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This page is for dumping bits of text that will be put in the paper in some form at some stage but currently doesn't have a home.


from schnews

SchNEWS DSEi Roundup

repost | 12.09.2003 18:51 | DSEi 2003 | Anti-militarism | London Roundup of the days of resistance against the DSEi Arms Fair from SchNEWS:


“It is like any other trade exhibition. It is like the motor show in Birmingham or exhibitions at Earls Court. This happens to be for the defence industry.” - Paul Beaver, spokesperson for DSEi organisers Spearhead.

Now - while SchNEWS knows that cars can kill and aren’t too good for the environment we reckon that Apache fighter jets, landmines and cluster bombs are just a tad more harmful to civilians. This is the sort of euphemistic blather coming from the suits this week at Europe’s biggest arms fair - Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi pronounced ‘dicey’) - the place where state terrorism is labelled ‘defence’, cluster bombs become ‘cargo ammunition’ and bombs are creatively called ‘air delivered weapons’. This week at the ExCel centre in east London the supposed ‘terrorist’ regimes were welcomed alongside the ‘good guys’ alike as ‘clients’ side by side, queuing up for weaponry. Luckily there were over 2,000 tooled up coppers to hold back the persistent direct action and blockades against the ‘fair with the scariest rides in town’.

To get an idea of what gets sold at the arms fair take cluster bombs: they’ve got a bad name because they contain many bomblets which often don’t explode in the initial attack - just like unexploded landmines. Already over 1,000 Iraqi kids have been injured by cluster bomblets since the ‘end’ of the war on Iraq. Doing a roaring trade in these is Israel Military Industries Ltd who are still licking their lips after flogging loads of cluster bombs to Britain before the war on Iraq. Britain’s largest arms company, BAE Systems, bought over 20,000 rounds of Israeli cluster weapons just before the Iraqi war. Then the British army went on to fire over 2,000 of these Israeli cluster bombs during the battle for Basra. DSEi welcomed another sketchy Israeli weapons producer, Rafael, who develop missile systems by testing them on Palestinian civilians. Their most infamous missile test was its Gill Spike missile test, which they first tested on a civilian home in Beit Jala in 2000.

Despite all the deceptive words and oppressive security a few thousand protestors took part in a flood of guerrilla actions and demonstrations over the four day arms fair. The police spokesperson, Greg Pig Trotters, said their operation was “very patient, very sensitive and very low key” - but this came as news to the people of Newham - the borough where the ExCeL exhibition centre is based - who witnessed the biggest ever police operation in the area. As one of the poorest boroughs in London, Newham locals called for the arms fair to be cancelled and would prefer the £1+ million spent on policing DSEito be channelled into regenerating their neighbourhoods.

Rowed Block

In the run-up to DSEi the death fair’s organisers Spearhead had their offices occupied while at the same time people in rubber dinghys blocked DSEi warships. On Saturday morning DSEi attempted to sail 4 warships along the Thames to the ExCel Centre but, alas, 30 water-tight activists were there blocking the lock gates and the swing bridge with good ol’ D-locks. There was a four hour window in which the tide allowed entry into the docks so the last 2 ships had to abort their mission. During the week protesters posing as arms dealers joined the hundreds of other dealers and buyers on the trains to the ExCel Centre. Three suited protesters couldn’t wait for the fair and started selling their wares on the train: Announcing they had arms for sale they opened their brief cases revealing dismembered Barbie dolls’ arms.

Tuesday was declared a ‘day of non-violent direct action’ against DSEi with a Campaign Against the Arms Trade march attracting about 2,000 protesters. This culminated in the ‘Fluffy DSEi’ action, with the aim of blockading DSEi, where a crowd of about 1,000 protesters blocked the Connaught Bridge entrance to the fair. For the next few hours it was a game of cat ‘n’ mouse between agile glittery protesters and stroppy cops as protesters blockaded roundabout after roundabout, occupying a different main road every time the cops threatened arrests.

Wednesday, the ‘no rules direct action day’, started with an uncontrollable critical mass outside ExCel, and a protest at the London office of Israeli weapons make Rafael by Palestinian Solidarity group ISM. Meanwhile the suits streamed into the centre, many using the Docklands Light Rail (DLR), which was just asking for some direct action to blockade it. Over the course of the day the transport police had their work cut out removing locked-on protesters from the DLR carriages as loadspeakers at the stations apologised for delays saying it was due to - wait for it - ‘passenger action’.

While entry to the conference by train was being derailed, another sorted crew pushed a car out onto the road to block the eastern entrance of the centre, which was the beginning of a several hour blockade of the entrance. Meanwhile the road outside the centre was blocked at several points during the day.

Meanwhile six cunning activists had formed their own ‘arms company’ – the Affinity Group – with their own official website and business cards, and then applied for invitations to the death fair. They waltzed in, suited and accredited, and went on to occupy two tanks, daubing them in ‘Stop Death’ banners before they were chucked out by security.

Later in the day there was excitement at the Canning Town roundabout when the flyover above was shut down with a banner as a crowd stormed the roundabout until the robocops – tooled up and outnumbering protesters – pushed the line back. Then minutes later like the cavalry coming over the hill, the sound of samba drums and a flash of pink and silver saw the samba block take the roundabout again, though again the sheer number of coppers stopped anything lasting very long. Meanwhile local rudeboys from the nearby estate tucked in, egging on protesters and throwing eggs at coppers. Other locals took part in the actions while many sat on balconies shouting stuff like “Those coppers are denying you your rights, mate!”

While some of the actions were inspirational and we caused serious disruption at times, we didn’t shut down DSEi. We needed more people - what ever happened to the one million plus who marched against the war on Iraq in February? With 10,000 people in the Docklands on Wednesday instead of 1,000 we could have kicked the arms dealers out of London for good. We need to take the opportunity to kick the war-profiteering scumbags where it hurts, and the weapon should be mass direct action. At the next DSEi arms fair in two years, it’s up to us to make sure that the death fair bites the bullet.

from urban 75

GUNS 'R' US off the shelf murder at Defence Systems and Equipment International Big Sale! from SchNEWS Issue 228, Friday 17th September 1999

"We obviously don't talk about burnt bodies and smashed bones. It tends to put the clients off their vol-au-vents'" - Missile salesman

Inside: decked in pinstripes or uniforms and shiny regalia, 20,000 or so arms-industry delegates, beating the Christmas rush. Not a place to take yer mum shopping - and an invite a tad harder to obtain than a copy of the Argos catalogue.

Outside: the characteristic peace movement mixed-bag of Quakers, troskyist paper sellers, direct action types, and the odd backbench MP. And more than a few police. At least as many combat fatigues as were inside the exhibition, and more running around and scrambling across obstacles than on the Krypton Factor assult course.


Welcome to Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi) - the UK's biggest bombs n' guns emporium. Taking place simultaneously in on MoD land near Chertsey, Surrey and at London's Docklands, don't shop around for your military-industrial hardware - just come to and peruse our exhibition.

And so thousands of participants came from across the globe, representing regimes as far apart as Algeria, China and Saudi Arabia. They rolled up to Chertsey into a grey expanse that looked as muddy as the car parks at a wet Glastonbury - and just as miserable - before herding into the field of marquees. But the projectiles advertised on these stalls would be dangerous to juggle with, the pipes here too full of high-grade aircraft fuel to try to smoke, and the chemicals unlikely to make anyone feel the rush come. The hippies weren't invited to this one.


Still, they rushed there anyway and things kicked off at the exhibition, where several hundred activists flanked the main entrance, at intervals flinging themselves in front of the oncoming coachloads. The tailbacks quickly built up as the anti-arms trade boys and girls crawled beneath the vehicles or sat in the road; chanting Buddhists all the while banging out a rhythmic backdrop to the fun and games.

Meanwhile, on the river in East London, amphibious activists harried the six or more state-of-the-art warships, their in-something-of-a-state dinghy tearing along only slightly faster than it let in the Thames. (The ropy old motor, though, shall stall no more: butter-fingered police, after confiscating the vessel, let the engine slip into the bosom of the water. A replacement is coming courtesy of an apologetic constabulary - oops).

Back in rainy Chertsey, police had had to close the main approach route to traffic, giving throngs of dripping wet arms dealers a chance to get to know the lovely Chobham road. Traipsing on foot the mile or more stretch down to the fair's entrance, many apparently suffered collateral damage* to their dignity. One delegate, displaying an IQ similar to that of the average subscriber to Guns n' Ammo magazine, took a moment to lunge at a protester with a poorly-aimed umbrella.

Some who arrived by train had a better time; not, however, those on the Tuesday morning service held up for the best part of an hour, after a female activist locked on to a carriage at the last station but one from the exhibition site. Chatting on the platform was a pleasure, as the extended stop provided unrivalled access to the considerable number of arms buyers and sellers aboard the train. As too, were the catering staff contracted by the exhibition. " We'll spit in their food! ' they promised, expressing the same dim view of their arms-trading carriage-fellows as most of the other passengers.


Dear Murderous Bastard,

You Are Cordially Invited to An Opportunity to Purchase Some of the World's Finest Instruments of Torture & Death. Set in the Heart of the Beautiful Surrey Countryside, the Defence Systems and Equipment International Offers you the chance to choose from a wide range of Missiles, Attack Aircraft and Internal Repression Equipment, all in the Unrivalled Peace and Security that only the Ministry of Defence can offer. RSVP, MoD

Then there were those who got inside.... stowing away in one of the delegates' coaches, one power-dressed woman protester passed unnoticed in the exhibition for several minutes before getting kicked out with some of the industry literature she'd managed to glean. Others ran the gauntlet of forest terrain and barbed perimeter fence, creeping through the undergrowth like soldiers before scaling the double-fencing of the inner-compound.

Then yesterday evening, the target was a Park Lane hotel (don't flash your YHA membership card in this place) where many of the arms industry movers and shakers went to enjoy a banquet. There, one hotel security guard went and punched a guy who had climbed the hotel gate to drape a banner; giving him, nonetheless, rather less injury than, say, the Kurds in eastern Turkey, trade unionists in Kenya, or any of those lucky others at the receiving end of some of that shiny new military hardware.

  • collateral damage - a Gulf War euphemism meaning human casualties, as used by many of the "peacekeeping enthusiasts' attending DSEi. - SchNEWS VocabWatch



Among the MoD's guests are the following delightful governments... Saudi Arabia: A savagely repressive fundamentalist regime, that according to Amnesty, " collects arms like others collect Rolls Royces .' Israel: Subject of innumerable UN condemnations for the occupation of Lebanon, ethnic cleansing in the Occupied Territories, including 20 unlawful killings this year, and recently found guilty by its own high court of torturing prisoners. Syria: Systematic human rights abuse and repression of political opponents. Algeria: Military dictatorship responsible for 100,000 deaths since cancelling the 1992 elections.

