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When industries come first, people die

As we watch the ridiculous debate about coal unfold again, driven by the resources and manufacturing industries with nary a mention of the economic and social cost of climate change and pollution, governments around the world collude with another industry to cause even greater immediate harm and the death and displacement of millions of people.

In 2016, total world military spending was $1.69 trillion. Sales of arms and military services across the world totaled $374.8 billion.

The volume of international transfers of major weapons in 2013-17 was 10 per cent higher than in the preceding 5 years.

The five biggest exporters – the United States, Russia, France, Germany and China – together accounted for 74 per cent of all arms exports in 2013–17. The USA alone accounted for 34 per cent of total arms exports, half of which have gone to the Middle East.

With most states directly involved in violent conflict between 2013 and 2017, the Middle East saw its arms imports double over the past decade with the region accounting for 32 per cent of global arms imports between 2013 and 2017.

Even though Saudi Arabia spent the most on military imports last year, the long-term spending picture shows that, despite the booming arms trade in the Middle East, India actually spent the most on importing weaponry over the past five years accounting for 12 per cent of the global total.

India increased its imports by 24 percent between 2008-12 and 2013-17 with Russia accounting for 62 percent of the country’s arms imports in the latter period. Since 1950, the value of India’s arms imports has dwarfed most other countries and is nearly double that of Saudi Arabia.

‘The tensions between India, on the one side, and Pakistan and China, on the other, are fuelling India’s growing demand for major weapons, which it remains unable to produce itself,’ said Siemon Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme. ‘China, by contrast, is becoming increasingly capable of producing its own weapons and continues to strengthen its relations with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar through arms supplies.’

In 2013–17 China accounted for 68 per cent of arms imports by Myanmar, followed by Russia (15 per cent).

Indonesia increased its arms imports by 193 per cent between 2008–12 and 2013–17 with contributions from almost all arms exporters.

Australia ranks 53rd in the world by population but 12th for military expenditure. Disturbingly, despite budget deficits and growing debt, it was the sixth largest arms importer globally in 2013-17, with 60% coming from the USA.

Out of the ten largest arms-producing companies in 2016, seven were American.

Lockheed Martin retained its place at the top of the global arms league, selling nearly $41 billion of military equipment. Boeing’s military sales came to $29.5 billion. Raytheon is the world’s largest manufacturer of guided missiles and it came third overall with $22.9 billion in sales. The first non-U.S. company on the list is UK-based BAE Systems who saw sales hit $22.8 billion in 2016.

In fact, the list reads very much like the list of corporate sponsors for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) which used to be fully funded by government to advise on military matters but which now relies heavily on support from private industry.

Its corporate sponsors for 2015 – 2016 included Austal Ltd, BAE Systems Australia, Boeing Defence Australia, Broadspectrum, Elbit Systems of Australia, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin Australia, Raytheon, Thales Australia and ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. That’s quite a list of companies that have a strong interest in the sale of weaponry.

Dr Sue Wareham, Vice-President, Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia), asks an important question.

Do the interests of the arms industry, which are best served by a heavily militarised, weaponised and fearful Australia, and the interests of the Australian people coincide, or are they wildly divergent, or somewhere in between? Having financial backers from one side of that debate is an impediment to addressing these critical questions.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) warns of “the need to avoid supplying arms that might exacerbate an ongoing conflict, contribute to destabilizing weapons build-ups, or be used in violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.”

Weapons don’t always end up with the people you think you are giving or selling them to and buyers are not duty bound in how they use them.

The opportunity cost of devoting so many intellectual, labour, material and financial resources to military expenditure is enormous.

Armies are highly-skilled, highly-trained, highly-equipped mobile workforces. Imagine how much more productive it would be to use them and their vast resources for peace-keeping, building infrastructure, disaster relief, search and rescue, emergency evacuation and medical assistance, building basic shelter and providing clean water and sanitation, psychological counselling – they are capable of all these things and so much more.

How do you best protect people and bring peace to the world?

Do you fight to impose your ideology on others or do you respect the freedom to choose?

Do you bomb them and shoot them and destroy their schools and hospitals and roads? Do you spend more and more in a race to collect more weapons as a deterrent?

Or do you help them in times of need? Do you lift them out of poverty and educate them? Do you make them feel safe and give them opportunity to achieve their potential?

Can you respect differences whilst acknowledging our common humanity and shared home?

Jobs, growth, investment and profit cannot be goals in isolation. We have to start considering the part we play in building the world we want to live in.

When industries come first, people die.


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  1. johno

    Very sobering facts Kaye and says almost zero for the empathy and compassion of the human race. Has the arms race ever stopped, does not seem so. To cap it off oz is spending half a billion on upgrading the national war museum. Gee, and us tight arse aussies are cutting back foreign aid and many other social services. Go figure.

  2. David Bruce

    As a former consultant to those industries, I am pleased to see the results of your research. I was a participant in the Vietnam debacle, because I believed the “Domino Theory” being peddled at that time.

    Did you notice the contributions from the Israeli industries to the weapons programs and the surveillance systems, including facial recognition? Did you also find any information about the Israeli robot soldiers? There is also a lot of information in the public domain about directed energy weapons, also known as “Rods from God”, or Space-based weapons systems.

