Christopher Lee

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Buy My Bombers In The Name Of Peace Says Arms Salesman Cameron And Don’t Mention The $multimillion Kickbacks

5th November 2012
British Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in the political unstable, terrorist and war-threratened Persian Gulf on Monday with a suitcase full of pictures of fighters, bombers, small arms, radars, rocket launchers and promised everyone that he was determined to bring about peace in the region.

Meanwhile, if they would just buy a couple of squadrons of Typhoon jets and their associated missiles and bombs then he was sure they would feel more secure.  As a bonus, Cameron is doing side-of-the-mouth promises to the United Arab Emirates about sticking a squadron of British Royal Air Force jets into the region to protect the oill – sorry, we mean, the people – in the event of a rumpus with or over Iran.

When someone questioned the morality of selling lethal weapons to human rights suppressing dictatorships, Cameron appeared baffled by the objection.  Oh, human rights and all that stuff. Don’t worry, he would have a word with the sheiks and all about that.

In fact the sheiks and all wanted a word with him – not directly you understand.  That’s not the way the kings and princes do business here. Their problem is that they don’t really go along with all that Arab Spring stuff. They may have helped with the rebellion that lead to the murder of the Mad Hatter of Libya around this time last year, but they really don’t go along with all this UK idealism that thinks Arab Spring rebels are freedom fighters.  

Cameron needs telling, they so believe, that the so-called human rights rebels are are a bunch of revolutionaries with mobiles and Facebook accounts bent on bringing down the Gulf monarchies and sheikdoms.

They think Cameron should get real and unless he does, there’ll be no fat defense contracts or if there are, the gear will be used to put down any mob that steps out on the main drag with a placard calling for change.

The French President Francois Hollande stopped by at the start of the week.  He had it about right.  He said France will support the status quo in the Gulf kingdoms (ie despotism) with her United Nations Security Council vote and will wind up sanctions against Iran. If the Saudis could see their way to signing a Franco-Saudi deal for warship maintenance, then France will turn a blind eye or two when the human rights thing comes up in the UN.  

They like that real politik in the Gulf.  Hollande will probably get the contract in the post week after next just as soon as the princes get their brown envelopes.

So what about Cameron? He really would like to be known as the man who sold Typhoons to Saudi Arabia and Dubai. He says that selling weapons to the Gulf states who are, after all, jolly good friends, is an OK thing to do and to promote British arms sales  is, what the British PM calls, “completely legitimate.”

He says he wants to raise human rights issues. Well he might especially as the UK which he politically leads is a former imperial power that knows all about keeping the natives under the thumb.

When he arrived in Dubai, Mr Cameron made it sound so simple: ” On human rights there are no no-go areas in this relationship”. It was so simple that no one knew what he meant. His next line got closer to the truth: “We show respect and friendship to a very old ally and partner.”  The shorthand for this is that he wants a £3bn Typhoon deal that’s worth an estimated 3,000 jobs in the UK.

But of course, Mr Cameron, said the visit is not all about trade and investment.  Oh yes it is Mr C. Just as M. Hollande’s visit Sunday was about trade and investment.  The Gulf States are awash with cash.  The UK wants a chunk of it.  The irony of course is that one of Mr Cameron’s Tory predecessors, the then Mrs Thatcher understood this and her arms salesmen (and her son) got their noses in the trough – and not too many people in the UK cared.

Now the jobs are scarce and the British arms industry, especially after the EADS-BAe Systems debacle, is not entirely troughless but needs to get snorting in the arms sales swill.  And that’s another sidebar for Cameron to watch. Dealing with Arab countries usually means someone gets bunged a million or so dollars for awarding these contracts.

The British suffer moral indignation over kick-backs, bribes, commissions, percentages or whatever the euphemism is for handing out money to seal deals.  It is of course, a perfectly legitimate form of business just as a small time traveling salesman gives a box of chocs to a regular customer at Christmas.  But with the percentages on a £3billion contract already sweating-up Arab royal family palms that may be something else Cameron would like to raise with the UK’s very old allies and partners.  We think not. We think not.

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