Such is the generosity of Britain, we even help such states pay for their weapons, thanks to the Export Credit Guarantees Dept. ECGD has the British tax payer cough up for recipient country that spend more than they can afford, so allowing exporters to trade with "high-risk'states that no true capitalist would touch. Naturally, this is used largely for UK plc's favourite export, arms - meaning that we pay for dodgy regimes to get nasty weaponry for free, and the merchants of death to make a killing. And the best bit is that it all gets counted as "aid'.


The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) admitted in Parliament this year that export credits were covering the sale of arms to Indonesia worth #691 million. The DTI has also rescheduled #200 million in debt repayments from the beleaguered Indonesian economy so that arms deals could continue.

Sadly, due to a few domestic problems (not "cos the UK govt withdrew their invitation, which still stands), Indonesia was unable to attend the DSEi. Fortunately though, the Defence Export Services Organisation, has a permanent bargain-basement store in Jakarta their stated aim: to raise Britain's arms sales to Indonesia tenfold, to #3bn by 2007.

Don't forget - even when countries are officiouly banned from importing British arms, UK companies can still arrange arms transfers as long as they don't pass directly through Britain. And helpfully, the govt trains military officers from foreign armies - including the Indonesian special forces.



No-one goes away empty-handed. Two more:

Armed Forces Communication and Electronics Association (AFCEA) This one's already been driven out of Belgium, (" politically and ethically undesirable ' said their parliament) but is coming to the Renaissance Hotel near Heathrow airport, from October 27-29.

Soon after, the nortorious Contingency and Operational Procurement Exhibition (COPEX) takes place at Sandown Park Racecourse in Surrey, Novemeber 2-4.

Both these snappily-titled events provide plenty of opportunity to go play with the bastards.

Save UK Airsoft

(could use this to illustrate double standards maybe)

The VCR Bill: On the 8th June 2005 the government unveiled their Violent Crime Reduction Bill (VCR Bill) which if passed in its current form will prohibit by law the trade/sale/import and manufacture of anything that looks like a firearm in the UK. The sport and hobby that we all enjoy now lies in severe jeopardy.

The current proposal represents a bill that has had multiple topics thrown into it so as to bundle it through the Commons on the back of the popular topics that no one would dare contest.

Our premise is simple, tighter controls on Firearms are pointless, years of amendments to the Acts have left us with some of the tightest laws in the world in relation to guns of any form and gun related crime is still out of control according to the statistics that are peddled to push this bill through.

The bill fully demonstrates how the majority of this country's population have been made irrationally scared of anything gun shaped, with the popular media and the vast majority of politicians to blame for the current state of affairs. We now stand poised to ban anything and everything that looks like a gun in one final amendment to protect the population from their own phobias.

   The proposed VCR Bill actually encourages the use of real firearms in crimes and does nothing to address real firearm related crimes. The proposal that making it illegal for responsible people to own replicas will deter the criminal fraternity is pure nonsense.

This country needs effective laws and legislation that support our Police and allow them to be more effective in upholding order and combating antisocial criminal behaviour not more draconian laws.

The start - a unified UK Airsoft body ( In a direct response to the problems here's a new website up online called, where retailers and Airsoft companies have joined together in an effort to have the bill adjusted so that it is fairer to the people and minorities that it affects.

What you can do: The aim is simple, get as many people as possible involved and aware of the issue to contest the proposed legislation in its current form. The more individuals that contact their MPs to have their opinions heard the better.

   Players: You need to spread the word and help out as much as possible. Get hold of your friends and collegues and get them involved. If your local sites or retailers (this includes responsible stores that don't simply sell Airsoft) don't know about the proposed bill let them know, print material off and take posters down to them to stick up, give them useful website addresses. Every little helps.
   I strongly suggest that individuals that feel passionate about the situation make educated and worthwhile communications to their local MPs at, or direct to Downing Street You can also discuss the matter in our forums here.
   Collectors: As a collector you will be unable to bring anything that looks like a firearm into the country and will be barred from making future purchases and private sales.
   I strongly suggest that individuals that feel passionate about the situation make educated and worthwhile communications to their local MPs at, or direct to Downing Street You can also discuss the matter in our forums here.
   Sites: Please contact the folks at and get involved. Please distribute posters and materials at your games and put posters up. Please ensure at every event and game that everyone attending is made aware of the issues and that fact that what they currently enjoy is facing a ban right now. No one should be leaving the playing field at the end of the day and not be aware of the issue. You can also discuss the matter in our forums here.
   Retailers: Please contact the folks at and get involved. Please distribute printed material with your sales to educate your customers about the proposed bill. Please add posters where appropriate and hand out flyers so that walk in customers know of the issues that they now face as a law abiding citizen. You can also discuss the matter in our forums here.
   Members of the public (Non-Airsoft): The proposed bill actually encourages the use of real firearms in crimes and does nothing to address the issues it tries to address.
   Sports such as fencing, martial arts, competition shooting, target shooting, paintball and airsoft; hobbies such as historical re-enactment, model collectors, model makers, and museums; sporting stores, people’s past times, individual livelihoods and all relating industries will all be completely destroyed or severely curtailed if this new bill is passed in its current form, all under the false guise of “public safety”.
   I strongly suggest that individuals that feel passionate about the situation make educated and worthwhile communications to their local MPs at, or direct to Downing Street You can also discuss the matter in our forums here.

Posters: Here are some useful posters that you can freely distribute (SoS posters kindly produced by squarepusher). PDF of "future" poster available here.

September 11th - DSEi Weapons Dealers' Dinner

IMC UK | 11.09.2003 14:27 | DSEi 2003 | Anti-militarism | Globalisation | Technology | London The official week of events (6th-12th sept) against DSEi, Europe's largest arms fair had seen counter-conferences, vigils, film screenings, protests, direct action, and blockades all taking place - see the DSEi 2003 Special Section). Sept 11th was the penultimate day of the arms fair: Trafalgar Square became Red Square, as anti-arms trade campaigners filled its famous fountain with fake blood. See Photos and Report and Report Two, Sept 11th was also the auspicious date chosen for the DSEi / DMA Gala Dinner at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in central London. Arms dealers dined in luxury while around the world the dead were remembered (see Guardian article). Anti-Arms protestors and peace activists showed their disgust outside the hotel throughout the evening with a noise demonstration. Diners arriving were greeted with shouts of "How many children have you killed today?", while the surrounding streets were repeatedly blocked by cyclists and drummers. Hundreds of police, some in riot gear sealed the area off and were overly aggressive, injuring at least one person who needed hospitalisation (see witness appeal). There was strong support from passers by, while at least one person infiltrated the hotel dressed in a ball dress. Free food was given out as people stayed late into the night making as much noise as possible, banging pots and pans. After holding their arms fair gala dinner on September 11th, the world's arms industry left the Lancaster Hotel under heavy police guard. They were able to leave the area via Lancaster Gate Tube Station, which, closed to members of the public, was commandeered for arms dealer only transport.

Globalise Resistance DSEi 2003

STOP DSEi Compare the actions of the anti-DSEi campaign with that of two years ago. This time round it was lively, colourful, bigger, more diverse and more effective. The activists on the streets had the wishes of the majority of people with them and the impact was far bigger. [click images to enlarge]

Having heard reports of various actions leading up to the launch of the DSEi (blockading the arriving exhibits, an occupation of the government's Export Credit Guarantee Department and protests at the offices of various exhibiting corporations) I was eagerly anticipating the first big public demonstration, saturday's 'Unity March' in central London.

As we prepared to set off, it looked like we had a reasonable turn out - couple of hundred give or take. But lots more people suddenly arrived just at the last minute. Isn't it great when that happens. And the numbers just seemed to keep growing as the march progressed and we were joined by the green-clad Sheffield Samba Band. Protesters must have numbered about a thousand by the end of the march. For about an hour we walked, following Campaign Against the Arms Trade's enormous banner. Various orange flags proclaiming "Globalise Resistance" intermingled with green placards carried by environmental groups, red and black flags of the anarchist contigent and a myriad other factions united in their opposition to the macabre spectacle soon to begin inside the glitzy chambers of the ExCel Centre.

Over the next two days various meetings, talks and workshops including non-violent direct action training and legal briefings took place at the Disarm DSEi convergence centre. Activists went about their business undeterred by the intimidation tactics of a couple of white vans and their crew.

On Tuesday Morning Campaign Against the Arms Trade and Globalise Resistance led an assortment of peaceful protesters (including green groups, anarchists, samba bands, Stop The War Coalition, Revolution with their bright red flags... and many more) on a march to the ExCel centre. Colourful costumes, props, banners, placards and flags were plentiful. But most spectacular was GR's gigantic camoflage pink and orange battle tank complete with crossed out corporate logos and a corked gun barrel.

After a round of speeches, we were asked to disperse by the police. Having dispersed, many of the protesters met up later on at a nearby roundabout and were joined by a new crowd (including a large pink&silver bloc) for the "Fluffy DSEi" mass action. That afternoon, the area around the ExCel Centre was the scene of fluffy road blockades and frivolous games of cat & mouse with the police. The around 2000 officers drafted in for the Disarm DSEi protests really swelled the numbers. Protesters would not have been able to block nearly so many roads had it not been thanks to the ladies and gentlemen in blue

[click image to enlarge]

Wednesday got off to a late start and with smaller numbers but the blockaders were no less up for it. And somebody apparently took it upon themselves to join two trains together with a cyclist's D-lock thus causing major headaches for delegates on their way to the exhibition. The day was to culminate in a street party organised by Reclaim The Streets. This got off to a really good start, with a colourful sound system and many hundreds of people. When the police eventually managed to get a hold on the situation, they penned in around 200 of us and let us gradually disperse from a nearby park. Meanwhile, another succesful blockade was also being cordonned off by her majesty's constabulary at Canning Town roundabout.

The last action I attended was on Thursday evening. Encouraged to hear that somebody had again managed to stop the Docklands Light Railway trains around the ExCel Centre earlier in the day, I was eagerly awaiting the evening's demonstration. And it turned out to be a large one. Several streets were reclaimed with the help of a mini-critical mass and a soundsystem on wheels. Free veggie food was on offer and at the height of the event hundreds of colourful protesters were present. The soundsystem and a samba band made for a great atmosphere. As the evening drew on, the protesters gradually were replaced by large numbers from a familiar uniformed gang, including one fellow with a penchant for taking large numbers of photographs, using a camera with a very bright flash.

Although I wasn't present, I read on Indymedia ( that Friday's picnic for protesters who weren't exhausted or incarcerated had gone smoothly if not entirely to plan. Gategrashed by you can guess who, the party was apparently saved by a variety of fun (and rather surreal) games that involved behaving very strangely in ways that thoroughly confused the uninvited guests.

