This week it was reported that arms sales from Britain to Israel have doubled in the last year. In the same week we read that an inquest in Britain returned unlawful killing verdicts on two British citizens, James Miller and Thomas Hurndall, who had been shot in Palestine by Israeli soldiers.
Interestingly, no article I have read makes any connection between the two stories. Stories about both are in the Guardian Weekly of April 14-20, but on different pages. Is no one interested in the issue of the UK selling weapons to a military force that targets UK citizens? Imagine that the UK was selling to al Qaida …
I am reminded that when Robin Cook became Foreign Secretary to Tory Blair, he promised that the UK would stop trading weapons to repressive, unethical regimes. After months of cogitating on the issue, he finally declared that there were no regimes bad enough that Britain could not sell them bang sticks, and here we are today.
Anyone for a game of spot the ethical vacuum?
April 20, ’06
Supplemental, 2023: The dinosaurs among us will remember that UK forces in wresting the Falkland Islands back from Argentina in 1982 found themselves battling British weapons such as Canberra bombers sold by the UK to Argentina, and Exocet missiles and Mirage fighters sold to Argentina by the UK’s stout Nato partner France, and A4 Skyhawk attack aircraft from our best buddy the US. It’s a complicated old world of arms trading, innit, but good for the economy in the end.