    We in the West seem to be very good at killing people who prevent oil and gas distribution, or refuse to join the ponzi banking system. We are being groomed for war again and those in control seem to be prepared to use the “Samson” option if they don’t get their way.

  3. flohri1754

    All so utterly depressing when you contemplate the overall picture of humanity that those facts and figures reveal. And when all the lost opportunities for more uplifting and beneficial investments are considered, it is almost overwhelming in its implications. We never really learn, whether it in these national/international contexts, or even when looking at the various ring-around debates on private weapons ownership in such places as the US and Australia. When a person can’t think of better things to do with their money than buy more and more guns (as is often the case in the US) what a paucity of thought that displays.

  4. Kaye Lee

    The Jerusalem Post headlines make the point….are we supposed to be impressed or aghast?

    Islamist attacks in Europe, North America drive increase in demand.”

    SIBAT director Brig.-Gen (res.) Michel Ben-Baruch said the majority of the new contracts comes from increased defense budgets in European and North American countries, due to the increased focus on terrorism following dozens of attacks on the two continents by “lone wolves” and Islamic State supporters.

    The largest share of defense exports went to the Asia Pacific region, for a total of $2.6b., followed by Europe at $1.79b., North America with $1.265b., Latin America at $550m. and Africa with $275m.

    Within Asia, India has become a key market. Over the last five years, defense trade between the two countries has averaged more than $1b.

    With the two countries celebrating 25 years of diplomatic ties, New Delhi will be sending more than 50 companies to take part in ISDEF, the leading international defense and homeland security trade show, in Tel Aviv in June.

    In 2016, aircraft and aerial system improvements accounted for 20% of exports. Observation and optronics (18%) came next; and then aerial defense (15%); ammunition and weapons stations (13%); radars and electronic warfare (12%); information and intelligence (8%); unmanned aerial vehicles (7%); telecommunications (4%); maritime (1%); and other (2%).

    Israel ranks 10th in arms exports. Christopher Pyne wants us to overtake them.

    And David, I don’t think killing people is confined to just “we in the west.” We make a lot of money selling to those who are not in the west who also want to kill people.

  5. diannaart

    Much vitriol is cast upon those who work towards mitigating pollution, spurious claims such as the environmental cost of manufacturing electric cars, solar panels, wind turbines…. pick renewable tech of choice – it will be pilloried.

    I do not have the hard data on the cost of manufacturing weapons and other armaments , but am willing to bet that it monsters most of our manufacturing industries, both in its use of raw materials through to its negative effect on the well-being of, well, everything.

    And we are expected to trust our leaders that this spending on all things military is for our own good. Bullshit!

    And then there is the inevitable black market.

    “Weapons don’t always end up with the people you think you are giving or selling them to and buyers are not duty bound in how they use them.”

    Excellent work Kaye Lee. Tough but essential reading.

  6. George Swalwell

    Powerful indictment of the lop-sided spending by countries
    round the world on weapons and military technology, as
    always with Kaye Lee backed up by overwhelming and
    daunting statistics .
    Almost a sermon in Martin Luther King Jnr tradition; certainly
    a wake-up call to all of us. The numbers of politicians around
    the world is dwarfed by the massive numbers of people they
    allegedly represent – though they actually further the aims
    and massive profits of arms dealers.
    More community awareness and resistance to the immoral
    unbalance in government spending is urgently needed.
    Thank you Kaye Lee for another splendid denunciation!

  7. Terry2

    Something strange going on with the Syria issue over the alleged use of chlorine gas in Douma .

    According to the Russians the US draft resolution in the UN Security Council was designed to fail and thus “justify” unauthorized US action in Syria.

    Russia then proposed a resolution, based on an earlier draft by Sweden, which voices support for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to probe into the Douma incident. The UNSC meeting was suspended for consultations at Sweden’s request, before putting the resolution to vote. The subsequent vote garnered five votes in support of the resolution (Russia, China, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan and Bolivia), four votes against (the US, the UK, France and Poland) and six abstentions. A resolution requires at least nine votes, with no vetoes from Russia, China, the UK, France or the US, to pass.

    The OPCW onsite inspection seems critical to establishing what actually happened in Douma but it would appear that the US and its allies want to strike first before an inspection takes place. the OPCW appears to be the appropriate impartial body to be carrying out this inspection and has been gathering information from all available sources and analysing it. At the same time, OPCW’s Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, has considered the deployment of the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) team to Douma to establish facts surrounding these allegations.

    Impossible to say what precisely is going on but it would seem reasonable for the OPCW to carry out its work before the deployment of missiles but seems Trump would rather shoot first and ask questions later.

  8. Matters Not

    Maybe Trump isn’t really driving the bus. Just a passenger who knows not what he does.

  9. Kaye Lee


    “Russia vetoed a US resolution creating a new independent investigative mechanism for chemical weapons attacks in Syria, arguing that it would become a propaganda tool of the west.

    Only Bolivia voted with Russia, and China abstained. The 12 other members supported the US initiative. A Russian counter-proposal, establishing an investigative mechanism but leaving final decisions on whom to blame for chemical weapons to the security council, failed to win enough votes in the council.”

    Russia has vetoed Security Council action on Syria 12 times since the conflict started. They cannot have the power to decide who is responsible for the chemical attacks. They are not impartial.