So... what a week. I was a little disappointed by the numbers. I had hoped that thousands would be present on the Tuesday and Wednesday. This was not the case (although there *were* people from all over the UK and in smaller numbers all over Europe). However, it was a long and sustained campaign. Protest AND direct action took place throughout the week (and the period leading up to it). Significant disruption was caused to the arms fair, the cost of policing the event was over £1 million and whilst obviously I wouldn't even dream of condoning anything illegal, I do think the government may think twice about hosting this kind of event in future.

[click image to enlarge]

Also, the campaign had great media coverage, with front page articles and pictures on the Guardian, the Evening Standard and the (local) Newnham Recorder plus commentary and letters in various papers and a fair amount of TV and radio news coverage. In the period leading up to the DSEi, the arms fair made the front page of the New Statesman and (partly thanks to Globalise Resistance) the hugely witty Mark Steel penned a couple of collumns in the Independent. Thus through the use of the media, the Disarm DSEi campaign has surely made an impact on public opinion with regards to arms fairs and the arms trade.

Now it's all over, it's onwards and upwards to S27 and the European Social Forum.

Hugh Jones

BIG NUMBERS: facts and figures:

World Military Spending

Global military expenditure and arms trade form the largest spending in the world at over $950 billion in annual expenditure, as noted by the prestigous Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SPIRI), for 2003. Furthermore:

   World military spending in 2003 increased by about 11 per cent in real terms. This is a remarkable rate of increase, even more so given that it was preceded by an increase of 6.5 per cent in 2002.
       * Over two years world military spending increased by 18 per cent in real terms, to reach $956 billion (in current dollars) in 2003.
       * High-income countries account for about 75 per cent of world military spending but only 16 per cent of world population.
       * The combined military spending of these countries was slightly higher than the aggregate foreign debt of all low-income countries and 10 times higher than their combined levels of official development assistance in 2001.
       * ... There is a large gap between what countries are prepared to allocate for military means to provide security and maintain their global and regional power status, on the one hand, and to alleviate poverty and promote economic development, on the other.
   The main reason for the increase in world military spending is the massive increase in the United States, which accounts for almost half of the world total.... In the absence of [appropriations for the new war on terror, and on Iraq], US military expenditure would still show a significant increase, but at a much slower rate, and world military spending would show a rise of 4 per cent rather than 11 per cent in 2003.
   ... While US military expenditure is set to continue to grow and will continue to propel world military spending, the pace is likely to fall back somewhat in the next few years. In the longer term it is doubtful whether current levels will be economically and politically sustainable.
   — Elisabeth Skons, Catalina Perdomo, Sam Perlo-Freeman and Petter Stalenheim,

U.S. Military Spending

The United States, being the most formidable military power, it is worth looking at their spending.

The U.S. military budget request for Fiscal Year 2006 is $441.6 billion. (This includes the Defence Department budget and funding for nuclear weapons activity of the Department of Energy Budget. It does not include other items such as money for the Afghan and Iraq wars ($49.1 billion for Fiscal Year 2006), or Homeland Security funding ($41.1 billion for Fiscal Year 2006), for example.)

   * For Fiscal Year 2005 it was $420.7 billion
   * For Fiscal Year 2004 it was $399.1 billion.
   * For Fiscal Year 2003 it was $396.1 billion.
   * For Fiscal Year 2002 it was $343.2 billion.
   * For Fiscal Year 2001 it was $305 billion. And Congress had increased that budget request to $310 billion.
   * This was up from approximately $288.8 billion, in 2000.

Compared to the rest of the world, these numbers are indeed staggering. In Context: U.S. Military Spending Versus Rest of the World

Consider the following:

The above sources compare the given fiscal year budget request with the latest figures for other countries, which are sometimes two years old. Still using those statistics for other countries, however, a comparison can be made here of the US Fiscal Year 2004 spending against other equivalent data:

   * The US military budget was almost as much as the rest of the world’s.
   * The US military budget was more than 6 times larger than the Russian budget, the second largest spender.
   * The US military budget was more than 30 times as large as the combined spending of the seven “rogue” states (Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria) who spent $13 billion.
   * It was more than the combined spending of the next fourteen nations.
   * The United States and its close allies accounted for some two thirds to three-quarters of all military spending, depending on who you count as close allies (typically NATO countries, Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan and South Korea)
   * The seven potential “enemies,” Russia, and China together spent $134.2 billion, 34% of the U.S. military budget.

Some of the above statistics come from organizations such as the Center for Defence

Military spending in 2004 ($ Billions, and percent of total) Country Dollars (billions) Percentage of total

Source: U.S. Military Spending vs. the World, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliefration, February 7, 2005


   * Figures are for latest year available, usually 2004. Expenditures are used in a few cases where official budgets are significantly lower than actual spending.
   * * 2003 Figure.
   * ** Joined NATO in March 2004.
   * Source uses FY 2006 for US figure. I have used 2004 to try and keep in line with other countries listed.
   * Due to rounding, some percentages may appear as zero.

If you are viewing this table on another site, please see for further details. United States 399.1 43% Russia* 65.2 7% China* 56 6% United Kingdom 49 5% Japan 45.1 5% France 40 4% Germany 29.7 3% Saudi Arabia 19.3 2% India 19.1 2% Italy 17.5 2% South Korea 16.4 2% Australia 11.7 1% Turkey* 11.7 1% Israel* 10.8 1% Canada 10.1 1% Spain* 9.9 1% Brazil 9.2 1% Netherlands 7.6 1% Taiwan 7.5 1% Greece* 7.2 1% Indonesia* 6.4 1% Sweden 5.9 1% North Korea* 5.5 1% Ukraine* 5.5 1% Singapore 5 1% Poland 4.4 0% Norway 4.2 0% Kuwait 4 0% Iran 3.5 0% Belgium 3.3 0% Pakistan 3.3 0% Colombia* 3.2 0% Portugal* 3.2 0% Vietnam 3.2 0% Denmark 2.9 0% Mexico 2.8 0% Egypt* 2.7 0% Czech Republic 1.9 0% Hungary 1.7 0% Syria 1.6 0% Argentina 1.6 0% Rumania** 1.5 0% Cuba* 1.2 0% Philippines 0.8 0% Libya* 0.7 0% Serbia-Montenegro 0.7 0% Slovakia** 0.7 0% Bulgaria** 0.6 0% Slovenia** 0.5 0% Sudan* 0.5 0% Lithuania** 0.3 0% Luxembourg 0.3 0% Estonia** 0.2 0% Latvia** 0.2 0%

Compare the military spending with the entire budget of the United Nations:

   The United Nations and all its agencies and funds spend about $10 billion each year, or about $1.70 for each of the world’s inhabitants. This is a very small sum compared to most government budgets and it is just a tiny fraction of the world’s military spending. Yet for over a decade, the UN has faced a debilitating financial crisis and it has been forced to cut back on important programs in all areas. Many member states have not paid their full dues and have cut their donations to the UN’s voluntary funds. As of December 31, 2004, members arrears to the Regular Budget topped $357 million, of which the United States alone owed $241 million (68% of the regular budget).
   — UN Financial Crisis, Global Policy Forum (as of December 2004)

The UN was created after World War II with leading efforts by the United States and key allies.

   * The UN was set up to be committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security.
   * Yet, the UN’s entire budget is just a tiny fraction of the world’s military expenditure, approximately 1.5%
   * While the UN is by no means perfect, and there are many, many issues to be addressed regarding the UN itself, that the world can spend so much on their military but contribute so little to the goals of global security, peace, international cooperation etc, is revealing.
   * For more info about the United Nations »
         o This web site’s section on the United Nations and Development looks at its role in fighting poverty and other issues, plus some of the problems it faces.
         o The United Nations web site is huge itself, with lots of sub-sites.

Generally, compared to Cold War levels, the amount of military spending and expenditure in most nations has been reduced. For example, global military spending declined from $1.2 trillion in 1985 to $809 billion in 1998, though in 2003 has risen to around $950 billion. The United States' spending, while reduced compared to the Cold War era, is still close to Cold War levels.

In 1997 alone, half of USA’s aid was related to military aid/trade — and most of that was to countries that are already wealthy, like Israel, or Turkey (which has often been one of the largest recipients of US military aid and has often been criticized for its human rights violations and crackdowns). Compare that to very poor countries like Sub-Saharan African nations that received very little aid.

During his 2000 election campaign, President George Bush had promised an an additional 45 billion dollars over nine years to the military budget. Yet, that increase was seen in just the Fiscal Year 2003 request alone. This large increase is attributed to the “War on Terror”.

Some regions around the world are also beginning to see an increase in spending. Especially in Asia.

For those hoping the world can decreaes its military spending, a research for SPIRI suggests that “while the invasion [of Iraq] may have served as warning to other states with weapons of mass destruction, it could have the reverse effect in that some states may see an increase in arsenals as the only way to prevent a forced regime change.”

In this new era, traditional military threats to the USA are fairly remote. All of their enemies, former enemies and even allies do not pose a military threat to the United States. For a while now, critics of large military spending have pointed out that most likely forms of threat to the United States would be through terrorist actions, rather than conventional warfare, and that the spending is still geared towards Cold War-type scenarios and other such conventional confrontations.

   [T]he lion’s share of this money is not spent by the Pentagon on protecting American citizens. It goes to supporting U.S. military activities, including interventions, throughout the world. Were this budget and the organization it finances called the “Military Department,” then attitudes might be quite different. Americans are willing to pay for defense, but they would probably be much less willing to spend billions of dollars if the money were labeled “Foreign Military Operations.”
   — The Billions For “Defense” Jeopardize Our Safety, Center For Defense Information, March 9, 2000

And, of course, this will come from American tax payer money. Many studies and polls show that military spending is one of the last things on the minds of American people.

Furthermore, “national defense” category of federal spending in 1997, for example, amounted to 51% of the United States discretionary budget (the money the President/Administration and Congress have direct control over, and must decide and act to spend each year. This is different to mandatory spending, the money that is spent in compliance with existing laws, such as social secuity benefits, medicare, paying the interest on the national debt and so on). This has been similar in recent years too. For example,

   * For 2003
         o The total budget request for discretionary spending was $767 billion, of which 51.6% was the military budget — $396 billion.
         o The next two largest items were education and health, getting $52bn and $49bn dollars, (6.8% and 6.4% of discretionary budget) respectively.
   * For 2004
         o It is similar to the previous year.
         o The total budget request for discretionary spending was $782 billion, 51% of which was the military budget — $399 billion.
         o The next two largest items were education and health, getting $55bn and $49bn (7% and 6.3% of discretionary budget) respectively.
   * For 2005
         o It is also similar to previous years.
         o The total budget request for discretionary spending was $820 billion, 51% of which was the military budget — $421 billion.
         o The next two largest items were education and health, getting $60bn and $51bn (7% and 6.2% of discretionary budget) respectively.
   * For 2006
         o It is also similar to previous years.
         o The total budget request for discretionary spending is $840.5 billion, 52% of which is the military budget — $438.8 billion.
         o The next two largest items are education and health, getting $58.4bn and $51bn (6.9% and 6.1% of discretionary budget) respectively.

