Hold On to Your Wallets! Zelensky’s Back in Town!

From today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:

After shipping some $45 billion in military equipment to Ukraine, the Biden Administration is bringing Ukrainian President Zelensky back to Washington to beg for more money. But with the war going badly for Ukraine and strong US opposition to spending more on the effort, it looks to be an uphill battle. Also today: who was the armed guy impersonating a cop at the RFK rally…and why can’t RFK get Secret Service Protection? Finally… Homeland Security has a new target: you!

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

‘War Is Good for Business,’ Declares Executive at London’s Global Arms Fair

Military-industrial complex players big and small gathered in London this week, hawking everything from long-range missiles to gold-plated pistols to arms fair attendees—including representatives of horrific human rights violators—as weapon-makers and other merchants of the machinery of death reap record profits.

“War is good for business,” one defense executive attending the biennial Defense and Security Equipment International (DSEI) conference at ExCel London flat-out told Reuters. “We are extremely busy,” Michael Elmore, head of sales at the U.K.-based armored steelmaker MTL Advanced, told the media agency.

Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and the West’s scramble to arm Ukrainian homeland defenders have been a bonanza for arms-makers.

“Ukraine is a very interesting combination of First and Second World War technologies and very modern technology,” Kuldar Vaarsi, CEO of the Estonian unmanned ground vehicle firm MILREM, told Reuters.

Saber-rattling and fearmongering by government, media, and business figures amid rising tensions between the U.S. and its allies on one side, and a fast-rising China on the other, have also spurred military spending, including Japan’s $320 billion buildup announced last December.

“We think this is a longer-term essentially ‘sea change’ in national defense strategy for the U.S. and for our Western allies,” Jim Taiclet, CEO of U.S. arms giant Lockheed Martin, told investors during a call earlier this summer announcing higher-than-expected sales and profit outlooks.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United States, Russia, France, China, and Germany were the world’s top arms exporters from 2018-22, with the five nations accounting for 76% of all weapons exports during that period. The U.S. accounted for nearly 40% of such exports during those five years, while increasing its dominance in the arms trade. The U.S. also remains by far the world’s biggest military spender.

In addition to major corporations, middlemen like Marc Morales have also been profiting handsomely from wars in countries including Ukraine. Morales happened to have a warehouse full of ammunition in Bulgaria that the Pentagon originally intended for Afghanistan when Russia invaded its neighbor, and he has been richly rewarded as the U.S. spends tens of billions of dollars arming Ukrainian forces. He named his new $10 million yacht Trigger Happy.

Outside the sprawling ExCel convention center in London’s Docklands, anti-war protesters rallied against the global arms trade and the death and destruction it fuels. The Guardianreported that at least a dozen demonstrators were arrested during the course of the conference, including nine on Thursday for blocking a road outside the venue.

Sam Perlo-Freeman, a researcher at the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), told The Guardian that “a lot of countries that are being talked about as new arms export markets are ones we would be concerned about.”

“Egypt is a repressive regime and Vietnam an absolute dictatorship,” Perlo-Freeman added. “Indonesia is involved in brutality in West Papua.”

Emily Apple, also of CAAT, toldPeople’s World that “the companies exhibiting read as a who’s-who of the world’s worst arms dealers.”

“Israel is an apartheid state, and it is disgusting that the U.K. is not only selling weapons to Israel but encouraging Israeli arms companies to sell their weapons in London,” she continued. “Representatives from regimes such as Saudi Arabia, who have used U.K.-made weapons to commit war crimes in Yemen, will be wined and dined and encouraged to buy yet more arms.”

“Deals done at DSEI will cause misery across the world, causing global instability, and devastate people’s lives,” Apple added.

Inside ExCel, it was business as usual. Pressed by Declassified U.K. chief reporter Phil Miller on why Britain’s right-wing government supports “selling arms to the Saudi dictatorship that sentences someone to death for tweeting,” Minister of State for the Armed Forces James Heappey deflected.

Private sector leaders, however, have been more forthcoming. As Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes opined during a 2021 investor call touting the company’s “solid” growth: “Peace is not going to break out in the Middle East anytime soon.”

Brett Wilkins is is staff writer for Common Dreams. Based in San Francisco, his work covers issues of social justice, human rights and war and peace. This originally appeared at CommonDreams and is reprinted with the author’s permission.

