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Tony Blair and the Military-Industrial-Complex


John Simkin
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I have thought sometime that the main corruption of Tony Blair involves the arms industry. This would help to partly explain the Iraq War and the recent decision to try and get Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system renewed before he is ousted from power. Some reports suggest the system will cost in the region of £79bn. Gordon Brown has already made a speech where he has argued he is in favour of renewing Trident, although it will clearly break the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

Article VI of the NPT states that each of the parties to the treaty should undertake to pursue "negotiations in good faith on effective measures" relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament. In 2005, Rabinder Singh QC and Professor Christine Chinkin stated their opinion that the replacement of Trident is likely to constitute a material breach of Article VI. "The linkage between the principles of non-proliferation and the obligation to negotiate towards disarmament ... indicate that Article VI is a provision 'essential to the accomplishment of the object or purpose of the treaty'.

Last week the Ministry of Defence secured a £1.7bn increase in its budget. Currently we are spending £32bn a year on defence. This is in cash terms, the second biggest defence allocation in the world.

It is not made clear why we need the latest attack submarines or anti-tank weapons. Who are we pointing our nuclear weapons at? We used to be told it was the Soviet Union who wanted to invade us. Since the fall of communism they are only interested in killing its political opponents on the streets of London. What we do know is that our current enemy is extremely to reluctant to use conventional tactics on the battlefield. Nuclear missiles and the Eurofighter is not very good at dealing with terrorists.

The Ministry of Defence agrees with this assessment. In a white paper published in 2003 it stated: "there are currently no major conventional military threats to the UK or NATO ... it is now clear that we no longer need to retain a capability against the re-emergence of a direct conventional strategic threat".

A leaked NATO policy document concedes that "large-scale conventional aggression against the alliance will be highly unlikely". As George Monbiot pointed out in yesterday’s Guardian: “No country that is capable of attacking NATO countries is willing to do so. No country that is willing is capable. Submarines, destroyers, Eurofighters and anti-tank rounds are of precious little use against people who plant bombs on trains.”

Who is making money from this obscene arms trade? The main beneficiary is BAE Systems. In his book Blair’s Wars, John Kampfner records that “from his first day in office Blair was eager not to antagonise British arms companies, and BAE Systems in particular, which developed extremely close relationships with senior figures in Downing Street.” A Downing Street aide told Kampfner that whenever the head of BAE encountered a problem, “he’d be straight on the phone to No 10 and it would be sorted”.

BAE Systems latest problem concerns the Serious Fraud Office’s three year investigations into allegations that illegal commissions into allegations that illegal commissions may have been paid to Saudi royals by BAE Systems. The SOF is also looking at arms deals between BAE and General Augusto Pinochet.

Both these deals date back to Margaret Thatcher’s time in government (her son was also involved in these deals). This helps to explain why Thatcher was so keen on helping Pinochet stay in office and from being tried in court for crimes against humanity.

What has this to do with Tony Blair? Maybe he is keen for these arms dealers to pay off the Labour Party debts (£17 million needs to be paid back during the next 12 months).

BAE is apparently claiming that the Saudis are threatening to pull-out of a £6 billion contract to provide 72 Eurofighter Typhoons and give it to the French if Blair does not call off the SFO.

There is also another interesting point. Today the Guardian revealed that secret payments of millions of pounds from BEA has been found in Swiss accounts linked to Wafic Said, a billionaire arms broker for the Saudi Royal family. Apparently, Said is a close friend of Peter Mandleson. Now, there is a man that Blair finds difficult to refuse a favour.

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I have thought sometime that the main corruption of Tony Blair involves the arms industry. This would help to partly explain the Iraq War and the recent decision to try and get Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system renewed before he is ousted from power. Some reports suggest the system will cost in the region of £79bn. Gordon Brown has already made a speech where he has argued he is in favour of renewing Trident, although it will clearly break the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

Article VI of the NPT states that each of the parties to the treaty should undertake to pursue "negotiations in good faith on effective measures" relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament. In 2005, Rabinder Singh QC and Professor Christine Chinkin stated their opinion that the replacement of Trident is likely to constitute a material breach of Article VI. "The linkage between the principles of non-proliferation and the obligation to negotiate towards disarmament ... indicate that Article VI is a provision 'essential to the accomplishment of the object or purpose of the treaty'.

