Revelations that Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan received £30 million a quarter from BAE over a ten year period (that’s more than £1 billion coughed up by the British taxpayer), with the full knowledge of the Ministry of Defence, didn’t cause Tony Blair any ethical problems. Last year he suspended an inquiry by the Serious Fraud Office into the Tornado aircraft deal on the grounds that Saudi Arabia could end co-operation on intelligence and security matters. This time round he says “I don’t believe the investigation would have led to anywhere except the complete wreckage of a vital interest to our country”, the loss of jobs from a business that employs 37,000 people and generates £13 billion in sales.
Whatever it takes the arms trade must go on, as no capitalist state will ever hesitate to use military force against its rivals or its citizens. Whether it needs Export Credit Guarantees to help poorer countries get the weapons they want, or bungs to princes in oil-rich kingdoms, nothing will get in the way of the arms dealers’ industry of mass destruction. Blair’s blatant defence of the bribery and corruption of BAE, already under investigation in six countries, is a fitting symbol of the last ten years of Labour rule. Car 9.6.07