MYTH: "We only sell weapons to our allies."

Yesterday’s friends are today’s problems - Iraq / Syria /Afghanistan - yet few arms licenses are denied, even to repressive regimes. The UK grants 99% of arms export licenses despite knowing that arms meant for ‘national defence’ are routinely used against dissenters or religious or ethnic groups.

FACT: UK made bombs are falling on civilians in Yemen. French arms prop up an Egyptian regime that uses arbitrary jailings, executions and torture. Weapons sold to allies end up in unfriendly hands. ISIS is effectively armed by the weapons being transferred to different groups in Syria.

FACT: Criminal and gang violence is fuelled by ‘legitimately bought’ weapons, but incredibly there is more traceability for cheese sales than arms sales, and more international laws regulating the trade in bananas than the trade in weapons. Arms deals should not be considered legitimate or acceptable tools of foreign policy.

MYTH  "The arms industry is a key employer and job-creator."

FACT : Its success depends on huge government subsidies to help it export arms, research and create new weapons, and lavish entertainment and gifts on foreign buyers, never mind how unpleasant their regime. If these subsidies were instead invested in shore, wind and marine energy, they could create more jobs than the entire arms industry (CAAT).

FACT : The arms industry pays professional lobbyists and influential ‘expert advisors’ (often ex-ministers, officials and retired senior military figures) to drum up bigger arms budgets in the name of employment and national security.



MYTH  "If we don’t sell arms someone else will. If we don’t develop them someone else will."

FACT Many great inventive minds, fascinated by their journeys into science, deeply regretted their well-funded work when the weapons were actually used.

FACT More bullets are produced every year than there are children on the planet. In some places a kalashnikov will cost you less than a fizzy drink. 1,500 nuclear bombs do not make the world safer. Devising high-tech ways to kill from great distance does not somehow excuse the collateral deaths of hundreds of innocent adults and children.


MYTH “There is no alternative to the machinery of war.”

FACT Billions are spent on arms that gather dust in hangars or are too dangerous to use. Arms costing further billions are used requiring more billions to pay for security against terrorism, repairing infrastructure and refugees. War can’t end unemployment, poverty, poor education, intolerance or injustice. As climate change creates new conflicts it would be wiser to invest in bringing water and crops to areas than supplying arms.

FACT The Non-Violent Peace Force successfully employs civilians to protect others in places affected by violent conflicts, enabling locals to work out their own answers. 



This is really an excuse, not a myth. We are humans, we will always need peace keepers and total disarmament is not feasible. On the other hand, supplying weapons to people with unaddressed grievances makes violence inevitable.