Last week the Ministry of Defence secured a £1.7bn increase in its budget. Currently we are spending £32bn a year on defence. This is in cash terms, the second biggest defence allocation in the world.

It is not made clear why we need the latest attack submarines or anti-tank weapons. Who are we pointing our nuclear weapons at? We used to be told it was the Soviet Union who wanted to invade us. Since the fall of communism they are only interested in killing its political opponents on the streets of London. What we do know is that our current enemy is extremely to reluctant to use conventional tactics on the battlefield. Nuclear missiles and the Eurofighter is not very good at dealing with terrorists.

The Ministry of Defence agrees with this assessment. In a white paper published in 2003 it stated: "there are currently no major conventional military threats to the UK or NATO ... it is now clear that we no longer need to retain a capability against the re-emergence of a direct conventional strategic threat".

A leaked NATO policy document concedes that "large-scale conventional aggression against the alliance will be highly unlikely". As George Monbiot pointed out in yesterday’s Guardian: “No country that is capable of attacking NATO countries is willing to do so. No country that is willing is capable. Submarines, destroyers, Eurofighters and anti-tank rounds are of precious little use against people who plant bombs on trains.”

Who is making money from this obscene arms trade? The main beneficiary is BAE Systems. In his book Blair’s Wars, John Kampfner records that “from his first day in office Blair was eager not to antagonise British arms companies, and BAE Systems in particular, which developed extremely close relationships with senior figures in Downing Street.” A Downing Street aide told Kampfner that whenever the head of BAE encountered a problem, “he’d be straight on the phone to No 10 and it would be sorted”.

BAE Systems latest problem concerns the Serious Fraud Office’s three year investigations into allegations that illegal commissions into allegations that illegal commissions may have been paid to Saudi royals by BAE Systems. The SOF is also looking at arms deals between BAE and General Augusto Pinochet.

Both these deals date back to Margaret Thatcher’s time in government (her son was also involved in these deals). This helps to explain why Thatcher was so keen on helping Pinochet stay in office and from being tried in court for crimes against humanity.

What has this to do with Tony Blair? Maybe he is keen for these arms dealers to pay off the Labour Party debts (£17 million needs to be paid back during the next 12 months).

BAE is apparently claiming that the Saudis are threatening to pull-out of a £6 billion contract to provide 72 Eurofighter Typhoons and give it to the French if Blair does not call off the SFO.

There is also another interesting point. Today the Guardian revealed that secret payments of millions of pounds from BEA has been found in Swiss accounts linked to Wafic Said, a billionaire arms broker for the Saudi Royal family. Apparently, Said is a close friend of Peter Mandleson. Now, there is a man that Blair finds difficult to refuse a favour.

Tony Blair has been interviewed by police investigating cash for honours allegations. Mr Blair was not interviewed under caution. This means that there will be a whitewash. How is it possible that the only man who could instruct Lord Levy to offer loans for honours is not suspected of committing any crime?

It has been revealed that it was Tony Blair who decided that he should be interviewed by the police today. His officials claim that it was a pure coincidence that it was the same day that the Stephens Inquiry into Princess Diana’s death was published.

Two other important pieces of news were also released today.

Attorney General Lord Goldsmith said the Serious Fraud Office was "discontinuing" its investigation into Britain's biggest defence company, BAE Systems. its corruption inquiry into a £6bn fighter planes deal with Saudi Arabia. The reason given was one of "national security".

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6180945.stm

About 2,500 post offices are expected to close by 2009 because of rising losses and fewer people using the network, the government has announced. Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling told MPs that the cuts were needed because of losses of £4m a week, twice as much as in the previous year. Of course, we cannot afford this loss because of the cost of the Iraq War.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6176929.stm

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Last week Lord Goldsmith said he had no intention of interfering with the Serious Fraud Office investigation into the BAE-Saudi Arabia contract. In has now become clear that the reason Goldsmith changed his mind was because he came under pressure from Tony Blair to drop the case. Blair admitted this today in a television interview. He justified the decision on the grounds of national security. Allegedly the Saudi government had threatened Blair that they would withdraw help on the war on terror if the investigation continued. (It is also claimed that the Saudis have threatened Bush that if he withdraws troops from Iraq they will provide help to the Sunni Muslims.)

In other words, the prime minister has broken an important aspect of the British Constitution. That is: “the rule of law requires that the executive does not intervene in the operation of the course of justice”.