  10. diannaart

    Russia is not wrong that a US led investigative system would be a tool of the west.

    Russia casting aspersions, however, does not stand up. Leaving aside their own intrusions politically and strategically into other nations, how Russians treat their own citizens at home (and abroad) means a case of pot calling kettle black.

    Although, with a presidency lead by snake-oil salesman Trump, it is only a matter of time distinguishing between the US and Russia.

    Forgot to say, Kaye Lee – love the graphic chosen to head this article – really sums up the why of military expenditure.

  11. Phil

    A stark picture that confirms what any critically thinking person understands – the giant global corporations make the decisions and governments role is to facilitate, and boy oh boy do the US Republicans and Democrats know how to facilitate. Obsequious Australia is up to its neck in this arms race.

    That rhetorical question you posed Kaye: “Do you bomb them and shoot them and destroy their schools and hospitals and roads?” Yes that is exactly what you do BUT there is more – the corporations then contract with the victors to rebuild under the neoliberal mantra of ‘privatise and profit’ – its that ugly ‘win-win’ scenario.

    War and reconstruction go hand in hand, all that changes is the ownership of the new – and its always global corporations (most often US) who take the spoils – after all it was they who knocked it all down and they who rebuilt it – their logic is flawless as long as you pay no heed to the human and ecological tragedy resulting from this psychopathy. We never see names like Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon et al associated with helping with the humanitarian and ecological disasters they create – refugees, asylum seekers, rape, torture, child slavery, contaminated waters, depleted uranium – all products of corporate profit wars.

    Would voting change anything? Of course not. Let any prospective leader stand up and call the system for what it is – demonstrably corrupt and then offer solutions that threaten the power of corporations and see how quickly that person ‘disappears’ physically or metaphorically.

    Crony capitalism, call it whatever since there are dozens of labels for the same ugly beast, is really at the heart of the modern human dilemma that Kaye so well details in the case of the global weapons trade. Yes there are other forms of capitalism such as in communist and autocratically ruled countries – but they all share a common theme – the government facilitated pursuit of profit thence the accumulation and exercise of power at the top of a pyramid built on a foundation of human misery.

    Corporations like Lockheed-Martin, BEA, Northrop whoever et al cannot stop themselves – they are on a trajectory that cannot be self regulated. Their corporate structure is so totally enmeshed in the world of global economic politics, geopolitics as to be unstoppable.

    Above power and wealth stands the theatre of physical war – it is a primary objective of all arms manufacture – it is what the corporations bribe and corrupt governments to facilitate – there is no purpose in designing, developing, testing and selling all this heinous weaponry unless it is actually used – this is war as feedback – the closing loop they seek.

    The global corporation has become an entity of pure psychopathy and unless humanity kills this mindless entity and burns its horrid corpse, then ever worsening and destructive war is the inevitable outcome.

    Shareholding is an area of the corporate system that just might be transformable. If all corporate shareholdings were required to be listed on a public register we could see who is profiting. At present shareholders are hidden profiteers.

  12. Phil

    Kaye Lee – “Russia has vetoed Security Council action on Syria 12 times since the conflict started. They cannot have the power to decide who is responsible for the chemical attacks. They are not impartial.”

    “vetoed 12 times” – is this number intended to carry some weight in the current debate? What were the resolutions?

    “They (Russia) are not impartial” – Is the US impartial? Are US allies impartial?

    Russia is in Syria at the request of the Syrian government. That is legitimate under international law. We might not like that but sovereinty is sovereignty.

    I’ve no expertise in international law – a mere observer. National governments outside of the Syrian conflict but with interests in the way the conflict is progressing cannot under the terms of international law legally attack a sovereign nation, other than with UN authority.

    An attack of the type alleged to have been carried out in the Syrian suburban enclave under waning ‘rebel’ control might, if evidence conclusively shows it to have been carried out by the Syrian army, trigger a UN resolution allowing a foreign force to invade or other wise attack sovereign Syria. It seems that the first part of that caveat i.e. conclusive evidence, is missing, and the urgency to attack is overriding all caution so that supposition is all that is required. If that is how international law is to be treated then heaven help us all because that is the road to hell.

    The seven years of Syrian conflict has been waged mostly through proxies – FSA, ISIS, Al-queda, Al-Nusra et al – whose proxies are they? These proxies morph into other proxies according the dictates of external actors with geopolitical interests in the stategic worth of Syria. Where do their weapons come from? Who is funding them? Why is western corporate media merely reporting in unison rather than critically investigating?

    I think the intense main stream media focus on highly graphic and isolated instances of the conflict serves to confuse and muddy the bigger picture and it is unhelpful to resolving this conflict, to be drawing inferences and conclusions based on main stream media stories and the ‘official’ line broadcast by protagonists.

  13. Kaye Lee

    No I am not suggesting the US are impartial either. It should be an independent body probably leaving them both out.

    The point about the power of veto is that it only takes one of the five with those powers to scuttle any resolution. Leaving the security council to decide who is to blame just makes them divide into predictable sides making achieving nine votes very hard for anything.

    I agree Trump is crazy and likes making pointless gestures like the bombing he did after the last chemical attack and the great big bomb in Afghanistan. But I do not think invasion is the real aim by anyone sensible – that is a mess no-one wants.

