Economists would tell us that demand and supply go together. Similarly Sharkespeare’s King John would say: “How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds makes ill deeds done!” Global conflicts, terrorism, local wars and regional conflicts are fueled by global arms trade and proliferation of weapons. Arms trade is as lucrative as oil business. Many nations depend on them.
The eight great countries of the world, known as G8, have 87 per cent share of the world export of arms (by 1998-2000 statistics) and they make the most money in arms trade. The permanent members of the United Nations’ Security Council are together responsible for 81 per cent of conventional arms export, with the United States of America alone having about 50 per cent of the world’s total sales.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent “Canterburg Tale” where he told the world that Boko Haram terrorism in Nigeria has something to do with Gadafi’s Libyan stragglers was quite instructive. But that is a different story from the issue of availability of arms for ill deeds. Recent statistics show that more than 68 per cent of arms exports come to developing countries, with African nations taking the lead. If marauding armed herdsmen in Nigeria are indeed foreigners, then there is a local war!
Political and economic instability in developing countries result in capital flight whereby public treasury looters deposit such loots in the developed countries. To receive and protect looted funds from leaders of poor countries where the masses live in hunger and insecurity is not considered as a crime in the eyes of the Western World. Western powers, by such actions, subvert and undermine democracy and security in developing countries. Is it not true that the economy of Western countries would be undermined if looted funds deposited in and protected by their banks are repatriated to the countries where such money rightly belonged? Yet, Nigerians can be described as “fantastically corrupt”!
When Kofi Annan, as Secretary-General of the United Nations, proposed a global ban on illicit arms trade, it was United States of America that opposed the proposal most vehemently. To protect their investments and interests in developing countries, do Western nations not screen, select and install such African leaders who can protect and guard their interests? Global war against terrorism is more of an intimidation of weaker terrorists by sophisticated and tyrannical ones who can pose as police of the world.
Any attempt by African leaders to press for reparation from Western nations for past abuses on the continent would be suppressed. But Britain made a similar demand from Libya over terrorist act of bombing an aircraft. Human civilization should not be allowed to degenerate into a state where might always becomes right; where the strong would swallow the weak. Neither must the worldview of world powers become the common creed for all humanity.
Common interpretation of the globalization movement points towards a possibility of ideological cloning, whereby human unity is interpreted as uniformity. The war against global terrorism is not meant to usher in conformity whereby the rest of humanity would become mere robots under the control of some Big Brothers. Global justice can hardly be brought about via the means of gun-culture.
Proliferation of arms, terrorism and militarism are aberrations and abnormalities which wear the false garb of might. In reality, gun-culture is an evidence of human rascality. The growing culture of violence which has been glamorized in films and macho-sports is nothing but harbinger of social decay. Violence, insecurity, instability and communal tensions are usually fueled by the availability of small arms. Efforts to control firearms already in circulation would achieve little result if those who produce and trade in arms are not controlled.
Developing countries are ready markets for arms as well as recruiting grounds for new converts into all kinds of creeds and ideologies. Publication of names of treasury looters, without publishing names of arms dealers and allottees of oil-blocks in Nigeria, would lead to more tensions in the land. Big thieves usually know the links and strategies of other accomplices.
Recipients of stolen property are as guilty as the thieves themselves, and those who reloot recovered looted funds, who aid and abet injustice and conflicts are as guilty as those who commit crimes against humanity. Injustices and violence go together.
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer, Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.