Arms and the British interest

I was listening to Will Self's point of view on Radio 4 on Sunday morning. About the arms industry and our apparent national dependence upon it. Here's thepodcast


It is long overdue for us to have a national debate about the way we despatch our armed forces into postcolonial wars usually under resourced for the objectives they have been set.  And alongside we continue to pour weapons into these countryies arming whichever side we happen to support whatever their human rights record. The bottom line defence of doing this is maintaining our seat on the UN security council.

Ironically the more recklessly the armed forces have been used the more we have weakened our capability. Messers Blair, Brown and Cameron should be impeached for the way they have squandered British lives for no discernible military advantage. But their real failing has been to weaken our ability to wage war at all. Our armed forces now are dependent on territorial volunteer support in a way that wasn't imaginable 10 years ago. Our defence overspends have become so ruinous that we have been forced to cancel whole squadrons, carriers and merge regiments. Arguably we are less influential and less well defended than we were 10 years ago and it is our politicians who bear the direct responsibility for that.

I link our growing weakness as a military power to Will Self's tirade against the immorality of the arms industry. Because if we are militarily unable to intervene as we once did, then we are more likely to use arms sales as a path to influence. Morally indefensible. But politically unavoidable.

It is time we worked to audit the carnage created by British weapons sales and remind our politicians of the collateral damage we inflict on ourselves every time we sign a contract to sell yet more weapons to those who are no friends of ours. Just customers.



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