What can we do to stop arms dealing to countries that use weapons against their own people?


Countries often use supplied weapons against their own people and, in some cases, against the very countries who supplied them with the arms in the first place. How can this be prevented?

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How much worse is it to use weapons against your own people as opposed to your neighbours, or people a bit further away?

I actually think that if a country uses arms against the country that supplied the arms in the first place thereis some degree of poetic justice to it, on the contrary.

Do you expect an unwritten code of conduct that weapons will not be used against the supplying country but should only be used against other countries? Isn’t that, even if it could ever be implemented and adhered to, extremely cynical? That would make selling arms a way to defend yourself: ‘go shoot other people, kill them all if you want, but don’t touch me…’

I think that we should first look at weapons that have been outlawed or should be outlawed. Think of Israel dropping cluster bombs in th elast 2 days of their invasion of Lebanon, think of Israel (I’m not picking on them, it’s just more recent) allegedly using DIME weapons that destroy animals and people but leave infrastructure intact, think of the damage land mines cause years after the conflicts have ended…

I think that the way to outlaw these would be to hit countries where it matters, in the pocket. If you sell landmines to country X and country X uses them, you will have to pay for the clean up. The directors of the corporations doing the sales and the heads of state and military of the country using the weapons should be personally responsible, declaring the corporation bankrupt would not be an option. If you supply cluster bombs, then you will have to pay for the clean up as well as the loss of income and cost of relocation of the residents of the affected areas.

Basically I am saying that the true costs of conflicts must be borne by the perpetrators and their suppliers.

This could be enforced via trade boycotts, just as those used against Iraq prior to the war, ensuring that they couldn’t produce any WMD.

FInally this should be applicable to every country and corporation.

May be another relative answer is actually setting up a body, that could be a watchdog. All countries that have these weapons factories could be involved and take part. This could perhaps be a good idea as firstly this would make it difficult and stifle any corruption. Secondly this would be away of ensuring that no one country is a dominant superpower if the countries are all watching each other.

In the interim I would suggest that might be away forward if the countries made a collaborative effort say like the U.N. or may be some kind of convention say like the Geneva Convention but obviously for the monitoring and control of weapons. The monitoring side of things could be a short tern solution. The long term goal perhaps of this anti-weapons trading body is to I think close down and stop the manufacture of weapons altogether. How utopian of me eh?!

Jay Kay, I’m not sure how to answer this as there is no simple solution as every answer can be criticised in that even if a body was setup, there would be the involvement of bureaucracy, also the financial side of things and furthermore who and how would these countries that don’t co-operate and break the rules be punished?

Countries that use weapons against there own people often operate this way as there is perhaps little democracy and a lot of corruption. The question perhaps one should have asked is how these people, these mafia type governments exist and get into power in the first place?

Let’s all be aware that there are many countries around the globe that manufacture arms. The array of weapons is mind boggling . Those countries that manufacture arms are not really concerned about where they are shipped to . The illegal arms networking ,I am told, is so fantastic that it is near impossible to trace the route. Arms cost a bomb. I am sure that arms shipments are very large ….and so are the cheques.!! Like in the movies .The bottom line is that the arms dealer does not give a hoot about where a shipment is going as long as the payment is assured.

Today the US supplies arms to country X because of some bilateral co-operation. 3 years later things do not turn out right and so country X attacks US interests. If there is an armed insurgency within that country the govt. in power is going to use these arms against the insurgents….who are their own people. This is plain and simple politics . Surely we do not needexamples . The international community of the very rich nations ( is it G7 ? ) is trying to prevent North Korea and Iran from going nuclear yet some countries in G7 are reported to have stockpiles of nuclear weapons. Correct me if I am wrong please. Even Israel is believed to have such weapons, probably enough to wipe out all the “troublesome” middle east countries that oppose a Jewish state. The weapons have probably been supplied by the US. Do you think that one day tehe israelis will shoot at/ bomb US interests ? Maybe ?

