Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Arms and the Poodle



It’s true. He has stood up on his hind legs, widdled on His Masters Trousers and bitten the hand that feeds him. Bravo. Perhaps that crack about sweaters was the last dog biscuit, and after carefully considering the bowl (which says Fido) and the collar (which says Fido) and the flea-infested kennel (which says Fido) he decided the time had finally come to use those back legs of his to get that collar over his ears and skip the light fantastic.

Don’t hold your breath. This is spinnery on speed: Hargreaves would down tools and stop tinkering with that Spinning Jenny to look on in dumbstruck awe. Business as usual: an attempt to position the U.K. as the conciliatory, humane ones whose soldiers take their sunglasses off and wear berets all the better to reassure a fearful populace. Certainly not the kind of folks who would take photos of themselves sexually abusing and torturing Iraqi civilians for their personal gratification. Thumbs up, anyone?

Yes. Tony made a phone call to Olmert to voice his deep concern. And he has urged the U.S. to ‘understand.’ Apparently this constitutes “dramatic criticism” and is a startling and unprecedented display of independent foreign policy making.

Kim Howells, a British Foreign Office Minister (ie not very high up the tree) has also been speaking out, calling for Israel to show “proportionality and restraint”

I’d planned on having a bit of a field day at Howell’s expense. I thought I’d ask that awkward question “So, Mr Howell, what would have been “proportionate?” One of those photographs? Two? One fifth of them? A half? Inquiring minds need to know. If something is disproportionate, there must have been some another portion that would have been proportionate no?

And – I was going to wonder – has he simply been misinterpreted in his calls for ‘restraint?’ After all, according to Clare Short (admittedly She Who Is Known For The Foundation of the ‘I’m Going – I’m Going – Really Any Minute Now I’m Going. Honest’ School of Resignation -- but still it’s true that in the end she did go) and as documented by Mark Thomas in As Used on the Famous Nelson Mandela; Underground Adventures in the Arms and Torture Trade ,

“. . .every minister who makes a foreign trip has three briefings: one from their department detailing the purpose of their trip, a second from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office explaining the political situation in the country the minister is to visit, and a third briefing, talking points, from Downing Street, things to mention and plug, like Arms Deals. Every time there is an arms deal in the air it is a minister’s duty to talk it up, no matter what the purpose of the trip. They could be visiting victims of the tsunami or having a meeting about carbon emissions, and somewhere on their to-do list scrawled in biro are the words – ‘Big up the guns.” (123)

‘Was this what that phrase ‘restraint’ was about?’ I was going to muse. After all, various U.K. companies do an excellent line in handcuffs and other assorted accoutrements of the torture trade. And they’ve got good contracts in high places: the handcuffs used in Guantanamo have “Made in England” stamped on them. (Thomas, 212). Perhaps Howell was taken out of context, I was going to speculate – perhaps there’s a big deal in hand-cuffs going down and he’d been told to ‘big up the cuffs and tell them BOGOF on the netting.’

According to the Guardian , an anonymous ‘senior Israeli diplomat’ described that ‘Poodle To The Poodle Phone’ moment thus: “'The tone was very positive. We agree on all major aspects of this crisis and are greatly appreciative of Britain's position.”

Well may they be, since the U.K.’s sales of arms to Israel almost doubled to a not insignificant £25m.

The Foreign Office claims that “ that all exports were considered under the government's official criteria. "The bottom line is that no piece of kit is used for external aggression or internal repression."

Children’s parties. That’s what they’re for. An alternative to Bonzo the Happy Clown and purple dinosaurs.

So yes. Field day. Planned excusion to the sunny uplands.

But looking at Howell’s words again and doing a bit of reading between the lines, I think that perhaps (just perhaps, I wouldn’t venture anything stronger than that) there may be a bit of a cri de coeur going on there. Albeit expressed unfortunately not in its vehemence but in its moderation. And yes, in its argumentation too: the reason to refrain from killing children is not that

“Every person who has got a mobile phone, every person who can take a photograph of somebody being blown to bits, or a child with a limb missing, is a reporter now.”

But such errors in argument are not uncommon when one is desperately trying to persuade. Who can say for sure what is in his heart or where it might eventually lead him?

Enough.
What is to be done.
Opposing the arms trade is a piece in this jigsaw puzzle I think.

It’s late in the day, but here are three things you can do (depending of course on what you already are doing -- you may already be running at full tilt – whether on this or any of a myriad of connected issues).

