Tax arms’ sales hard

ONE of the biggest arms fairs in the world is about to open in London; 30,000 visitors are expected.

Among those will be representatives of Saudi Arabia, a country that, according to The New York Times, spent €72bn — yes, €72 billion — on arms last year. There have been widespread allegations of corruption at the very highest levels made against arms manufacturers, dealers and buyers. Saudi representatives have not escaped those claims. The London fair is organised by Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI). DSEI was privatised by Tony Blair in 1999 but operates like a government agency. Invitations to the fair are issued by Britain’s ministry of defence.

It is an unfortunate reality that societies need to be able to protect themselves and that means buying arms at events like this. It is impossible though not to believe that bazaars like this play a significant role in the conflict that has made so many thousand destitute refugees risk their lives seeking safe haven in Europe. A penal tax on arms sales to help refugees and war-torn countries seems appropriate.


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