Gideon Burrows “The No-Nonsense Guide to the Arms Trade”

ISBN 1 85984 426 X. Published in 2002 by New Internationalist Publications Ltd. This was actually a freebie as New Internationalist were giving it away to new subscribers to their magazine. At just 144 pages, including Contacts and Index, this is quite a short read and, I must say, a very dull read. “No-nonsense” is quite right if it means “frills-free”. The books starts from the assumption that guns are bad – no discussion. It is an easy and lazy assumption that we can all readily agree with. Well, of course they are. However it all reminded me of the song “Guns Don’t Kill People – Rappers Do”. Quite. Burrows goes straight from a Trade in Armaments to links to Human Rights abuses, development, corruption, crime and conflict without every firmly joining the dots between the two. Therefore we ship some Land Rovers to Country A. Country A adds a machine Gun and ships the Land Rover to Country B that has a bad Human Rights record. The author feels little need for evidence that these vehicles are actually used to abuse anyone. If it isn’t a new Land Rover a second-hand Toyota will do. Big deal. Get over it. The arms trade itself is mechanistic and its machinations are no different to the trade in Frozen Chickens or Children’s Toys. It is mostly not illegal and most people buying, selling, shipping, receiving, paying and using them will not die violent deaths. So, what do we have left? Well a lot of hand-wringing about, well, the ‘wrongness’ of it all. The Author tries so hard to find someone, anyone, whom he can blame. It all sounds like a 1970’s feminist rant against the porn trade. It is all based upon an assumption. Of course illicit gun trading is bad and our Government is guilty of shady dealings in the name of commerce. It is difficult to get excited. Since we know our Governments get up to far worse in our name then selling a few jet fighters to Saudi Arabia hardly seems pertinent. This remains a fringe issue in comparison to invading Iraq for imaginary WMD. The Global Justice movement is about curing the causes of war. And Ends not a Means. Starving ethnic hatred of guns may save a few lives but remember how many Rwandans were hacked to death by machete? Where does it end? Is this hand-wringing more about saving our own souls from guilt by association? Guns don’t kill people. People do. As soon as we stop trafficking in hatred then the desire for guns will ease. To stop hating we must stop Western belligerent Foreign Policy and Resource Wars. Ironically there is no mention of biological or nuclear technology. Now that is something to get concerned about.

About post-carbon-man

A passionate advocate of a peaceful transition to a sustainable political-economy, Mark hails from a working class farming background. Today he is a Company Director and Chairman of the Low Carbon Chilterns Co-operative. Whilst at University (Engineering Masters) he was active in Conservative Student politics but has had no affiliation since. He has travelled widely on business covering the USA, Europe, Middle East and Central Asian Republics. In 2007 Mark founded Post-Carbon-Living and a year later co-founded Transition Town High Wycombe. He lives with is wife & daughter in a home they retrofitted to be carbon-neutral. Today he blogs about surviving politics on a shrinking planet and is passionate in his rejection of Nationalism.

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