Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Men at Arms:World Leaders Peddling Death and Debt

As the G8 greats preen on the world stage in Scotland next week, patting themselves on the back for their much-ballyhooed (and ultimately hollow) gesture on reducing African debt, just remember what their real business is: war, death, terror and fear -- for money. From Scotland's Sunday Herald: How the world's richest countries arm the poorest.

In 2003 alone, the G8 countries exported arms worth $12bn (£6.6bn) to the developing world, and six of their number – the US, UK, France, Russia, Germany and Italy – lead the world’s top 10 arms suppliers.....All this comes at a price that is usually born by those countries which can least afford to spend lavish sums of money on arms. According to the report, 20% of the debts owed by the world’s impoverished countries, mostly African, come from past arms sales from G8 countries. However, it is a win-win situation for the firms doing the deals. All the G8 countries operate some form of export credit system – in the UK the Export Credit Guarantee Department underwrites arms sales and pursues defaulters. The result is overarching misery because many of the countries suffer from chronic poverty and disease, and their populations struggle to survive on a dollar a day per person.

“Each year hundreds of thousands of people are killed, tortured, raped and displaced through the misuse of arms,” says Irene Khan, secretary-general of Amnesty International. “How can G8 commitments to end poverty and injustice be taken seriously if some of the very governments are undermining peace and stability by deliberately approving arms transfers to repressive regimes, regions of extreme conflict or countries that can ill afford them?”