Tag Archives: Campaign Against Arms Trade

When the joke is on us all

We all have moments where we imagine that the dice is cast, yet we play roulette, we think we have the numbers down, yet did you know that the roulette number sequence is different in Europe compared to America? These are all elements in a play of high stake gambling. That same setting returns when we look at the Guardian article ‘Campaigners head to court to stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia’. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/06/campaigners-court-bid-to-stop-uk-arms-sales-to-saudi-arabia) holds two sides (apart from it being partially a joke in my eyes). You see, I have no issue with people who have the principle of being against weapons. That is their prerogative. What does bug me is that these same people will suddenly blame the government for all kinds of issues and they will scream that they want higher taxes for the rich, ignoring the fact that they are the cause of several issues that are the consequence of some faulty misdirected version of ideology.

So even as I am happy to step in and take over the arms trade to Saudi Arabia, mainly because I do not have the luxury of walking away from a multi-billion pound deal, you see the rent is due next week and I would like a nice mince pie after I pay my rent, the £3,576,229,000 will enable me to get both. OK that amount would not all be mine, but 20% could be and that is still £715,245,800.

My entire pension issue solved overnight. The article takes us a step further. With: “The UK court case comes amid the continued fallout from the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was tortured and assassinated by Saudi agents“, I am fine with that step for the mere reason that there are too many question marks in that case. The evidence on several levels is missing proper scrutiny, the fact that Turkey has other agenda’s in play is ignored, and the involvement of Iran in all this is ignored on several levels. I am not stating that things did not happen, there is clearly a massive lack of proper scrutiny and people like the Campaign against Arms Trade are fuelling my opportunity and I am fine with that, if stupid people enable me to become wealthy, why would I oppose?

How Come?

Well, we are decently certain that something happened to Jamal Khashoggi, yet to what degree can government actions be proven? That is the issue, there is no evidence and as such can you, or should you stop dealing with a sovereign nation with a lack of evidence? In addition, in the other direction, we have seen a massive indecisive move towards Iran whilst Iran fuelled activities go on in Europe, October 2018, January 2019, covering Denmark, France, Netherlands, and the UK. Yet over at that point, we see an utter lack of actual actions (merely considerations).

Does it matter?

Well that is in part the question, we can accept that Campaign against Arms Trade wants it all to stop, but what is ignored is that merchants have markets and the UK cannot evolve next level defences if they cannot be sold. So whilst places like Saudi Arabia are still opening their internal market to have quality defence gear, places like the UK, Russia and America are looking to sell defence solutions to places that can afford them (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Taiwan, South Korea and a few more players), yet the well is drying up, more and more countries have their own solutions and the size of the cake is getting smaller.

The next part is seen where we get Andrew Smith of Campaign against Arms Trade giving us: “This case could set a vital precedent and end UK complicity in the worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world.” In that I respectfully disagree, the catastrophe was that too many people sat on their hands for too long, the fact that Yemen is not just the Saudi-led coalition, the other side, the terrorist side is more than Houthi fighters, it includes Hezbollah as well as Iranian forces, by leaving that out, we see an unbalanced stage and in all this we see a deterioration of events, so even as we accept (to some degree) “civilian targets in Yemen have regularly been hit“, in addition we need to accept the Human Rights Watch who gives us clearly: “Houthi forces have repeatedly fired artillery indiscriminately into Yemeni cities and launched indiscriminate ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia. Some of these attacks may amount to war crimes. Houthi attacks have struck populated neighbourhoods in Yemen, having a particularly devastating impact on Taizz, Yemen’s third largest city.” There is more than one player, yet these focus groups have merely looked at the Saudi side and that needs to stop, not because of what they are trying to achieve, but because the actions are much larger then they proclaim and there are two sides. In addition to what was given we need to consider the fact that Houthi forces have been staging some of the events. Al Jazeera gave us more than once: “The war has been at a stalemate for years, with the coalition and Yemeni forces unable to dislodge the Houthis from the capital, Sanaa, and other urban centres.” This indicates that the Houthi forces are in-between the population, with 16 million on the verge of death by starvation, is inaction even a problem?

Yet, from one point of view, I do not mind. If I get the option, I will sell it to the Saudi government and I will send Andrew Smith an authentic Fortnum and Mason hamper, just so that he knows I appreciate him enabling me to write a multi-billion pound invoice. Of course, the optional impact that the UK faces if the profitability of Britain’s largest defence company, BAE Systems is set to zero. I feel certain that Andrew Smith can explain it to the thousands of workers out of a job if I am given the assurance that I can get a much better margin by selling the Saudi government 47 Mikoyan MiG-35, complete with training and proper service level agreements. That puppy is a direct superior option against the Typhoon, the Super Hornet and a few others; my upside is that if I get Saudi Arabia on board, I am likely to get additional requests from Pakistan and at least three other governments.

