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Arms have legs

The rush to sell arms to brutal regimes is encouraged by strictly national defence industries. Charles Grant wants more defence mergers and Nato supervision of arms exports

By Charles Grant   April 1996

Contemporary Britain and France are among the most civilised states in modern history. But their public morals are disfigured by one especially ugly stain-the sale of arms to brutal regimes. Sir Richard Scott’s report on arms-to-Iraq explains how the competitive scramble for markets and jobs in the defence sector prompts otherwise civilised men to take uncivilised decisions. The report shows that the government believed defence exports justified the misleading of parliament, the withholding of documents from a criminal trial, and the provision of secret subsidies for export credits.

Why? It is an uncomfortable fact that a large slice of Britain’s…

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