1) Knowledge is the beginning of power. Inform yourself and inform us. Places to start reading include Control Arms and also the Amnesty International USA pages on arms control. And there’s this for some recent (sad) history. And as in all things, google is your friend.

I must admit – digressions, diversions, excursions and expeditions are always very welcome - but I’d kind of like it if one of the things people used this thread for was ‘here’s what I found out.’ That could be ‘here’s what I found out about who is selling what to whom.’ It could also be about ‘what can be done to stop it?’ Or ‘What have people done? What worked? What didn’t?’

2) These folks Campaign Against the Arms Trade could probably use some support. If you know of other similar organisations – whereever they may be based – that could do with any of the various kinds of support and involvement that such organisations can generally use, tell us about them.

3) Do you have stocks? A portfolio? (Unlikely, I know) But on that slim off-chance, take a look at who you’re investing with: maybe do some rethinking and reorganising if it strikes you as necessary. Do you have a pension? (Unlikely, I know) But again, on that offchance, take a look at who they invest in. Do you need to do something about that?

24 Comments:

Blogger catnip said...

Yes, thanks to the NRA's paranoia, the US derailed an agreement on the small arms trade once again. And who was at the helm of the opposition in 2001?

The United States has said it will oppose any UN plan to curb the illegal trade in small arms that interferes with the right of individuals to carry guns.

US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton said a clear distinction had to be made between firearms used for traditional and cultural reasons, and those that are traded illegally and fuel conflicts around the world.


The right of Americans to bear arms comes first and foremost in the world. As long as the US has its say (ad infinitum) no progress can be made on this front. Although, it is interesting, isn't it, that the Bush administration simply opts out of international agreements (Geneva Conventions) and institutions (ICC) that it doesn't like. They could do the same with a small arms treaty, so I wonder what's really behind this (besides the huge amount of money to be made via the small arms trade, of course. Or maybe that is the answer.)

7/25/2006 8:41 am  
Blogger DuctapeFatwa said...

It is a measure of the gravity of the Situation that the perception in the US is that the UK is generally a "more liberal" place, after all, they do have health care, after a fashion, and make more of a stab at housing their poor than the US, for those who were looking for an example of the expression "damning by faint praise."

And proportionally, the demonstrations against the crusade in Iraq were, in London, much larger than those in the US, and Mr. Blair certainly gives the impression of being a man whose presence in one's drawing room might be less cause for immediate alarm than that of Mr. Bush, especially if one has a particular fondness for one's carpets, and would prefer they not be spat upon, yet "where the rubber meets the road," as they say, very little has changed since those early days of UK-US adventurism in the name of Oil and Gold, west is west, and never the twain of Mrs. Smith's ex-empire and its devil spawn shall part.

7/25/2006 1:03 pm  
Blogger NLinStPaul said...

One thing I did yesterday was to finally watch the documentary "Why We Fight" (I know, late to the party again). Its a great film showing the way the US "military/industrial/congressional complex" has become embedded in our culture. The challenge before us is laid out in stark reality.

But one bright moment in the film was the beginning of a transformation for the Vietnam vet retired NYPD officer who's son was killed on 9/11. He swallows the Iraq war propaganda from Bushco hook, line and sinker as a way to avenge the death of his son. Then, when Bush acknowledges that there was no tie between 9/11 and Iraq (after the deed is done), this man feels terribly betrayed and struggles right there on the screen with that. Its amazing to see his process. I'm sure he wouldn't agree yet with a lot of the way we see things, but the process did begin and that was hopeful for me to see.

There was also a moment in the film that sent me into a wish for another parallel universe. They talk about the first few days after 9/11 and how the world was with the US (hard to imagine that moment now) and that they were marching in solidarity in Tehran! I couldn't help but think about how the world hung in the balance that day - and the moment was not only squandered, but wrenched of every ounce of hope and turned into this horribly grotesque mess. That is our legacy.

7/25/2006 5:54 pm  
Anonymous J said...

“Every person who has got a mobile phone, every person who can take a photograph of somebody being blown to bits, or a child with a limb missing, is a reporter now.”

I'd just like to say that is why most of the women in Iraq have been detained, abused... or worse.

A woman I met from Iraq, Eman a human rights activist and delegate... said that before the occupation, women could go to work, send their daughters to the market, carry briefcases, laptops and... cellphones.

But our "liberators" thought that Iraqi women were "sand ni**ers", they thought women in Iraq couldn't possibly have jobs or high tech devices like cell phones... so they are thought to have stolen the cell phones from other troops.