So, if you can see where I am going with this you should understand that the kind of prevention you are talking about is not possible. A few countries want to police and rule the world. In the cycle they are at the crest. The crest is followed by a downturn into a trough and that time may be arriving sooner than you think for these countries.
The world is not fair and every dog has its day! The answer is to destroy all arms. Is this possible ?Knowing how sick the human race has become it may not even be practical. The answer is blowing in the wind.

The manufacturing of arms is relatively simple and the proliferation of weapons in recent years means that there are sufficient weapons available in this world to satisfy demand for many years to come. Even if you were to restrict the movement of guns across borders, rudimentary guns can be made by anyone with some basic machine tools.

However, what is less plentiful is the ammunition for these weapons. Ammunition degrades after a period of time and becomes unstable. Additionally you require access to more advanced engineering tools to mass-produce shell casings and access to various chemicals that go into the manufacture of munitions. If you restrict supply of these or encourage an international agreement whereby the lifetime of ammunition could be cut to a finite age, i.e. after a fixed period of time the chemicals used for propulsion degrade and become harmless, you will significantly impact upon the damage that the arms can inflict. Old ammunition would be useless and thus not stockpiled and sold on and therefore, only active manufacturers would be in the market, thus creating the opportunity to encourage control and responsibility within a clearly defined market sector.

People have cited the commercial aspect of the arms trade as a reason why people will never stop trading. Well, if you concentrate on the ammunition with a shelf life, the trade can continue but the number of players will be dramatically reduced and hopefully this can in turn bring a reduction to the death and destruction in the long run.

My first thoughts were that I think this could be prevented by monitoring the companies/factories that sell/trade them. If you think about it logically, globally there must only be a few manufacturers of such weapons.

Then I slowly began to deconstruct my own answer and supposed that there is actually no right answer. The reason being that even if the manufacturers were monitored, there could easily be a corrupt system of reporting, thus circumventing the purpose of control of such weapons.

It is sad to say but the Governments that allow for the supply and retail of such weapons make a hell of a lot of money and this is the catalyst and instigator of corruption.

May be another relative answer is actually setting up a body, that could be a watchdog. All countries that have these weapons factories could be involved and take part. This could perhaps be a good idea as firstly this would make it difficult and stifle any corruption. Secondly this would be away of ensuring that no one country is a dominant superpower if the countries are all watching each other.

In the interim I would suggest that might be away forward if the countries made a collaborative effort say like the U.N. or may be some kind of convention say like the Geneva Convention but obviously for the monitoring and control of weapons. The monitoring side of things could be a short tern solution. The long term goal perhaps of this anti-weapons trading body is to I think close down and stop the manufacture of weapons altogether. How utopian of me eh?!

Jay Kay, I’m not sure how to answer this as there is no simple solution as every answer can be criticised in that even if a body was setup, there would be the involvement of bureaucracy, also the financial side of things and furthermore who and how would these countries that don’t co-operate and break the rules be punished?

Countries that use weapons against there own people often operate this way as there is perhaps little democracy and a lot of corruption. The question perhaps one should have asked is how these people, these mafia type governments exist and get into power in the first place?

I hate to do it… I hate to answer a question with a question but like I said there is no right answer and to find a solution is difficult and I also think anyone that suggests merely that we just stop it is being naive and simplistic as the truth of the matter is each country likes to retain and retail and that’s the way the cookie crumbles (I’m afraid to say and end on a lighter note).

What can we do as a nation or as a race? As a nation not as much as we once could given new laws stopping protests in certain areas, but that’s a different matter. A recent “Mark Thomas” program outlined how easy it was to trade in arms legally by getting some school kids to do the deals. The findings were sent to the government but I’m pretty sure nothing was done.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament has been unsuccessful in achieving its aims; to me it is therefore unlikely this government will legislate to stop arms dealing. There is money to be made, allies to help strengthen and enemies to damage. Until these factors change, arms trading, whether legal or illegal, whether moral (is it ever? I doubt it) or immoral, will continue. And given the recent riots in Budapest I don’t see any change in governments, whether democratic or not, using weapons against its own people.

Sure, you could get the countries who supply weapons such as land mines to clean them up, but isn’t the UN (and therefore, the countries that supply the weapons) already doing this? Isn’t the problem that no one is actually sure where these things are buried?

