The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

London Arms Fair 2023:
Why They All Love Wars

Oct 30, 2023

This article comes from the October 13 issue, #147 of Workers Fight, the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in England.

The Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair took place in mid-September in London’s Docklands. Since 1999, arms buyers and dealers from all over the world have been meeting every two years to do business at this event—or, as DSEI puts it, to display their “best-in-class advancements and innovations” in weaponry.

This year, attendance records were broken (up by 23%), with 1,600 exhibitors and 35,000 “visitors,” including delegations from foreign governments, companies, dealers, reporters, etc. ... And no wonder: European defense expenditure is estimated to have risen by 13% in 2022, bringing total global spending to an all-time high of $2,240 billion (£1,839 bn)—up by $40 billion (£33bn) since 2022. A year after the war began in Ukraine, and due to the embargoes on Russia, Russian defense exports fell by 21%, with the result that more Western weapons manufacturers are getting a chance to trade with Russia’s former “clients.”

The Blood on Their Hands …

Both the Armed Forces and London’s Met Police protected the event—at some expense: in 2021, policing apparently costs 3.64 million dollars (£3m). Outside the fair, different protest groups held demonstrations against the event and tried to stop lorries carrying arms. At least 12 people were arrested. However, it’s worth mentioning that some of these protests pointed a finger at countries like Saudi Arabia, accusing them of “war crimes.” Undoubtedly, the Emirates and Saudi Arabia are responsible for the slaughter of civilians in Yemen and are also feeding the war in Sudan. But where did they buy their weapons?

... Arming Their Proxies

Indeed, the imperialist countries—starting with the U.S. and Britain—are the main exporters of military hardware and software to the Middle East. If the Saudi state has blood on its hands, the U.S. and Britain are covered in blood. And not just the blood of victims of the wars they started directly, whether against the Afghan Taliban or Saddam Hussein in Iraq, but the wars fought by their proxies, like Ukraine. And they’ve just done it again. They are sending warships and weapons to the Israeli government—the USA’s main Middle East proxy—to help it exact its merciless revenge by bombing and shelling the imprisoned population of Gaza.

Just days after the DSEI event, Zelensky had a meeting with over 250 international weapons producers, asking them to team up with Ukrainian producers to develop the country’s capacity to build and repair weapons. So far, different companies have said they plan to do just that. This is what it’s all about. Britain-based BAE Systems is first in the queue.