For facts, statistics, research and news on US military spending, also visit the Center for Defense Information (CDI) web site. They have a section on US Military Spending.

But it is not just the U.S. military spending. In fact, as Jan Oberg argues, westerm militarism often overlaps with civilian functions affecting attitudes to militarism in general. As a result, when revelations come out that some Western militaries may have trained dictators and human rights violators, the justification given may be surprising, which we look at in the next page. Next/Previous Page Navigation

Arms Trade -- a major cause of suffering Author and Page information

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   * by Anup Shah
   * This Page Last Updated Wednesday, June 16, 2004
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   Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children... This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
   -- Former U.S. President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, in a speech on April 16, 1953

The arms trade is a major cause of human rights abuses. Some governments spend more on military expenditure than on social development, communications infrastructure and health combined. While every nation has the right and the need to ensure its security, in these changing times, arms requirements and procurements may need to change too. The Arms Trade is Big Business

   * Global military expenditure and arms trade is also the largest spending in the world at 900 billion dollars, annually.
   * As world trade globalizes, so does the trade in arms. In order to make up for lack of domestic sales, newer markets must be created.
   * USA, Russia, France and Britain do the largest businesses of arms trade in the world. Sometimes, these arms sales are made secretly and sometimes knowingly to human rights violators, military dictatorships and corrupt governments. This does not promote democracy in those nations.
   * Find out more.

High Military Expenditure in Some Places

   * Levels of military spending around the world has been drastically reduced compared to Cold War levels. Apart from the United States, which, while reduced, is still close to Cold War levels.
   * On military in general, the USA alone spends around $400 billion, annually.
   * This is almost as much as the rest of the world.
   * It is more than the rest of the G7 countries (most economically advanced counties), combined
   * It also spends more than its enemies combined.
   * In 1997 alone, half of USA's aid was related to military aid/trade.
   * Find out more.

Training Human Rights Violators

   * A US military training school, the School of the Americas, has trained many of the worst human rights violators and dictators in various Latin American countries.
   * Some of the worst dictators and human rights abusers in the developing world have passed through the school's doors, including people like Roberto D'Aubisson from El Salvador and Manuel Noriega of Panama.
   * The US Army maintain that the school was set up to preserve democracy.
   * Find out more.

Military Propaganda for Arms Sales

   * Arms contractors and maintain that arms sales are essential to foster good relations and also create more jobs at home.
         o Arms companies selling to one country will often demonize their neighbors. Those countries are then demonized to us so we purchase more. That does not foster good relations.
         o Often, to secure a sale, the manufacture of the arms also goes to the target nation. Therefore, jobs are created, but not at home.
   * Propaganda comes in various forms, often via manipulative advertising campaigns.
   * Arms corporations benefit from alliances like NATO and conflicts such as Kosovo, where opportunity for sales increases.
   * Find out more.

Small Arms -- they cause 90% of civilian casualties

   * The growing availability of small arms has been a major factor in the increase in the number of conflicts.
   * In modern conflicts over 80 percent of all casualties have been civilian. 90 percent of these are caused by small arms.
   * Find out more.


   * Civilians are the main landmine casualties.
   * President Clinton, in 1994, was the first leader to call for an international ban on anti-personnel landmines. Yet in 1997 when they all met in Ottawa, Canada, to sign a treaty to ban the use, the USA weren't there. They still refuse to sign.
   * Some signatories also continue to use landmines.
   * Find out more.

A Code of Conduct for Arms Sales

   * The European Union has tried to take a responsible step in introducing a Code of Conduct in the sales of arms.
   * Though this does not mean that their arms sales are not fraught with problems.
   * Find out more.

Military Propaganda for Arms Sales Author and Page information

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   * by Anup Shah
   * This Page Last Updated Saturday, June 21, 2003
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In quoting a major international body, six basic points harshly criticizing the practices and impacts of the arms industry are listed below, by J.W. Smith:

      1. That the armament firms have been active in fomenting war scares are in persuading their countries to adopt their countries to adopt warlike policies and to increase their armaments.
      2. That armament firms have attempted to bribe government officials, both at home and abroad.
      3. That armament firms have disseminated false reports concerning the military and naval programs of various countries, in order to stimulate armament expenditure.
      4. That armament firms have sought to influence public opinion through the control of newspapers in their own and foreign countries.
      5. That armament firms have organized international armament rings through which the armament race has been accentuated by playing off one country against another.
      6. That armament firms have organized international armament trusts which have increased the price of armaments sold to governments.
   — J.W. Smith, The World's Wasted Wealth II, (Institute for Economic Democracy, 1994), p. 224

But, this was not of the arms industry of today. Smith was quoting the League of Nations after World War I, when "Stung by the horrors of World War I, world leaders realized that arms merchants had a hand in creating both the climate of fear and the resulting disaster itself." But it sounds familiar, right? It summarizes quite well the problems of today as well. Justification for arms and creating the market for arms expenditure is not a new concept. The call to war and fear-mongering is an old tradition.

During the Cold War for example:

   President Eisenhower, in his final address to the nation before leaving office in 1961, issues a rather extraordinary warning to the American people that the country "must guard against unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."
   — David McGowan, Derailing Democracy, (Common Courage Press, 2000), p.1

In recent times, the global security has drastically changed. Yet military policies have remained somewhat unchanged, while the justification for such large expenditures continues to improve in sophistication.

Military propaganda is a common theme stereotyped in the developing nations that are undergoing some sort of conflict such as civil wars or border disputes, for example. However, in the developed countries, (the majority of weapons, large and small are created in the industrialized nations) there are also more subtle ways of ensuring that your view points are widely agreed upon, such as military contractors supporting commercials, journalists and even pouring tax payer's money heavily into Hollywood.

As a Foreign Policy in Focus paper, titled "Military Industrial Complex Revisited - How Weapons Makers are Shaping U.S. Foreign and Military Policies" by William D. Hartung shows, in the USA for example, the most powerful nation, the large weapons producers have a lot of influence over Washington and have helped maintain the amazingly large military budget of approximately $300 billion dollars in post-Cold War periods. Table of contents for this page

This web page has the following sub-sections:

   * "Jobs and Good Relations are Formed with Arms Sales"
   * Propaganda Techniques
   * Benefits from Arms Sales

"Jobs and Good Relations are Formed with Arms Sales"

Many arms contractors maintain that arms sales are essential to foster good relations and also create more jobs at home.

   * Yet, when new weapons development is funded the rationale used is that it is because so many countries have sophisticated weapons.
   * These weapons are often the very same ones that these manufacturers have also sold around the world.
   * It makes a nice circular argument to continue the development and manufacture of newer and more advanced weapons.
   * Demonizing countries that you sell arms to so you can sell more to others is not going to foster good relations.

When sales are made there are often other economic incentives provided to ensure the sale.

   * For example, in some cases manufacturing operations required for the weapons are moved abroad.
   * Manufacturers often make the point that sales will help create jobs.
   * Obviously in these cases it does, but not in the home nation as they make it out to be.

In addition, as Federation of American Scientists also point out, the argument about providing jobs can be countered by noting that the money on subsidies could be spent productively in more useful and productive industries: "When assessing the employment 'benefits' of arms exportation we must take into consideration the $7 billion plus in subsidies that underwrite the arms trade. The same investment in any other industry would create as much -if not more- employment. By moving productions jobs overseas, offsets also undercut the jobs argument." Propaganda Techniques

The Center for Defense Information have a produced a show called "Marketing Tomorrow's Weapons". It makes a number of important observations:

   * Major defense contractors own CBS and NBC, two of the largest US television networks.
   * A Lockheed advertisement actually claimed that "the perception of peace means less jobs for Americans". And yet, for example, Turkey builds all F16s, not Americans.
   * An ad even claimed that the F22 was an anti-war plane!
   * Many advertisements emphasized that a better fighter plane would ensure loved ones can come back home.
   * Arms contractors contributed at least 12 million dollars to Congress who actually vote on how much to spend on major weapon systems.
   * The ads and propaganda are about minimizing casualties to make us believe that in future wars no one will be killed. [In the Gulf War in 1991, a huge number of Iraqi's were killed, civilian and military. All we heard in the media was only the Allies' side and how the number of casualties was ever so small. There was nothing about the large number of Iraqi casualties -- military and civilian -- which resulted from the Allied bombing. And even if there was a mention in mainstream media, it was very distorted. For more about some of the recent issues concerning Iraq, go to this web site's look at the Iraq Crisis.]
   * Amazing, breath-taking air shows leave us in awe at the wonderful technology - almost making us forget the purpose of such aircraft.
   * Boeing and Lockheed are major advertisers and contractors.
   * Some contractors even sponsor NBA events, while the US Army co-sponsored the 1998 Soccer World Cup!
   * Recruitment ads show us the "brotherhood of man" using "emotional manipulation" making us forget that the military is about killing people.
   * Students as young as eight years of age were asked what it would be like to fly an F22 and what it means for the protection of the country (USA) and economy (of USA).
   * The F22 is all paid for by the US taxpayer - with no enemies in sight.
   * The documentary claimed that the only way to get public debate on this matter was to reduce the amount of money that the Pentagon gets. However, the propaganda ensures that this will not happen.
   Naturally the common people don't want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. ... Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
   — General Herman Goering, President of German Reichstag and Nazi Party, Commander of Luftwaffe during World War II, April 18, 1946. (This quote is said to have been made during the Nuremburg Trials, but in fact, while during the time of the trials, was made in private to an Allied intelligence officer, later published in the book, Nuremburg Diary.)

Benefits from Arms Sales

Arms contractors have a vested interest in expansion of military alliances, such as NATO, and also in many wars and conflicts that these alliances or member nations may be in, as this increases their likelihood of profitable sales (with the additional message of therefore bringing more jobs home, which of course is not always the case, as mentioned above). An example of this can be seen with the arms sales for the military operations during the Kosovo Crisis. (See also the last section of this brief from the Institute for Public Accuracy.)

