effectively expelled from their party (but keeps their seat) and must sit as an independent until the whip is restored.”

Even the braver of the rebels is too cowardly to be known forever as the ones who broke up the Labour party, so they’re trying to provoke Corbyn into expelling them. They keep their seats and can set up their own Parliamentary grouping

The key is to expose what they’re up to and why – before they do it – and establish control of the narrative, so they’re simply exposed as dishonourable and ridiculous.

A decisive move against the ringleaders would test the nerve of those who are less entrenched – and a strong PR offensive could make clear why those expelled were selected, tied with hammering home the baseness of the moves they’ve co-ordinated this week and the fact that they were elected as Labour MPs, would put pressure on them and any who follow them to ‘do the decent thing’ –to resign their seats and fight as independents.

After all, even the two Tories who jumped ship to UKIP felt honour-bound to resign and fight by-elections – and who wants to be lower than UKIP?

Source: Labour Yemen rebels support slaughter to provoke Corbyn – and he has to take the bait | The SKWAWKBOX Blog

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Terrorism, Islam, and the need to keep the Western world in fear

Laughing at the law-abiding: IS militants at a captured checkpoint in northern Iraq [Image: AFP/Getty].

IS militants, doing exactly what the western powers want them to do, in order to maintain fear of terrorism among (for example) British citizens. [Image: AFP/Getty].

Does anybody else think the reaction to the terror attack on Charlie Hebdo – along with that against ISIS (or whatever they’re calling themselves these days), Al-Qaeda and, for that matter, Russia – has been, at the very least, off-colour?

Terrorists attack the staff of a magazine, claiming to be doing so in the name of Islam (we have no proof that this was their purpose and may never have it), so there’s a huge backlash against Muslims and the same magazine’s next issue – with a cover featuring a poor (yet still offensive) attempt at caricaturing Muhammad himself – sells five million copies; its normal circulation is 60,000.

Here in the UK, David Cameron does his best to use the attack as an excuse for even greater government intrusion into citizens’ privacy, on top of the incursions already enacted by his government.

Is it really about keeping us safe, or is it about keeping us down?

Some have argued that the western military-industrial complex has a vested interest in providing the public with a state-sponsored bogeyman to fear. During the Cold War it was the USSR. Immediately after Soviet Communism (which must not be confused with socialism) collapsed, the west went to war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – a regime formerly supported by the USA. Since then we’ve had 911, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, 7/7, Libya, Syria and Islamic State. While this has been going on, the western media seem to be stirring up fear of Putin’s Russia.

Isn’t that only to be expected from a coalition of groups with vested psychological, moral and material interests in the continuous development and maintenance of high levels of weaponry, in preservation of colonial markets and in military-strategic conceptions of internal affairs*?

There is no doubt that the British people are kept safe by the efforts of our security services – it is important that this should not be misunderstood. Many of the threats mentioned a couple of paragraphs above have been real.

But they aren’t anywhere near as serious as certain extremely rich people and organisations want us to think they are. Look at Iraq – Saddam Hussein didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction at all! He was found in a hole, living on ‘fun-size’ Mars bars (if certain writers are to be believed**).

It seems clear that there is a system of control being exercised upon us here. You can see it for yourself, evidenced by the fact that we never seem to find ourselves clear of any threats; there’s always another one on the horizon and it’s always important for us to give up more of our civil liberties in order to fight it – and of course, we pay for all the weapons and ammunition used, with our taxes.

So, looking at this objectively, we should be asking ourselves: Who is the greater threat?

As far as the Islamic extremists are concerned, if we lived in a rational world there would be a strong argument for someone to go and speak to them (under a white flag or whatever it took to be heard) and point out a few important facts: The western military has enough firepower to turn the Middle East into a scorched crater if it wants to do so. The reason it doesn’t is it needs you to be the equivalent of a pantomime villain, to be defeated at regular intervals on the evening news. The West will never defeat you completely, because you’re too useful for making a profit for the arms dealers and for keeping western citizens under control. You are, therefore, nothing but toys. The only way to defeat this strategy is to disengage completely; stop the violence against the west that will never, ever succeed and find better solutions to your problems.

If we lived in a rational world, they would agree.

Wouldn’t you like to live in that world, instead of this?

*As described in Revolution, by Russell Brand. Cheers for looking it up, Russell.

**Cheers again, Russell.

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Are we really stupid enough to believe Israel is spending £7.8bn on CRYPTOGRAPHY?

[Image: International Herald Tribune. America has been debating government surveillance for a while now.]

[Image: International Herald Tribune. America has been debating government surveillance for a while now.]

After yesterday’s article on Gaza was written, Yr Obdt Srvt opened the new edition of Private Eye and read the following on page 29:

“Downing Street’s promise on Monday to review all the UK’s arms export licences to Israel will come as no surprise to anyone who has perused a recent report from MPs… The report revealed the continuing mystery of licences for £7.8bn worth of equipment, mainly ‘cryptographic equipment, software and technology’.”

Really?

But page 5 of the same magazine states: “Many of the countries the UK supplies are flagged up by the Foreign Office as being ‘countries of human rights concern’. They account for £11.9bn of UK arms sales and include China, Iran, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, who have been sold ‘cryptography’ equipment – essentially kit to disguise communications, infiltrate external websites and protect their own from surveillance.”

Really.

That costs £7.8 billion in Israel but only £3.1 billion to all these other countries, does it? And it’s before taking out sales of any shoot-bang-kill weapons, too.

Arms exports to Saudi Arabia total more than £1.5 billion, and to China another £600 million or so. That leaves £1 billion between Yemen, Iran (!) and anyone else not mentioned in the article.

It’s not believable. Even if the software licence was the most expensive ever, it beggars belief that Israel would be willing to pay 16 times as much as – for example – Iran, for the same equipment.

