During the Peloponnesian wars (404 BC), sex was tried as a desperate means to achieve disarmament. Athenian women organised a sex strike and even the women of the enemy city states such as Sparta were invited to take part. The women, fed up of wars, refused to sleep with the men, until they ended the decades-long war.
But today quite the opposite is being reported, especially in the Middle East. Hundreds of young women are leaving their families and the security of their homes to become Jihadi brides of ISIS fighters in war-torn Syria and Iraq – a result of these women over romanticizing Jihad without understanding the term’s spiritual meaning. Sex appears to be a big draw for recruitment. Repulsive reports abound of women who are captured during raids or conquests being forcibly married to ISIS fighters or sold in the marketplace as sex slaves.
This article is not about sex. It is about disarmament – a subject that attracts little media attention these days as countries with vested interest are dumping armaments worth billions of dollars on reckless rebel groups. These arms supplying states show scant regard for the adverse consequences, the major ones being regional instability and a humanitarian crisis involving millions of refugees. Not so long ago, during the Cold War period, disarmament was a major item on the international agenda. While the leaders of the two rival superpowers – the United States and the Soviet Union – met regularly to discuss arms reduction and limitation, the United Nations itself was pushing the disarmament agenda with overwhelming zeal in a bid to eliminate nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
But on February 29 when the three-day United Nations Conference on Disarmament began in Geneva, it rarely made even a news-in-brief item in the news broadcasts of major western television channels. They had allocated much of their air time to analyse the Super Tuesday victories of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Underscoring this lack of interest, the New York Times mistook the disarmament conference for Syrian peace talks in a news item based on what Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the conference. Later, the NYT carried a correction on its website. For NYT, it was not the event that made news, but Lavrov’s claim that the Syrian rebels possess chemical weapons.
“Chemical terrorism is emerging not as an abstract threat but a grave reality of our time,” Lavrov told the conference, which US Secretary of State John Kerry apparently did not see as sufficiently important to warrant his presence. Whatever the reason, it is naïve to assume that the United States’ under-representation at the conference was due to a guilty conscience over its concocted claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction while it prepared for the Iraq war in 2003. Kerry, a Senator then, opposed the then US President George W. Bush’s plan for the attack.
The build-up to the Iraq war itself was shrouded in deception. Bush presented his case as though he was launching a global campaign for disarmament or a drive to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction.
Delivering his 2002 State of the Union address, Bush declared that North Korea, Iran and Iraq formed an axis of evil, and that the United States would not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to “threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons”.
But far from ridding the world of weapons of mass destruction, the Bush campaign turned out to be a weapon of mass deception and a profit-making venture for the military-industrial complex. US companies like Halliburton, of which Bush-era Vice President Dick Cheney was once CEO, General Electric, Parsons Corp, DynCorp International, Bechtel, and Academi made billions of dollars in profit through military and construction contracts while more than a million Iraqis, including children and women, perished in Washington’s Shock and Awe military onslaught.
It is not an understatement to say that the war industry is a devil’s agent that makes the world bleed. In 1961, US President Dwight D Eisenhower saw this danger. In his farewell address, Eisenhower -- in what may have been his prophetic moment -- warned that “an immense military establishment and a large arms industry” had emerged as a hidden force in US politics and that Americans “must not fail to comprehend its grave implications”. But today, most American leaders seem to ignore Eisenhower’s message. No wonder, their country carries the dubious reputation of being a nation at perpetual war. The list of countries that have been devastated by the US fire power is long -- and it includes Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Afghanistan and Iraq in Asia, Granada and Panama in the Americas, Somalia and Libya in Africa and the former Yugoslavia in Europe.
As war after war pockmarks the walls of US history, the military budget also expands with more and more taxes heaped on the people. Perpetual war and bigger military budgets also mean larger profits for the arms industry. It is said the US military campaign in Iraq and Afghanistan has cost the US taxpayers US$ one trillion and 673 billion. Every time, a missile is fired, another is made at an arms manufacturer’s factory. So when more missiles and ammunition are fired, it also means more contracts for the arms industry. The arms industry worldwide stands accused of plotting schemes to push nations into war so that it can profit by selling weapons to warring factions. Arms manufacturers worldwide have sold weapons worth billions of dollars in recent years to the oil rich countries of the Middle East, while Western political leaders who receive campaign donations from arms manufacturers showed Iran as a bogey that seeks to gobble up the Sunni sheikdoms.
It is alleged that the State Department under Hillary Clinton facilitated arms industry donors who supported the Clinton Foundation to clinch weapons deals worth US$ 165 billion. Most of these weapons have been sold to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations -- and these US-made weapons kill innocent civilians in Yemen and Syria.
These merchants of death, in their insatiable greed, do not care whether the arms they manufacture reach non-state actors such as terrorists. Take the case of Libya. During the 2011 civil war, weapons from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the US and other western nations flowed abundantly, with pro-arms-lobby Clinton at the helm of affairs at the State Department. These surplus weapons were one of the main reasons why Libya is in turmoil today. A similar flow of weapons has also reached Syrian moderate rebels who freely shared the weapons with ISIS, al-Nusra and other extremist groups. Most of the weapons the so-called moderate rebels and extremists use largely legitimate weapons sold to US allies in the Middle East.
With the greed-driven arms industry profiteering from bloodletting, there is little hope that world peace can be achieved through any UN disarmament drive or moribund conferences. The innocents are caught in a trap and doomed to die violent deaths while the arms sellers carry on their devilry regardless.