Editorial: Stopping the War Business
War draws on deep roots, and leaves long legacies. Years before the attention-grabbing shots of bombs falling and armoured vehicles rolling around, and well after the photographers have packed up and gone home, violence is being fed, nurtured, and profited from. In November we saw the shocking attacks in Paris – the first business day after the French president 'declared war' on Daesh saw healthy growths in the share prices of some of the world's biggest arms companies. For some, war is proifitable.
This edition of the Broken Rifle explores the ways in which 'war profiteering' occurs, and draws on the articles submitted by the speakers at the 'Stopping the War Business' seminar co-hosted by War Resisters' International and our South Korean affiliate, 'World Without War'. The seminar took plac in Seoul, South Korea, and brought together activists challenging war profiteering in it's many guises, and demonstrated that an essential 'pillar of power' that makes the obscene violence of war inevitable is the ways in which huge companies are able to profit from it's preparation, and it's effects. Following two days of sharing campaign, research and direct action skills, we worked together to disrupt the preparations for the ADEX arms fair.
Outlining the geographical context we were to take action in, Wook-sik Cheong explains the politics of the region, and the resistance to the construction of the naval base on Jeju Island by the US military. War profiteering relies on the complicity of national government's, and is equally reliant on backdoor deals and corruption – Andrew Feinstein, a former ANC Member of Parliament in South Africa and a world expert on the arms trade, writes on the power of the arms trade and the level of corruption within it.
Though the arms trade is an essential part of this story, such profiteering extends well beyond the sale of guns and bombs – giving a broad introduction to the theme, Jordi Calvo Rufanges writes from Spain, on the way war profiteering can be thought of as 'the neoliberal militarism', as an economic model in it's own right. Exploring the inherently gendered dimensions of war profiteering, Jasmin Nario-Galace from the Philippines explores the way patriarchy and male dominance has led to a specific understanding of 'security' and 'defence', the way a militarised understanding of security effects women, and the actions women peace activists have taken to deconstruct these narratives.
Writing from West Papua, Rosa Moiwend explores the links between colonialism, development and militarism, and the nonviolent grassroots resistance shown to huge mining projects, despite widespread repression. This is complemented by a piece from Lexys Rendón, who writes of the links between militarism and extractivism in Latin America, and the way that the commitment to extracting ever more natural resources from the earth is fuelling militarism in the region.
Finally, we have included some personal stories. The first is of a successful campaign to stop a shipment of tear gas from South Korea to Bahrain – one of the most concrete examples of how 'all it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing' but (to extend the metaphor) when we do take action, we can win! Additionally, three participants in the 'Stopping the War Business' seminar reflected on what they learned from travelling to Seoul and taking part in the event.