  14. Matters Not

    A little while ago Trump announced that the US would withdraw from Syria. One of his few sensible decisions. Soon after Assard (just by co-incidence LOL) decided to use chemical weapons (supposedly). Now Trump thinks again and decides that a missile(s) strike would be the right way to go. Gee that was bad timing by Assard wasn’t it?

    Those who believe that Assard (who was within an ace of winning) would upset the applecart by using chemical weapons, knowing full well what the reaction would be are missing the bigger picture. The video posed at 12.14 provides the detail. (But then again most people don’t follow links.)

    The military-industrial complex thrives on war. Wars must never end. It’s their business model. If things quieten down a bit – then simply add more fuel. It’s pressty simple.

  15. Kaye Lee

    I watched the clip MN. He made a very good case. The timing seems crazy for Assad. It also seems crazy that the rebels would do that to their own children just when they were all packing up to leave. But all any of us can do at the moment is speculate.

    Assad has made the mistake before, from the beginning in fact, of using unnecessary force at the wrong time. And really, he and Putin can do what they please because they just then deny it and hit social media to say it was a false flag operation and how evil the West is and that any suggestion they have done anything wrong is fake news. It happens every time. And we should remember that Syria did have a stockpile of chemical weapons and the UN says the removal was incomplete and remains unverified.

    Donald may chuck a few ineffectual highly tagetted bombs that he has warned them about first. but, whatever the machinations, I truly don’t think anyone wants to invade.

    There is certainly enough doubt that questions must be asked. But none of us have the answers yet and may never have.

    Wasn’t me

    PS Then again, I didn’t think the Labor Party would dump Julia Gillard and I thought Abbott was unelectable so, if I can’t predict our politics, what chance do I have of understanding the crap the rest of them carry on with?

  16. diannaart


    Haven’t tuned into Young Turks for a while – although I do appreciate hearing a non-MSM voice on things USA, I did a little fact check on the claim the USA had only admitted 44 people last year.

    While Trump has reduced by many 10’s of thousands from Obama’s refugee intake from Syria, the figures are as follows:

    The Trump administration is on pace to resettle fewer than half of its own reduced target for refugees, according to an analysis by the International Rescue Committee, an aid group advocating for displaced people.

    Last September, Donald Trump slashed the cap on admitting refugees to the US to 45,000 people, far fewer than the average of about 75,000 over the last decade, and less than half of Barack Obama’s 110,000 target for 2017.

    But according to the IRC, the US will resettle only 21,292 refugees in fiscal year 2018. State Department figures show that 53,716 were resettled in fiscal year 2017.

    Of course, Trump’s policy making is along the lines of what did Obama do? Then do the complete opposite.

    The Young Turk speaker, made some important points some of which you have raised in the above comments.

    The ease with which an egotist like Trump can be manipulated, which makes him malleable to just about anyone, from the weapons/war industry, through to Trump’s own advisors, his military and anyone else who can gain access and say words Trump likes to hear.

    By way of encouragement, Israel has made a strike on Syria and where Israel goes….

    BTW, I am part Jewish on my mother’s side of the family, I am not anti-Jewish (doubt I would be anti-Jewish without the ancestry), just not believing in Zionism.

  17. Kaye Lee

    IRC calculated its projections by examining admissions between October 2017 and 23 January 2018, the first quarter of fiscal year 2018. The US has resettled only 34 Syrian refugees and 81 Iraqi refugees in states since 1 October, compared with about 4,670 Syrians and 4,700 Iraqis settled over the four-month period a year before.

  18. Matters Not

    Kl re:

    also seems crazy that the rebels would do that to their own children

    Who said the rebels did it to their own children? There’s lots of possibilities other than a particular group of rebels (there’s any number of factions) or Assard. Israel, for example, doesn’t want the US to leave Syria or the Middle East in general nor does several other parties, including the US military, those who financially benefit and the like.

    As you say – we don’t just know. But can’t see why Assard would do anything to make the US stay


    did a little fact check on the claim the USA had only admitted 44 people last year

    I think he was referring to refugees from Syria this year.

    (More later – have to go.)

  19. stephengb2014

    For eons we have known, for centuries we knew, for decades we accepted!

    We are are after all the most destructive living thing that the world has ever known.

    We kill for possession, we kill for pleasure, we conquer just because we can, we destroy because we like the taste.

    It will not change in my life time nor my sons or his grandsons lifetime, that is off course of we don’t plunge 8n to the end of the world conflict in the next few months or years.

    DOG help us we are sick with blood lust!

  20. Kaye Lee

    Greed plays a big part stephen.

  21. diannaart


    I understand from my research (somewhere) that due to Trump’s deliberately heavy handed refugee assessment hurdle race, it takes about 2 years for a single refugee to be approved.

    Here in Australia we know how long it is taking the refugees on Manus (who were given approval by Obama) to gain a safe actual migration to the US. Therefore, I believe the actual figures given by the IRC to be closer to the truth.


    This is not a competition, BTW, I enjoy the Young Turk talks, was not having a go at you – I just like to check things out. OK?

  22. Miriam English

    Bizarre, isn’t it? War is reducing, and so are the number of lives lost in conflicts, yet paranoia and expenditure continue to increase.

