Sunday, May 27, 2007

Trident is shit

Mike Small doesn't use those exact words but its heavily implied in his post on CiF.

An interesting comparison is that made between Gordon Brown's position on Trident in 1984 and his current approval. To followers of the New Labour apocalypse club this is no surprise. After Robin Cook's longstanding criticism of the UK's arms industry and his ethical foreign policy speech (he never actually used those exact words) he promptly made a U-turn of staggering proportion, endorsing the sale of yet more BAE Systems Hawk fighter aircraft to Indonesia where they would be added to their existing arsenal of British-manufactured WMD to be deployed against the people of East Timor and anyone else who gave the junta lip. I doubt this was his preferred option but then I am sure a decision on several hundred million pounds worth of international arms was removed from his control without hesitation by the massed ranks of faceless Whitehall bureaucrats who a cabinet politician must contend with. Here I will quote from the legendary Mark Thomas's book on the Arms Trade, "As Used on The Famous Nelson Mandela":

"Cook took the option to support the deal, stating that cancelling it would create legal difficulties- despite the fact that the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1004 states: 'A licence granted by the Secretary of State . . . may be varied or revoked by The Secretary if State at any time', giving him the legal right to cancel the licenses. Cook could have stopped the deal. Instead he allowed the sale of the very aircraft, to the very regime he himself had condemned.

BAE Systems were, and still are, the heart of British foreign politics. If Cook's attempt to transplant them and replace them with an ethical dimension was genuine, then he must have underestimated the company's political strength. It didn't matter if the decision on the Hawks was made by Cook or Number Ten, British Aerospace had their way. Three months after toasting the ethical foreign policy, Cook had been publically bitch-slapped by the arms trade."

Its funny how this sits in the light of the current furore over the sale, by BAE to Saudi Arabia- one of the most corrupt, authoritarian and downright inhuman regimes in the world- of several billion pounds worth of advanced fighter jets.

Interestingly BAE's iron grip on UK politics is revealed in an even more sinister light by George Monbiot.

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