There’s Good Money in Death 11

In posts below I outlined the theory, first put forward in JA Hobson’s Imperialism: A Study, that imperial adventures abroad impoverish a nation but enrich certain powerful interest groups within it. I applied this to the Iraq war. Market events of the last few days bear out my description of the fragility of the United States’ current financial architecture. Gordon Brown has loyally bought $125 billion of US Treasury Bonds in the last few months to help shore up his ally, with my money. Brown is a man who prides himself on economic prudence, that is a move he will come to rue.

When I give talks on Murder in Samarkand , I am keen to emphasise that the driver behind US Central Asian policy was the meeting between Bush, Enron and the Uzbek Ambassador in 1997. From twenty years experience as a diplomat I can tell you that the idea that big companies drive foreign policy is not an abstract concept, but comes down to very real contracts, very real money and very real, and often very nasty, people.

The same point was made last week by a BBC report that the arms manufacturer British Aerospace has made record profits due to the War in Iraq. The BBC, for once, deserves some credit for the frankness of this report, which begins:

BAE profits soar on Iraq conflict

Work to re-equip UK and US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan has helped profits to soar at defence group BAE Systems.

The UK’s largest defence firm, BAE made a pre-tax profit of ‘657m ($1.4bn), compared with ‘378m a year earlier.

BAE said the “high tempo” of UK and US military operations was increasing demand for land systems to support armed forces overseas. BAE, which is facing an anti-corruption probe by US authorities, saw its half-year revenues rise by 10%. The firm said its sales had benefited from its US operations, which achieved organic sales growth of 12% during the period.

Overall sales at BAE’s Land & Armaments business, which includes everything from tanks to munitions, rose 43%.

British Aerospace is of course the company that provided $1.2 billion in bribes for Saudi Princes, as well as trafficking in sex for them, and had Tony Blair decide that an investigation into the crime should be dropped “In the national interest”.

British Aerospace has the closest relationship with New Labour. When Robin Cook became Foreign Secretary in 1997, he announced that he intended to institute an “Ethical Foreign Policy”. Blair was determined to scupper this, particularly as it was known in the FCO and Downing St that Robin Cook planned to block a substantial sale of British Aerospce Hawk jets to Indonesia, a country which had a record of using air power against civilian populations in internal dissident areas.

Before Cook was ready, Blair ambushed him on the issue at one of New Labour’s very first Cabinet meetings. Jack Straw led the attack speaking in favour of BAE, strongly supported by Gordon Brown. In the first few weeks of Blair’s premiership, nobody was prepared to speak against him at Cabinet, and Cook was not just defeated, but deliberately humiliated by Blair. I have had an eyewitness account of this meeting from a then Cabinet Minister.

Cook was later to say that:

“I came to learn that the chairman of BAE appeared to have the key to the garden door to No 10. Certainly I never knew No 10 to come up with any decision that would be incommoding to BAE.”

Jack Straw has always been the most pervasive and insidious supporter of BAE in the Cabinet. It was Straw who lobbied hardest against Cook’s plans to limit BAE arms sales, and when Blair sacked Cook it was Straw who replaced him as Foreign Secretary. It was Straw who lobbied hardest for the investigation into the BAE bribes to be dropped, and it is Straw who now has become, supreme irony, Minister of Justice.

When Straw escorted Condoleeza Rice around the North West of England in March 2006, a BAE arms factory was the highlight of the trip.

Straw’s links with BAE are partly conducted through Lord Taylor of Blackburn, the former leader of the Blackburn with Darwen Council that includes Straw’s Blackburn constituency. Lord Taylor, an archetypal New Labour apparatchik from Straw’s constituency machine, has lived off the taxpayer in Labour Party appointed posts all his life. He is now chiefly known as the second highest claimer of expenses in the House of Lords. In 2005 Lord Taylor claimed over ‘57,000 of tax-free expenses, over three times the average claim of under ‘19,000. he spoke 15 times in the year.

But he doesn’t really need that public money anymore, as the grasping creep Taylor is the primary conduit between the defence industry and New Labour. He has been a highly paid “Consultant” to BAE for over a decade. He also has used some of that money to make major contributions to Jack Straw’s election expenses in his Blackburn constituency, declared by Straw in the Register of Member’s interests. Lord Taylor also regularly makes large contributions to fund Blackburn New Labour. When I stood against Straw in Blackburn at the last election, Taylor was present with Straw at a black tie event hosted by BAE in the constituency said to be “unrelated to the election”.

Interestingly, this year in the House of Lords’ Register of Members’ interests, BAE has disappeared from Taylor’s list of eleven paid consultancies and two paid directorships. It might be interesting to dig for links between these companies and BAE. Some are certainly arms firms – including the highly sinister Electronic Data Systems.

EDS is another of the arms companies that has made many billions from the Iraq war. Among their many current defence contracts is a $12 billion project on electronic systems for the US armed forces. Presumably a well-plugged in New Labour apparatchik like Lord Taylor was of no hindrance to EDS in March 2005 when they landed a ‘2.5 billion contract from the UK MOD for a similar project. Indeed, if Lord Taylor cannot help swing that kind of contract, why are EDS paying him?

I do not have power of words sufficiently to condemn the institutional sleaze of a system where a scumbag like Lord Taylor can be put, unelected, by Labour into a seat for life in the national legislature. There, while a legislator, he can act as a well paid and highly connected lobbyist for the arms industry. As someone who has been deeply patriotic, I must now say that I find myself unable to have any pride in my own country any longer.