Meanwhile, an article in today’s Guardian clarifies how this kit will be used. The country’s right-wing government is intent on suppressing dissent against its military operations in Palestinian areas and has worked hard to ensure that around 95 per cent of the public support it.

This leaves five per cent of the population, who are afraid to voice their opinion openly for fear of being attacked in the street. Left-wing commentator Gideon Levy, who has written in opposition to the assaults, has suffered epistolary attacks from (among others) Eldad Yaniv, former political adviser to ex-prime minister Ehud Barack. Yaniv wrote on his Facebook page: “The late Gideon Levy. Get used to it.”

It does not seem far from the realms of possibility that a government that has generated this kind of support would buy surveillance equipment to snoop on its detractors in search of any evidence that could bring them down.

“What is different this time is the anti-democratic spirit,” Levy states in the Guardian article. “Zero tolerance of any kind of criticism, opposition to any kind of sympathy with the Palestinians,” says Levy. “You shouldn’t be surprised that the 95 per cent [are in favour of the war], you should be surprised at the 5 per cent. This is almost a miracle. The media has an enormous role. Given the decades of demonisation of the Palestinians, the incitement and hatred, don’t be surprised the Israeli people are where they are.”

Is this not exactly what the Nazis did to the Jews in Germany, back in the 1930s? Isn’t it exactly what Roger Waters was protesting against, as mentioned in yesterday’s VP article? And did the Nazis not use surveillance techniques via their secret police, the Gestapo, to ensure dissent was suppressed and propaganda in support of their policies held sway over public opinion?

(It should be noted that none of this should be used to suggest that the Palestinian organisation Hamas was right to launch attacks on Israel. The plight of the people of Gaza is real but must be settled by peaceful means; violence can only ever make matters worse in the long run.)

Now come back to the UK, where we have a right-wing government that has worked extremely hard to ensure that the mass media put forward only stories supporting its policies and point of view. Is it not possible that a government in possession of the kind of surveillance equipment it is exporting to ‘countries of human rights concern’ – a government that is known to have extremely unsound beliefs about human rights – might turn that equipment on its own people?

These are dangerous times for all of us.

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Here’s why Cameron won’t criticise Israel: nearly £8bn a year in arms sales

140806arms

It’s a business matter – the business of bloodshed.

Despite the high-profile resignation of Baroness Warsi, despite growing unrest among his own backbenchers, despite public criticism over his government’s failure to support a UN inquiry into possible human rights breaches in Gaza and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, David Cameron remains resolute in his refusal to speak up against the Israeli government’s use of overwhelmingly superior firepower against Palestinian civilians who have been caught in the crossfire between Israel and Hamas terrorists.

His uncharacteristic silence has made him a laughing-stock in some quarters. The blogger Tom Pride, for example, took great pleasure in pointing out useful things that Cameron hasn’t been saying: “In a dramatic turnaround, Mr Cameron shocked political pundits after he blasted the Israeli Army for massacring civilians in Gaza by not quite saying something not very nice about it.

“And in a devastating speech which he was very nearly on the point of giving today, Cameron bordered on almost telling Israeli premier Benjamin Natanjahu to stop his naughty behaviour at once or face being told to shake hands and make up with the Palestinians.

“Mr Cameron also blasted the Israelis by getting pretty close to claiming there were “reasonable grounds” to believe that innocent civilians in Gaza – including children – had been targeted as a form of collective punishment,  which he almost pointed out was not very nice and was even actually rather quite naughty if you think about it.”

The reason for his reticence? The Israelis are using British weapons, bought under contracts that are worth almost £8 billion every year. Cameron doesn’t want to put that kind of income at risk!

The latest development is that the Liberal Democrats have called for the government to suspend the export licences under which these weapons are shipped to Israel. It seems the intention is to put out a clear message that Britain will not tolerate its weapons being used against innocents (and we can debate the possible levels of hypocrisy in that later).

Downing Street has stated that the licences are already under review, with no new licences issued since the Israeli government opened up hostilities last month.

“Suspending export licences is not a decision we take lightly and it is right that we examine the facts fully. This is the approach being taken by the vast majority of countries,” the spokesman said, according to the BBC.

It seems more likely that nothing will be done and the government is hoping this affair will blow itself out before it can affect the balance of import/export payments.

Cameron has been attacked by many – including commenters on this blog – for the apparent failure of his moral compass where money is concerned, and there is evidence that criticising his policy is a bad career move for fellow Conservative Party members.

It seems only people outside the government are allowed to speak their mind. Look at Dominic Grieve, the former Attorney General who was ousted, possibly for criticising plans to limit Legal Aid to those who least deserve it. According to the BBC, he has been heard questioning whether Israel’s actions had been “reasonable, necessary and proportionate”.

Outside the Westminster bubble, high-profile names have been far less reserved about expressing an opinion. Remember when Roger Waters (formerly of Pink Floyd) compared the modern Israeli state with Nazi Germany last year? He was branded as an antisemite at the time.

But take a look at his words now, about Israeli treatment of the Palestinian people on the Gaza Strip: “The parallels with what went on in the 1930s in Geermany are so crushingly obvious… The Holocaust was brutal and disgusting beyond our imagination. We must never forget it. We must always remain vigilant. We must never stand by silent and indifferent to the sufferings of others, whatever their race, colour, ethnic background or religion. All human beings deserve the right to live equally under the law.

“I have nothing against Jews or Israelis, and I am not antisemitic. I deplore the policies of the Israeli government in the occupied territories and Gaza. They are immoral, inhuman and illegal. I will continue my non-violent protests as long as the government of Israel continues with these policies.”

When did we last have a Prime Minister with such principles?

Not since 2010, for sure.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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