The Tories of course have kept very quiet about this decision made by Blair. In fact, last night, on C4 news, the government would not supply anybody to defend this decision. Instead, the task was given to a backbench Tory MP. The reason for this is that he was a junior minister when the original deal was done. The Tories are therefore very keen to bring an end to the investigation.

SFO investigators have discovered that BAE Systems has a £1 billion slush fund. The issue is not about bribes being paid to members of the Saudi royal family. It is about this money finding its way back to politicians. We now know how New Labour is going to solve its problems of its £17m debt. It will be paid off by BAE Systems and the Saudis. Not directly of course but via someone like Lord Sainsbury.

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Last week Lord Goldsmith said he had no intention of interfering with the Serious Fraud Office investigation into the BAE-Saudi Arabia contract. In has now become clear that the reason Goldsmith changed his mind was because he came under pressure from Tony Blair to drop the case. Blair admitted this today in a television interview. He justified the decision on the grounds of national security. Allegedly the Saudi government had threatened Blair that they would withdraw help on the war on terror if the investigation continued. (It is also claimed that the Saudis have threatened Bush that if he withdraws troops from Iraq they will provide help to the Sunni Muslims.)

In other words, the prime minister has broken an important aspect of the British Constitution. That is: “the rule of law requires that the executive does not intervene in the operation of the course of justice”.

The Tories of course have kept very quiet about this decision made by Blair. In fact, last night, on C4 news, the government would not supply anybody to defend this decision. Instead, the task was given to a backbench Tory MP. The reason for this is that he was a junior minister when the original deal was done. The Tories are therefore very keen to bring an end to the investigation.

SFO investigators have discovered that BAE Systems has a £1 billion slush fund. The issue is not about bribes being paid to members of the Saudi royal family. It is about this money finding its way back to politicians. We now know how New Labour is going to solve its problems of its £17m debt. It will be paid off by BAE Systems and the Saudis. Not directly of course but via someone like Lord Sainsbury.

What triggered off these events? If we know this, we can work out why Lord Goldsmith had to change his mind about his decision not to interfere in the SFO’s investigation. The reason he said this was until ten days ago he thought that the SFO could not get hold of the information that they needed to obtain a successful prosecution. However, it was a decision taken in Switzerland that changed all that. The Swiss authorities decided to give the SFO access to BAE’s offshore banking transactions with Saudi middlemen. The normally highly-secret bank records were handed over to the SFO. Details of these accounts were leaked to the Sunday Times. The report appeared in last Sunday’s paper. One would have assumed that this news would be followed by a decline in BAE’s share-price. In fact, the opposite happened - the share-price went up. People in the know, realized that this news would mean that Tony Blair would stop the investigation. One of the things that Blair is guilty of is insider dealing.

Blair knew that once the SFO had access to these bank accounts, they would be able to trace the money back to BAE executives and their political lapdogs.

On Tuesday Lord Goldsmith ordered a meeting with Helen Garlick and her team of SFO officers. After they presented their considerable evidence on the case, Goldsmith ordered them to bring the inquiry to an end.

The problem for Blair and Goldsmith is the reason for this decision. The reason for this is that Britain is a signatory to the OECD’s anti-bribery convention. Article 5 of the convention precludes “taking into account considerations of the national economic interest or the potential effect upon relations with another state”. Therefore, Blair and Goldsmith were forced to give the excuse that the investigation was being called off for reasons of “national security”. This enables them to say they cannot go into any more detail as this would itself “endanger national security”.

Once again, as with the invasion of Iraq, Blair is hiding behind national security in order to cover-up his illegal actions. Everybody can see this, and anybody with even a brief understanding of the subject, knows that Blair is a corrupt politician who is willing to lie to all and sundry in order to hold onto power.

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Your posts are always well researched John and very illuminating.

The behaviour of the Blair crowd has been very suspicious over Iraq and Afganistan, Blair was verging on the psycotic over wmd and he came across as disingenuous over the whole affair. I thaught I could see right through him therefor parliament would but they voted for that war and because of it the price of food has gone up in the last few years as well as energy.

I often wonder how we ever got to the state where the criminals are running things like this and believe me Blair is just another criminal prostituting himself to the arms and drugs bazzar. Speaking of which Afganistan is having another bumper crop this year.