As a race, mass co-ordinated protests similar to those during the “Live 8” events? That however would only reach countries like USA, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, Japan, China, Russia and the UK (did I just list the most powerful countries in the world?) and not all of them would outright ban arms trade, which is what is needed. African countries will still manufacture weapons to use against their own people. Terrorist organisations will still get their hands on weapons which will then give the previously mentioned powerful countries a reason to arm themselves and their mates (Israel, Turkey etc).

Meanwhile the UN, NATO, the EU and other groups of countries will still be relatively unsupported in any attempts to control arms trade.

To answer your question of how do you stop the arms trade, I’ll ask how you stop a leaky tap. You stop it at the source. The arms trade has to be stopped at the factories making the weapons. Then you need to destroy the stockpiles. This, however, isn’t feasible. Perhaps stopping the manufacture of bullets, rockets and the other projectiles that guns and launchers fire, and then working on stopping the rest. While there are bullets being made, there will always be guns ready to fire them.

In short you can’t.

Most of the time its the developed world that supplies these arms, such as the UK and USA. True that a lot of these arms usually get turned on the seller and that they’re used to kill the countrymen of the ones holding the weapons. Guns and arms aren’t only an amazing way of making money but also keeping power. And those are the two things that rules this world. These things are never going to go away, take away the guns and something else will take their place. This is why there is so much money spent on arms technology.
I know this may be a cruel view but we are our own population control. If the human race didn’t break out in some kind of war every so often then we’d have to think of another way of controlling the population, like enforced sterilistation, which would be another for of control.
Strange fact I picked up, possibly true, possibly not. About 18-20 years before a large war there’ll be a rise in the births of male children. Just a thought.

Mind you my personal feelings would be that I’d be happy for a world of peace, and that even if these guns are being used on other nations they’re still being used on the same kind of flesh and blood as yourself. Maybes in the distant future we’ll become the cerebral creatures we believe ourselves to be and rise above all of this, for now though we’re still to close to the animals we are.

Which is more effective – to stem the supply or reduce the demand?

There are no easy solutions for dealing with the supply of arms to non-democratic states. If it’s profitable then there will always be firms willing to fulfil the demand. However, it should be possible for genuinely concerned governments to reduce the exploitation of international trade routes for supplying arms to non-democratic states, either through total embargoes or state control of the trade (i.e. stop non-state companies manufacturing them in the first place).

At the moment there is considerable influence from the arms ‘lobby’ represented by the largest weapons manufacturers – after all, it’s a lucrative trade. As an example, there were 14 separate cluster bomb manufacturers represented at this year’s Defence Systems and Equipment International show in London’s Docklands: Lockheed Martin, EADS, Daimler Chrysler, Giat Industries, MBDA, Rhienmetall, RUAG, SAAB, Denel, General Dynamics, L-3 Communications, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Textron. When major ‘car’ makers are also developing weapons of such large-scale death, it makes you realise just how established the arms market is. Most of these firms will maintain that sales to non-democratic or black-listed states is not tolerated, and yet once arms have left the direct control of a supplier (for example, through an intermediary broker) it’s doubtful whether much is done to ascertain or influence it’s end destination. There is also likely to be the mentality within western states that if we’re not supplying these dictators, then somebody less ‘responsible’ will and our armed forces will know far less about what they’re facing.

On the demand side, short of removing those ultimately responsible for their subjects’ fate, there is little that can be done. The most popular weapon in the world is the AK47, which can be made, cheaply and easily by a relatively competent manufacturer, anywhere in the world. Its simplicity is the key to it’s widespread use. Stopping the supply from the west would not reduce the use of the AK, but probably increase it. But – and it’s a big but – that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be doing more to reduce the export of weapons to non-democratic states. The argument that just because someone else will do it if we don’t doesn’t justify the grey trade in illicit weaponry and our governments should undoubtedly be doing more to stem the flow. Of course we don’t know how much our esteemed leaders owe to the arms lobby for their election in the first place… Mr Bush?….