On April 28, 2002, the UK's BBC broadcast a documentary called "Addicted to Arms" describing the British arms trade, as Britain is the second largest military and arms exporter after the United States. Amongst various points and implications made were the following:

   * Various elected officials, from the Prime Minister down in effect act as salesmen for the arms industry.
   * The British Defence Manufacturers Association, in a similar manner to the documentary described above, produce promotional videos that of course would not show the gory details of the impacts their products have. They admittedly also call their exports 'defence' exports rather than, say, arms exports so as to not conjure up too negative an image.
   * Regardless of the British political party in power, their arms policies have been the same. Before Labour came into power, Tony Blair criticized the Conservatives for their additiction to the destructive arms trade, and yet, now that Tony Blair is in power, his actions suggest that he and members of his government too are "addicted".
   * When Blair's then Foreign Secratary Robin Cook talked about ethical foreign policies, they were selling to Indonesia, who were using it to violently crack down on the East Timorese (in what some would describe as genocide or ethnic cleansing. See the East Timor section on this site for more about Britain's support of Indonesia.)
   * In talking to a professor on the impacts of addiction to anything, from drugs, to selling arms, similar patterns of denial, grandioseness, etc, were seen. Hence, exporting arms was seen (or portrayed) as promoting peace and democracy. When India and Pakistan were fighting over Kashmir, Blair spoke of exerting a "calming influence". Yet, just a little while after such speaches, he and the British military industrial complex were attempting to sell a lot of weapons to India.
   * While Britain has an arms export licensing report, it only says how many exports are granted, but not how much, to whom and when, for example. Even government officials can't find out about details of arms sales.
   * Furthermore, nobody has formal responsibility for monitoring the use of British arms exports. Unaccountability of use as well as of sales results.
   * The British military industry gets a welfare service by being able to have government officials involved in selling arms (at taxpayers expense). It is of more concern then that details are hard to get hold of.
   * Various spokespeople from the military industry said that the ethical dimensions and things like corporate responsibility was not in the domain of corporations, but of the government. That is, it is for the government to lay down the guidelines about ethical dimensions of arms sales and exports. For corporations they are just to make money. This may sound reasonable from a business perspective, but then lobbying and other political activities by the military industrial complex is even more questionable. There is also the argument given that the military industry provides jobs.
   * A professor of economics pointed out that many arms sales are unjustified on the grounds of economics. That is, the number of jobs supported by the industry is not that large, and that given the changing nature of the economy, the impact in the reduction of military spending would not adversely affect the economy and jobs. This was a report commissioned by the government's Ministry of Defence and titled "Economic costs of the benefits of the UK Defence Exports". Yet, the investigating reporter on the documentary tried to obtain a copy which he said had been basically "buried".

The above examples are from the U.S. and U.K., but most if not all arms exporting nations justify and promote this trade in such ways. The geopolitical and economic costs involved are enormous, and there is therefore vested political interest in arms trading. Justifications and rationalizations to the populace will therefore be attempted in order to create a sense of legitimacy and ethical need. In that Orwellian sense, war is peace, and peace is war.

Propaganda like this is irresponsible as it involves many industries, influential politics and power play all working to making the people of a nation believe that a threat on home soil is more real that it really is. It can then be used to have the public demand or agree (or at least not effectively oppose) an increase in military spending and budgets (which we pay for in the form of taxes) while more important issues get neglected or less attention, such as health and education.

   Perhaps, while protection of jobs in the defence exports industry can be used to justify sales more than the commissions made from the sales can, it is the latter which seems to be the greatest motivator.
   ...Fuelled by these commissions - often a euphemism for bribes - the arms export industry seems to have done very little for Britain's exports and has caused much subsequent trouble and pain.
   — Arming The World, BBC News, 6 June 2002

The eventual people who profit from this "increased security" is not the general public, but often the corporations who wish to make increasing sales, the arms dealers who earn large commissions and the governments of the powerful nations who can continue their geopolitical jostling for power, dominance and influence over poorer nations. As mentioned on the big business page and above, even top goverment officials, such as UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Foreign Secratary Jack Straw, have acted as salesmen to sell arms and win contracts overseas. The catch 22 often presented is that if they don't do it, someone else will.

This catch 22, and some of the aspects of corruption described above were also noted by an investigation by the British newspaper, The Guardian. On June 13, 2003, they produced a report showing that British state corruption for arms sales went back some 40 years. Bribery had been long promoted as a means to get business. The article is quoted at length here:

   The then Labour defence secretary, Denis Healey, hired a tough businessman, Sir Donald Stokes, to tell him how to compete with the Americans on arms sales. But civil servants were dismayed by what Sir Donald then advised. As Healey's top official, Sir Henry Hardman, noted in July 1965: "Sir Donald Stokes had indicated that it was often necessary to offer bribes to make sales."
   Behind the shroud of Whitehall secrecy, Stokes went on to spell out with brutal clarity how arms sales actually worked. "The commercial technique was to gather intelligence on the right people who con trolled sales and purchases (these were by no means the top people in governments and organisations).
   "When the right person was found effort would be concentrated on him and in time a sale would be effected. Sir Donald stressed that a great many arms sales were made not because anyone wanted the arms, but because of the commission involved en route."
   He recommended importing a businessman who could disregard Whitehall ethics. He wrote: "It may well be necessary to provide other financial aids and incentives for certain possible eventualities... It must be recognised that certain business is obtained in unorthodox ways... Our competitors in this field are determined and ruthless. We must be even more so."
   ... One solution [to the problem of how to provide for the bribery from moneys voted by Parliament], Stokes suggested, was for the government to work hand in glove with local "fixers", who could dish out the more hefty bribes: "Good commercial agents... are better placed than an official to dispense the less orthodox inducements".
   The whole business would be kept dark, behind the screen of the [UK's] Official Secrets Act.
   ... Only after the September 11 terrorist attacks did British ministers bow to passionate US pressure to stop all forms of money laundering which might fund terrorism.
   The emergency law then passed contains a section outlawing corrupt payments to foreign public officials. Yet, as we revealed yesterday, the MoD now faces renewed allegations from the US that bribery has continued on BAE's would-be Czech Gripen deal.
   — Rob Evans, Ian Traynor, Luke Harding, Rory Carroll, Web of state corruption dates back 40 years, The Guardian, June 13, 2003

(For more about the media side of this issue, see also this web site's section on the media, war and propaganda.) Next/Previous Page Navigation

CAAT on the arms trade


Tens of millions of people have been killed in wars since 1945. By the end of the 1990s nearly 90% of war-victims were non-combatants and at least half of these were children. The arms trade fuels these wars, wasting life, natural resources and vast sums of money. Despite this, the UK government uses military exports as a tool of foreign policy and places this policy above both human and economic costs.

Because of the money involved and the arms industry's close links to the political and military establishment, the arms traders are highly influential. They will not be stopped immediately, but there are a number of key areas where focused campaigns could begin to move the government from a policy of vigorous promotion of arms exports to one of reducing and eventually ending them:

   * the UK government must tighten its export controls and keep to those guidelines already in place
   * the secrecy surrounding arms deals needs to be removed
   * the subsidising of UK arms export companies must end. 


Anyone wishing to export military goods needs to obtain an export licence from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The Ministry of Defence (MoD), Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Department for International Development (DfID) are each consulted before a licence is granted. The government claims to have a responsible policy on military exports, and to take human rights concerns into account. In practice, however, successive governments have failed to close the loopholes in arms export laws and have even failed to abide by their own guidelines. The decision-making process is weighted heavily in favour of the arms dealers and, time and time again, concerns of human rights are overridden in the interest of exports.

Some of the most effective examination of the government's arms licensing has been by the parliamentary Quadripartite Committee, comprised of backbench MPs. If information on controversial arms deals becomes public (either inadvertently or through government announcements or reports), the committee is then in a position to be able to question ministers to try to establish why licences were granted. The Committee has been scathing over a number of licences, not least regarding Hawk jet spares to Zimbabwe.

The UK government has signed up to three sets of internationally agreed criteria for arms exports - the European Union's Code of Conduct, guidelines agreed by the Permanent Five of the UN Security Council and principles set out by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. These criteria require them to consider the human rights record of the purchasing government, the consequences of arms exports on existing armed conflict, and the technical and economic capacity of the recipient.

Export controls - human rights

The UK government continues to allow the export of military equipment to many countries with records of sustained human rights abuses, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Indonesia and China. Indonesia's military, for example, has an appalling human rights record and continues to wield considerable power. The UK government argues that it has received assurances from the Indonesian army that equipment will not be used for internal repression. It chooses to believe this despite the military's record and evidence of previous use of that, or similar, equipment.

As well as the physical 'benefit' of equipment which is used directly in repression, all arms sales give moral support and credibility to the recipient. They undermine local attempts at controlling the military, or moderating the excesses of autocratic regimes.

Export controls - fueling conflict

Many of the UK's arms customers are situated in areas of actual or potential conflict. The 2000 Annual Report 1 lists exports to Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Angola, Algeria and Colombia. Where more than one country is involved, the UK is commonly willing to sell to both, or all, sides. The above report lists exports to India and Pakistan, China and Taiwan, Turkey and Greece, Israel and many of its Middle East neighbours, and Uganda, Angola and Zimbabwe during their involvement in the Democratic Republic of Congo conflict.

Supplying arms to the Middle East is a UK speciality. The Al Yamamah contract with Saudi Arabia was the UK's biggest export ever order. Supplying huge quantities of the latest weaponry to such a heavily armed region raises tensions not only in the Middle East but globally, as the region is of key strategic importance.

Export controls - development

Countries with massive development needs, such as India and South Africa, are among the UK's most lucrative customers for military equipment. The government's support for arms sales encourages such countries to waste money - money that could be spent to meet people's basic health and education needs.

Presently DfID can refuse a licence on the basis of the impact of a given deal on development, but cannot consider the cumulative impact of many deals. Its role in the licensing process is rendered almost meaningless by this restriction.

CAAT is calling for:

   * an immediate ban on the supply of military, paramilitary and police equipment to governments with records of sustained human rights abuse or which are involved in armed conflict. In addition, training of military, security and police personnel from these countries should be ended
   * the cumulative effect of arms deals on development should be taken into account when arms export applications are considered. 

The Arms Industry

Military industry has changed radically since the end of the Cold War. The main companies have become fewer and larger, and 'globalized' production has meant that few weapons systems are now produced on a purely national basis.2 The involvement of overseas subsidiaries and sub-contractors allows savings in production costs and also, crucially, access to additional markets.

The trend to fewer, larger companies is evident in the omissions from the below table: Vickers has been acquired by Rolls-Royce, Racal by Thales (of France) and the military work of GEC (now Marconi) has been acquired by BAE Systems.

UK companies with the greatest sales of military equipment.3



Military Sales US $m

Military Sales as % of Total Sales

World Rank 2000

BAE Systems

Aircraft, Artillery, Communications, Electronics, IT, Missiles, Naval vessels, Ordnance, Professional services, Space systems, Systems integration




Rolls Royce

Armoured vehicles, Engines




Smiths Industries






Armoured vehicles, Helicopters





IT, Communications




Hunting Defence**

Electronics, Missiles, Ordnance, Professional services, Space systems





Aircraft, Communications,Electronics, Helicopters




Vosper Thornycroft

Navel vessels, Systems integration





Armoured vehicles




  • BAE Systems is now the worlds largest arms company following purchases from Lockheed Martin
    • During 2001 Hunting divested of it's military involvement to INSYS


Licence information

In the UK, successive governments have claimed to exercise responsible control over military exports but, usually for reasons of 'commercial confidentiality', few specifics are known about what is sold to whom.

