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Arms Bizarre
October 17, 2002
By Graham Smith

Rule #1: When going to war with a country, have your allies refrain from selling it millions of dollars worth of weapons to use against you.

According to the British press, British Foreign Minister Jack Straw was in Tehran recently urging the Khatami regime to not aid Iraq by selling them weapons, buying Iraqi oil or sending it supplies in the event of military action.

Sounds like a good idea on the surface. That is, until you find out that Saddam's top brass is currently rubbing elbows with the richest and most advanced British arms firms at the Sofex military weapons bazaar this week in Amman, Jordan. Yes, the same Saddam Hussein who is being likened to Hitler and Pol Pot. The same Saddam who is frequently referred to as "insane," "evil" and "maniacal" in the cable news badlands.

Promotional material for the military fair actually states that His Evilness will be sending an "official delegation" to peruse the latest in Western firepower. Either that or he'd like to take a peek at what "regime change" looks like.

Items up for sale to Iraq (this is no joke): Tanks, thermal imaging hardware (see night vision to shoot at American planes) and yes, state-of-the-art surface to air missiles (see shooting down American planes).

Also up for sale: Heavy machinery to mass-produce the weapons mentioned above.

So it appears Straw and the British government aren't concerned about Iraq acquiring weapons so much as where Iraq acquires them. In fact, the British government will have its own booth at the event.

But before we feign outrage at the hypocrisy of the British defense industry, Uncle Sam's companies are well represented at the weapons jamboree.

Despite robust sales to America during the extended campaign in Afghanistan, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin will also by trying to unload its latest gadgets to the Middle East. Previous attendees of the fair included representatives from Syria, Sudan, Iran and Libya - all countries on the U.S. list of terror-sponsoring states.

Sure, they'll tell you those weapons are to be used for defensive purposes, but that would give them too long a shelf life.

Fresh conflicts are needed to restock nations' inventories. This philosophy can be seen in the debacle that was the bombing campaign in Afghanistan. Make no mistake: We were not carpet bombing Afghanistan with B-52s to "find Osama." And if we were, it failed miserably.

It was done to deplete the U.S. inventory of cheap and old bombs that would have cost billions to dispose of regularly. Very few "smart bombs" were used. Rather, the U.S. chose to strap J-DAM guidance tail kits on thousands of aging bombs and carpet the land from heights of up to 20,000 feet. One of these cheap bombs strayed and almost killed Hamid Karzai and several U.S. Marines. One of these bombs killed four Canadian troops and another killed dozens during an Afghan wedding - though the latter may have been intentional.

Which brings us to the realization that throughout decades of global conflict, and perhaps because of it, business is good for those who create chaos and death. These Chaos Mongers buy influence at the highest levels. Former president Bush actually visited Saudi Arabia on behalf of the Carlyle Group, a company heavily invested in defense contractors. Carlyle also employs former British prime minister John Major and former U.S. defense secretary Frank Carlucci. And make no mistake, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush will all work for Carlyle once (if) they're out of office.

There's nothing illegal about it. But at some point, the United States will have to take responsibility for the continual arming of future aggressors or perceived aggressors. We must come to the logical conclusion that a healthy defense industry does not necessarily mean good things for Americans.

Average Americans were stunned to read in Newsweek and other sources of the long, sordid history the CIA and U.S. government had with the mujahadin, and particularly, a young Osama bin Laden. Even more disheartening was to find out that the U.S. and Britain armed Saddam to the teeth and sold him biological and chemical weapons in the 1980s. And even worse was discovering the U.S. provided Saddam with satellite imagery of Iranian positions to facilitate his gassings.

So now we have chosen to "deal" with Iraq once again. And, in all likelihood, several other countries in the Middle East will be soon be facing the business end of the Bush Doctrine. But rather than make sure we're doing all we can to keep high-tech weapons out of the hands of terrorists and terrorist-harboring states, we insist on allowing our defense contractors to continually arm the world.

Intelligence experts scoffed at the notion that the U.S. shouldn't be doing business with rogue officials and states during its "War on Terror." The line goes something like, "You can't fight terrorists without getting your hands dirty."

So, despite knowing the history of dealing with rogues, U.S. intelligence was again cleared to cavort with terrorists and war criminals - in the name of our country and its citizens.

And in the middle of prospects for a U.S. and British attack on Iraq, Saddam is pricing missiles and tanks. But you wouldn't expect a war to get in the way of some profits now would you?

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