Tuesday, August 03, 2010

In Capitalism Death is a Profitable Business

The Killing industries are making profits by selling arms to the third world countries when analysing arms trade to the third world, there is one fundamental question which precedes all others; why have the Third World countries felt a need to buy weapons in the first place? And why is it that the disastrous armament policies of the Western Capitalist countries over the past 100 years and the resulting bloodshed of two World Wars have not discouraged the Third World from adopting the same militarists’ policies?

Colonialism-Legacy of Militarism

The legacy of Colonialism has been a prime ingredient in killing a demand for weapons, particularly in Africa and Asia. During the pre-independence period, most colonies were disarmed by the imperial powers in order to prevent military uprisings from population. The absence of a national armoury stung the pride of new governments in countries which became independent in the 1950s and 1960s. Many therefore strove to establish indigenous armed forces where none had existed previously. This policy immediately preresnted problems as none of the countries concerned had any industrial base for producing weapons locally. At that time, the only source of modern weapons was (and usually still is) the industrialised, former colonial powers, of the west. Thus, when it came to equipping newly formed armed forces in the Third World, the governments concerned imported the weapons from abroad.

When looking more closely at Third World militarisation one finds that the scars of colonialism run very deep. For example, the borders of countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East that became independent after 1945, were invariably based on artificial borders relating to the different colonial powers’ spheres of influence and not to any natural geographical divisions between peoples and cultures. This meant that many newly independent states contained several different ethnic and religious groups with which the newly independent government had to compete for its citizens loyalties. Under such conditions, the armed forces and their imported weapons came to be regarded as the symbol of unity and national pride.

In many newly independent states, the educated middle class elites who had acquired political power actually strove to model themselves on their former colonial masters, in military as much as in civil matters. This was to be expected as many of the leaders of these States had been trained in institutions like the British military College of Sandhurst.

Military rule:

Most newly independent governments started off on a very weak footing, rooted as they were in foreign colonial systems rather than indigenous forms of government. Their fragility has since been accentuated by their subsequent failure to represent the interests of the majority of their populations. In the process of decolonisation, the imperial powers tended to transfer political and economic power to wealthy, western educated and sympathetic elites.

In many countries, the armed forces have become so powerful that they have managed to seize power from civilian governments. For example, most African States are ruled either by military governments or by governments of mixed military and civilians. It’s this military influence which partly explains the willingness of some countries to spend money on armaments rather than on economic development. The per Capita military expenditures of military dominated governments are enormously high.

Perceptions of defence

Third World States generally perceive themselves to be more vulnerable than their counterparts (in the industrial world). The reasons behind this sense of vulnerability are manifold. They range from internal tensions such as those between rich and poor or between different ethnic groups to territorial disputes with surrounding countries and perceived external political threats, such as a revolution or a military coup in neighbouring countries. Whatever the cause of the tension, the response is much the same as it has been in Europe at times of major political upheaval: rearmament.

Arms Races:

Importing arms to bolster security usually creates further insecurity, as neighbouring countries feel bound to buy yet more weapons to match the new arsenals on their borders. In Latin America, the re-emergence of a number of long standing border disputes in the Late 60s and 70s promoted many of the regions’ countries to purchase more weapons from abroad. However these arms purchases served simply to raise tensions even further and led to yet more arms purchases. Similarly, in the Middle East, Syria and Israel remain locked in an arms race which continues to fuel more and more armaments on both sides. Therefore the world is not safe as long as the profit system existed including death profit.

By Michael Ghebre

Reference: Death on Delivery
The impacts of the arms trade on the Third World

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