Women like Eman, professional women... are suspect in Iraq.

I can't take my cell phone out without thinking that in Iraq... doing the same thing would most likely get me beaten, raped and put in prison... as a thief or supsected terrorist.

Eman also said that if all American women knew how much we were the same... they might actually care about Iraqis. It'd be like Portland getting bombed, raided.

I'm sorry. I diverted.

7/25/2006 6:01 pm  
Blogger dove said...

I don't know that it is a diversion at all j, (janet? is that you?). In fact, I'm pretty sure it's not, for a bunch of reasons.

On the one hand I'm thinking of the ways in which journalists (at least those who aren't 'embedded' -- an interesting term in this context no?) are increasingly targeted -- and anyone with a cell-phone with one of those neat little cameras attached can be a journalist or a witness.

And on the other, I'm thinking of the ways in which rape has -- for a long time now -- been one of the main weapons used in war. It's one of the oldest tricks in the book really isn't it, kill the men and rape 'their' wives and daughters. Predicated on notions of 'woman as property' and also as 'woman as nation' -- which are the invaders notions, not necessarily those of the invaded.

I came to the conclusion a while ago that war is myth. Or at least that the notion that war is a process where 'our' soldiers fight 'their' soldiers (whomsoever 'our' and 'their' might be -- I don't want to lay claim to any of them frankly) is a myth. In fact 'our' soldiers fight 'their' civilians and vice versa to varying and often vastly disproportionate degrees, depending on geographic location, the amount of resources their respective societies have -- and the proportion of those resources which they choose to devote to such ends, their success in hooking up with 'Steven in Disley' who has a really fine line in AK47s and stun guns, or alternatively Jennifer with BAE and her wondrously reliable HUDS --and last but not least, the efficacy of their repective societies' indoctrination strategies. And 'fight' is not the right word.

So it was in the great land grabs. So it was in WWII (and arguably WWI as well, depending on how one counts the 1919 'flu pandemic and what one makes of some seriously incomplete information from Eastern Europe); so it has been in most, if not all, major wars since.

7/25/2006 9:38 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep J is Janet, sorry.

A great writer in the blogs does a fair amount of writing about how war IS rape... and she just blows me away...

But you're right... it's from the whole notion that women are just property, the spoils of war.

I find it harder and harder as a person as, yes, as a woman and mother to even try to justify war. It doesn't make anyone safer...

We're all journalists now. We are the witnesses.

7/25/2006 10:23 pm  
Anonymous Janet said...

The woman blogger I spoke of and think so highly of... this is what she shared with me. I copy her words, with her permission, because they are powerful...

This is part of what I was thinking on this morning perhaps...
---
The military is a hothouse for the American Rape Culture; it is a misogynist, homophobic institution that relies on patriarchal structures and values. It trains men to devalue, objectify and demean traits traditionally associated with women, demanding a violent masculinity defined in opposition to femininity.

Rape in war is not an anomaly.

War is rape and death and destruction. It is the ultimate expression of Power Over, and America's love affair with war has poisoned our whole culture.
---

War is about attrocities. Because it is attrocious.

7/25/2006 10:27 pm  
Blogger DuctapeFatwa said...

And if you happen to be witness to the wrong thing, you become the Enemy...

7/25/2006 10:32 pm  
Blogger dove said...

Janet,

"The military is a hothouse for the American Rape Culture; it is a misogynist, homophobic institution that relies on patriarchal structures and values. It trains men to devalue, objectify and demean traits traditionally associated with women, demanding a violent masculinity defined in opposition to femininity.

Rape in war is not an anomaly."

Absolutely: those are powerful and true words, which speak I think to the harm done to both men and women when we buy into this schema, to this way of organising societies.

Hmmm. Have you read any of Cynthia Enloe's books on women and militarisation? If not, I think you'd love her work.

7/26/2006 12:33 am  
Anonymous Arcturus said...

Frida Berrigan is a writer worth googling -- she works with the World Policy Institute's Arms Trade Resource Center. Amy Goodman had an interview with her on 6/21/06 about the US arming of Israel. Another recent article (within the last 3 months?) was an excellent overview of the privatization of the US military nuclear programs -- with Bechtel at the head of the trough.

