Just like cigarettes, the global arms trade is a cancerous habit-forming poison that needs stubbing out, throwing away and quitting.
In the first few decades of the 20th century, cigarettes were once sold and advertised as having health benefits. From the 1940s onwards, scientists discovered the link between lung cancer and smoking. Worldwide governments were slow to react to any change as the cigarette industry spent millions trying to prove the scientists wrong.
Also, the governments received huge amounts in revenue from such big business, plus cozy incentives and nice little kickbacks to politicians. This ensured the tobacco industry could continue peddling its cancer-sticks without interference.
However, by the closing decades of the 20th century science had conclusively proved the lobbyists of the tobacco industry wrong. By public demand from health campaigners governments across the world slowly began to inform their citizens of the risks of smoking. As well as information on the facts, in general advertising was restricted and the buying age increased.
According to the World Health Organisation 1 in 3 people still smoke, but are now far better informed of the dangers.
In 2016, according to Public Health England a record number gave up smoking. Now only 1 in 6 smoke.
A cigarrette can kill.
So can a bullet.
The arms trade is like the tobacco industry. It sells and profits from causing death and misery. The arms trade promotes security the same way the tobacco industry began by promoting health benefits.
It is an absurdity.
Less weapons, not more, will make the world a safer place.
Just like the tobacco industry, the arms trade actively engages politicians in kickbacks and the legalised bribery of lobbying. This makes governments reluctant to change. The global arms trade is monopolized by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council:
These five permanent members of the Security Council were the victorious powers in World War II and have maintained the world’s most powerful military forces ever since. They annually top the list of countries with the highest military expenditures and are officially recognized by the UN as ‘nuclear-weapon states.’
These five permanent members alone account for around three quarters of exported arms.
The five biggest importers are:
- Saudi Arabia
- the United Arab Emirates
Across the world, the global arms trade supplies many authoritarian regimes with weapons, most of which have a terrible record of human rights abuses
A justification from governments in favour of the arms industry supplying arms is that it gives control to where the weapons go. The reality is, once handed over, they have no say in both how they are passed along and against whom they are used. Click here for more on the UK Arms Trade and Human Rights Abuse.
By Government selling arms in large quantities, it is a clear signal of political support for warfare and NOT peace.
We must do to the weapons global arms trade what we did to cigarettes.
Stub them out.
Campaign Against the Arms Trade
The Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) is a UK-based organisation working to end the international arms trade.