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I know there has been a huge number of messages recently, but I felt I could not let Alan Bates praise of Blair and Cook go unanswered. (For the record, Alan, yes, of course you are right about international intervention being necessary. I am a socialist but a prohibition on international intervention doesn't form any part of my conception of socialism. I can see where it comes from - Chomsky offers perhaps the most compelling arguments for it in his work - but it's just a logical leap too far. The fact that international interventions have overwhelmingly been detrimental, since WWII, doesn't mean they always would be. I have never seen any argument that gets from one to the other - it's just a logical leap.) Here are some excerpts from Campaign Against Arms Trade's latest newsletter. For the last two and a half years they have been supplying copious evidence that this Labour Government has never, in practice, had anything anywhere near resembling an Ethical Foreign Policy. In any case, I've said this before, how can a government that is actively complicit in the sanctions, not only upholding them but working in the UN for their continuation, be described as in any way ethical? To me, it just beggars belief. See particularly the last paragraph of this excerpt, below. ------------------------------------------------------------------ http://www.caat.demon.co.uk/newsletter.html As you are all doubtless aware, the embargo on arms to Indonesia has been lifted. Despite the destabalisation of the whole region and the extremely fragile democracy in Indonesia, the arms exporters have been given the green light to carry on arming the Indonesian generals. ... Arms to Zimbabwe On 20th January, 'The Guardian' broke the news that the Government was licensing the export to Zimbabwe of spare parts for Hawk aircraft. The spare parts will enable the Zimbabwean government to carry out more bombing raids on the Congo, resulting in even more civilian deaths, and even more misery, than at present. Protests erupted immediately the story broke. The Liberal Democrats, the leader writer of 'The Guardian, 'The Independent' and, of course, CAAT, were horrified. The editor of Zimbabwes leading non-governmental newspaper, the 'Zimbabwe Independen', felt the sale was prompted 'purely' by economic considerations. 'The British government', he said, 'was opposed to Zimbabwes involvement in the Congo war and is opposed to human rights abuses perpetrated by the Mugabe regime, but it is willing to support the Mugabe government by selling it arms.' (Guardian, 21.1.00) Even from the Tories The Conservative Shadow Foreign Secretary, John Maples MP, said 'Zimbabwe has an appalling record on human rights, economic mismanagement, government corruption and abuse of aid. Tony Blairs decision to sell them parts for Hawk fighter jets shows what a shambles Labours ethical foreign policy is in If there are any countries in the world to which Robin Cooks ethical foreign policy should prevent arms sale, Zimbabwe is clearly one of them.' Blairs decision It seems that John Maples is right in describing the decision as being the Prime Ministers. Report after report says that he is overruling Foreign Secretary Robin Cook on arms export decisions. The arms company lobbyists appear to have Tony Blair in their pockets. Government policy is dictated by business. Leaks to the press seem to be the only recourse for those unhappy with the decisions, while Mr Cook comes up with less than plausible explanations to justify policies he seemingly does not agree with. Governments come into power to make new policies and change the status quo, yet the Foreign Secretary, nearly three years into government, said the UK had to allow the sale the spare parts because it had permitted the export of the Hawks in the early 1980s. This is nonsense no Government has to issue an export licence because its predecessor did. Clare Short missing? The press reports all say that there was a difference of opinion between Foreign Office on the one hand, and the Ministry of Defence and Department of Trade and Industry on the other, before Tony Blair intervened. None of the press reports, though, mentioned the International Development Secretary, Clare Short, even though her Department would have had the chance to make its views known. What happened here? Export Credit support? Another question is whether the Hawk parts sale will be underwritten by Export Credit Guarantees. Zimbabwe is heavily indebted, and John Makumbe, a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, asks how his government can find money for spare parts for the Congo war, when there is no money for fuel and people are daily walking 20 km to work. However, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Zimbabwe did not include Zimbabwe in his list of countries where weapons purchases will not be underwritten by Export Credits. See pages belowfor more details. * Write to the Rt Hon Tony Blair MP, Prime Minister, 10 Downing Street, London SW1A 2AA expressing your dismay at his decision to sell arms to a government embroiled in a war, with an appalling human rights record, and disastrous economic situation. You could also say that if he changes his mind, and backs a truly ethical foreign policy. This would be a hugely popular move. And Arms to Pakistan The storm over arms for Zimbabwe may be the prelude to an even fiercer controversy over Pakistan. On 12 January 'The Guardian' (again) revealed that the government was considering lifting the restrictions on arms sales which it has maintained since the military coup last year. This article first brought into the open a long-standing split between the Foreign Office and the Department of International Development on the one hand and the DTI, for which all exports are good exports, and the MoD on the other. The Foreign Office, even without Cook and his ethics, has to think of other things, such as the countrys international repute. But in this case too it seems that the Prime Minister is likely to come down against it. Tension is still acute The history of Pakistan for the last 40 years has been a difficult one. Military dictatorships have alternated with civilian governments which have collapsed in scandal and corruption. Its rulers are obsessed by the quarrel with India over Kashmir. The two countries fought a full-scale war over that territory in 1965, and there was fighting on the frontier last summer. Tension is still acute, and war could break out at any moment. If it does, it could well become nuclear. Is this the time to add to Pakistans military capacity? Nuclear programme Since 1991 the US Congress has banned arms sales to Pakistan because ot its nuclear weapons programme. Other countries have tried to fill the gap, and so far France has been more successful than the UK, winning orders for 40 Mirage fighters and 3 submarines. It briefly suspended deliveries last summer but announced their renewal in November. Selling to virtually anyone The UK sold some elderly frigates and helicopters in the early 90s, but since then its exports have consisted mainly of components, such as head-up displays for the French fighters. However, 119 licences for military equipment were issued in 1998. And even if our sales would not be of overwhelming practical importance, their moral and political significance would be huge, signalling that this government is willing to sell weapons to virtually anyone. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email firstname.lastname@example.org Full archive and list instructions are available from the CASI website: http://welcome.to/casi