A common purpose Gains value as a common goal Let’s flail together If we must flail at all. Deep in the heart of the battle Caught in the switch of the flow Freedom from notes, she sells freedom from songs She sells freedom and arms Eritrea. I could have made these excuses in my sleep As if anyone had doubted them at all But if we arm Eritrea we won’t have to pay her And everyone can go home.
Future Of The Left, ‘Arming Eritrea’ (2009)
This now fairly-widely disseminated video of Saif Gaddafi brandishing his militarised manhood and promising death can only fuel the paroxysms of guilt and denial afflicting those previously enamoured of him. Not a topic to be neglected, fersure, and one that will be returned here at The Disorder Of Things soon (I promise). But there is another element at play, and one rather more materially linked to massacre and repression. Where are the guns coming from?
Last month, The Guardian engaged in one of its periodic moments of data-explication, borrowing somewhat from Dan O’Huiginn to set out which regimes get UK arms exports, and how much. Since David Cameron is unashamed in his claims that we’re merely helping democracies protect themselves (barring minor hiccups), the numbers and relations make interesting reading. The conventional (if perhaps flawed) metric for such political goods as freedom and democracy is that provided by Freedom House. The top five Middle East and North African beneficiaries of UK military export licences in 2009-2010 were Algeria (£270 million), Saudi Arabia (£64 million), Libya (almost £34 million), the United Arab Emirates (almost £16 million) and Jordan (£12 million).
Every single one is listed as ‘Not Free’ in the Freedom House Index for 2010.