The Arms Trade and the World Trade Organization

Search, and you will find a bunch of lobby groups' papers trying to make the connection between the World Trade Organization and the arms trade. The argument goes like this:

  • The WTO treaties specifically exclude the arms trade.
  • Therefore... um...
  • try this... governments that want to indulge in what is defined from the point of view of the fundamentalist free-trade position as "unfree trade" - that is, trade on terms that that discriminates against certain capitalists - can do so only in the context of the arms trade. They can subsidise arms traders. They can stop foreign investment in arms traders. They can direct their armed forces to buy only from certain arms traders. They do do all the above, and borrow heavily to do so, either in pursuit of something called "sovereignty" or as a means of subsidising certain capitalists. (And sometimes they claim they do so to "create jobs", although paying people to burn as many €20 notes as they can in a day, every day, would probably be more cost-effective.)
  • So: the WTO encourages the arms trade, by ignoring it. Got that?

There's an alternative argument.

They're both shit.

They both kill people - more suddenly in one case than the other.

Both the arms trade and the WTO are dedicated to maintaining the conditions for so-called "free trade" - that is, trade that's free for approved capitalists.

The Arms Trade is what they need to enforce so-called "Free Trade"

Street Party
10 September 2003
Street Party 10 September 2003
kids in sandpit on M41
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Updated 8 September 2003