So at that point, how exactly did Campaign against Arms Trade achieve anything (other than making me filthy rich and I will thank them in person for that). In this day and age where the markets and economies cannot take these hits, it is the ability of Andrew Smith that Europe fears, you see commerce is at the heart of the matter, and at this point, any nations bringing in bad news will stop being an asset, that is the Wall Street premise we all signed up for in 2005 when things started to get bad, we never corrected for any of it.

Distasteful like a Vegan

We can all consider where our ethical boundary is, yet in all this, we seem to forget that any sovereign nation has the right to self-govern, Europeans with their gravy train, ECB and shallow morals seem to have forgotten that. In all this having commerce allows diplomats to find a path that steers some nations away for certain practices and that path will be denied to them soon thereafter. Consider that I am all about profit and the Campaign against Arms Trade allowed for that change, how did they achieve anything? Because the UK misses out on have a dozen billions a year less? How many projects and funding issues will dry up the year after that starts? We have settings and measurements, most do not deal with terrorists, most do not sell to individuals, and the Campaign against Arms Trade is starting to allow for the return of those markets.

Sidestepping into art

Consider John Wyndham’s 1951 novel The Day of the Triffids. Some saw the movie, some read the book. Yet what happens when the sequel is a direct horror story? What happens when the sequel gives us the stage where the Triffids land on a planet ruled by vegans and vegetarians? How scared will they be (the Triffids that is)? This relates to the setting we have, you see, we seem to push towards everyone becoming a vegan and vegetarian (non-weaponised), because that is what their norm states, yet what are we going to do about the hunters (lion), the carrion eaters (Hyena) and other non-vegetarians? What do we do when people have certain norms and will not be told by anyone how to act? Is that such a weird issue?

You merely have to look at football hooligan UK to see that part of the equation, and there is no end in sight. It is a shallow connection, I agree, yet that is the ball game, someone wants to pressure towards an ideology whilst the other players are not interested. Now that does not invalidate the ideology, yet the fact that the reasoning is one sided, whilst the entire economic premise requires selling to other governments is a factor that cannot be ignored.

Who are we to dictate rules and manners? I get it, by denying the Saudi government one’s own screwed up values is all good, yet when the act does the opposite of what they are trying to achieve, can we agree that the action is not that bright? I am not comparing the Saudi people with either the Lion or the Hyena. I am merely stating that there is more than one option and that is fine for all concerned. How can any nation, most of them either dealing with their own levels of corruption, or facilitating to massive corporate tax evasion, as these elements also impact whatever was to be part of a government budget, do we have any business impeding the other paths that were available? Consider that we were treated only a month ago to ‘HMRC’s first probes into corporate tax evasion facilitation‘, the stage where we are seeing “HMRC has confirmed that it has opened its first investigations into the corporate criminal offence of failure to prevent the facilitation of UK tax evasion, using new powers to tackle corporate fraud contained in the Criminal Finances Act, introduced in the wake of the Panama Papers leaks“, an event that is close to 15 years late. How can we see the actions of a group stopping billions the UK government desperately needs? Don’t worry, in the end I might be ecstatically happy regarding their act, I am not so certain the British people will love the impact of what Campaign against Arms Trade invoked to happen. We can see that there is a lot that needs fixing, I am not sure that international arms trade to other governments no less is a first problem to solve, not with the competition and not with much larger issues in play.

And it is here where we see the delusional part of Andrew Smith, with “BAE’s solution will always be the same: it wants to sell more weapons, regardless of the atrocities they are enabling. Wherever there is war and conflict, there will always be companies like BAE trying to profiteer from it“, we get to see just how whacked his view is. Well, to be honest, he is allowed to have that view, it just does not add up. You see, the actual premise is: “BAE’s solutions are designed to keep Britain safe. Yet the development will cost 155 billion, to assure the top state of defence for the UK, who will only buy for up to 100 billion requires additional sales to global governments who could need that solution, even as the US buys a lot, it is not enough to fill the gap and that is where other nations come in. There is the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan and a few others. In addition Andrew Smith seems to forget (or he does not care)that others like the US, France, Italy and Russia all have solutions to sell, so we need to ensure our survival for the need of growing British defence and keeping it as high as possible. This part is extremely important, because whoever has the best deals with places like Saudi Arabia is also in the best position to aid and guide international development in places like that. As Saudi Arabia is about to become a 5G powerhouse, that path is more and more important for everyone. Consider the impact if Campaign against Arms Trade is successful. Do you think that British Telecom has a chance in hell to grow the 5G options to the degree they could if their portfolio is auto rejected in several Middle Eastern nations, or only accepted at a mere 2% margin? Commerce is so intertwined in so many ways on a global level that the entire premise Campaign against Arms Trade is to regarded as too ideological, whilst ignoring common sense; it would be nice if this was a setting where there was only the US and the UK, yet there is a strong defence field that includes Russia and China, whatever the UK loses, China and optionally Russia will gain and in that regard, how did that help the British people?

