Who will profit the most from the Death and Destruction Fair?

More than 30,000 visitors are expected next week at the biannual arms fair organised by Defence and Security Equipment International at the ExCel Centre in London. The 2013 event drew 97 delegations from 56 countries, checking out the goods on offer from 1,489 “defence and security suppliers”, from handguns to fighter jets. The London Independent described the showcase as “where the world’s worst dictators love to shop”…

DSEI was privatised by the Blair government in 1999 but continues to operate in the manner of a government agency. Invitations to the arms fair are issued by the ministry of defence. Visitors will have to pass through five security checks. Hundreds of armed police will be deployed. Protesters from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, Amnesty International and others are unlikely to breach the defensive ring. The arms dealers will be able to ply their trade in peace. Middle Eastern states with dubious records on human rights will again be among the biggest spenders. Ordinary citizens may see the ocean of suffering and the pell-mell flight of millions as the most salient aspects of the turmoil engulfing the region. But arms manufacturers will note nothing problematical. Every arms company has a business interest in bloodshed. Those looking to sell to the Middle East can anticipate a bonanza.

The New York Times reports that US arms industry officials have notified Congress they expect rising demand over the coming year for aircraft, missiles, armoured vehicles, helicopters, bombs and drones from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt and Qatar. Saudi Arabia has become the world’s fourth-largest market for military equipment, passing out Britain and France, splurging more than $80 billion…in 2014. The Saudis can be confident of spectacular sucking-up…

Vice, corruption, lies and disdain for law as well as life are the hallmarks of the arms trade in general. But experience suggests nobody in the British political mainstream will show concern, much less shame, at the merchandising of murder in their capital next week.

Not every arms supplier will make it to the ExCel. The Russians aren’t coming…Israel has booked a “national pavilion”, advertising “combat-proven” weapons. Proven in asymmetrical assaults on Palestinian civilians, presumably.

And no one has a War department anymore. They’ve learned all the lessons pioneered by the United States. We need all this crap to “defend” ourselves. Especially with our troops in someone else’s country.

U.S. fails to block accord against cluster bombs


The dangerous task of removing cluster bombs dropped by Israel on Lebanon

A U.S.-led push to regulate, rather than ban, cluster munitions failed Friday after 50 countries objected, following humanitarian campaigners’ claims that anything less than a outright ban would be an unprecedented reversal of human rights law.

While the United States, China and Russia want rules about the manufacture and use of cluster bombs, activists say such regulations would legitimize the munitions, backtracking from the Oslo Convention, an international treaty that seeks a worldwide ban.

“Against all odds it looks like we’re going to have success this evening,” Steve Goose, head of the arms division at Human Rights Watch, told a press conference in Geneva. “How often do you see the U.S., Russia, China, India, Israel and Belarus push for something, and they don’t get it? That has happened largely because of one powerful alliance driving the Oslo partnership.”

Cluster bombs, dropped by air or fired by artillery, scatter hundreds of bomblets across a wide area and can kill and maim civilians long after conflicts end…

Those lining up against the U.S. plan included the International Committee of the Red Cross and the top U.N. officials for human rights, emergency relief and development.

The U.N. agency chiefs said cluster bombs were a particular threat to children, who were attracted by their unusual, toy-like shapes and colors. They said they were extremely concerned at plans to do anything less than ban them…

Activists said the opposition to the U.S. proposal was led by Norway, Mexico and Austria, while 12 signatories to the 2008 Oslo Convention, including Japan, France and Germany, said they were in favor of regulation of cluster bombs under the CCW.

China and Russia, which like the United States are major producers of cluster munitions, were strongly supportive of the U.S. measure.

No surprises in any aspect of the politics on display here. Whether the question is one of allowing torture – or carrying on with the manufacture, deployment and distribution of anti-personnel weapons generally used by the most reactionary regimes on Earth – the United States has supported continuing use.

Questions of use and abuse of weapons using phosphorus, napalm – questions regarding carpet bombing, land mines and cluster bombs – and most recently the revival of torture as acceptable, the United States has lagged the rest of civilization. Whichever domestic decisions have been made by American voters, foreign policy enforced by military means and guided by allegiance to Pentagon protocols and Congressional fiat has relied on death and destruction applied with equal weight to military and civilian targets.

We accepted all the premises from the Axis we fought against in World War 2. And invented new rationales, more lies for the Cold War and beyond.

Cluster bomb ban starts today


Removing Israeli cluster bomblets in Lebanon

A global treaty banning cluster munitions has gone into force.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions, which became binding international law today, prohibits the use, production and stockpiling of the weapon, which is blamed for killing and maiming tens of thousands of civilians…

The treaty requires signatories to destroy stockpiled cluster munitions within eight years, clear contaminated areas within 10 years and help affected communities and survivors…

Cluster bombs are dropped from planes or fired by mortars before the canisters open mid-air, releasing bomblets that scatter over a wide area. Most explode immediately, but those that fail to detonate on impact can claim victims many years after the end of the conflict…

More than two dozen countries have been affected by cluster bombs and activists say three out of five casualties occur during day-to-day activities.

Most of the victims are children and some are killed when they mistake the bomblets for toys.