What are our soldiers dying for again?,,2091253,00.html

11 thoughts on “There’s Good Money in Death

  • DrKebz

    Thanks Craig. All this is very interesting. People like Taylor and companies such as EDS need further investigation in order to expose rampant corruption at the top. The merry go round certainly also involves the media and 'media consultants' who often appear as 'terrorism experts' on TV, who are also working for either the MOD or the arms industry. One such person is Paul Beaver (he also runs his own company in Westminster) who regularly appears on the BBC and is one such example of such people who traverse the world of arms dealers, media and government without public knowledge of their other roles. Their role in promoting war has additional benefits for their clients in sales. They make a killing in more ways than one.

  • johnf

    There's only one way to deal with the kind of opposition we have, and that's to hit them hard. You keep hitting them hard, Craig. Thank you. And thank you for the infomation on the shanghaing of Robin Cook.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Thank you for this. It's so important, I feel, to have someone who has been right inside the machine to give a first-hand picture of its mechanisms and machinations – so that when those of us on the outside argue against the kind of symbiosis that defines the relationship between government and the arms industry we can no longer be described as 'paranoid' and thereby marginalised. When, I wonder, did Jack Straw (aka Jack Faustus) sell his soul? Look closely at the powerful… and you'll see a dark, cold infinity behind their eyes. But don't look for too long. The only other place you'll see such a thing is in the eyes of killers.

    I just read 'Murder in Samarkand' and it's a wonderful and very powerful book. The mischevious humour, the warts-and-all fallibility of its protagonist, its detailed, lucid insight and its tenderness and incipient eroticism help to humanise what is a tale of grim – no, that's the wrong word – appalling, shocking, heart-rending – destruction of a nation and the unforgiveable complicity of my country – this great and glorious Mother of Democracy, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – in that process.

    So, the individual who helped to create difficulties for you is now the Deputy High Commissioner to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Well, jolly-ho! I hope he enjoys himself in the Margalla Hills and is able to participate in a Zorba's Dance in the middle of the ancient Graeco-Buddhist city of Taxila. Just what the people of Pakistan need, the country where 1% of the GDP goes on health and 2% goes on education. Military spending comprises 47 times the amount spent on health. Yes, that's right. Forty-seven per cent.

    Most of this carnage (infant mortality, etc.) could be turned around completely in 5-10 years if the political will was there. But even if it were possible that a leader would come to power who wanted to do this, the USA would not permit it to happen. Like Uzbekistan used to be (until the US got kicked out), Pakistan is just a military base and buffer-state for the US. That is seen as its function.

    So I'm sure that your ex-boss, he and BAE, Lord Doodleypush Taylor of Blackburn and the Right Honourable Icon of Justice, Mister Jacobus Faustus Straw will all do very, very well indeed with the new and polished butt of His Excellency in the silver saddle! I shall remember to quote his name in full, the next time I'm stopped at Lahore airport with the memorable but unoriginal line from the moustachio'd ISI guy in the crap shalvar-kamise: "Your passport is suspicious". On second thoughts, maybe not.

  • doppel

    reading the super short work by niall ferguson about ww1 where he refers to a para phrased quote by edward m house,

    that the "group of militarists and financiers who governed (germany) could conserve their selfish interests" by going to war,

    he also metions earlier the kaiser discussing with banker max warburg the idea of 'preventative war'

    in the last two years of reading its saddened me to learn that everything i thougfht i knew of history was bullshit

  • Tom Griffin

    'imperial adventures abroad impoverish a nation but enrich certain powerful interest groups within it'

    Perhaps this story is a good example:

    The U.S. military has paid $548 million over the past three years to two British security firms that protect the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on reconstruction projects, more than $200 million over the original budget, according to previously undisclosed data that show how the cost of private security in Iraq has mushroomed

  • MilkMonitor

    Thanks for that, Craig. Great stuff, again.

    The link to the Guardian article by the investigative reporters David Leigh and Rob Evans reveals outstanding work.

    The reply to their FoI request from the Attorney General's office details how the BAE investigation was halted on the advice of the Secret Intelligence Service who declare that our counter terrorism arrangements with the Saudis would be damaged –

    "The Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service's ('SIS) view was that the Saudis might withdraw their co-operation if the SFO investigation continued, and that they could decide to do so at any time."

    How useful, once again, it is to have a need for counter terrorism partnerships with dictators and dirty regimes, so that fraud investigations can be stopped because of the danger of damaging those arrangements.

    And yet we know the terrorism must be real, for worthies such as Bush, Cheney, Blair, Aznar, Howard, Murdoch, Kissinger, Netanyahu, the Rockefellers, the Rothschilds, et al, would never stoop so low as to have organised it to suit their overall purposes (!)

    And we, being such trusting supplicants continue to give them the benefit of the doubt over the holes in the official explanations, their failure to show all the evidence, and the dodgy trials and confessions.

    FFS, how much longer are we going to believe the lies on which all our present woes are founded?

    I propose once again, the interview with Aaron Russo:

    "Hollywood director and documentary film maker Aaron Russo has gone in-depth on the astounding admissions of Nick Rockefeller, who personally told him that the elite's ultimate goal was to create a microchipped population and that the war on terror was a hoax, Rockefeller having predicted an "event" that would trigger the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan eleven months before 9/11."

  • johnf

    Good to see Michael Ancram has been talking to Hamas. Sort of pragmatic Tory who lives in the real world.

  • ziz

    G.K. Chesterton discovered, in Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner, this lethal vignette of a World War One profiteer:

    The many men, so beautiful!

    And they all dead did lie:

    And a thousand thousand slimy things

    Lived on; and so did I.

    It was Stanley Baldwin who remarked of the post WW I House of Commons – " a lot of hard faced men who looked as though they had done well out of the war"

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