The news is not all bad. Labour delivered on its 1997 election manifesto pledge to produce an annual report 1 on arms sales. As a result, there is now significantly more information available regarding past arms deals. However, once equipment has gone overseas, it has gone. Knowledge of requested licences is needed in advance for any confidence that national and international guidelines are being adhered to.

A register of licence applications would meet this need, allowing the public and MPs the chance for debate before the equipment is exported. There is some hope of progress on this as the parliamentary 'Quadripartite Committee' is pressing to be allowed to comment (though confidentially) on some export licence applications before decisions are taken. Similar scrutiny already occurs in the US and Sweden.

Investigating corruption

Another aspect of secrecy is the government's unwillingness to investigate allegations of corruption. The size and secrecy surrounding arms deals make them particularly prone to corruption, and commissions, or bribes in normal parlance, paid to middlemen are reputed to account for around 10% of the value of many deals. While there have been many allegations of dubious practices by UK arms companies, they have rarely been investigated. One of the few such investigations was carried out by the National Audit Office (NAO) regarding the massive Al Yamamah deal with Saudi Arabia. However, the parliamentary committee responsible decided not to publish the findings, despite the fact that most of its members were not even allowed to read it! It is one of only a handful of NAO reports not to be published.

UN Register

In terms of international openness, a step forward was taken in December 1991 when the United Nations' General Assembly voted to establish a Register of Conventional Arms. Governments are invited to inform the Secretary-General about their arms exports and imports, military holdings and national arms production for specified major weapons systems. It does not cover small arms and light weapons. The register is published annually, but covers only equipment which has already been exported. Unfortunately, it is voluntary and has not been developed in the decade following its setting up.

CAAT is calling for:

   * a register of all applications for UK arms export licences to be available for public inspection to enable comment and, if appropriate, parliamentary debate before a licence is granted
   * the publication of the Al Yamamah NAO report
   * a broadening and strengthening of the UN Register
   * the UK not to export arms to countries which fail to make a return to the UN Register. 

UK Export Subsidies (from 'The Subsidy Trap' by ORG & Saferworld6)



Net subsidy in £m


Cost of supporting military exports by accepting risk



DESO net operating cost



Use of MoD personnel to promote sales



Support by embassy staff and offices



Defence attaches



Official visits


Inland Revenue

Tax breaks on bribes and other corrupt practices



Direct distortion of procurement choices**



TOTAL net subsidy for military exports


  • HMG - Her Majesty's Government **'Direct distortion of procurement choices' - where the choice of equipment purchased for the UK armed forces is influenced by the desire to promote exports.


For decades the UK government has had a policy of promoting arms exports. It neither leaves the process to the arms companies, nor waits for buyer countries to approach it. It actively goes out to sell arms and provides military industry with support well beyond that which civil industry could hope for.

As a result, UK companies arm repressive regimes and fuel regions of conflict around the world, and UK taxpayers help pick up the tab.

Government support takes many forms including the expense of running the Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO), the cost of Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) cover for arms sales, proportions of the cost of Defence Attaches, embassies, official government and royal visits, and the subsidy for military research and development.

A recent analysis of the cost of each element of support has been provided by the Oxford Research Group (ORG) and Saferworld 6 , and their summary table is shown above. (The table does not include Research ∓ Development, though it is considered separately - see 'R&D' section below.)

Defence Export Services Organisation

DESO co-ordinates most of the direct government support for arms exports, providing marketing assistance and military advice to exporters, as well as organising arms exhibitions and promotional tours. It has over 600 civilian and military employees in London and offices overseas. Heads of DESO, past and present, come from major military exporters, effectively giving the arms manufacturers a voice in government.

Export Credits Guarantee Department

The ECGD, part of the Department of Trade and Industry, provides insurance cover for UK exporters and interest rate subsidies for purchasers of UK exports. It disproportionately supports military exports, giving around 25% of ECGD cover to the sector despite comprising only 2-3% of total UK exports. Without these watertight government guarantees and financial support, it is likely that many arms sales to high-risk countries would not go ahead.

A Vital UK Sector?

0.3 %

Arms export jobs as a percentage of total employment

3 %

Arms as a percentage of total exports

25 %

ECGD support given to arms exports

55 %

Government research expenditure spent on arms

Research & Development

In addition to disproportionate help promoting and selling military equipment, the government spends over half of its total R&D budget on the military and military industry. It assists through both internal government research and also directly financing the R&D of military contractors. In 1999/2000, the MoD's R&D expenditure amounted to £2,513m.7

Clearly, a significant proportion of this supports arms exports. The government recognises as much by placing a 'Commercial Export Levy' on exports in an effort to recoup R&D costs. However, the amount received is a small percentage of that which is appropriate. The difference, according to the ORG/ Saferworld report, is up to £570m.

CAAT is calling for:

   * the closure of DESO
   * the end of all ECGD support for military equipment
   * government R&D spending to be moved away from the military and towards the civil sector 


The effect of the above subsidies is to undermine the received wisdom - presented to us by the politicians, the media and, unsurprisingly, the arms industry - that the arms trade is vital to the UK economy. The extravagant support of arms exports using public money means that other, non-military, sectors are deprived of support, even if they are more productive and may create more employment. The production of transport equipment and alternative energy systems are prime examples of areas requiring investment. These are also likely to utilise a similar skill base to that of military industry.

According to government figures, there are approximately 90,000 UK jobs dependent on arms exports. This amounts to around 0.3% of total UK employment and 2% of manufacturing employment 8 . If the subsidy discussed earlier is averaged over the 90,000 jobs, it leads to a subsidy of £4,600 per export job. If the R&D subsidy is included, the amount would rise to £11,000 per job, per year.

CAAT has long been calling for the creation of a national diversification agency that can begin to develop and implement an imaginative economic programme to reorientate the military element of the UK economy towards civil production. The UK government created a Defence Diversification Agency (DDA) in 1998 but, despite its name, it does not meet this need. Its emphasis is on support for military industry rather than moving towards a civil economy, reflected in the placing of the DDA within the MoD.

CAAT is calling for:

   * the DDA to be relocated from the MoD to the Department of Trade and Industry.

Sweeteners for Arms Sales

The 'hard sell' of arms predictably involves a wide range of sweeteners. In addition to illegal commissions, there are substantial, completely legal 'offsets'. This term covers a multitude of economic sins whereby the selling country or company promises to compensate the buyer. This compensation is often worth as much as the full cost of the equipment purchased.

Common offsets include: investment in the buyer country's companies (military or civil); the purchase of produce from the buyer country (frozen chickens have been used as part payment for fighter aircraft); setting up production lines in the buyer country; and sourcing components from the buyer country.


1. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 'Strategic Export Controls Annual Report 2000', The Stationery Office, 2001 2. Wrigley, Christopher, 'The Arms Industry', CAAT, March 2001 3. Defense News 30 July - 5 August 2001 4. The Economist, 2 December 2000 5. Grimmett, Richard, 'Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1993-2000', CRS Report for Congress, 16 August 2001 6. Oxford Research Group & Saferworld, 'The Subsidy Trap', July 2001 7. Ministry of Defence, 'UK Defence Statistics 2001', The Stationery Office, 2001 8. National Statistics, 'Labour Market Statistics, August 2000'.

some sales figures

{This should be a table of facts and figures but need reformating}

Year Identified deliveries Estimated additional deliveries (1) Total UK arms exports

2003 £992m £3,256m £4,248m

2002 £942m £3,178m £4,210m

2001 £1,533m £2,683m £4,216m

2000 £1,721m £2,685m £4,406m

1999 £980m £3,270m £4,250m

1998 £1,968m £4,062m £6,030m

1995 £2,076m £2,647m £4,723m

1990 £1,980m £2,487m £4,467m

Source: The MoD's 'UK Defence Statistics 2004'. Note 1: 'Estimated additional deliveries' refers to aerospace equipment that has not been included in 'identified deliveries' due to ambiguity within the official commodity classifications. The data is provided by the Society for British Aerospace Companies.

list of countries

The list of countries invited to DSEi 03 by MOD is as follows, with countries that have declined marked in orange with an asterisk, and with countries that did not attend marked in purple with an two asterisks: Algeria Hungary* Portugal Australia India Qatar Austria Ireland (Republic of) Romania Bahrain Italy Russia* Belgium Japan Saudi Arabia Botswana Jordan Singapore Brazil Kazakhstan Slovakia Brunei Kenya Slovenia Bulgaria Korea (Republic of) South Africa Canada Kuwait Spain Chile Malaysia Sweden Colombia Mexico* Switzerland** PRC (China) Netherlands Syria* Czech Republic New Zealand* Thailand Denmark Nigeria Trinidad & Tobago Egypt Norway Turkey Finland Oman UAE France Pakistan USA Germany Peru Venezuela Ghana Philippines Vietnam Greece Poland*

Samba clergyman has arms protest case dismissed -Dec 9, 2003

{use this story somehow for it's great quotes}

Deacon Dave Havard has had his case dismissed, following his arrest during protests against the commercial arms trade at the DSEi Arms Fair in September.

He was in London playing with the Sheffield Samba Band when arrested and charged with Obstruction of the Highway. The case was dismissed after the arresting police officers failed to appear in court.

Deacon Dave, 47, father of 3, has been a member of the clergy in the Church of England for 19 years, working on peace and justice issues. He currently attends St. Mary’s Church, Bramall Lane in Sheffield.

156 peace activists were arrested at DSEi this year. 3,000 police were brought in to prevent peaceful protest at a cost of over £2 million.

Leaked documents revealed that the Metropolitan Police were aware that at least 300 exhibitors did not have valid licenses to trade arms in this country and so were committing a criminal offence. It is alleged that The Home office advised the police not to pursue prosecutions as this would embarrass the government who organised and helped to fund DSEi.

At DSEi in 1999 an independent journalist revealed that land mines were being advertised and offered for sale, despite being a banned and illegal weapon in the UK.

Saddam Hussein also received many of his weapons from the US and Britain through arms sales made at DSEi in previous years.

Britain is one of the leading weapons exporters in the world selling weapons and torture equipment to Saudi Arabia, Philippines, Turkey and Israel, countries with appalling human rights records and even to some countries that the US deems too brutal to support.

Following his court appearance Deacon Dave said, “ It is a relief to have charges dropped but it is outrageous that they were brought in the first place. Why should British taxpayers be funding a weapon’s fair to sell weapons which the vast majority of citizens believe are immoral and should be banned altogether?"

"Why should our government be supporting brutal regimes and sowing the seeds for future conflicts and terrorism? Why are the Metropolitan police being employed to defend criminals and murderers and harass peaceful protestors?"

