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A Magazine for Sheffield

Our wonderful defence industry.

If there was a big scam discovered to be killing people, luring youngsters into a life of violence, sucking up taxpayers' money and corrupting at the highest levels, you would expect a protest. But if it was big enough, older than the Mafia, and based on lies bound into the fabric of the establishment, it could go almost unmentioned. When the Queen visited South Yorkshire late last year, she went to see the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre near Rotherham, home to Castings Technology International (CTI), greasing its palms in the 'global supply chain' for parts for things like unmanned 'drone' weapons, which kill ten innocents for every suspected militant (according to US policy organisation The Brookings Institution). Other partners in this joint venture include such dirty arms dealers as BAE Systems, investigated for corruption over several years. Tony Blair's government halted one part of the trial. The company plea-bargained for a lesser charges of lying and false accounting, and was fined several hundred thousand pounds. More surprising is Prince Andrew's criticism of "those fucking journalists...who poke their noses everywhere" and of British anti-corruption investigators looking into a BAE-Saudi arms deal. Why should he be so bothered? Wikileaks provides a clue - he criticised the "stupid" UK and US governments for thinking in only ten-year terms. Clearly there are higher circles, where longer-term strategies apply. So that's why a supply of healthy young people from our working class estates is pimped by army recruitment to stand on the next frontline, in the interests of our great nation. Don't get me wrong, joining the army may be called brave - or it may be called other things, like desperate - but what I'm talking about here is the arms-pushing, agent provocateur role; starting wars in the interests of UK/US elites' wealth and power. Or should I say in the interests of the decaying US Empire? We hear about Iraq and Afghanistan, but the USA has interfered over 100 times in other countries since World War II alone. Sending its forces to the "hungriest parts of the world...they militarise these societies", says multi-award winning journalist Allan Nairn. Sometimes there is no underlying logic except to continue war and Britain tags along, like the playground drug pusher's sidekick, selling stabby sticks to the little kids so they can be in 'our gang', then waiting for the fighting to start. Or secretly starting it. Often we arm both sides. This is happening now, with aid to Pakistan known to be channelled into the war against 'our' side in Afghanistan. Trade delegations and anti-poverty aid has channelled money back into UK arms dealers' pockets, as if there was simply no moral question. It goes right back to our colonial, war-infested history. When I first came to live here, there was a Sheffield Peace Shop, a visible sign of the long tradition of fighting the injustices of war. It's long gone, but campaigning is not. It succeeds. Like the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp in Berkshire, this ran for nearly 20 years, inspiring many others. After years of insisting we needed nuclear weapons on UK soil, the government did a U-turn. In Sheffield, groups such as Women in Black, Stop the War Coalition, CAAT (Campaign against the Arms Trade) and CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) have long been active. You won't hear of their activities in the local press because it's simply not 'news', but get out to a meeting and you'll find a lot going on. Links to all these groups can be found on the Alt-Sheff website. "Civil disobedience has overturned many laws which are legally not morally right. I will continue to do everything I can, legal or illegal, to right this appalling wrong" said Barbara Dowling, fined recently with a friend for blockading Faslane at 'Her Majesty's Naval Base Clyde'. They walked out of court and promptly spray-painted on the wall a huge declaration that the court does not uphold international justice. Brave actions - non-violence is not a cop-out. Remember this article the next time you read about our wonderful defence industry. )

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