Former African National Congress (ANC) MP, Andrew Feinstein has accused some of the West’s leading nations of being complicit in Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip, by providing the state with huge amounts of weaponry. One of the major benefactors of the Israeli Defence Force’s (IDF) military operations has been the United States, set to provide a massive $30billion in military aid to Israel until 2019.
Feinstein has done extensive research into the global arms trade and has written a book on the topic called The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade. He is the also the author of After the Party: A Personal and Political Journey Inside the ANC.
According to Feinstein, nearly 30% of Israel’s economy went towards sustaining its defence force, making it one of the most militarised economies in the world. He also described the Israeli defence industry as being an arm of the US defence sector, noting an alarming $3 billion a year being ploughed by the US into Israel’s military programme.
“The US alone has spent almost as much on defence and security, as the rest of the world combined. Israel has contributed greatly to this expenditure on the one hand, but has also been the beneficiary of that expenditure,” he asserted.
He lambasted the double standards of the US government, highlighting that on almost the very same day that US president Barack Obama called on Israel for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the U.S Department of State approved the sale of over $500 million worth of missiles to Israel.
“There is a tremendous amount of hypocrisy in the American attitude to the situation in the occupied territories,” he said.
Feinstein also recognised the United Kingdom as being complicit in Israel’s assault on Gaza, saying that $12 billion worth of weapon sales to Israel were currently being processed in the U.K. In addition, he said Israel acted as somewhat of a shopping window for countries such as the UK and US.
“Weapons produced by the Israel defence industry are effectively tested in the occupied territories, and other countries decide whether to buy that equipment or not,” he reported.
In The Shadow World, Feinstein reveals the corruption and the cover-ups behind weapons deals ranging from the largest in history – between the British and Saudi governments – to BAE’s controversial transactions in South Africa, Tanzania and eastern Europe, and the revolving-door relationships that characterise the US Congressional-Military-Industrial Complex. He exposes in forensic detail both the formal government-to-government trade in arms and the shadow world of illicit weapons dealing – and lays bare the shocking and inextricable links between the two.
In the year 2013 alone, global expenditure on defence and national security topped $1747 billion. Feinstein equated this to $250 for every person on the planet. He also estimated that 502 United Nations (UN) arms embargoes have been violated since their introduction in the early 1990s. Of those, only two have led to any form of legal action.
“The defence sector operates in something of a parallel legal universe as well. This is what makes this issue so intractable and difficult,” he said.
He said the only way to deal with the dominant global defence industry, would be for ordinary tax payers in their respective countries to challenge their potential elective representatives on the issue.
“We have to say to them, before you receive my vote, I want to know what you think about this issue. I’m not going to support a candidate who continues to purchase unnecessary arms, who continues to receive bribes as a consequence of those purchases, and who continues to want to resolve differences by warlike, rather than peaceful means,” he said. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)