The fact that we see a one-sided part against Saudi Arabia, whilst there is a large and utter denial (or silencing) on the acts from Hezbollah and Houthis firing Iranian missiles into the Saudi population is not mentioned. The article (at https://www.caat.org.uk/campaigns/stop-arming-saudi) gives more, yet leaves the atrocities of the Houthi and Hezbollah terrorists out of that equation, that part alone should be cause for concern. The small fact that at present there is no evidence, evidence that could stand up in court giving us a clear path that the Saudi government murdered Jamal Khashoggi, is also part of concern. As I stated earlier in other articles, I am not stating that they are innocent, I am stating that the evidence has gaps, large ones and the conviction through some political hacks came via a CIA report stating ‘high confidence‘, which is not the same. When did we allow the courts to decide on ‘confidence‘? The fact that the acts in all this (Yemen and Jamal Khashoggi) from both Iran and Turkey is largely ignored is making the entire stage even more appalling.

Yet, I will thank Andrew Smith in person when I get to deliver the goods making me rich, I do however expect him to be not so appreciative of it all in the end, even less so when others with no scruples at all (like myself) start delivering goods instead of BAE Systems, and deleting the job security of 83,200 employees? Well, it is ideology, is it not? They will just have to find another job.

 

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How to pay for it?

Yesterday’s news is not new. We have all heard the options, the opposition and the recrimination. Yet the article (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/23/uk-arms-sales-to-saudis-continued-after-airstrike-on-yemen-funeral) gives out more to ask of those who are on the moral ethical high ground and as such we need to make considerations, from within ourselves and towards others choosing for us.

You see, I am not stating that they are wrong, or that there isn’t an issue. We need to ask ourselves whether we should take blame of responsibility of the actions of other governments. So consider the £283m. When we consider the 2017 spring budget, that one sale takes care of the Education and health bill for spring 2017 and potentially leaves us with enough to pay the Debt interest for that quarter. So, what will these campaigners do when they are opted for one (the deal) or the other which would be no health or education money? I always love campaigners who in a downed economy make demands and have no clue or no solution on how to pay for it all. It is a really lovely group of non-deciders in most of the events.

What would I do?

I would happily go to Riyadh with my new BAE business card and sell them whatever systems they need to keep their nation safe. You see, it is the right of any nation to defend their nation. The application of the weapons purchased is up to them. Guns do not kill people, people kill people, it is basic and as I see it the correct dimensionality of a situation.

So when I read “the UK trade secretary, Liam Fox, delayed signing a set of export licences and his officials prepared for sales to Saudi Arabia to be suspended. However, documents obtained by the Guardian revealed that the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, advised him that the sales should continue, as he judged there was no clear risk that British weapons would be used for serious breaches of international humanitarian law“, like Boris Johnson, I see no real issue. The fact that he added: ‘serious breaches of international humanitarian law‘ as a condition was politically fair enough and perhaps a definite essential condition. It seems a little cowardly, but at what point would there be a serious consideration there? Even Iran might not fall into that category, leaving us with only North Korea, Al-Qaeda and ISIS as actual risk factors and we do not deal with these three anyway.