    Will we reach a point where we will just have stupid politicians and generals strutting and posturing with larger and larger arsenals, but nowhere to bomb?

    War is a stupid occupation. Only an idiot hungers for more war.

    As you said, Kaye, in yet another excellent article, the waste of human potential in planning for war and producing the materials for war is just appalling. Another two aspects of this waste are, that weapons are either used to blow up stuff, or sit uselessly stockpiled. Either way they represent trillions of dollars utterly wasted that could be spent on education, medical facilities, food, housing, scientific advances, renewable energy, space exploration, entertainment, a better internet, saving the world’s ecologies, or other useful things.

    Sooner or later humanity will understand this and vote out any corrupt dickhead politician who promotes war.

  23. Matters Not

    Seems to me that Assard had no reason to engage in chemical warfare – particularly when he was clearly winning without employing same. (Why invite international opprobrium? To what end? And at this time? Or are we suggesting he is completely irrational?) On the other hand, those (many in number) who are desperate for the US to stay in Syria have a whole bunch of reasons to deter Trump (read the USA) from departing.

    We (the contributors here) have no way of knowing in any insider sense. Thus we must rely on info from the MSM and our own ability (hopefully) to switch on our own crap detectors. Accordingly, I can’t see Assard as the villain in this instance. Not tactically and certainly not strategically. But that’s just me with my own crap detector fully engaged – and therefore the reality I choose to create.

    Now if someone who knows the objective reality of this atrocity (free from any human construction) likes to step up, then I will read and respond further.

  24. Matters Not

    diannaart, re:

    This is not a competition, BTW

    Actually, for me it is (as it is for you as well I suspect). Whether it be the writing of a history or, more broadly, the construction of a reality, it’s all about a contest (or competition) of meanings that ought or might be given to any phenomena and why.

    Perhaps I should add I am not in the business of bullying. (But I concede I have no control as to the meaning one might give to any of my scribblings.)


  25. Matters Not

    Miriam English re:

    Sooner or later humanity will understand …

    Is this a statement of hope? Or a belief that there’s an objective reality outside a subject’s individual biases, interpretations, feelings, and imaginings. feelings, ideas, opinions, etc., of a sentient subject?

    Just askin …?

    As for me I don’t presume to know in any absolute way. For me: Doubt is not a comfortable state of mind – but certainty is just ridiculous. Accordingly, I always doubt. The choice is always yours – because it’s about being human (I believe,)

  26. Miriam English

    Jeez, Matters Not, you really want to divert this conversation into your idiocy about constructing reality?

    For me, doubt is an extremely comfortable state of mind, and generally the only reasonable one.

    There are some things we can be certain about (such as the fact that 2+2=4, or that a circle’s circumference is 2piradius, or that the Moon orbits the Earth, or that the surface tension of water is because the attraction of water molecules to each other is stronger at the surface where there are less molecules around them to share that attraction, or that platypus lay eggs).

    On the other hand, there are also many other things we can’t be certain about (such as what another person is thinking, or how true the mainstream media’s news reporting is, or whether gravity is completely understood at galactic scales, or whether I’ll get more sleep tonight, or whether you’ll ever see the stupidity of claiming that we create separate realities).

    Modern philosophy has largely degenerated into absurd how many angels can dance on the head of a pin arguments. That’s not to dismiss all philosophy — some is actually very useful. Unfortunately much of it now so divorces itself from reality it becomes an utter waste of time.

    If, by saying “we create our own realities”, you mean that people often have different viewpoints and their understanding of the world can be distorted, then say that. Nobody would argue with that. But don’t make deliberately misleading statements that we manufacture actual realities, because that’s the kind of idiotic crap peddled by that charlatan Deepak Chopra.

    Oh, and to answer your question, it was a statement of hope. I’m not so stupid as to claim I can foretell the future of humanity, but you knew that. You were just using it as a segué to your hobby-horse.

  27. Miriam English

    Hmmm… WordPress took the statement 2*pi*radius and turned the asterisks into beginning and end italics tags. Interesting. I stopped it doing so by preceding each asterisk with a backslash (\).

  28. Reddirtmailbag

    Thanks Kaye for that well researched piece. Nothing seems to change much.
    My grandfather’s brother died in the trenches of France, fighting to liberate the French. Meanwhile, Grandad rode against Turkish fortifications in the desert. The Turks armaments included a heavy calibre machine gun made in France.

  29. johno

    Reddirtmailbag, my grandfather lost his leg in the trenches and wanted to help in ww2, even if it was peeling potatoes. I don’t know what he would think re this present stockpiling fiasco.
    Miriam, interesting what you say re war is reducing. What will it take to shift our focus from making weapons to ending poverty, planting forest etc. I would like to see the world’s navies come together and help clean up the plastic in our oceans ( before they are stood down )

  30. Kaye Lee

    “The French government has “proof” that the Syrian regime was responsible for Saturday’s alleged chemical attack in Damascus, which reportedly killed around 50 people and injured hundreds, according to president Emmanuel Macron.

    “We have proof that last week, now 10 days ago, that chemical weapons were used, at least with chlorine, and that they were used by the regime of (President) Bashar al-Assad,” Macron said, without giving details on the evidence or how it was acquired.

