Italian campaign against F35s purchase reaches Parliament

NO F35

You may have heard that the troubled Lockhead Martin F-35 Lightning II, Britain’s newest fighter jet, failed to turn up at this summer’s Farnborough Air Show after an engine fire occurred in one of its production models. This incident once again brought to the fore long-standing concerns about the poor reliability and exorbitant cost of the jets; which sell for the ‘modest’ price of $100m-a-unit. Unfortunately the UK has already bought 14 F-35Bs and is committed to buying 48 in total. Continue reading “Italian campaign against F35s purchase reaches Parliament”

The people’s climate march: exposing the environmental costs of militarism

climate_mobilization (1)

On September 21, hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world will take part in the People’s climate march. Organized to put pressure on world leaders attending next Tuesday’s UN climate summit in New York to make meaningful commitments on climate change, it has been billed as ‘the largest environmental march’ in history. Continue reading “The people’s climate march: exposing the environmental costs of militarism”

Arms to Renewables: Join us for a CAAT speaker training day

The government spends thirty times more on weapons research than tackling climate change. Investing in renewable energy could provide more and better engineering jobs in a sector that supports people’s well-being, not death and destruction. But the UK government continue to waste public money on the arms trade. It’s time for this to change.
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A day at Farnborough arms fair

Eurofighter displayOn Monday 9 July, Betsy Barkas visited Farnborough International arms fair: a major event on the arms fair calendar. It takes place every other year, alternating with the DSEI arms fair in London. This year, Farnborough ran from 9-15 July.

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Fantasy and reality at BAE’s AGM

BAE AGM 2012
The BAE AGM: far removed from reality

Symon Hill reports from the Annual General Meeting of the world’s second-largest arms company.

Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of the BAE Systems Annual General Meeting. Shareholders were today welcomed into the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, to be greeted by plush carpets, free coffee and glamorous posters featuring BAE staff saying how great it is to work for one of the world’s largest arms dealers (they don’t quite put it quite like that).

Afterwards, the AGM itself was underway, with presentations and displays about “total performance” and “a culture of responsible behaviour”. A brief film attempted to demonstrate the diversity of BAE’s staff (not reflected on the board of directors), with gender, age and ethnicity very varied. None of them mentioned what BAE really does. The worker on the film with a visible mobility impairment did not mention how much cheaper mobility equipment would be if those who produce it were to receive the same subsidies that go to arms companies.

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Power and Counterpower

Tim Gee writes on the strength within protest – our Counterpower

Anti-arms protesters outside parliament on DSEI Day of Action - 13 September 2011
Anti-arms protesters outside parliament on DSEI Day of Action – 13 September 2011 (credit CAAT)

I started my life as a campaigner because I was horrified at the arms trade. As a teenager I joined the minibuses to London to join the DSEI protests. At university I helped organise against BAE Systems on campus and even got rid of them, for a year at least.

Since then I’ve spent every moment I can campaigning against climate change and cuts, for human rights in Burma, with travellers at Dale Farm and so on. But a couple of years ago I decided to take a bit of time out to read up on the campaigns that constitute our heritage to try and get closer to understanding why some campaigns seem to be so successful while others go awry.

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DSEI: playground of the power elite

Brenda Heard of Friends of Lebanon on how arms fairs, such as DSEI, fuel conflict worldwide.

The images have become commonplace. Pick-up trucks laden with rocket launchers and machine guns.  Dusty men with their rifles, poised as so many Rambos. Billows of smoke that linger after the bomber has flown on to its next target. These are the images of contemporary conflict. Differences of socio-political opinion are settled by bloody confrontation.

True, violent conflict is as old as mankind itself. True, self-defence is a necessity, even a responsibility. But the business of war has become the norm rather than the exception. The significance of this development lies not merely in the multitude of violent and unnecessary deaths -but more so in our readily viewing this reality with a novel brand of bold nonchalance.

In business-speak for international arms dealing, DSEI -Defence & Security Equipment International—boasts that its biennial exhibition “provides a time-effective opportunity to meet the whole defence and security supply chain”. DSEI further promises that this year’s event will exceed attendance figures from 2009: 25,170 attendees; 1280 exhibitors; 98 countries; 70 official delegations; 27 national pavilions. Just have a look at its slick website offering  “infinite opportunities” to those who would jump on the weapons carousel.

A stall at DSEI advertising AK-47 assault rifles
A stall at DSEI 2009 advertising AK-47 assault rifles for sale

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The abolition of slavery in arms

Drawing of a slave
"Am I not a man and a brother" – anti-slavery image

Henry Boddington explores the parallels between the slave trade and the arms trade and explains why ending the arms trade should be a priority for today’s world. 

In 1769  the slave, James Somersett was brought to England. He was the property of Charles Steuart a customs officer from Boston Massachusetts, then a British colony in North America. Somersett ran away in 1771 but was re-captured and imprisoned upon a ship bound for the British colony of Jamaica.  However, people claiming to be Somersett’s godparents made an application before the Court of King’s Bench for a writ of habeas corpus, and the captain of the ship was ordered to produce Somersett before the Court of King’s Bench, which would determine whether his imprisonment was legal.

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Global Day of Action on Military Spending protest

Ian Pocock reports on London CAAT’s protest as part of the Global Day of Action on Military Spending

London CAAT members carry out a die-in on the steps of the Treasury

On Tuesday 12 April I took part in a protest London CAAT organised to coincide with the Global Day of Action on Military Spending. Ten of us turned up outside the Treasury and stayed for an hour to engage with passersby and Treasury staff.  A die-in halfway through the hour attracted a lot of attention and was an eye-catching way to make our point. Inventive chants such as Welfare not Warfare, A&E not BAE and Sure Start not War Start also helped, as did the loud-hailer. Continue reading “Global Day of Action on Military Spending protest”