As US Sends Cluster Munitions to Ukraine, Three More Countries Destroy Stockpiles

As the U.S. gives cluster bombs to Ukraine—and as the Biden administration reportedly moves to send longer-range missiles armed with them to Kyiv—three nations this week said they’ve finished destroying their stockpiles of the internationally banned weapons amid renewed calls for more countries to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

The 11th meeting of parties to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), to which 112 nations are party, wrapped up Thursday in Geneva on a high note as Bulgaria, Slovakia, and South Africa announced that they have completed the destruction of a combined 9,582 bombs and 585,422 bomblets. South Africa is the only country that once possessed but gave up both nuclear weapons and cluster bombs.

“Countries that have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions have repeatedly demonstrated their commitment to destroy their stockpiles, clear remnants, and oppose the weapon’s use,” said Human Rights Watch acting arms director Mary Wareham, who played a key role in the CCM’s success.

“The main concern remains with countries unwilling to ban the weapon that may continue to use them now or start using them in the future,” added Wareham, who was also jointly awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

As Common Dreams reported earlier this month, the refusal of countries including Russia, Ukraine, and the United States to end the use and transfer of cluster munitions caused nearly 1,000 civilian casualties last year.

“Countries that have not banned cluster munitions should heed the call of the United Nations secretary-general and join the convention without delay,” Wareham asserted.

A youth contingent of the advocacy group Mine Action Fellows, members of which attended the Geneva meeting, said in a statement that “while we have much to celebrate, we cannot ignore the harm done by states not party and the escalation in deaths from cluster munitions.”

“Producing, using, and transferring cluster munitions by any actor, under any circumstance is unacceptable,” the group added. “We call for an immediate stop to the transfer and use of this indiscriminate weapon.”

The remarks from Wareham and Mine Action Fellows came as the Biden administration is reportedly close to approving the shipment of longer-range ballistic missiles armed with cluster munitions to Ukrainian forces defending their country from a 19-month Russian invasion. This, after the U.S. began sending 155mm artillery shells to Kyiv earlier this summer. Russian and Ukrainian forces have both killed and wounded soldiers and civilians with cluster bombs during the war.

Earlier this month, the U.S. also started sending Ukraine depleted uranium munitions, which have been linked to birth defects, miscarriages, and cancers after their use by U.S. forces in Iraq and Yugoslavia.

Multiple congressional efforts to prohibit the export of U.S. cluster munitions to any country have failed to advance. Earlier this summer, the Republican-controlled House Rules Committee voted down a resolution proposed by Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), while backing a new one led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.)—whose controversial sponsorship doomed the measure.

The latest effort to thwart the transfer of cluster bombs is an amendment spearheaded by Jacobs and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), with Reps. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Andrea Salinas (D-Ore.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Jill Tokuda (D-Hawaii) as co-sponsors.

“Sending cluster munitions anywhere in the world makes the United States complicit in the unavoidable and inevitable civilian harm that follows,” Jacobs toldThe Intercept on Thursday. “No amount of guardrails or promised precautions are enough because these weapons are unpredictable and maim and kill indiscriminately—potentially years after their intended use.”

Claiming that the U.S. “has a strong reputation for upholding human rights around the world,” Jacobs added that “that message is muddied when we’re willing to send these weapons that are infamous for the carnage they cause.”

Since the end of the Vietnam War, unexploded cluster munitions—which can look like inviting toys to children who find them—have killed approximately 20,000 civilians in Laos, where the U.S. dropped more bombs than all sides in World War II combined. The U.S. dropped as many as 270 million cluster bombs on Laos, and less than 1% of the unexploded bomblets have been cleared since. They are still killing civilians to this day.

Brett Wilkins is is staff writer for Common Dreams. Based in San Francisco, his work covers issues of social justice, human rights and war and peace. This originally appeared at CommonDreams and is reprinted with the author’s permission.

Report Urges US-Russian Cooperation to Reduce Risk of Cyberattack Causing Nuclear War

A report published Wednesday by a U.S. nonprofit group recommends cooperation between the United States and Russia aimed at reducing the threat of a nuclear war sparked by cyberattacks on nuclear weapon systems.

“In the modern nuclear age, there is no more urgent task than understanding and mitigating the potential risks posed by the interaction of advancing cyber capabilities and nuclear weapons systems,” the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) asserted in the report, entitled Reducing Cyber Risks to Nuclear Weapons: Proposals From a U.S.-Russia Expert Dialogue.

The publication “highlights the critical need for a global diplomatic approach to address growing cyber risks, including, where possible, through cooperation between the United States and Russia.”

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