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British politicians: stop shouting adjectives, banging drums and dropping bombs (Jenkins) and exert unrelenting international pressure for a negotiated settlement (Corbyn)

Paul Ingram, executive director of BASIC*, commented on Simon Jenkins’ statement quoted in today’s article on another website:

“It is a war crime to disable, maim or poison a victim by chemical or biological means, yet it is permissible to blow them to bits. Dropping chlorine evokes howls of horror. Dropping bunker busters does not. Cluster munitions, the most horrible of delayed action weapons, remain in the arsenals of NATO armies”.

Paul (left) wrote: “Fair enough, and of course I agree that the war mongering these last two days, particularly by the BBC, is shocking indeed. But to equate CW with other munitions is to miss the point that they are expressly illegal, and we have to be building up stronger humanitarian law piece by piece and defending strongly those pieces already in place”.

The editor replied: “Yes, I think Jenkins could have made a valid point just by referring to conventional bombs”. After checking on the illegality of cluster bombs she asked Paul, “Did US ever sign this?”

He replied, “No, I don’t think the US is a signatory. It certainly hasn’t ratified” and continued:

“I was on Russia Today yesterday saying that the best response for the Russians now would be to strengthen their call for a UN Security Council meeting and present all the evidence they have that the chemical weapons attack was not a Syrian air force one … or to come up with further evidence for their current explanation.

“The worst aspect of the cruise missile attack was the way it by-passed the UN Security Council and was illegal and is a major step in the direction of unilateralism and flagrant use of force.

“There are plenty of conspiracy theories going around, but the consequences are that Russia will no longer tolerate US aircraft over Syria and will strengthen the S300-400 systems that appear to have shot a majority of the 59 cruise missiles out of the sky.

“… and I see that Russia is sending its own missile destroyer into the Med today”.



Will parliament stand firm again?

*The British American Security Information Council (BASIC) works to address security challenges by building confidence in a shared, sustainable security agenda. We work in both nuclear weapon and non-nuclear weapon states, with a specific expert focus on the UK, US, Europe and the Middle East.




Economic and moral benefit gained if UK government stops courting wealthy authoritarian rulers – Ann Feltham

Earlier this year the Belfast Telegraph and others reported that David Cameron had agreed to “strengthen co-operation” with Saudi Arabia despite concerns about the country’s human rights record and criticism of British arms sales.


Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah meets David Cameron in Riyadh

Ann Feltham, Parliamentary Co-ordinator, Campaign Against Arms Trade, wrote in the FT yesterday addressing a correspondent who vehemently recommended UK parliamentarians to avoid criticising Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – the UK’s “real friends” in the Middle East – who have purchased vast quantities of military equipment.

She reminds readers that – as well as being morally repugnant – such an approach can lead to problems in the longer term, “as the consequences of arming the likes of Saddam Hussein and Muammer Gaddafi clearly show.” She continues:

“The letter also cites the number of jobs in the UK sustained by the military contracts, but, as your international economics editor Alan Beattie has pointed out: “You can have as many arms export jobs as you are prepared to waste public money subsidising.” (“Promoting exports is full of risk for the world economy”, August 10 2010.)

“Research and development funding, export credit insurance and a government arms export promotion unit with nearly 150 staff – all these and more are paid for by the taxpayer, though the beneficiaries are BAE Systems and the other arms companies.

“Successive UK governments have made a choice to focus support on military industry, but despite the subsidies, it is declining.

“It also employs a lot of workers, such as engineers, whose skills are in short supply. If, for example, the government support was transferred to the growing renewable energy sector it should bring economic benefit to the UK. It could also help provide energy security without the current reliance on authoritarian regimes, and remove any motivation for intervention to protect oil supplies.”

Ann Feltham concludes that if the UK government were to stop courting the authoritarian rulers of Saudi Arabia and the UAE as potential arms purchasers, and condemned their human rights abuses, the benefits would be both economic and moral.