The wheeling and dealing that occurs in the international arms trade is beyond the comprehension of the average person. The deadly weapons, the political intrigue, the behind-the-scenes maneuverings and the millions upon millions of dollars that are earned, sometimes by a single individual, are beyond belief.
We are familiar with a recent case, thanks to WikiLeaks. This concerns a sale of a wide variety of military hardware (combat tanks, armored vehicles, etc.), that was to be sold by a French-owned company, Nexter Systems, to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) heard a complaint, initiated by Abbas Ibrahim Yousef Al Yousef, who apparently acted as broker between the UAE and Nexter Systems.
Yousef was to earn a 6.5% commission on the deal, which amounted to approximately $235 million. However, he was paid $40 million less than was promised. These are sums of money that the average person can only dream of.
Nexter Systems claimed that it stopped payments based on a French law, the OECD (The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) Anti-Corruption Convention, that went into effect in 2000, seven years after Nexter and the UAE signed their agreement. Nexter justified stopping payments by saying that Yousef’s company, Kenoza Consulting and Management, Inc., registered in the British Virgin Islands, “…intended to commit and indeed committed corruption acts”.
One of the alleged ‘corrupt acts’ was the fact that the tanks sold by Nexter through Yousef to the UAE had German engines, which violated laws forbidding arms sales from Germany to the Middle East. Yousef, however, stated that he had obtained a waiver from those laws by involving “decision makers at the highest levels, both in France and Germany.” When asked to name names, he stated that he didn’t meet directly with these officials, but worked through lobby groups.
Regarding the $40 million he was claimed he was owed, Yousef defeated his own case when he said that, had he been on retainer, his charge would have been $1 million a month. In that instance, his take would have been between $50 million and $60 million, not $235 million. His claims against Nexter Systems were then dismissed.
It is no secret that the U.S. is the world leader in the deadly and infamous business of arms dealing.
This entire episode, with the deal made 1993, delivery to be in 2008, and litigation lasting far longer, raises questions and exposes shocking facts.
- Why is France in the business of selling deadly arms?
- Who in Germany and France waived restrictions on the sale of German equipment to the Middle East?
- How may other countries are dealing in such high-stakes, war-making equipment?
- Why is there no United Nations oversight and restriction on arms dealing?
- How much does the profit motive cause wars, or increase their intensity and duration?
- Why is such an immoral business as the manufacture and sale of deadly weapons allowed to be so profitable?
- Nations prevented by law from making very profitable arms deals are able to easily circumvent such preventions.
- The United Nations is ineffective in reducing arms buildups in the very areas where such arms should be reduced.
- Weapons-dealing is extremely profitable; that fact that such weapons cause untold, unspeakable suffering around the world is not an issue to those dealing them.
- Even nations that are not generally war-making, such as France, are involved in the lucrative, deadly arms trade.
It is no secret that the U.S. is the world leader in the deadly and infamous business of arms dealing. Israel is well-known to test new, often illegal, weapons, provided or funded by the U.S., on the Palestinians. The largest arms sale in U.S. history was made in 2017 by U.S. President Donald Trump to Saudi Arabia, which is currently decimating, with U.S. support, Yemen, where as many as 10 million people, mostly children, are expected to starve to death by the end of the year, due to the war.
Yet when individuals can make hundreds of millions of dollars from a single arms sale, how will this be prevented? This is capitalism at work, that economic system that, according to John Maynard Keynes, “… is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men for the nastiest of motives will somehow work for the benefit of all”. In the U.S., capitalism’s gilded edge began to tarnish during the 2012 presidential campaign of one of the nastiest men, Mitt Romney, who blatantly and brashly made a fortune by causing the financial ruin of countless people.
The twin evils of capitalism and bogus ‘national security’ needs, when combined, overwhelm all other considerations in the U.S., where government officials demand that other nations purchase more and more of their death-dealing products so they can ‘protect themselves’, rather than relying on the mighty U.S. to do it.
In the Bible, in Isaiah 24, we read this: “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (emphasis added). This is heresy not only within the halls of U.S. governance, but throughout the world where weapons are big business, and their victims, unconsidered.
What must be done? What will it take for the world to ‘beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks’?
There are international organizations that have proposed, and continue to propose, alternative means of national security that can be implemented by all countries, and a smooth transition from the manufacture of tanks, guns, armored vehicles, etc., to automobiles, trains and other products that can serve the public good, rather than threaten global annihilation. For this to be possible, the United Nations must be strengthened.
These are difficult challenges indeed, but with the survival of humanity at stake, they must be met.