The Curmudgeon


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Oh, the Stringency

On the day a viciously anti-Semitic jury ruled that only trigger-happy thugs perished in the Holocaust, and the Righteous State was forced to arrest the Palestinian minister for Jerusalem affairs for desecrating an Israeli identity card by attempting to carry it among the two-legged beasts on the West Bank, the British Foreign Office has been showcasing its own modest contribution towards peace on earth and goodwill among nations. Licenses for British arms sales to Israel have almost doubled compared with last year's, and are at their highest since 1999.

The Campaign Against the Arms Trade says that, over the past year, Britain "licensed military equipment sales to 14 of the 17 countries involved in major armed conflict" and "10 countries at the bottom third of the UN human development index". Apparently CAAT believe there is something not altogether free-markety about selling weapons to those who might want to use them, whether in major armed conflict or, like the British themselves in Afghanistan and Iraq, in encouraging human development. The Foreign Office responded that "The bottom line is that no piece of kit is used for external aggression or internal repression"; one of the lines above the bottom one being, as usual, that the British government does not approve of aggression or repression, and that anything the British government condones or engages in cannot thereby constitute either of those two sinful practices.

The Foreign Office also believes that the Government's arms export licensing system is stringent and transparent. For example, what passes for our Foreign Secretary has "sought assurances from Israel that equipment supplied by the UK was not being used against civilians and in the occupied territories", and in 2002 the Government announced that it was "tightening controls" on arms exports to Israel after finding that these assurances had been breached. This no doubt explains why we are selling Israel "armoured vehicles and missile components", neither of which could be used in the occupied territories or against people in civilian uniform. Oh, the stringency of it.


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