Israel's own more than 'healthy' arms exports are ripe for investigation. Ive been listening on the radio, then reading work of Kevin Snow on the covert US/Israeli arming of various groups in Africa -- Ethiopia, Sudan, Congo, Somalia, included -- & their role in fueling many of the ongoing conflicts in sub-Saharan & central Africa.

catnip: We were discussing the 2nd amendment last night -- the Raich marijuana decision impacted on the recent Ninth Circuit case of a private machine gun owner (& seller of 'conversion kits') -- & if I understood correctly, apparently the Supreme Court has never delivered a decision on an individual's actual 'right to bear arms' the NRA has so pounded into everyone's minds. It seems as amurrikun as apple pie.

We can't say we don't know what we'e doing, or what's being done in our names, by our gov'ts, with our taxes.

It's a simple message to congresscritters:

NO MORE TAX US DOLLARS TO DESTROY LEBANON!

(not that they're listening, but it's worth bombarding 'em with the message)

Another dimension of rape in war is the element of cultural destruction. I'm still tripping on the story that told of soldiers clearing a house, then celebrating the 'home run' & its connection to adolescent US male sexuality.

7/26/2006 3:34 am  
Blogger DuctapeFatwa said...

And if Americans' treatment of their children is a taboo subject, the very mention of which, as we have recently seen, will plunge people instantly into mindless rage - not the treatment of the children, understand - but the mention of it - the "tabooness" of that pales in comparison to the outrage that would be unleashed should anyone dare to do more than post an occasional link to an incident that somehow fell through the cracks and into the media - on the subject of US gunmen and rape. Rape of their own.

It is more pardonable to mention rape of "Other" women who live in areas where US is engaged in its activities than to bring up the subject of the plight of the lady gunmen.

Some of you may remember the Abu Ghraib general telling of lady gunmen in Iraq dying of dehydration in order to avoid using restroom facilities that had been set up for them in an isolated area, making them easy prey for their brothers in arms in need of a bit of "stress relief."

Two notable aspects of that story: first, it was not the residents of the land they had come to occupy and brutalize that the ladies feared, but their own countrymen, and second, it would seem to be a relatively easy situation to correct, simply by putting restroom facilities nearer the ladies' sleeping area, and posting guards at the restroom.

Now I am not noted for expressing my concern about the problems faced by individuals who have chosen to participate in crimes against humanity, however, I do not believe that rape is a just penalty for having made such a choice, and I do believe that a culture in which this sort of thing is, like committing atrocities on the Others whose land they have invaded, US gunmen raping their female counterparts can hardly be said to be a couple of isolated incidents of a few bad apples.

Yet this is the ultimate unmentionable subject, and you can be sure, that in certain venues, bringing it up will immediately result in a chorus of accusations that one does not "support the troops." And few, if any, will note the absurdity and contradiction of such a charge. The lady troops, it would seem, are not viewed as worthy of support when it comes to their important role as public - well, I will hit send now, I believe I have made my point.

7/26/2006 3:40 am  
Blogger Nanette said...

What I'm trying to figure out is how we can operate from a position of strength. The notion of "state" gives cover to so many awful things, from bombing civilians (a 'tragic mistake' if done by a state, terrorism if done by stateless actors), to arms sales and control (acceptable and profitable, no matter for what nefarious uses, if sold by states... private arms merchants considered (by some) scum). Or, at least they used to be, at least in public.

So, how can powerful governments be held to account for their actions and the sales of things like this? With all this stuff tied up in nationalism, and militarism and what seems most important in the abdication of any sort of responsible use of this power, capitalism, what would be the best method of effecting change?

I am not sure petitioning governments themselves, or the UN (which is made up of these governments) to "do the right thing" and sign treaties and so on is the best method (although a needed component).

What about class action lawsuits against governments brought by people in countries who have been adversely affected by these sales? Probably not, considering that the US, at least, does not recognize international law, and I'm pretty sure laws are being manipulated daily, in many countries, to further make sure that people harmed by our policies (govt and private) have no real recourse.

Am still thinking ;)

7/26/2006 3:23 pm  
Anonymous Arcturus said...

Good questions, Nanette -- ones I don't really have answers for. Exposing them is certainly one step, which some of the mentioned groups are doing. Strengthening treaties makes sense if the decrepit int'l institutions can ever be themselves strengthed. Problem is we're not operating from a postion of strength here (or anywhere) EXCEPT insofar as one occupies the moral ground. And let that strength speak for itself.

DtF -- I did put up a diary at BT about the fear by female soldiers in Iraq of being raped, which didn't garner any negativity. Comments (incl. yours, I believe) were generally shocked & supportive, not in denial etc -- tho I'd also say it didn't get a lot of attention.

7/26/2006 5:15 pm  
Blogger dove said...

