“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Monday, April 21, 2003

Bollettino

LI is always behind the curve. For instance, get this: we don't see the difference between the weapons of mass destruction and the weapons of good destruction. We are clueless, here. It is a musical distinction recognizable by any Pentagon nitwit, and every editorialist on the Washington Post board, but LI -- we are just stumped. For instance, take Qatar. The Campaign against the Arms Trade has pointed out that Qatar is rather small, really. There are 724,000 people who proudly call themselves Qatarinis - or Qatari, or something like that. Now those folks need to protect their property and chattel just like anybody else. But they go to some lengths to make sure that no thief in the night makes off with their stuff. "According to US government figures, Qatar spent $700 million on arms between 1994 and 1997 and $1.2 billion from 1998 to 2001 - all from Western Europe." Now, 700 million dollars buys a lot of Uzis; but Uzis are so passe, nowadays.

Things get complicated -- especially when you are a good country, and you are buying good weaponry, from good countries like Britain and the US. Here's a bit more about Qatar's desire to have the nationwide equivalent of mace in their purse:

"In 1996 the Qatar and UK governments signed an agreement on a defence equipment package. The same year, Qatar signed a �500 million with BAe for ships, aircraft and armoured vehicles. The then Defence Secretary, Michael Portillo, said he had offered a comprehensive Gulf security proposal to Qatar. In 1997 negotiations continued concerning an $833 million 'revolving credit package', whereby Qatar is offered credit and pays it off in crude oil. On the 11th September, 2002, Michael Portillo was appointed to the board of BAe Systems as a non-executive director. He was appointed to improve their relations with the Ministry of Defence.

In 2000, it was discovered that payments of over �100 million were being held in Jersey-based accounts, called the Havana and Yaheeb trusts, for the benefit of the Qatar Foreign Secretary, Sheik Hamad bin Jaber al-Thani, the Emir's uncle. They were being used to purchase real estate and hotels. BAe were associated with at least one payment in to these accounts, for �7 million. In June of this year Jersey's attorney-general announced he was dropping the investigation. According to the Observer newspaper, "...the Foreign Office met Jersey authorities to 'explain' the damage the investigation was having on relations. They are said to have pointed out the risk of losing trade and the importance of Qatar as a strategic ally in the 'war against terrorism' " (9/6/02). It is thought to be the case that payments from European arm's manufacturers also reached these accounts."

Well, call it what you will, but a tank per person, a Black Hawk helicopter for every neighborhood, and well equipped cruisers for the Qatari navy is a situation that looks to me like it could spread mass destruction. Not that I'm complaining -- I understand that this is the financial equivalent of that old time medical recipe, bleeding. Bleeding supposedly allowed the patient, who had somehow concentrated too much of a particular humor, to get rid of it. Weapons sales allow countries with too much oil revenue, and a perhaps restive population, to bleed a couple hundred million, or billion, or whatever, into generous Western economies. In return, the West sometimes bombs a randomly selected third world country and then -- well, it helps to rebuild it! Christian compassion can go no futher than that.

Ah, the Weapons of Good Mass Destruction -- even the very Reverend Tony Blair, with his lamb like conscience, has been a willing salesmen of these things. Foreign Policy commented on Blair's 'peace' visit to India last year. Like Jesus Christ and Gandhi, Blair's moral idols (and lets face it, he's bucking for Gospel status himself, our Tony!), he was spreading sweetness and light and 1.6 billion dollars worth of military aircraft to his Indian brethren:

"When British Prime Minister Tony Blair visited India in January, ostensibly it was to calm troubled waters. But according to Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes, Mr. Blair also was pushing a $1.43 billion deal for India to purchase 66 British-made Hawk fighter-bombers. The Hawk deal is part of a drive by British arms manufacturers to make a killing from the crisis. London is also selling the Indians Jaguar bombers capable of delivering nuclear weapons, in addition to peddling tanks, artillery, anti-aircraft guns, small arms, and ammunition."

Now, LI is so naive that the selling of a Jaguar bomber capable of delivering nuclear weapons to a nuclear power seems ... oh, drat, it just doesn't seem like stopping the spread of these nasty WMD.

Which is why we'd never make it in D.C. Expertise in these matters requires a keen semantic sense. It is much like rocket science. That's why we are doing this blog, instead of smoking cigars with the big boys in some of the Defense Department's off hourse clubs.

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