    American TV network NBC is reporting that blood and urine samples from the victims of Saturday’s attack had traces of a nerve agent and chlorine, indicating that the government of Bashar al-Assad was responsible”

  31. Miriam English

    Johno, yes. I too would love to see the armed forces become more focussed on humanist objectives. As you say, cleaning up the oceans, planting trees, etc. In USA the Army engineers routinely help with important works like levee building to protect areas from floods. In Australia I believe the armed forces are used in times of disaster to help rescue people, locate downed planes, and lost bushwalkers, airlift people out of floods, etc.

    I think it would be healthy for them to be renamed with those tasks in mind to shift their priorities. They’re going to be used less for fighting wars and more for protecting us from our climate-change stupidity anyway. It would be smart to rename them something like Protection Ground, Protection Air, and Protection Water. That would let them subtly shift their focus from weapons to rescue. Eventually we could hope they’d eventually need to do less rescue, and put more of their efforts into construction of protective systems. That’d be nice.

  32. Kaye Lee

    A friend is in the navy and he told me that, when ships are coming back to Australia, they dump all food overboard when they are about 10 km out. I didn’t ask if they remove all packaging first but somehow I doubt it.

  33. Michael Taylor

    Miriam, I am the cause of that (not WordPress). Last year I added a plugin that gave shortcuts for authors and commenters. The shortcuts can be used when typing in quotes, italics, bold etc. I’ll try and find a link to the features later.

    The only two I remember are that if you want to put some words in italics, you place an asterisk (*) at the beginning and the end of the word/section; and if you want anything in hold you place two asterisks and the beginning and the end.

  34. johno

    Why do they dump food ?

  35. Miriam English

    Kaye, it’s going to be difficult to believe anything the major players say, given the temptation for faking. Nevertheless that’s another bit of interesting information to add to the puzzle.

  36. Kaye Lee


    I guess because of quarantine restrictions? I’m not sure. My friend said it in the context of the waste of food.

    Yes Miriam. We cannot know. On the Skripal poisoning…..

    “Britain asked the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to check samples from Salisbury.

    Testing by four laboratories affiliated with the global chemical weapons watchdog confirmed Britain’s findings and showed that the toxic chemical was “of high purity”.

    The OPCW did not explicitly name Novichok in its published summary, say where the poison may have come from or assign blame for the attack.

    But it did confirm Britain’s analysis about the substance that had been used.

    “The results of analysis by OPCW-designated laboratories … confirm the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical,” the published summary said.

    The OPCW laboratories tests’ — the details of which were kept confidential — findings about the chemical’s purity supports the British Government’s assertion that a state was involved.”

  37. Miriam English

    MIchael, I remember that message. I’d forgotten about the asterisk italics and bold shortcuts because I use HTML tags. It’s easy for me because I wrote simple programs that insert those tags around any highlighted text, and I keep the icons handily on my desktop. I remember I’d tried some of the other shortcuts (I think they’re called “markdown” as opposed to markup from HyperText Markup Language — HTML) but they hadn’t worked… can’t remember offhand which ones.

    Was this the reference you provided?
    Markdown Quick Reference Cheat Sheet
    Here is another:

    Whenever I find such things I try to always copy them to the carefully organised hierarchy of folders in my “reference” folder (about 91,000 documents there so far).

  38. Michael Taylor

    Hi Miriam, yes, that’s the one. (I’m glad I read your comment first, as I was just about to post the same link).

    You might recall I also installed a plugin that allows people to put pictures in their comments without having to write all that messy code.

    I’ll have another look for the instructions, however, if you have them in your collection would you be so kind as to put them here for me?

  39. Möbius Ecko

    Some light on the matter Kaye Lee. An interesting point is Boris Johnson saying they knew Russia was involved because Porton Down was categorical it was Russia, when Porton Down said no such thing, only that a state player was involved.

    From my reading so far, there are three to four state players with novichok, including Ukraine. Porton Down holds novichok, but they state there is no way it could have come from their facility.

  40. Michael Taylor

    No need to look, Miriam. I found it.

    It’s a simple case of just copying and pasting the photo into the comment without having to type in the location of the photo.

  41. Miriam English

    The USA, and probably other countries have a history of fabrication in order to go to war. Remember the Gulf of Tonkin and the lies that led the USA into the Vietnam War? And of course the amateurish falsification of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that was USA’s rationale for invading that country. We were left in the dark about the genocide in the former Yugoslavia and Bosnia, because the mass murderers were Christians killing their peaceful Muslim neighbors.

    Wars develop under obscuring clouds of lies. It was probably always so. It’s just more obvious now because it’s harder to deceive a more informed population. Sure, many people blindly accept whatever bullshit they’re fed, but there are more people now who are critical inquirers than ever before in history. That makes it more and more difficult to get away with deception, even though secrecy is incredibly carefully guarded now.

  42. Kaye Lee


    If Russia was legitimate, wouldn’t you think that they would be doing everything in their power to help determine where the nerve agent came from? Instead of which they are making silly statements like “We have suspicions that Yulia Skripal has been abducted, held against her will.”

    This is a list of their many excuses so far.

  43. Miriam English

    Sorry, Michael. I’d been distracted reading a long article about the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Glad you posted that description. I always paste the link to a picture on the net.
    Pasting an actual picture doesn’t seem to work in Linux. Pity.
    Oh well, it’s fairly simple to upload a picture to my website and link to that, or to google an image and link to it.

