I am not supporting warfare by saying that it is ethical. Warfare is a horrible place to be, for both sides, but the sheer self-righteousness of some of the arms trade protestors in saying,Â‘we stop selling arms here so all war will stopÂ’ is a sheer maniacal and delusional thought. If we donÂ’t sell them, someone else will.
So has warfare stopped? Warfare has and will probably always be present in human history. With the development of more precise weaponry, military forces nowadays are able to drastically reduce the collateral damage whilst hitting their targets. That is surely a good thing.
The organisers of protests against the arms trade probably used the internet, which was a product on the initiative of the Pentagon. Likewise another history changing moment, the Space Race of the 1950s and 1960s was a product of the arms industry. Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space was hurled aloft atop a missile, originally designed to carry a thermonuclear package to New York at the Soviet taxpayerÂ’s expense. Likewise, Werner Von Braun used the Nazi arms industry to design and build the V-2 missile, which he would then adapt in further designs for more peaceful purposes in his dream of spaceflight e.g.: the Saturn V rocket. The satellites that supply us with: the internet, TV, phone lines, etc is progeny of the first ones originally designed to spy on the other side.
The aircraft you fly on to go on holiday has origins in requirements, issued by defence departments, to design long-range war-planes. For example, the Avro Lancaster bomber that bombed Dresden on February 14th 1945, supposedly causing a war crime, was developed into the Avro Lancastrian civil transport that helped restart civil aviation after World War 2.
Restricting the investment of the arms trade by universities would be bad for education as some of the most exciting engineering and science jobs, on the cutting edge of their fields, are in the arms trade. By fulfilling your self-righteous ego you sacrifice someone elseÂ’s job opportunities.
It is the environment of the arms trade that allows eccentric or even mad ideas to flourish: Project Orion, anyone? The aspects of money and risk investment are not as prevalent in the arms trade as they are in the free market and its resident cutthroats. The arms industry can, therefore, be one of the most creative environments for human ingenuity.
Man is at his best when he is at his worst. That is regrettable but since we see the products of that area adapted to a peaceful function, we should at least acknowledge where they came from.
So, as you sit down to watch a television programme when you reach for the control, just remember. The infra-red sensor inside was probably developed from the seeker system of an air-to-air missile, a product of the industry you went to protest against.