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        « "Leftish" | Main | Being pro-life and pro-poor »

        Comments

        paul d s

        Believers in free markets and free enterprise should be opposed to subsidies for arms manufacturers. The arms industry is the last bastion of a state run export industry in the UK. The MOD basically directs taxpayer subsidies to para-statal corporations.

        beachhutman

        Hey, ethical foreign policy eh? China - where they now send handy little execution vans around the country to kill prisoners within 60 minutes of sentencing, no appeals allowed. I am all for open trade with China, but not this step - yet. They have a lot to learn about what the world regards as acceptable. The EU, and of course the French, are slimy, two-timing toads, and we should have nothing to do with lifting the embargo. But Straw is a horrid, weak little man, and will do what Mad Tony tells him to do. And Mad Tony would do anything at all to snuggle up closer to the EU, however foul an EU policy might be. He has no honour at all.

        EU Serf

        Did you notice that the Spanish are selling weapons to that lovely Mr Chavez in Venezuala. Charmingly ethical isn't it.

        Derek Buxton

        Did "Mad Tony" have any honour in the first place? I only ask because he is often referred to "as a good man and devout Christian" but lies and cheats time and again. Strange form of "good" and "Christian"!

        Editor

        Earlier today Michael Howard gave a http://www.conservatives.com/tile.do?def=news.story.page&obj_id=121081&speeches=1>speech in which he addressed the issue of arms to China:

        “Trade with an increasingly prosperous China is, of course, very important and welcome. It explains why there are some within the EU, notably France, who want to lift the arms embargo against China. The attitude of Mr Blair's Government at best has been ambivalent. And let us remember: this is an arms embargo - not a trade embargo.

        So this involves much more than trade and economics. It also raises serious fundamental issues about human rights.

        I want to praise China for the enormous contribution that it has made in the last decade to reducing world poverty. China has achieved in the last decade one of the biggest reduction in poverty the world has ever seen.

        However, the Foreign Office recently voiced "serious concerns" about China's record on human rights - the extensive use of the death penalty, torture, harassment of political dissidents, and severe restrictions on the freedoms of speech, association and religion.

        It also impinges directly on our national interest, not least jobs in the defence industry. For understandable strategic reasons, America does not want to see US military technology being made available, however indirectly, to the People's Republic of China. If Europe lifts the embargo there is a real danger that the US will simply cease to provide any EU country with that technology. And in Britain's case this would be devastating to the effectiveness of our military and defence capabilities.

        For all these reasons I oppose any moves by the European Union to lift the embargo on arms exports to China. We need the Government to make a clear, unambiguous statement on where it stands.”

        Tony Arthur

        Excellent points. I think you should look a little more closely at Louis Michel, the awful European Commissioner for International Development.

        When he was Belgium's Foreign Minister (well, somebody's got to be, I suppose) he used to lecture the rest of the world (particularly the Americans) on his idea of an ethical foreign policy, but this terrible hypocrite sold arms to slaughter Mexican and Nepalese peasants, simply in order to fatten his friends in the Walloon arms industry, resulting in resignations from the Belgian cabinet. Did he or his equally monstrous colleague Verhofstadt care? Of course not, until the absurd war crimes law with which Belgium was making a fool of itself around the world was turned back on them and Michel was indicted in the Belgian courts on multiple charges of crimes against humanity. American threats to withdraw NATO's headquarters from Brussels because of similar indictments against everybody from Tommy Franks to Bon Jovi had failed to move the Belgians to amend the law, but suddenly Michel's hubris did the trick and the law was gone along with the rather more valid charges he was facing. Nepalese peasants continued to suffer, though.

        What a carbuncle on the face of Europe is this steaming heap of blubber called Louis Michel. Other crimes which show him up as a preposterous and evil hypocrite include:

        - the visas for sale scandal which Michel covered up at various Belgian embassies, saying that it would be an embarrassment for Belgium during its presidency of the EU if the scandal was to be addressed, while the good woman who exposed the crime was hounded out of Belgium on Michel's orders and now lives impecuniously in Italy;

        - Michel's corrupt business dealings with the notorious Belgo-New Zealander George Forrest in the Congo, explaining the erstwhile Foreign Minister's innumerable trips to that country where he was compromised by photographs showing him cavorting with prostitutes. Breathtakingly, Michel used his new position as the EU's international development commissioner to make his first official visit overseas in that capacity to... the Congo.

        - Having lectured the rest of the world on ethics, Michel drew the line at hurt Belgian pride and mounted a staunch defence of atrocities committed by King Leopold of the Belgians in Central Africa in the 19th Century, after Belgian death camps in the Congo were attacked in a BBC documentary as the prototypes of Nazi concentration camps.

        - Upon his appointment as Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, making him the senior Francophone in the Belgian Government, Michel's very first act was to appoint his then 23 year old son, Charles Michel, as First Minister of the Francophone province of Wallonia.

        - As Development Commissioner, Michel has carried on the friendly relations with the violent and criminal regime in Cuba which he first developed as Belgian Foreign Minister.

        Is it any wonder the EU now seeks to sell arms to China and other evil regimes, specifically for the benefit of Michel's friends in the Walloon arms industry (and not forgetting Chirac's friends in the French arms industry)?

        Boycott China. Leave the EU. And jail Louis Michel.

        Tony Arthur

        Surely this was Michael Howard at his mealy-mouthed worst when he said “Trade with an increasingly prosperous China is, of course, very important and welcome (but arms sales involve) much more than trade and economics. It also raises serious fundamental issues about human rights."

        Stuff human rights as long as it's only a question of trade, which in turn is "important" if the evil regime in question is "prosperous". This is the odious gist of Howard's message.

        Not only odious, but stupid, for why is China prosperous, and therefore able to prop up its evil regime? Why, through trade with the naive and greedy west, of course.

        "I want to praise China for the enormous contribution that it has made in the last decade to reducing world poverty."

        Come again, Mr Howard? Perhaps you've been on starry-eyed official visits to showpiece Shanghai - and perhaps you even stopped off in the swish airport departure lounge to buy some designer goods from one of the local sweatshops.

        On this, as on so many other things, Howard's judgment is idiotic.

        Beachhutman

        He wasn't ignoring human rights issues at all.
        Selective quoting can turn anything on its head.
        Ask that flight bloke
        "Creative destruction" anyone?

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