German tanker ‘Leopard’
At the end of the second world war Germany, as part of its punishment, was not allowed an arms industry or have a military force. That was in 1945. In the meantime this has changed somewhat.
In fact the change is remarkable. Germany is now the third largest arms manufacturer in the world after the USA and Russia. For some interesting data check SIPRI’s website.
A debate is raging in Germany at the moment. The discussion is around the order for German tanks. It’s the “Leopard” that has the military personnel of countries such as Saudi Arabia drooling at the mouth.
However, the human rights practices in Saudi Arabia are not exactly what the Germans would like to see. The great debate is therefore around the moral issue of supplying arms to a dictatorship.
It’s not only the fact that Saudi Arabia has no regard for human rights that’s the issue here. It’s the fact that Saudi Arabia supports its neighbouring countries to uphold their versions of dictatorships.
In other words Saudi Arabia is the enforcer in the Arabic world. It’s big Daddy who gives support when the despots’ thrones are being threatened because the citizens are no longer willing to take the abuse.
It’s an interesting question surely. Do you fill an order of arms to keep people in jobs or do you have a conscience and say no.
For me it’s a totally different one. I fail to see any value in supplying arms, besides that of making money of course. Arms of any nature are purchased in order to do harm to people. Whether your own as in the case of the Arabian civil unrest or on supposed enemies such as neighbouring countries with whom you have a dispute.
Having arms is an easy way out of resolving a conflict. In fact it’s always considered the tool of lesser evolved humans to settle disputes using excessive force. Don’t agree with me? Step outside and we will have it out with our fists and any other weapons we can find.
Of course one can’t say that weapons cause wars. But having weapons makes it easier to get nasty and do a lot more harm than if you only had fists. It’s the same principle with gun control in the USA. If no weapons were allowed, either to be manufactured or to be owned, there would be much less vicious violence.
Violence of the sort that shoots down 12 students and one teacher at Columbine High School just wouldn’t be possible. And you wouldn’t need to fish out the old argument that it’s every person’s right to protect themselves and their family. You wouldn’t need a gun anymore because nobody else would have one either.
At the end of the day in Germany it will boil down to money. This arms deal will go through. Germany will end up selling their tankers to Saudi Arabia. Or if not there, to somebody else. The arms industry world wide is only about making money. It has nothing to do with peace keeping, dispute settlement, law enforcement and any other morally good sounding reason.
One of the best police forces in the world, the one in the UK, does not use weapons in it’s daily policing of the nation. But put one of those lethal things into the hands of police with limited education and training such as Zimbabwe and you have major problems. In fact even in the hands of a more educated force such as in the US guns lead to umpteen deaths that could have been avoided.
Well you might say that the German arms industry keeps 80 000 people employed and isn’t that a good thing? Well that argument has been around for a while. Does the end justify the means? Do the means justify the end.
Either way you look at it, it’s a problem. And it must be something of concern to the 80 000 people too surely? You are making bullets to kill people. Is this not a moral issue? One wonders.