The announcement by the Prime Minister that he wants Australia to become one of the world’s top ten arms exporters demonstrates the level to which our government’s moral standard has fallen in the quest to make money, any money, from any source, at any cost.
Drugs and arms are two of the biggest global industries. Both trade in death and destruction. The announcement that our government wishes to become one of the ten top arms exporters illustrates the importance of the arms industry to the world economy. We apparently want a slice of this lucrative pie. Those who deal in arms have a conflict of interest in terms of war, it is good for business. Without conflict the US economy would be severely weakened. Australia is joined at the hip with the United States, which has been perpetually at war for decades. It is a very unhealthy if not dangerous alliance. We have been drawn into battles which were not ours to fight and which have caused grief to countless Australian families – for what purpose?
None of these wars have been ‘won’, indeed on what measure is war ‘won’ these days? Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan can hardly be described as grand military achievements that contributed to world peace and a better outcome for their civilian populations. But it is worse than that. The US and Australia are allies of Saudi Arabia which is the great exporter of terrorism. The Mujahideen, Wahhabism, the Taliban, Al Qaeda and ISIS are all creatures of a perverted form of Sunni Islam with roots in Saudi Arabia. The 9/11 terrorists were Saudis. Yet we have military ties with Saudi Arabia.
In turn, Saudi Arabia has ties with Israel out of their common hatred and fear of Iran. The Middle East combatants are Saudi Arabia and Iran, both seek to extend their power and influence. The reluctance of the US to do business with Iran has little to do with any realistic threat Iran might be to the US, or indeed to international terrorism, but it has everything to do with the position held by Saudi Arabia and Israel towards Iran.
Australia has signed a military agreement with Israel. Israel uses its arms and intelligence to subjugate and terrorise the Palestinian people. It suits Israel and its friend the US to portray Palestinians as terrorists who threaten harm to Israeli citizens, but the tragic reality is that the Israeli occupying army inflicts humiliation and terror on the Palestinian civil population on a daily basis. Occasionally a Palestinian at the end of his or her tether turns themselves into a human explosive and harms Israeli civilians. Such action is to be condemned. But unreported is that the home and livelihood of the Palestinian’s family is summarily raised to the ground. Daily attacks by Settlers on Palestinians go unreported and unpunished, Palestinian children are gaoled and every attempt is made to ensure that the Palestinian economy falters.
Not only do we wish to sell arms, we are in partnership with those for whom war has become part of their DNA, whose way of life is sustained through conflict and the subjugation of others.
Now, if that is not enough it is worse again.
At a time when we wish to export arms we have decided to cut overseas aid to the lowest level it has been as a percentage of GDP, since WW2. The morality of this should deeply shame all Australians. Not only do we refuse aid to those whose circumstances have become perilous through natural disaster, drought, famine, civil war, or simply through historical circumstance or underdevelopment; no, in addition to this lack of care we are prepared to potentially add to their pain through the sale of arms. To be on the receiving end of armaments fired in anger is to be made a victim, to become powerless, to be poor. Many countries who are big purchasers of arms (eg South Sudan, Somalia, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria) spend more on weapons of destruction than they do on essential services to their own people. For many arms purchase is a primary cause of their indebtedness to first world countries.
Australia’s moral integrity is being called into question. Apparently our values are ‘fair go’, ‘equality’, ‘equal opportunity’. These values were again articulated by our leaders at the recent Australia Day celebrations. This decision to push for armament sales whilst and at the same time minimising overseas aid is a clear indication that these values do not apply outside Australia, and apparently are absent from the political elite of Australia.