  44. Miriam English

    Kaye, interesting. I haven’t been following the Skripal Affair.
    Not sure I’d really lend much weight to anything from Murdoch (, but the BusinessInsider link seems compelling. I wouldn’t give any credence to anything Russian political authorities say anyway. In my view they’re even worse than USA politicans and our own disgraceful, habitually lying pollies.

  45. Kaye Lee

    The man who lost his job as defence minister after quipping that he wouldn’t trust the government’s shipbuilder to construct a canoe, let alone a submarine, is now in charge of selling Australia’s defence industry to the world.

    Christopher Pyne announced David Johnston had been appointed the first “Australian defence export advocate” as part of the government’s plan to increase the nation’s defence exports.

    Former defence minister and Ambassador to the United States Kim Beazley has been appointed to the board of Lockheed Martin Australia, a position he says will give him an insider’s view of a transformation under way in Australia’s defence industries.

    former Minister for Defence, Peter Reith, took a position as a paid consultant on “government relations” with The Tenix Group the day after ceasing to be a minister in November 2001.

    Ex-Ministers: Jobs After Government

  46. Michael Taylor

    I’ve said it before, but I’ll take the liberty to repeat myself.

    I don’t trust Trump, I don’t trust Putin, I don’t trust Assad, I don’t trust May, and I don’t trust Turnbull.

    I don’t particularly like US foreign policy, neither Russia’s.

    As far as US and wars go, they seem to go a lot better in wars they are drawn into, rather than those they start.

    But I’ll always be eternally grateful for the hand they played in bringing WW2 to an end, as I am with the Russians.

    What the hell went wrong after that?

  47. Michael Taylor

    I forgot to mention the weather. It turned out to be Russia’s greatest ally on the Eastern Front.

  48. Kaye Lee

    “What the hell went wrong after that?”

    Mainly greed, but also pissing contests between the strutting fools who become the world’s leaders.

    Also the remove from ethical responsibility that corporations provide. Reputation was important to business owners. Shareholders don’t bear that same direct contact and moral obligation. Profit beats ethics.

    I have mentioned this before…Bill Clinton once asked do you spend all your resources trying to stay top dog or do you use them to try to shape the world you want to live in when you are not top dog?

  49. Paul Harrison

    Economic reliance and competing military exporters, .
    Surely the ultimate race to the bottom……………

  50. margcal

    BTW, I am part Jewish on my mother’s side of the family, I am not anti-Jewish (doubt I would be anti-Jewish without the ancestry), just not believing in Zionism.

    I wish we (all of us, not AIMN specifically although someone here is more likely to make a sensible start) could have a sensible, respectful conversation about one of the biggest elephants in the room: anti-Zionism vs anti-Semitism.
    Sooo much legitimate criticism of Israel is shut down by calling people voicing such criticism anti-Semitic and vilifying them.

  51. Michael Taylor

    You’ve summed it up in two words, Kaye: pissing contests.

    I might add … pissing contests between little dicks.

  52. diannaart


    Absolutely… wishing I did not have to clarify it is Zionism I take issue with not Semitism. My great grandmother was Jewish on the matriarchal side of the family tree- which makes me Jewish enough to have been in danger in Nazi Germany – had I been so unlucky. Also, like very many Jewish people, I am an atheist, which means I have issues with any religion making massive claims for itself because of something written in very old and very unproven texts.

    The Middle East is a prime example of the insidious mix of ideology, money and power. Just as I don’t think Trump is much of a Christian, I do not believe the powers-that-be in Israel have pure motives. Must be frustrating to be sitting on lots of shale oil, while one’s nearest neighbours (Syria) have vast liquid oil reserves.

    However, as you say, try and discuss this without being accused of anti-Semitism – which in itself is weird because Semites are not exclusively Jewish – ask an Arab about the ancient Semitic races.

    Then try to bring on a sensible discussion on weaning off oil (or even coal) dependency.

    I leave the gentle reader with a little something from First Dog on the Moon:

  53. win jeavons

    Put the warriors where they belong. In the dustbin of history, We must stop being clever apes, constantly bickering and posturing and realise the world is too populated for any thing but wise counsel and cooperation, or we will suffer as never before.

  54. LOVO

    “When industries come first, people die.” Kaye, with that sentence you brought a tear to my eye. 😢
    I remember reading a book a long…long..time ago called “The War Machine”, can’t remember the name of the author and it described the relationship between the U. S military, the U. S weapons industry and the U. S political class a.k.a ‘The Iron Triangle’ , it would seem that the “death industry ” are in sway…😟

  55. Miriam English

    LOVO, was this it?

    The War Machine : The Case Against the Arms Race
    by James Avery Joyce
    ISBN 0 600 20435 9
    published 1980, updated 1981
    my copy published by Hamlyn Paperbacks in Great Britain

    It is available in some Australian libraries:

    and from ABE Books (scroll down a fair way to find the cover of the Hamlyn version).
    (I don’t like to buy from Amazon anymore as they’ve become a bad organisation.)