Nanette, I've been thinking about non-statist politics lately too, and where to find one's own terrain, one's own ground on which to stand.

Because yes, letters to M.P.'s to Congress -- do seem increasingly like asking the fox to 'please take care of the chickens.' A request that is easily misinterpreted! And in some places, I think the state is increasingly like a PR rep for a large company: if the PR rep loses its credibility in its attempts to defend the indefensible, well, they'll be given the push and someone else hired instead. That's not to say that the letters, the documentation, the lobbying doesn't matter: if nothing else it creates an evidence trail. And it means that the 'but I didn't know' defence becomes less readily available.

But I guess I find myself thinking unions, divestment campaigns, those weird 'human rights organisations' and similar such because increasingly they do look to exert pressure directly on companies as well as on states.

Hope this makes some sense.

7/26/2006 10:01 pm  
Blogger Nanette said...

Problem is we're not operating from a postion of strength here (or anywhere) EXCEPT insofar as one occupies the moral ground.

Arcturus, yes... question is, will we ever? Has anyone ever? If not, why not? Is it that the moral ground is always necessarily the weaker, less powerful ground? Or maybe it's that the moral ground is actually the more powerful ground, but it is coopted by those that view things in the exact opposite manner?

Like with wars, and the language used by those who either fight the or enable them, and allow people who seek the moral ground to believe they have found it.

A "just war". "We don't target civilians" when everyone knows that, especially in modern wars, one of the objects IS to kill civilians in order to bring the populace to heel.

Or other language that convinces people that they really are doing a favor and standing on principle, letting others die of starvation or disease for their own good.

And other stuff, but I think I am crabby today so will leave it at this ;)

7/27/2006 5:59 pm  
Blogger Nanette said...

dove:

That's not to say that the letters, the documentation, the lobbying doesn't matter: if nothing else it creates an evidence trail. And it means that the 'but I didn't know' defence becomes less readily available.

More and more I am thinking this is an important point, and will become an important factor in future times. Mind you, I have no great belief that any of the governments themselves, most especially the US but also others, powerful and less so, will do anything with this (at least in their current forms)... but I do think someone will. Or hope so, anyway.

But I guess I find myself thinking unions, divestment campaigns, those weird 'human rights organisations' and similar such because increasingly they do look to exert pressure directly on companies as well as on states.

I think so too, to an extent. But I do think we are missing some vital component, but I don't know what it is. (it might be all just in my head, too, of course ;).

7/27/2006 6:04 pm  
Blogger Nanette said...

This isn't a digression, by the way!

It's more along the lines of"

"It could also be about ‘what can be done to stop it?’ Or ‘What have people done? What worked? What didn’t?’"

Only looking from the other direction. Or maybe in the other direction. Somehow or another, arms dealers got to be seen as big, powerful, needed and respected voices and organizations, and Amnesty and others got to be seen as supplicatory, needy, to be put up with but rarely listened to voices and organizations the one tosses a bone to from time to time.

Okay, chattering crabbily again, lol.

7/27/2006 6:11 pm  
Anonymous Janet said...

In response to Ductape's post about the raping of their own countrymen....

I remember those accounts of felmale soldiers too afraid to go to the bathroom in the evening and preferring to die of dehydration. Suzanne Swift being harrsed and assaulted... as just part of the job.

There was a link somewhere... about Fort Bragg's domestic abuse skyrocketing and 8 murders of spouses in a 2 yr period.

Domestic abuse is high in the military. Even in times of peace. Wives of military men are called "dependants" we are "property". And the amount of adultery, sexual harrassment, rape, intimidation is very very very common. So common that now to mention it, people call you gullible to be shocked as "that's just a part of the military life".

I'm not in the service... but let me tell you as a woman, as a citizen... I am AFRAID of any man in military uniform nowadays.

First off, they are don't have enough balls or brains to speak out against this war if they are still in it.

Secondly... war is rape. The attrocities they've committed... prove they have no regard for any life. Just that of their "brotherhood".

I had a man in a big Chevy truck, SUV type... behind me Tuesday. He must've been angry at my CodePink decal because he got right up on my ass at the light and kept revving his engine while flipping me off fro m his window. I know it was a military man because of the base decals on his front window.

Yes, I'm afraid of active duty military men... even the retired, overweight ones who scream at you because... they truly have nothing much else. Just their anger. They see me and other as an enemy.

Plus their "code" and their behaviors in wartime, peacetime prove that they have no regard for women. None.

