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The creation of the Weapon Watch in Genoa – a Research Centre for arms passing in and out of both European and Mediterranean ports – is the consequence of the well known case of the Saudi ship «Bahri Yanbu». There is a need for this, given that there are limited opportunities to touch on economic politics in the media. This is particularly true when applied to the business of war, a daily event over which we often prefer not to ponder.
What we learned. High profile publications like Le Monde Diplomatique and Jacobin covered the case of the Saudi ship. Here it’s enough to say that this came about following the leak of a secret report on the Disclose website. More importantly, this helped to mobilize activists in Belgium, France, Spain and Italy, who charted the movement of the “ship of death”, until it was finally blockaded in the port of Genoa. Within this framework is the forgotten war in the Yemen, conducted by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition with the support of Western allies. This a violation of the Geneva Convention, the U.N. Charter and the Arms Trade Treaty, which was in fact signed by the same countries who continued to supply weapons used against Yemen civilians.
The context. While EU governments pass the buck regarding the migrant problem – an element of “European dis-integration” – never ending wars created by the U.S. having a permanent negative impact on society.Military expenditure is globally on the increase. Public opinion is used to images of war and conflict. This creates a certain fear, which is accommodated for by a move to the political right. Seventy years after the founding of NATO, it is clear that the declared defensive goals have been contradicted by history. Namely, ranging from Yugoslavia to Kurdistan, several conflicts involving arms, forces and intelligence from within the NATO mechanism.
The focus. First we have no weapons. We are armed only with knowledge, international solidarity and digital technology. Our programme is to build free moving networks of observers, unveiling what is evident: the global trading system, working like an enormous piece of military machinery, militarises the relationship between producers and consumers. The way armed forces are currently managed like a business, reflects “The World on Time” tempo, associated with fast moving companies like FedEx and Amazon.
Ports. These are at the heart of the world military industrial complex, the supply chain working like the nervous system, logistics organizing everything the way a brain would do. While it is true that all goods are collaborating in the effort of the “third world war in pieces” – from oil to coltan, from vehicles to electronics, from radioactive waste to power generators – weapons are included in samples of death available on the global market. We must observe the movement of weapons through ports, as their presence there makes them more conspicuous, as well as high profile, as neither dockers nor seafarers are comfortable handling such high risk items. Today market laws contradict the law of the sea. Weapons continue to pass undisturbed even while migrants – themselves victims of arms exported from one country to another – are prevented from landing.
Summing up. In the event that migrants are permitted to land, what is offered is co-option into the world of the rich, obviously under conditions set out by the latter, and for the fortunate few. For others, the answer is the “Gaza system”, which Israeli companies are successfully exporting as “battle tested”. As such we want to know more about products and technologies that our major companies say they manufacture for export, but in reality they have already turned against us (consider Bertolt Brecht’s War Primer for example). A public debate on why weapons are produced is now in a position to help workers comprehend fully that their employment is ultimately dependent on war and human conflict.
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