Laws used to silence protests

shit article by Guy Taylor, Globalise Resistance

There have been two disturbing cases in recent years of counter-terrorism powers being used to clamp down on peaceful and legitimate protests.

In March 2003 the police stopped several coachloads of protesters from travelling to the US airbase at Fairford in Oxfordshire, citing anti-terrorism powers as their justification.

At the September 2003 protests against DSEI arms fair in east London there were 144 arrests, at least two of them under the Terrorism Act 2000.

Police are planning to impose an exclusion zone around ExCeL centre for DSEI 2005, which takes place on 13-16 September. This will prevent any kind of effective protest there.

not sure where this came from

What do the following individuals have in common? The Secretary of State for Defence, the Minister for Defence Procurement and the Chief of Defence Procurement. The answer is that as well as being the key decision makers in the defence procurement business, they are all going to be at DSEi 9-12 September. DSEi (Defence Systems and Equipment International) is now one of the largest tri-Service defence events in the world and 35% larger than the last exhibition in 2001 with over 950 exhibitors. DSEi now fully incorporates aerospace, acts as a showcase for the major players, caters for smaller companies looking to find a rung in the supply chain ladder and will attract the people who matter in the industry, looking at the latest technology the world has to offer. DSEi is the only exhibition organised in association with the UK MoD, specifically the Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO). In the late 1990s the decision was made to amalgamate previous shows RNBAEE, BSI and IMDEX into one exhibition, thereby reducing the overall number of shows in the defence calendar.In 1999 the show was newly branded as DSEi and began to encompass larger international participation.

Held over four business days to make the best use of exhibitors’ and visitors’ time, DSEi combines exhibits and displays,equipment demonstrations, and warship visits and conferences. The world’s defence suppliers and their customers meet at DSEi to discuss and conduct business at the ExCeL centre in Docklands, London; and again, in 2003, many exhibitors are planning the launch of new systems and equipment as well as the announcement of significant orders, alliances and joint ventures.

Expotel is the official hotel and travel agency for DSEi 2003

Tel: 020 7372 2001 Fax: 020 7624 4847 Email: Website:

to flog off lethal arms, bombs and other weapons to buyers from all over the world.

Some of these weapons will be supplied to some of the worst regions of conflict in the world. In the past, countries invited in the arms fair have included some with the worst records of human rights violations: Indonesia (1999), Colombia (2001) and Saudi Arabia (three times running).

By inviting human rights abusing states to DSEI, our government is giving these countries the moral and political support they need to buy arms.

The event takes place behind security fences and police lines. The public are not invited.

Protesting at the DSEI death dealers' fair

Today protestors again converged on the DSEI death dealers' fair for a full day of actions against the terrorists and suppliers of terrorists exhibiting their twisted wares there.

Arriving at about 11.30 at Canning Town Underground/DLR station, where according to the DSEI and Wombles websites those attempting to blockade the "fair" were to meet from 11, our small group of anarchists (from various parts of the UK) had a rendez-vous with other small groups and decided to try to get to the Excel Centre itself as it appeared no large crowd was forthcoming.

(Our first encounter with police was immediately on stepping outside the station, where we were instantly hassled by 3 officers who accused us of being "stoned").

There were a number of affinity groups, comprising perhaps 50-60 people, in addition to a pink-clad samba band, scattered around the Excel centre, but due to large police presence and lack of numbers on our side the nearest anyone was able to get was either across the railway or the dock from the fortress.

After walking around through a small housing estate to get to the opposite side of the dock (from where we could get a good view of the huge, grey battleships anchored alongside the centre, and were approached and photographed by river police in their speedboat), we found the footbridge blocked and so returned to the appropriately named Freemasons Road where the samba band were.

One policeman threatened me with arrest if I did not remove my mask after I walked over to see why another protestor was being hassled - 5 minutes later, after I had put my mask back on, the same officer walked past me unheeding. However, a marker pen was confiscated from us on the accusation that it "could be used for criminal damage".

Undercover suit gets escorted away, Defences Systems and Equipment International arms fair protests in Docklands, London, September 2003 Undercover 'suit' gets escorted away!

As nothing was really being achieved, we wandered fairly aimlessly around until about 2.30pm, managing to shout at a few delegates but (at least myself) feeling rather disappointed at the absence of a large crowd at the Excel centre.

Around 2.30 we were informed that Reclaim the Streets were starting a street party at the nearby Rathbone Street marketplace (in Canning Town) and so we headed down there, however there was a heavy police presence and small knots of protestors and of police stood around for a while, some police attempting to make conversation with protestors in a lame attempt to gather information (and one admitting that "I am a pawn"!)

At about 3.30 we were told, by an unknown source, that RTS were no longer meeting at the marketplace but would send a messenger to tell us where they would actually hold the party.

Nothing seemed forthcoming for a while but suddenly at about 4.30 people began moving and we followed, soon joined by more protestors including several cyclists (who were apparently the remains of the Critical Mass bike ride that morning) and a fantastic sound system, built from offcuts of wood and covered in colourful peace flags, on the back of one bike.

We headed down the A13 with police following on both sides of us. At this point the Met showed their extreme stupidity - as we approached a McShit atthe side of the road, every single policeman ran like fuck through our lines to stand around the "restaurant" with batons raised, much to our amusement as the approximately 200-strong group of anarchists marched straight past!

Heavy handed policing at the Defences Systems and Equipment International arms fair (DSEi) protests in Docklands, London, September 2003

Heavy handed policing

The sound system and march/street party made its way up the A13 bypass, successfully reclaiming the street from oil-addicted traffic, with police fairly unsuccessfully trying to hold us back at several points.

However the police somewhat managed to get their act together at a junction and after an attempt to break police lines which was repelled by numbers the party turned back along the same road. Some scuffles occurred when people broke through roadworks fences and overturned some of them, with a fence being thrown back at some anarchists.

We continued down the street for a while before reinforcements of police arrived (the cowards clearly seeking safety in ludicrously unnecessary numbers) attempted to pen us in in a short section of the road, and so we sat down there for about an hour while the sound system pumped out some fantastic dub tunes to which there was much dancing and merriment in stark contrast to the tight-lipped, misery-faced cops.

Apparently, for no reason the cops started shoving people along again until we were between a park, in which more police on horses were congregating, and a housing street.

At this point the police decided we were to be herded into the park and started physically dragging people through the gate. Many of us sat down and refused to move, but due to a lack of a universally agreed decision either to stay where we were or go into the park we were unfortunately all dragged into the park.

However, the police were in for a shock as local teenagers, entirely independently of the DSEI protests, started throwing stones and bricks of them, which forced a retreat of the police into the park with us, while others attempted to disperse the locals.

One local teenager said to us "The police do nothing when our houses are burgled or there is violence in our area, they don't even come when we call them, but when people try to have their say hundreds of the fuckers invade us!" - fucking class!

Mass arrests at the Defences Systems and Equipment International arms fair (DSEi) protests in Docklands, London, September 2003

The police were in an arrestin' kinda mood...

Despite the police's promise to "allow us to disperse once we were in the park", a section 44 was slapped on us and we were held for over an hour before eventually being allowed to leave in groups of 4 (several people were illegally videoed and forced to remove their hands from over their faces, but thankfully no-one was searched, despite them taking an agonisingly long time between each group of 4 they allowed out).

There were several instances of police violence in removing people from the road, including one man with physical disabilities who was bodily picked up and thrown into the park, and one Met police medic(!) who was so vicious in attacking protestors with his baton that he actually had to be held back by 2 City of London police!

Separated from the rest of the protest by the dispersal tactics, we drifted back towards Canning Town station and the market place, attempting to find our mates who had been separated from us.

On the way, while slightly lost in a housing estate, 2 of us witnessed a large but peaceful looking man, clearly a protestor, being chased down the road by 3 police officers, brutally slammed up against a wall and handcuffed.

We tried to ask what he was being arrested for and one of the policeman claimed "assault", but the protestor denied having assaulted anyone. I managed to get 2 of the 3 officers' badge numbers, so say hi to the cameras Met police nos. XP91 and BS510...

Protesters about to break through the lines at the Defences Systems and Equipment International arms fair protests in Docklands, London, September 2003 Protesters about to break through the lines

Having phoned our mates and found out they were in a pub called "The Ordnance Arms", we attempted to meet them there, only to be told by the landlady that she didn't want any more protestors in her pub because "there were already too many".

On leaving and phoning our mates from a nearby phone box, we found that they had been locked in the pub, apparently on the instructions of a police FIT team. However after an altercation between locals also locked in the pub and the landlady, they were allowed out and we walked to West Ham station to get a train to another pub and go home.

In addition to what we personally witnessed, we were informed by telephone and text message of several other actions including the Docklands Light Railway being blockaded at least twice, by protestors lying down on the tracks or D-locking themselves to trains, which were probably the most directly effective actions of the day.

We also received an unconfirmed report of a truck exploding in the nearby Blackwall Tunnel, which the police were "treating as suspicious"... no idea whether this was the case, or who did it if it was terrorism, but we did see a large plume of smoke. However other sources also told us this was a smoke bomb.

Overall the day was enjoyable, but in real terms of arguable merit.

While as a spontaneous statement, celebration and show of resistance against authority the RTS action was successful (and certainly made us feel good while we were there, unlike the pigs who blatantly all wanted to go home), it of course did not disrupt the arms fair as such, and so cannot really be considered a success by narrow "direct action" criteria, and the large crowd which the DSEI and Wombles websites led us to believe would be ready to storm the Excel centre in the morning did not materialise.

However it was certainly inspiring to see the amount of support showed by the local community to the protestors (pedestrian passers-by only shouted approval, while drivers of expensive cars were the only ones shouting abuse), and to see the amount of witty and creative protestors (one of the best being a man in a suit with a briefcase full of plastic doll's limbs, saying "Wanna buy some arms?") in attendance.

Actions continue tomorrow (Thursday 11th September) and over the rest of the week, keep checking Indymedia, and the various supporting groups' websites (linked to from for details.

Article by soulrebel, photos by Martyn Wills. (Originally posted on the urban75 bulletin boards {contain good photos that could be used}

DSEi's history

Between 1976 and 1991, the British Army Equipment Exhibition and the Royal Navy Equipment Exhibition were held on alternate years in Aldershot and Portsmouth respectively. Overseas delegations attended by invitation only, but those invited often included governments with such poor human rights records as Indonesia and Chile. Despite having been at war with Iran for almost six years, a five-strong delegation from Iraq was attended in 1986.

In 1993 the two exhibitions were combined and held every other year until New Labour decided to privatise the exhibition. Exhibitions company Spearhead launched the first DSEi in 1999 at Chertsey in Surrey. In 2001 it moved to its current location at the ExCel centre in the London borough of Newham.