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John Kampfner

Saturday December 16, 2006

The Guardian

This much we knew already: Tony Blair's administration is riddled with double standards and hypocrisy in its international dealings. But Lord Goldsmith's announcement that the Serious Fraud Office was calling off its investigation into alleged corruption involving BAE Systems and Saudi Arabia dragged matters to an all-time low.

The explanations given are startling. Goldsmith has form in being flexible with the law and the truth - as with his legal advice in advance of Iraq. He said the following, to a near-empty House of Lords on Thursday evening as the media's attention was on the police questioning of the prime minister and the report on Diana's death: "It has been necessary to balance the need to maintain the rule of law against the wider public interest." In this respect, he was nothing if not candid: the law is not sacrosanct. He and others went on to say that this interest was not commercial, but based in diplomacy and security. As not a shred of evidence has been provided, one can be fairly safe in dismissing this as disingenuous.

The economic concerns are understandable. BAE is one of the UK's largest corporations and the world's fourth largest arms company. The Al-Yamamah deal, signed in 1988, has been worth £43bn. These and other justifications were eloquently set out on the radio yesterday by the former Conservative convict, Jonathan Aitken.

The problem here is not really BAE. Companies flog arms around the world, if they are allowed or encouraged to. The job of politicians is to ensure that economic activity is consistent with the law and other standards. The response of Labour MPs and trade unions has been shoddy. Jobs are important, but the need to preserve them should not supersede the law. There is, indeed, no evidence that the arms industry is the best way of creating and sustaining employment. It is the one sector that has been allowed to buck the rigours of the market, where cartels are rampant and state subsidies in the UK alone are estimated at close to £1bn a year.

The arms industry has long enjoyed special treatment from government. Documents obtained by this newspaper three years ago showed how the Defence Export Services Organisation, an arm of the Ministry of Defence, has been officially authorising what it calls "special commissions" - in other words, bungs. In so doing it was conspiring to break Britain's own laws. None of this is new. According to those same documents, the head of DESO acknowledged back in 1977 bribes paid to the Shah of Iran. Just as then, just as now, we seek to ingratiate ourselves with odious regimes. Irrespective of the morality of this approach, it rarely pays dividends in terms of security and intelligence.

What is most disconcerting is that this government, briefly, pledged to be different. Robin Cook's mission statement of May 12 1997, quietly disparaged by Downing Street, still bears remembering. "Our foreign policy must have an ethical dimension and must support the demands of other peoples for the democratic rights on which we insist for ourselves," he said. This code of conduct has since been unpicked to such a degree that it is now meaningless.

Now, thanks to Blair, Britain can be blackmailed at will by dictatorships, and will do whatever it takes to stay on good economic terms with them. When in future a foreign government cocks a snook at us over civil liberties, when children are killed by oppressive governments using weapons made in the UK, greet the howls of outrage from our ministers with derision. When Blair or Gordon Brown or any future prime minister cite morality in waging war in a foreign land, treat their words with scorn.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/armstrade/story/0,,1973413,00.html

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The arms `industry`is like the car industry: you have the big dealerships selling the latest models to drop of the production line and politicians breaking the law to do fleet deals with the scum of the earth occasionally offering their rear ends in gratification whilst proffessing that it was all in aid of jobs. Then you have the used car market that has a knock on effect where shady `intelligence`services supply the next Savimbi or KLA with the means to murder and wreak havoc in places where independent thaught might become a problem.

The used arms market is by far bigger than the new and only thrives because there is war and `unrest`or `rogue states`usually in the third world or mid east, and has massive potential for criminal enterprise facilitated by intelligence services using front groups. This used arms market is usually supported by drugs.

At every place in the world where there has been a political problem, there has been an opportunity to sell used arms in massive quantities and the only way the groups requiring the arms can pay is by supplying heroin or cocain. Two examples are Nicaragua and Afganistan in the 1980`s where the groups involved supplied(flooded would be a better word)the western world with the largest quantities of heroin and cocain in history. Right at the heart of all this was the American and British governments creating a situation where the people of the target country are murdered and raped and the people of the home country are poisoned and violated.

This problem has been growing until today. The last expedition to Afganistan has resulted in the largest increase in drug production that country has seen: and this while democracy has been installed there.

The problem wont go away until we start to regulate the arms industry with serious intent prosecuting people who are involved nomatter who they are; if intelligence agencies can create and protect criminals and politicians can plausibly deny themselves innocent then we are nothing more than a gangster state.

A good place to start would be to start prosecuting bankers for laundering the proceeds of this evil.

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