Is World Without Arms Possible?


The Ideal

Charter of the United Nations: Chapter V

Article 26

In order to promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least diversion for armaments of the worlds human and economic resources, the Security Council shall be responsible for formulating, with the assistance of the Military Staff Committee, referred to in Article 47, plans to be submitted to the Members of the United Nations for establishment of a system for the regulation of armaments.


The Reality

Sam Cummings, Head of Interarms, International small arms dealer and CIA small arms funnel.

"It is almost a perpetual motion machine. We all agree that the arms race is a disaster, and we all agree that it could lead to an ultimate conflict which would more or less destroy the civilised world as we know it. The old problem is, who is going to take the first move to really pull back?"

So in considering the title we have two main questions:

  1. Is this possible - YES
  2. Is this likely - NO

Lets investigate the negative option of "Is it likely".

With a world dominated by the hegemonic state of America and followed by our U.K. government. Which either resembles the poodle suggested by some or perhaps the little man that follows the big parade with his bucket and spade. And we all know what he collects. The likelyhood for the future seems to be grim.

The prospect of a world dominated by might is right, seems to deny the possibility of a world without arms.

Indulge me in my name dropping.

At a recent meeting with Noam Chomsky I asked his opinion of a hypothesis that the military industry in the U.S. is not only a major player in driving the U.S. economy but also a tool of their foreign policy.

His answers were interesting as he agreed on the importance of arms industry to the U.S. economy and foreign policy, but more interesting was his evaluation of the bias the U.S. arms industry has as an overall percentage of the total labour force and budget. This bias has resulted in the U.S. industrial base being so slanted to military production and research, that should there be, a world without arms, a complete reformation and restructuring of U.S. production and research would have to take place to maintain the level of U.S. life style, consumerism and world power.

We have and continue to see the display of U.S. military might in this current conflict. When one considers the cost of the missiles alone at anything up to $1.5 million each, never mind the delivery systems, platforms and personnel that support these weapons, one can rapidly see how a whole economy can be built around this industry.

The first gulf war accounts show the cost of U.S. air delivered munitions alone amounted to $2.2 billion. The current estimates for the U.S. costs in Iraq has had President Bush asking congress for $75 billion.

The importance of this bias has profound implications for the U.S. in a peaceful world. Who needs weapons if there is peace? There are also implications for control of other economies. How can the U.S. influence and compete with the economies of Europe and the Pacific rim countries with an industrial base biased to military production?

One answer could be, and we have all heard the theories, OIL.

Many comments have been made on the relevance of oil in the current conflict. Research suggests that though the U.S. has vast interests in the extraction, refining and supply of middle east oil, it is not for U.S. home use and demand. However by control/influencing, choose the words for yourself, both supply and price the U.S. control/influence international policies.

This all sounds a bit like the U.S. is the root of all evil. But realistically they are such a major player everybody else pales into insignificance.

Conflict also creates the ideal shop window for American goods. Can you imagine any country buying main stream military equipment, post Iraq War, that has not been on shown to be on the winning side. This modern, Hi-tech, hands off killing equipment is however one could argue not the main culprit of casualties throughout the world. If one looks at Africa for instance, the proliferation of small arms has created a culture of conflict and killing beyond many peoples understanding and comprehension.

If we examine Rwanda during the genocides that took place, a case could be made for a ban on the sale of machetes. This then leaves us with a world order where it is the person, the regime, the thinking behind the weapon that needs to be changed.

So is this world without arms possible? Yes

Is this world without arms likely at present? No

Arms Reduction is somewhere to start.

But if we become complacent or disillusioned and do nothing and continue to tolerate the status quo change will never happen.

Martin Hogbin
National / Event Co-ordinator
Campaign Against Arms trade
11 Goodwin Street
N4 3HQ