Of course, just like on the railways, privatisation didn't mean the taxpayer stopped paying. Ministry of Defence estimated it would shell out £400,000 in 'direct costs', plus the time of many civil servants and army personnel (Hansard, 20/5/03).

Human rights abuses and official invitations

The government's DESO draws up the official invitation lists for DSEi, with a supplementary list drawn up by Spearhead. The governments of some of the world's worst human rights abusing states, including Colombia, Israel and Saudi Arabia were invited to DSEi in 2003. Their presence at DSEi not only gives them access to tools for further human rights abuses, but lends them political support and legitimises them.

The international trade in arms and its institutions fuel conflict around the world and encourage even the poorest countries to spend money on weapons systems rather than social services. In a very real sense, arms fairs like DSEi are the arms trade, which is why CAAT is wholly opposed to it. This year's DSEi

DSEi 2005 will be held from September 13th - 16th. The world's military has been promised that it will be 30% bigger than last time, and that "products and services related to Homeland security, anti-terrorism, access control, and personal security" will be on display as well as the usual rockets, tanks and machine guns.

If you want to join in activities opposing DSEi 2005, please visit the links at the bottom of the page.

Opposing the Arms Fairs - at DSEi 2003

Arms Fairs are the trade exhibitions for military industry which are an integral and important part of the international arms trade. They provide arms companies with a forum for marketing their goods and services, and an opportunity to discuss collaboration on military projects. Britain's two main fairs (though there are others), take place on alternate years and are Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi) and Farnborough International, which focuses on aerospace. Arms Fairs allow the weapons manufacturers an opportunity to promote their products to regimes in conflict, with terrible human rights records, or without adequate resources. Obviously, those who oppose the arms trade also oppose the presence of arms fairs.

CAAT wholly opposes the DSEi arms fair - to find out more about why, please have a look at their DSEi 2003 briefing [add link here].

They will be campaigning against DSEi 2005 in various ways and they need your help. They will be pressuring the organisers of DSEi in the run up to the fair and supporting action at and around the fair itself. In order to help facilitate this happening they will be holding information and training events around the country in the coming months. They will be mobilising for a mass demonstration on the first day of the fair (13th September), as well as a day for meeting, planning and discussion. They will be co-ordinating with other groups who oppose the fair and trying hard to involve and support the local community in the Docklands in the campaign against the fair.

Put pressure on the organisers of the fairs

Reed Elsevier: Stop organising Arms Fairs Reed Elsevier own Spearhead Exhibitions and Reed Exhibitions who organise several arms fairs around the world. Find out more about Reed Elsevier and how you can take action to persuade them that they should stick to promoting less murderous products.

Shut down the whitehall gunrunners The Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO) promotes UK Arms Companies at the taxpayers' expense (to the tune of around £16 million each year). Specifically it plays a massive role in organising DSEI and Farnborough. You can support the campaign to shut down the whitehall gunrunners by writing to your MP

Four Strong Women

A song by Maurie Mulheron ©Maurie Mulheron 1996

Chorus: It took a hammer, an act of love To turn that jet Hawk into a dove It took some courage, it took some strength To stop that fighter from dealing death

Into the hangar, into the plane Now use your hammer to stop the pain There's steady breathing as your work starts Four strong women, four beating hearts

You sang of justice, you rang the bell You drove your hammer through Timor's hell You won your freedom but you won more You stopped a death plane from making war

Four strong women with hammers high Beating ploughshares for a peaceful sky They know the struggle, they know the cause Whoever profits keeps making wars

Coda: Four strong women, four beating hearts Notes Many thanks to Maurie Mulheron for permission to add this song to the Union Songs site.

Maurie writes:

This song celebrates the actions of four British women, Andrea Needham, Joanna Wilson, Lotta Kronlid and Angie Zeltner, who are members of the peace group, Ploughshares. In January 1996, they broke into the high security hangar owned by British Aerospace in Lancashire. Their purpose was to disarm one of the newly built Hawk jets. These jets were due for delivery to the Indonesian Government who use the jet Hawk against the villagers of East Timor.

The four women had researched the plane well, learning its control panel layout and serial number. Months were spent monitoring the security and general operations of the British aerospace site at Warton until they were sure that they had located the exact plane destined for Indonesia.

Once they had made a positive identification, Jet ZH 955, they made their last minute preparations. They quit their flats, said their farewells, bought some tools - bolt-cutters, crowbars and small hammers, and made their way to the airfield.

After an agonising period waiting for the right moment, the four women broke into the hangar and set about destroying the war machine. They developed a steady rhythm, once they realised that the security was not coming. Over a period of about an hour the women methodically destroyed the plane's weapons system with their hammers. As Andrea Needham explains, "I have to admit I thought it might be a kind of religious experience but it felt like work - a job. It was like, here is a weapon that will hurt people, so this is what we have to do to stop it."

When they finished, they placed banners and streamers over the plane, sang songs of peace and dropped small seeds (of hope) everywhere. As well, they placed a video in the cockpit of John Pilger's documentary on East Timor which has footage of eyewitness accounts of the planes in action.

Eventually they were arrested and charged. They faced heavy prison sentences. At their trial they argued from a difficult position: that their crime was justified because its intent was to prevent a larger crime, genocide, from occurring.

As the John Pilger documentary had been found at the scene of the crime, the women were able to show the video to the jury. On the sixth day of the trial, the jury turned in a majority verdict of not guilty. Their defence had been accepted.

British Aerospace were stunned. On the steps of the courthouse, crowded with supporters, journalists and photographers, a company representative stepped forward to serve an injunction ordering the women not to trespass on the company's property. Angie Zeltner took the papers and, grinning broadly, promptly tore them up. Four strong women!

For more information, see the article "If I Had a Hammer" by Jane Wheatley in HQ magazine, (September/October 1996) and pages 313-322 of John Pilger's "Hidden Agendas" (Vintage, 1998).

Trident protesters found not guilty

Two anti-nuclear protesters who entered a dockyard planning to disarm one of Britain's Trident submarines with an axe were yesterday cleared of conspiracy to cause criminal damage.

Sylvia Boyes, 57, from Keighley, West Yorkshire, and River - formerly Keith Wright - 45, from Manchester, admitted that they plotted to damage HMS Vengeance while it was docked at Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, in November 1999.

But they denied criminal damage, claiming their actions were justifed because nuclear weapons were immoral and illegal under international law. They argued politicians could not be trusted with Britain's nuclear arsenal, so civilians had to act to stop disaster.

The Manchester jury's verdict, which follows a string of acquittals in cases of sabotage against military equipment was welcomed last night by anti-nuclear campaigners, who described it as highly significant.

"The jury has given the clearest possible decision legally, factually and morally, on the continued possession by Britain of weapons of mass destruction and where governments fail us, of the necessity of direct action", Gareth Peirce, lawyer for Sylvia Boyes.

David Mackenize of Trident Ploughshares said it was the first time the prosecution had brought a conspiracy charge, a notoriously broad indictment, against members of the group. "It will be a superb encouragement for activists", he said.

At Manchester crown court, the judge, Rhys Davies, had earlier told jurors that the two protesters could be seen as "thoroughly decent and ideal istic people" doing what thought was right. But however genuine the activists' beliefs, ideals formed no defence against a criminal damage charge.

Ms Boyes, a former lollypop lady, and River, an Open University lecturer with a master's degree in high energy nuclear physics, were found dressed in wetsuits near the submarine on November 23. They were carrying hammers, an axe and six cans of aerosol varnish.

The protesters, members of the direct action group, Trident Ploughshares, said they aimed to disarm HMS Vengeance which was equipped to carry one quarter of Britain's nuclear arsenal.

A spokeswoman for Trident Ploughshares added: "At last a precedent has been set for English people to follow their conscience and declare Trident illegal.

"This will pave the way for further legal direct action to disarm submarines."

The case is not the first example of direct action protesters walking free from court. At Manchester crown court last year, a jury acquitted two women of spray painting a nuclear submarine at Barrow with anti-war slogans and were unable to reach a verdict on a second charge of criminal damage. The prosecution asked for a retrial.

In 1999, a sheriff in Greenock, Strathclyde, handed down not guilty verdicts against three women charged with causing £80,000 damage to Trident submarine computer equipment at a naval establishment on Loch Goil.

In 1996, a jury at Liverpool crown court acquitted two women charged with causing £1.5m damage to a Hawk fighter jet at a British Aerospace factory.

ASBO abuse

Peaceful protest dubbed 'anti-social' 20/12/2004

At the end of August, Emily Apple, along with her baby son and a friend stood outside the Richmond premises of the company that organises the international arms fair in London. They handed out leaflets and held a banner calling for an end to the arms fair.

The police were called and Emily and her friend were told that Richmond was designated as a dispersal area under section 30 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003. They were told they had to leave the town centre and threatened with arrest if they failed to leave or if they returned within 24 hours.

Third Way warned that these powers were never just going to be used against 'yobs'. Whenever the State is given more powers it will always use them against dissidents. That is one reason we always oppose the extension of State power. Others on the 'Left' and the 'Right' take note.

Council opposes arms fair in eschatological motion -23/6/04

At the initiation of a local Christian, Newham council has passed a motion opposing Europe's biggest arms fair and affirming a future without weapons.

The Defences Systems & Equipment International arms fair (DSEi) is held every two years in the borough, and last took place in September 2003 at the Excel conference centre.

Nearly 1,000 arms companies congregate in London's Docklands to sell arms, bombs and other weapons to buyers from all over the world. Some of these weapons are supplied to some of the worst regions of conflict in the world.

In the past, countries invited in the arms fair have included some with the worst records of human rights violations: Indonesia (1999), Colombia (2001) and Saudi Arabia (three times running).

The event takes place behind security fences and police lines. The public are not invited.

The motion, put forward by sole opposition Councillor Alan Craig, a member of the Christian People's Alliance, was passed unanimously by the flagship Labour council.

The beginning of the motion reads; “Council looks forward to the time when nations will “beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks” (Isaiah 2:4)

It goes on to condemn the values underpinning the Arms Fair and objects to the lack of social responsibility shown by Spearhead, the Arms Fair organisers.

Councillor Alan Craig said; "Dubious regimes from around the world come to Newham to buy appalling armaments such as cluster bombs. As part of the UK £1bn arms export industry we sell weapons to Third World countries that cannot afford them and to both sides in conflicts on various continents. This must stop."

Local residents, representatives from ELAAF (East London Against the Arms Fair) and pupils from a local secondary school clapped and cheered from the gallery. Staff and pupils from the school are doing a project about the Arms Fair.

The Arms Fair, held biannually in Newham is one of the biggest of its kind anywhere in the world. It made national headlines in September 2001 and 2003 following a series of protests, many of which were organised by Christian groups such as Christian Campaign Against the Arms Trade.

Planning for the next Arms Fair in September 2005 has already started.