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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 1999 17:47:50 -0700
From: Sid Shniad <shniad@sfu.ca>
To: ccpa@policyalternatives.ca

The Guardian 							Tuesday April 20, 1999 


	Britain's military-industrial-arms trade, which Margaret Thatcher 
	built and taxpayers subsidise through 'soft loans' to dictatorships, 
	is central to the 'Blair project'

	John Pilger sees only one Balkan winner: the arms trade 

	'The struggle of people against power,' wrote Milan Kundera, 'is 
the struggle of memory against forgetting.' The idea that the Nato 
bombing has to do with 'moral purpose' (Blair) and 'principles of 
humanity we hold sacred' (Clinton) insults both memory and 
intelligence. The American attack on Yugoslavia began more than a 
decade ago when the World Bank and the International Monetary 
Fund set about destroying the multi-ethnic federation with lethal 
doses of debt, 'market reforms' and imposed poverty.
	Millions of jobs were eliminated; in 1989 alone, 600,000 
workers, almost a quarter of the workforce, were sacked without 
severance pay. But the most critical 'reform' was the ending of 
economic support to the six constituent republics and their 
recolonisation by Western capital. Germany led the way, supporting 
the breakaway of Croatia, its new economic colony, with the 
European Community giving silent approval. The torch of fratricide 
had been lit and the rise of an opportunist like Milosevic was 
	In spite of his part in the blood-Ietting of Bosnia, Milosevic, the 
'reformer', became a favourite among senior figures in the US State 
Department. And in return for his co-operation in the American 
partition of Bosnia at Dayton in 1995, he was assured that the 
troublesome province of Kosovo was his to keep. 'President 
Milosevic,' said Richard Holbrooke, the US envoy, 'is a man we can 
do business with, a man who recognises the realities of life in 
former Yugoslavia.' The Kosovo Liberation Army was dismissed by 
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as 'no more than terrorists'. 
Last October, the Americans drafted a 'peace plan' for Kosovo that 
that was pro-Serbia, giving the Kosovans far less autonomy and 
freedom than they had under the old Yugoslav federation.
	But this deal included, crucially for the Americans, a Nato 
military presence. When Milosevic objected to having foreign 
troops on his soil, he was swiftly transformed, like Saddam 
Hussein, from client to demon. He was now seen as a threat to 
Washington's post-cold war strategy for the Balkans and eastern 
Europe. With Nato replacing the United Nations as an instrument 
of American global control, its 'Membership Action Plan' includes 
linking Albania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia. Like 
Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic before them, these 
impoverished countries will be required to take part in a 22 billion 
weapons' buildup. The beneficiaries will be the world's dominant 
arms industries of the US and Britain - the contract for fighter 
aircraft alone is worth 10 billion.
	Like the 1991 'moral crusade' in the Gulf, which slaughtered 
more than 200,000 people, including the very minorities the West 
claimed to be protecting, the terror bombing of Serbia and Kosovo 
provides a valuable laboratory for the Anglo-American arms 
business. Mostly unreported, the Americans are using a refined 
version of the depleted uranium missile they tested in southern Iraq, 
where leukaemia among children and birth deformities have risen to 
match the levels after Hiroshima. The RAF is using the BL755 
'multi-purpose' cluster bomb, which is not really a bomb at all but 
an air-dropped land-mine: readers will recall the Blair government's 
'ban' on land-mines. Dropped from the air, the BL755 explodes into 
dozens of little mines, shaped liked spiders. These are scattered 
over a wide area and kill and maim people who step on them, 
children especially.
	Britain's new military-industrial-arms trade, which Margaret 
Thatcher built and the taxpayer subsidises through 'soft loans' to 
dictatorships, is central to the 'Blair project'. Each time New Labour 
has sought to bring big business into the fold, arms companies or 
their representatives have been at the head of the queue. A New 
Labour backer is Raytheon, manufacturer of the Patriot missile and 
currently under contract to the Ministry of Defence to build tanks. 
More arms contracts have been approved by the Blair government 
than by the Tories; and two-thirds of arms exports go to regimes 
with appalling human rights records - such as the dictatorship in 
Jakarta, which is currently deploying death squads in East Timor.
	Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that British-supplied small 
arms have caused in East Timor the equivalent of the Dunblane 
massacre many times over. Last year, the Defence Secretary, 
George Robertson, intervened in a Courtaulds Aerospace deal for 
armoured vehicles, headed for Indonesia's Kopassus special forces 
whose commander, General Prabowo, he described (in a letter to 
Robin Cook) as 'an enlightened officer, keen [on] human rights'. 
Kopassus is the Waffen SS-style force that spearheaded the 
invasion of East Timor, murdered five journalists and is responsible 
for the worst atrocities in the illegally occupied territory. When 
Prabowo's father-in-law, the tyrant Suharto, was toppled from his 
throne last year, the general was also sacked.
	The parallels with Kosovo and East Timor are striking. 
However, no bombs will fall on Jakarta. They might hit the local 
offices of British Aerospace (supplier of machine guns and Hawk 
fighter bombers) and the Defence Export Sales Organisation, the 
Blair government's official merchants of death who, as Thatcher 
used to say, 'are batting for Britain'. 

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