    Back cover:

    It consumes over five billion dollars a year and employs 50 percent of the world’s scientists. It is fuelled by fantasy, greed and deceit. And it is out of control.
    The War Machine
    In developed countries, inflation soars. In the Third World, disease and poverty flourish. But, urged on by the manufacturers, the politicians and the generals are committed to an arms race that none of them can win, but all of us can lose.
    James Avery Joyce exposes the lunatic logic and financial skulduggery of the defence planners and reveals the terrifying failure of those entrusted with a sacred charge — the survival of the human race.

    Back then we all lived with the fear of the imminent end of the world. Of course, since then the Soviet collapsed and computer scientists all over the world ran series of war games on computers that showed that Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) was unstable and could only end one way: in mutual destruction. So the cold war was ended. Unfortunately the morally bankrupt pricks controlling the money seem to have forgotten the lessons of that era and are repeating it all.


    A newer book is:
    America’s war machine: vested interests, endless conflicts
    by James McCartney and Molly Sinclair McCartney
    ISBN: 9781466878761,1466878762
    Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; Thomas Dunne Books
    published: 2015

    When President Dwight D. Eisenhower prepared to leave the White House in 1961, he did so with an ominous message for the American people about the “disastrous rise” of the military-industrial complex. Fifty years later, the complex has morphed into a virtually unstoppable war machine, one that dictates U.S. economic and foreign policy in a direct and substantial way. Based on his experiences as an award-winning Washington-based reporter covering national security, James McCartney presents a compelling history, from the Cold War to present day that shows that the problem is far worse and far more wide-reaching than anything Eisenhower could have imagined. Big Military has become “too big to fail” and has grown to envelope the nation’s political, cultural and intellectual institutions. These centers of power and influence, including the now-complicit White House and Congress, have a vested interest in preparing and waging unnecessary wars. The authors persuasively argue that not one foreign intervention in the past 50 years has made us or the world safer. With additions by Molly Sinclair McCartney, a fellow journalist with 30 years of experience, America’s War Machine provides the context for today’s national security state and explains what can be done about it.

    I haven’t read it yet.

  56. Miriam English

    It occurs to me that the title of this article (“When industries come first, people die”) applies to smaller things too, like daylight saving, which is the cause of industrial and road accidents every year and doesn’t appear to have any genuine benefits for society. Releasing industries from their obligation to ensure the safety of workers also reflects the truth of the title. Relaxing pollution standards and safety standards by allowing industry to control government is another way the title is true.

    The market is a wonderful thing. Properly controlled it is a great asset for humanity, but uncontrolled it is easy to see how people can come to the conclusion that it is a great evil.

  57. Matters Not

    Re the recent chemical attack in Syria:

    As reported at Tass, the Chief of Russia’s General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, predicted the alleged use of chemicals almost a month ago. The report from March 13 says, “Russia has hard facts about preparations for staging the use of chemical weapons against civilians by the government forces. After the provocation, the US plans to accuse Syria’s government forces of using chemical weapons … furnish the so-called ‘evidence’ … and Washington plans to deliver a missile and bomb strike against Damascus’ government districts.”

    Just a lucky guess? Is there a deep state in play?

    Behind the scenes, there is an entrenched foreign policy establishment determined to maintain and reclaim U.S. unilateral “leadership” of the world. American leaders fear that the U.S. is losing influence, prestige and power around the world.

    Well the US seems to be losing influence, prestige and power around the world but who and what to believe.

    Chemical weapons have emerged as the quick and easy justification for aggression. One year ago, in April 2017, it was the incident at Khan Sheikhoun. That resulted in a US attack on a Syrian air base just days later. As reported here by Consortium News‘ late founder, Robert Parry, the subsequent investigation discovered that dozens of victims had shown up in hospitals in diverse locations and up to 100 kms away from the scene of the crime before the event happened

    Yes – who to believe – dozens of victims had shown up in hospitals in diverse locations and up to 100 kms away from the scene of the crime before the event happened . Trump has a very soft spot for children apparently. And perhaps it’s a necessity in ensuring a positive response. Who knows. So much fake news.

    Taking the World to the Brink

    Re this source:

    Consortium News is an alternative independent news source established in 1995. It is considered the first alternative investigative journalism internet news source. Consortium News covers stories deeply and has been responsible for uncovering scandals and important information that was not found/covered by the mainstream media. They are factual and evidence based, but present information with a slight left of center tone.

  58. LOVO

    Miriam, thats the book ☺ I’ll have to go dig it out now…..I’m sure it’s in a box in the shed…somewhere… I may be gone for sometime…. 😨
    MN, if what you have related is only half true, then that’s some scary shit. .😲

  59. Glenn Barry

    I’d say the current reality which confront us is perfectly analogous to a powerful hallucination which has turned irretrievably dark and destructive.

    The toxins emanating from the warmongers, fear and the want for destructive retaliation will take the planet to the edge, or beyond.

    Regarding the planet and all of it’s inhabitants as a single interdependent organism, human behaviour is equivalent to malignant tumours.

    This just leaves me pondering if the general populace will experience an epiphany which reveals this evil within all of our governments and military industries, and what remedial step to take.

  60. Glenn Barry

    If I didn’t know any better, the defending being done by the defenders looks remarkably like a scorched earth strategy – perhaps we’ll be a less attractive target for invasion if the country is a toxic waste dump

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