Yes I'm aware there are wonderful men in the military.... but... it's way past touchy feely happy thoughts... these men are killing people in an illegal war. T

There are no war heros in an illegal war. War is inhumane. War is rape.

And since most of these active military won't stand up against this... they see fit to bash the peacemakers.

(I know I'm going to get shit on for this... but I can't help the fear that constricts me as I see a military man in my rear view mirror or in line at the store)... and especially at a protest, vigil, rally.

7/27/2006 7:16 pm  
Blogger supersoling said...

Hello all,
I felt like I should leave a quick note to let you know that I am reading, just not free enough to spend much time, or any time commenting really, in the last few days. Personal obligations.

7/27/2006 11:56 pm  
Blogger James said...

Understood Super.

I get very limited computer time with which to squeeze in the occasional bloggery comments. That all changes next week. That said, the vacation has been nice.

7/28/2006 5:54 am  
Blogger James said...

Janet, military culture is a rather vertical one, and vertical (i.e., hierarchical) cultures tend to be fairly anti-woman as I understand it. No surprise to me then that women dissidents are likely to be treated disproportionately harshly.

Once again you highlight just how necessarily differently men and women in the US have to view the world - women face threats that we men cannot even begin to comprehend.

7/28/2006 6:37 am  
Anonymous Janet said...

Hello James, nice to 'meet' you.

But I should add... even though I walk around with my head on a swivel and I have ... just way too many reasons to absolutely be one of those types of people who hate men... I don't. Hate is so easy to allow to take over. Standing up and walking, regardless... isn't easy... but nothin' good came easily, right?

I love men very much. :) I adore my male friends.

But yeah, my husband is starting to see the world a bit through my eyes... and I through his. We...uh... wear different eyeballs than some because we've ahd to train our peepers to try to see the world through my son's eyes... he's disabled and in order to help someone... a person has to be able to at least try to see things via their needs, perspective, ways.

So yeah.. I'm a bit fearful of these dudes who hate women and peacekmakers... I'd be stupid not to... But lemme tell ya.. I LOVE men :)

7/28/2006 9:02 pm  
Anonymous Janet said...

And .. to Ductape or others... who may know a bit of my story... this is why I had to totally leave DTF's blog when I was accused of being anti-dude. Okay?

Due to alot of the marching and the extremely nasty confrontations in the street... alot of my old "wounds" which I wrote about a while back... are a bit closer to the skin and I've found that same stoic walk to get to protests... also has unhinged some, for lack of a better term, "raw nerves about personal safety" which unleashed a "nightmare" of "survival skills' within me.

It takes alot of ... BALLS... to continue on as raw as I am. And I use up alot of energy just walking my talk and I don't have much in the reserve tank to blogwar or protect myself from such assanine accusation. Make sense? Basically I need to... I AM.. .picking and choosing my battles. Cause alot of em are worth it and need me... and others... are just a bunch of fly infested piles of needless shit. :0 )

7/28/2006 9:08 pm  
Blogger dove said...

Hi catnip,
Which do you think is the tail and which the dog in this? It occurred to me just now -- which probably shows that I'm not too hot off the mark at the moment -- that the 'right of Americans to bear arms' comes in very handy as a line of defense for the U.S. arms trade.

I don't doubt that there are lots of people committed to the 'right to bear arms' because of the connection to the U.S. Constitution and obviously the NRA are a powerful lobbying group. But at the same time, would the main U.S. political parties care as much about them if they weren't a handy way of protecting the small arms trade? Possibly. I don't know, it just struck me that they provide handy cover. I guess what it suddenly reminded me of was the way in which abortion is always framed by the right as 'protecting the rights of the unborn' but when push comes to shove, that's less the issue than controlling women's sexual lives (as I think became evident in the debate around the HPV vaccinations, for example).

Nanette,
I think we're missing something too but similarly I don't know what. That idea of looking from the other direction: yes, how did that happen? A lot of the human rights organisations are still fairly young I think (AI was founded in 1961). But then so is BAE young. It got started as a nationalised company in'77 (though through a bunch of mergers), and got sold off under Thatcher. I don't know -- cronyism I'm sure, in terms of how they get their some of their influence I think. The thing that gets raised here any time there's efforts to control arms is 'but people will lose their jobs.'

janet,

I completely agree about the need to pick and choose: time and energy have their limits. And FWIW that fear sounds eminently reasonable and the fact of your persistence in the face of it strikes me as really courageous.

7/28/2006 10:18 pm  

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