The United Nations estimates almost half of all casualties are from Laos, where people are still at risk of being injured from unexploded bomblets.

Between 1964 and 1973, at the height of Vietnam War, the US military dropped more than 2 million tons of explosive ordnance, including an estimated 260 million cluster munitions, mainly to disrupt enemy supply lines that passed through Laos.

It is thought that around 30 per cent of bomblets failed to explode on impact, and over two-thirds of the country is still contaminated. Experts say they kill or injure about 300 people a year.

Thank you – to the nations with stockpiles of these weapons – who nevertheless signed the treaty, will eliminate these anti-civilian weapons and respect the ban: UK, France, Germany and Japan.

The United States, the world’s largest producer with the biggest stockpile of 800 million submunitions, has refused to sign the treaty…

China, Russia and Israel have not signed on either. I hope you’re all happy in bed together.

Cluster bomb convention to become law


Survivors of Israeli mines and cluster bombs in Lebanon enjoy a football match
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

An international treaty banning cluster munitions will come into force later this year after the number of countries to register their ratification reached 30 on Tuesday, the United Nations said.

Dropped from aircraft or fired from the ground, cluster bombs open in mid-air and scatter bomblets over a wide area. Campaigners against their use say they have killed and maimed tens of thousands of civilians…

The treaty is binding only on countries that have signed and ratified it. So far, 104 countries have signed the pact, according to advocacy group Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC).

Countries that have signed the convention include major European states France, Germany and Spain. Britain and Italy have signed but not ratified.

Those that have done neither include the United States, Russia, China and Israel…

Anyone surprised? All confident they are above international law.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the 30 ratifications a “major advance on the global disarmament agenda” and said the treaty’s entry into force “demonstrates the world’s collective revulsion at the impact of these terrible weapons.”

“Cluster munitions are unreliable and inaccurate,” Ban said in a statement. “They maim and kill scores of civilians, including many children. They impair post-conflict recovery by making roads and land inaccessible to farmers and aid workers…”

In recent times, the United Nations estimated that Israel used up to 4 million submunitions in Lebanon during a 2006 war against Hezbollah guerrillas, who also fired more than 100 cluster munitions rockets into northern Israel.

Both Russia and Georgia used them during their August 2008 conflict.

Laos is the country most heavily contaminated by cluster munitions as a result of U.S. bombing during the Indochina war more than 30 years ago, according to the CMC.

Anyone surprised?

Laos still paying the price of Vietnam war


American heritage

Imagine growing up in a country where the equivalent of a B52 planeload of cluster bombs was dropped every eight minutes for nine years.

Then imagine seeing your children and grandchildren being killed and maimed by the same bombs, three decades after the war is over.

Welcome to Laos, a country with the unwanted claim of being the most bombed nation per capita in the world.

Between 1964 and 1973, the U.S. military dropped more than 2 million tons of explosive ordnance, including an estimated 260 million cluster munitions — also known as bombie in Laos.

To put this into perspective, this is more bombs than fell on Europe during World War Two.

The U.S. bombing was largely aimed at destroying enemy supply lines during the Vietnam war that passed through Laos. The war ended 35 years ago, yet the civilian casualties continue. According to aid agency Handicap International, as many as 12,000 civilians have been killed or maimed since, and there are hundreds of new casualties every year.

Right-wing nutballs in America never forget the VietNam War because their pitiful egos have to confront defeat – not only by another nation; but, by a proud people who also happen to be non-white. Racism and imperialism are virtually symbiotic in the United States.

Those of us who not only opposed Imperial America in Southeast Asia; but, supported national liberation movements throughout the world – are accustomed to being in conflict with the U.S. government. The “cops of the world” took over from the Brits after WW2 and were no less callous and criminal.

Even though I consider myself a citizen of Earth, I have a responsibility to confront and oppose the politics responsible for so much death and destruction. Uh, so do you – if you’re an American.

Israel switches from U.S. cluster bombs, buys local

Israel has cut purchases of U.S.-made cluster bombs, stocking up on supplies from a state-owned Israeli company rather than heeding calls for an outright ban.

Israel’s armed forces want to avoid a repeat of civilian casualties from cluster bombs during and after the 2006 Lebanon war, the officials said. More than 100 countries have banned the bombs because they can kill indiscriminately.

Cluster bombs have a relatively high failure rate compared to more conventional explosive munitions, but are favored by armies as a way of hitting enemy combatants in areas where no precise targets can be located.

The Israeli air force and artillery showered south Lebanon with cluster shells, each containing dozens or hundreds of grenade-size bomblets, during the 34-day war against Hezbollah guerrillas two years ago.

Between 30 percent and 40 percent of the bombs failed to explode on impact, according to the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Center (UNMACC). Many of these were later detonated by accident, killing 20 civilians and wounding 195, it said.

“Diplomatic pressures” that the U.S. and Israel receive are rarely more than a pitty-pat on the hand. The military legions in both nations gave up on carpet bombing after a few decades of “diplomatic pressure” – to replace it with terrorist rains of cluster bombs.

The inherent Xenophobia and racism in the governing culture of both countries is relied on to justify all of the terror tactics instituted by Nazi Germany. They just haven’t gotten to a final solution, yet. Though, the threat of nuclear warfare may suffice in their egregious political dementia.