Sunday, April 3, 2011

Running out of Arms

On March 28th I published A Call to Arms, describing how President Obama agreed to sell arms to Gaddafi at the beginning of the month and decided to bomb him at before the month was out. I also outlined how the British arms company BAE has been a big supplier for Gaddafi, but BAE also built some of the jets that attacked his forces last month. In other words, BAE gets it from both sides – they are willing to sell to anyone who’ll pay, and our governments take it upon themselves to act as brokers, in order to get these corporations the best deals – even deals with grotesque tin pot dictators like Gaddafi. Of course with an arms embargo on Libya now, BAE has lost a customer in Gaddafi, but I finished my article by saying: “No doubt BAE will soon make up the difference, once the rebels are in power in Libya and the orders start flowing in. But wait a minute; will these rebels turn out in turn to be tyrants? Who cares?” I never dreamt I would be proven right so quickly!

The following day a friend sent me the link to an article in The Guardian in which they reported that Hillary Clinton was suggesting arming the rebels. Well that is definitely good news for the weapons industry. David Cameron seems to be falling into line as well. Apparently NATO has not ruled out arming the rebels, though this might take some time because the UN resolution clearly states the embargo is meant for all sides. In other words, their lawyers are looking at the matter. First you get the UN to pass a resolution placing an absolute embargo on weapons exports to Libya, and who can argue with that (except the weapons manufacturers)? Then you want to break the resolution that you have just convinced everyone to pass, but no problem - you get a team of lawyers to find a way that enables you to legally circumvent your own resolution. It’s called making it up as you stumble along. If you own the ball, you’re allowed to change the rules of the game. And who are these rebels we want to arm? Who cares? They are the good guys, whoever they are.

I heard some good news this morning. Maybe you heard it too. Both sides in this civil war are quickly running out of ammunition. Maybe it is because they wasted so much of the stuff shooting off gleeful volleys in displays of macho virility every time they saw a TV camera - too much testosterone and now not enough ammunition. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this would become the war that ground to a halt because neither side had any bullets left? Not if Hilary Clinton, David Cameron and BAE can help it.

Article first published as Running Out of Arms on Technorati.

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