The global arms trade is a multibillion-dollar industry that has shaped the course of economic and foreign policy with devastating effects on global security.
Today, total international trade in arms is worth about $100bn a year, according to Pieter Wezemen, senior researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).
Shadow World is based on the book, The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade, by Andrew Feinstein. It reveals how the trade has undermined democracy by unravelling some of the world’s largest and most corrupt deals.
BAE Systems, a British weapons manufacturer, and Halliburton, a large oil field service company based in the US, operate not only effectively as a part of government, points out former Guardian investigative editor David Leigh, but also as being above the law.
In 1985, Britain signed the biggest export contract in UK history – the Al Yamamah arms-for-oil deal with Saudi Arabia. BAE Systems was the prime contractor and it paid out billions in bribes to senior members of the Saudi royal family.
Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill recounts that former US Vice President Dick Cheney spent the 1990s heading Halliburton and when he came into power in 2001, Halliburton was hired in advance of the US invasion of Iraq.
“There’s no hope of ending war, because there’s always a small cabal of people for whom war is really, really good business,” says Chris Hedges, former war correspondent for The New York Times.
Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa and Nelson Mandela’s successor, spent about $10bn of scarce public resources on weaponry. At the time, there was an urgent need of medication for around six million South Africans who were living with HIV or AIDS.
“The primary reason for those deals was that around $300m in bribes were paid to senior politicians,” explains Andrew Feinstein.
As the arms industry continues to heavily direct government, the world has slipped into the possibility of perpetual war.
Source: Al Jazeera