Blog Archives

Now thrive the armourers: unrepentant ‘special friends’, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the United States


Though cluster bombs were banned under international law in 2008, Amnesty International has found a UK-manufactured cluster bomb in Yemen and, according to Defense News, the United States has sold Riyadh cluster bombs and millions of dollars’ worth of training, information gathering, weapons and aerial refuelling support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen.

The International Business Times reports that for over a year, Human Rights Watch has recorded attacks on Yemen by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, killing civilians and destroying homes, schools and hospitals. They have used cluster bombs, which scatter explosive ‘bomblets’ across a wide area and eject a stream of molten metal designed to pierce metal armour as they detonate. After this, they explode into thousands of fragments killing and maiming all in the vicinity. If they don’t explode on impact, they become a danger to civilians on the ground. More on the technology here.

Amnesty International calls on the British government, which has rejected claims that the Saudi Arabian-led coalition has violated the laws of war during its conflict in Yemen:

  • to stop the UK selling arms to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition that could be used in the Yemen conflict;
  • to launch an immediate inquiry into how UK cluster bombs ended up in Yemen and
  • to ensure the Saudi Arabia-led coalition destroys all remaining stocks of UK cluster munitions.

Has the Obama administration blocked sales of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia?

A few days later, Defense News and many other media outlets reported that the Obama administration has moved to block sales of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen, amid reports of mounting civilian casualties there. However no link was given and a search for the report in the named journal Foreign Policy found no reference on its site.

(Update, reader Felicity Arbuthnot found a link in another sticle: – subscription only).

This move is said to follow rising criticism by U.S. lawmakers of America’s support for Saudi Arabia’s role in the year-long Yemeni conflict – not because of concern about the civilian casualties and infrastructure damage inflicted, but, it is alleged, due to increasing disappointment at the Saudis’ failure to do more to fight the militants of the Islamic State group in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.




When will money be ‘set aside’ for good?


1916 cameron tankThere is growing social unrest and hardship for so many in Britain, chaos has been caused by our foreign policies in Iraq/Afghanistan – and war with Iran is ‘not ruled out’.

Today we read that more serving British soldiers and veterans took their own lives in 2012 than died fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan over the same period.

Despite all this, the ongoing propaganda campaign promoting war is to be intensified. Not content with quietly giving multimillion subsidies to prop up the arms industries, David Cameron has decided to ‘set aside’ £50m to celebrate the centenary of the 1914-18 war.

1916 cartoonPatrick Wintour notes Cameron’s studious avoidance of the morality of that war and of the contribution of Conservative historians, including Niall Ferguson and Andrew Roberts, who have “condemned the war as a catastrophic failure by a political and military elite – the conscripted lions notoriously led by the callous and unthinking donkeys dining behind the trenches”.

Why is there so much talk of bravery and heroism but none of the needless suffering and destruction?

It conditions the younger generation and most of their families to believe that engaging in warfare is a great calling – encouraging the young to enlist to kill and destroy people and homes in other countries. A veil will be drawn over any facts showing that war is a matter of killing and broken limbs and minds.

1916 wounded on stretcher


“War is a matter of old men’s pride, and young people’s lives.”

peace sign logoConfirming the implication of the US peace sign (left), a UNICEF UK consultation  based on an online survey and a series of workshops held in conjunction with the British Youth Council found that children and young people had a ‘clear concern’ for world leaders to prioritise world peace.


The blindfold celebration of the 1914-18 war should be balanced by a clear-sighted account of the desire for a peaceful world

David Cameron said, in a speech at London’s Imperial War Museum, that funding will be found for a new £4.5million permanent exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in south London.

Could he at least be even-handed and set aside the same sum to further develop the displays at the Peace Museum in Bradford – then both could ‘help secondary schools explore the Great War and its vast consequences’?.

INMP logo


The Bradford-based co-ordinator of the International Network of Museums for Peace advocates a lively, interactive slant on museum work – akin to that of Eureka, the children’s museum in Halifax. 

As he said to a gathering in Birmingham last week: “If only 1% of the money spent on weapons – or even a tenth of that – were devoted to promoting peace  we could do so much.”