Special Treatment: UK Government support for the arms trade and industry

We are pleased to draw to your attention a new report by Sam Perlo-Freeman, project manager for our program on the Global Arms Business and Corruption. The report, “Special Treatment: UK Government support for the arms trade and industry,” was authored by Perlo-Freeman while he was at SIPRI, who describes it thus: “The arms industry and market, in the UK as in most other significant western arms-producing countries, has a unique status. Although its production capabilities are privately owned, it has the national government as its primary customer. Unlike other industries, especially in the ‘Anglo-Saxon’ economies, it is the subject of active government industrial policy.”

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All Perfectly Legal

Why Corruption is Only Part of the Story in the Misgovernment and Immiseration of Africa — Africa loses at least $50 billion a year—and probably much, much more than that—perfectly lawfully. About 60 percent of this loss is from aggressive tax avoidance by multinational corporations, which organize their accounts so that they make their profits in tax havens, where they pay little or no tax. Much of the remainder is from organized crime with a smaller amount from corruption

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Start Preparing for the Collapse of the Saudi Kingdom

In fact, Saudi Arabia is no state at all. There are two ways to describe it: as a political enterprise with a clever but ultimately unsustainable business model, or so corrupt as to resemble in its functioning a vertically and horizontally integrated criminal organization. Either way, it can’t last. It’s past time U.S.decision-makers began planning for the collapse of the Saudi kingdom.

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On corruption and mass atrocities

Economic and financial sanctions rarely work: their best record is when they are short-term, have specific asks, and are targeted at friendly countries. Long-term, broad sanctions punishing hostile countries tend to compound the harm. Depriving a government of any legal way of getting the finance it needs to function, means it works criminal networks instead. Sudan is a case in point: a raft of U.S. financial and economic sanctions has contributed to the dominance of an entrenched security-commercial cartel at the top of government, whose members are personally enriched by this system. When a state is captured by such a network, regime change becomes extraordinarily difficult. There’s no way out of this trap without normalizing state finance—and that means transforming the sanctions regime.

The final and most fundamental point is that we cannot escape this problem with the same tools and the same frameworks that got us collectively into it in the first place.

This agenda for change is neither charity nor coercive intervention, because the problem is ours as well. In Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and South Sudan, international interventions have made a bad situation worse. We share the same international financial and security systems: we all suffer the consequences, and all need to fix them. In western, developed countries, we experience the concentration of wealth into a tiny fraction of extremely rich people, alongside policies that have cut into the middle class, and limited the future of the next generation. We have a closed security establishment that considers itself above the rules that govern society as a whole, and permitted to crooks in the name of protecting the public. Their worldview subordinates public interest to greed and fear, and their prescriptions for global problems don’t challenge this formula.

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