To end on a faintly positive note. If you own shares, or have other indirect investments in the stock market, why not make the effort to find out how much of it is invested in firms that have some involvement, no matter how seemingly insignificant, in weapons manufacture – and then sell them. If you have a SAAB or a car from the Daimler-Chrysler Group (i.e. a Merc, Jeep, Smart, Dodge or Chrysler) why not consider changing to one that’s a little less tainted. And finally, if you’re considering a holiday in a far flung state, just make sure it’s not one controlled by products made in your own backyard.

Although this is an issue that will not go away overnight – there are things we can do as individuals, firstly – arms deals are funded by banks and other financial institutions, therefore we could switch to banks that have ethical policies who will turn down lending to those who wish to deal in the arms trade in favour of those who wish promote fair trade if enough people switch then the banks would have to start taking notice
The other thing that has been done is to peititon the government and bring the issue to the attention of the UN as well as support those non government organistations that are campaigning against the arms trade.
However as mentioned above if we don’t supply arms – and that is where a lot of our money comes from – then they may be sourced elsewhere and if we are supplying arms then at least our government has some control over what is supplied to who….

The approach countries take to the sale of arms around the world varies greatly. It is not true that all western democracies have similarly firm attitudes blocking the sale of arms to questionnable dictatorships or indeed countries in severe political turmoil. Lobbying the government, through a dialogue with your MP is a good way to ensure the UK’s policy is morally defensible and the government as a whole applies pressure to other countries to avoid arms sales to unpleasant regimes. Concern has been raised about the UK’s own policy. Crucially, countries should be encouraged to co-operate and share information in an attempt to reduce the illegal trade.

However, realistically not all countries will follow an ethical policy and countries like China and some former Soviet States have indicated they will go their own way and supply arms on their own terms. The illegal trade is even harder to stamp out and as long as people are willing to pay for weapons people will supply them – rather like drugs.

Conflict is, unfortuantely, a fact of human existance and it is hard to see this ever changing. As long as people feel the need to defend their territory, culture and beliefs they will use weapons to do so. The sad reality is that people will use anything that comes to hand as a weapon to pursue their aims if they feel strongly enough. The genocide in Rwanda and the deaths of some 800,000 people in a little other 3 months was conducted with knives, machetes and other farm implements. Very few guns were used.

Having served in the military and witnessed aggression in Africa, the Balkans and the Midddle East I have come to the conclusion that conflict is a reality of life. Limiting the supply of weapons to places where they will be used against innocent people is a small but important step. However I do not believe it will ever have a dramatic difference. Will Russia really change its policy in the North Caucasus if countries refuse to sell them weapons or will they build them themselves? Beyond that, the bigger question we need to ask ourselves is what do we do when we see innocent people being threatened and murdered and how should we re-act to the events that are taking place every day in countries around the world. Do we have the right and the resources to judge every tribe, people and nation and prevent them using violence against others or amongst themselves?

Right now the governments of many western powers are no longer answerable to the people they are supposed to represent. The situation resembles an autocracy more than a democracy. This causes problems when it comes to stopping anything which the public don’t agree with as the public don’t actually carry any clout.

The problem is that the few poweful men who actually weild the power have many interests in selling arms to all these unstable nations. For example, they sell arms, they become rich. They arm unstable regimes, the regimes cause trouble with them, they get to say ‘you must give up some of your freedoms to make you safer’ thus consolidating their power. (By the way, you are much more likely to be struck by lightning than you are to be killed by a terrorist while living in the west, but the media makes us all feel that the threat is immediate and ever present, thus creating a feeling that the removal of our rights and liberty is just and sensible.)

So, how do we stop arms dealing to unstable countries? Well, we have to take back our power first. But the great thing is that we still have it, it was never taken away, there was just a situation created which looks like our power has been diminished. The thing is, our power rests in our numbers, theres more of us than there are of the few people weilding power. So what we have to do is show ourselves. Get onto the streets, write to our MPs, generally create a nuicance, talk to each other about what matters, about what wrongs are being done in our names, we have to form political groups and parties which offer genuine alternatives to the current options (which are all pretty much the same) and if we are not listened to and those trying to create these alternatives are suppressed, then we have to demand an end to the systems which are in place through mass demonstration.

This is the only way anything will change, with genuine unwavering effort to alter the very basis of modern western government.

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