When someone states that I am wrong and there is a clear risk with Saudi Arabia transgressing there, my question would be: ‘Show me that evidence‘. After which I get a lot of speculative mumbo jumbo and no evidence at all. In this day and age we need to consider the choices to select which is fair enough, yet to give rise to campaigners on speculative events whilst they are willing to give silence in the case of Javier Martin-Artajo, Julien Grout and Bruno Iksil, willing to shrug the shoulders and walk away without anger or indignation. Such persons are all about feigned morality because there was no blood. So how many people lost their quality of life for a long time whilst JP Morgan Chase & Co lost £4.7 billion? You think that this was merely printed money, people lost all levels of hard worked gains, pensions, savings and other losses were endured. So as we read in that case “the Department of Justice said it “no longer believes that it can rely on the testimony” of Bruno Iksil, the trader dubbed the London Whale, based on recent statements and writings he made that hurt the case” (source: the Guardian), I feel like this was an orchestrated event. First get the accusations out, make a final thrust for your own acquittal and then write a little more making it all unreliable? Consider not what he lost (stated at 80%), but that he got to keep 20% of some $6m a year (paid more than one year), in addition, whatever the DoJ agreed to in 2013, which might be his house and a few other things. So he got to keep an amount that is exceedingly more than whatever I have made or will make for my entire life, a mere 2 years of his. So as we see about extradition issues, we now see that all three walk away.

This relates to the arms deal as the consequences of that part are merely speculative and it pays for a chunk of the government budget, so I will take a job there willingly any day of the week, presenting the technological marvels of the F-35 JSF missile which can be set to the bulk of the Saudi Arabian fighters. I will gladly take the reduced 1% commission and sell 5,000-10,000 missiles, after which I fly to Egypt and sell a few more. If that gets education and health funded in the UK for the entire year, so much the better! I will sleep like a baby knowing that education and health care are safe and set in stone to be funded. My presentations would be the best stellar presentations of them all. So F.U. (sorry for this instance of Post Enhousiastic Sales Drama) to both Raytheon and Northrop Grumman!

As we can imagine at times we need to take heed (read: listen to) campaigners, when the going was good (20 years ago) and we had several options to take a high moral stance, yet at present with a collapsing NHS, with politicians showing less and less backbone against large corporations on taxation issues, the United Kingdom has a responsibility towards its citizens, not just to keep them safe, but to offer some level of any future. Those campaigners seem to think that money grows on trees and have no idea on how to get things funded; in the UK the UK Labour party is perhaps the most striking evidence of all. As Jeremy Corbyn is now in denial on student debt issues, as he was intentionally vague during the election race. Of course apart from not winning (thank god for that), the realisation that he has no options, no methods and no way to get any level of budget done without raising the current debt by at least 50% and initially projected at 80%, the question becomes, how it would have ever been paid for as people like this, and campaigners against certain paths (read: perhaps for the right ideological reasons) have no way to deal with the national issues. Leaving people with much harsher debts, increased taxation and less social security as it can no longer be paid for.

I am not against ideology, I do not believe that dedicated pacifism is a cowardly stance; it is often quite a brave stance. Yet, it is equally often not a realistic one. We can all go to Hacksaw Ridge and be amazed of the events Andrew Garfield’s character went through, showing us some of what the real Desmond Doss went through, and we can admire his stance and his courage. Yet in the end, without the thousands armed forces in the 77th Infantry division, the battle would have been lost. It does not diminish the actions of this one highly decorated person, I am merely stating that the 77th held its ground and was victorious in the end, yet we should never forget that it is still regarded as the bloodiest battle in the history of WW2, with 50,000 allied lives lost and well over 100,000 Japanese casualties.

We make choices in war and in peace. I believe that every sovereign nation has its rights for defence, we cannot vouch for the articles of war in offense and that is not our responsibility. It is not for the salesperson of equipment to say and even the campaigner for peace needs to realise that there is a stance to take, even if it is a valid choice to oppose offensive actions, we must realise that any self-governing nation can deal with its enemies in the way they seem fit, when it becomes too unacceptable we need to accept that places like the United Nations will take the appropriate actions.

So how is this different?

It should not be, but it is. Ask yourself how you would act. We can always act holier than thou when we can afford it, yet when we are confronted with being hungry or to some degree making a questionable deal that is not criminal, and it is perfectly legal, but we cannot foresee the consequence. Is it still wrong to do it? Consider that we cannot predict the future and this is not merely a legal ‘more likely than not‘. It is about legally acting correct and morally acting optionally questionable, because that is where the stance is. Should we interfere with the right of Saudi Arabia to defend itself and act, or become judging and act towards denying them that right? This is the view I think that the campaigners are not taking correctly, too hastily and in judgement of ‘some’ moral principle. Now, I am not stating that they cannot do that, it is their right and their expression of free will, but in all this, they must also than accept the setting that they will have to voice: ‘We have decided to stop all NHS healthcare and education for the upcoming Autumn 2017, as we stopped the revenue that would have guaranteed it‘, that must then be in equal measure their acceptance in this. I wonder how the doctors, nurses and teachers feel at that point.

In this we now see another part grow. Even as we agree to some extent with the quote of “The terrible funeral bombing should have been a time for reflection and for the UK to reconsider its uncritical political and military support for Saudi Arabia“, we accept that ideologically Andrew Smith, spokesman for Campaign Against Arms Trade has a right and perhaps even a valid point, yet does he?

When we see “‘Incorrect information’ meant hall in Sana’a was mistaken for military target, leading to 140 deaths, says US-backed mission” (source: the Guardian) we need to know a lot more, the actual Intel, the raw data and the decision tree. When we also see “The air operation centre in Yemen, it added, directed a “close air support mission” to target the site without approval from the coalition’s command“, we can argue and question a few issue, yet in all, who authorised the action? How was the coalition command set up? If there was an approval at any level it takes the pilot out of the equation (read: likely he was never a consideration in the first place), so even as we see questions on the actions, even when we read “Dozens of citizens fell as martyrs or were wounded in this attack by planes of the Saudi-American aggression“, whilst the actions of the Houthi rebels are left in silence by too many, including the indiscriminate shelling of places. Any war is a place where it took two to tango, which does not absolve any side of considerations, yet in all I see often a complete lack of complete information, or better stated more precise and more complete information to the extent that was possible. Even now as Yemen is using ballistic missiles attacking a Saudi Oil refinery, as Mines are killing Saudi Soldiers, we see that Yemen remains active, shooting missiles close to 600 miles into Saudi Arabia, so as such, I think that the time of recriminations are over, they have been over for some time. Even now, merely 5 hours ago, we see that Nayef al-Qaysi, governor of the central province of al-Bayda was removed from office because of his ties with Al-Qaeda. Now, the source here is the Miami Herald, and others are voicing pretty much the same article. I cannot state one or the other, yet when we see these events unfold, giving rise to one or the other without proper visible intelligence is not a given. Yet in all this, when we take the original title and make this: ‘UK approved £283m of arms sales to Saudis to fight Al-Qaeda‘ (read: personal merging of different timed facts), at that point how many campaigners would we hear? Can we agree that if Nayef al-Qaysi has ties to Al-Qaeda, they would have been there for some time?

A piece of intelligence that I and perhaps many others would not have had last October, so should I not have sold these weapons to Saudi Arabia? I do not think that I had any valid opposition to not sell and whenever we campaign (even for the best and most valid of reasons) is always a loaded gun and that loaded gun is always aimed at the victims of these actions. In my presented case it would have been the people in need of NHS treatments and students. Any person proclaiming that they have the whole picture is usually lying to you, apart from the General of the Saudi armed forces there would be almost no other person in possessions of all the facts and even then we can state with a certain level of certainty that this person did not have ALL the facts. This is what makes the opposition to any debatable act a dangerous path. We can at best hope for acting in a non-illegal manner and that is exactly what happened in this case. It was a legal transaction, one that was essential for the coffers of the United Kingdom.

We need to learn how to compartmentalise. It is in our best interest to do what is correct and to do what our bosses want of us. When we try to grow beyond that cubicle we tend to speculate on what is best and even if we agree that thinking things through is never a bad thing, unless it is our responsibility we have to act according to our better angels, which means no in opposition of law. Is it not interesting that when that happens, more often than not these actions were greed based and those transgressors should be prosecuted by law, which in the case of hedge funds traders is almost 0%, so if we want ideology, it should be on the evolution of legislation to stop economic exploitation. Yet at that point, how many campaigners remain? I reckon that list slims down a lot, because economic transgressions are not sexy enough, or it is like a happy lottery ticket that nearly everyone wants and in case of Bruno Iksil when it amounts to 20% of many millions, I would love to get that lottery ticket as well, I saw a nice place in Cognac, where I would happily retire to. A mere €850K, which would leave me well over €100K a year to live off for the rest of my life, whilst the house (read: villa) had been paid for. I admit it is a lifestyle I would embrace if it was limited to one questionable, non-illegal act. It will not make me a criminal, merely a person not hiding behind some hypocrite high moral code of conduct.

Until campaigners get in the stage of life on how to pay for their daily meal and proceed on that moral high ground, that is the first step in filtering the actual ideologists from the hypocrites, an essential first step, yet in the end, they too need to accept that some sides of life need to get paid for and they cannot vote to make thousands abstain from essential needs. It is not fair and not pretty but that is the place that deep debts have pushed us all into, the mere acceptance of our to the smallest degree of changed options in upholding any quality of life.

 

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