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30 thoughts on “The 4.45pm Link

  • Abe Rene

    A very good point – if you want to save billions, get rid of a few atomic weapons. If we can only use the ones we have with the Americans’ permission, let them pay for the lot.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Abe and Craig,

    The problem is that the economic system is dependent on the sale of arms. America is a war economy, as is Britain. Look at the US budget each year and the one item that is not decreased is the defence-budget and the US presently maintains some 700 bases globally. It is sabre rattling for a war with Iran ?” and ?” guess what ?” that may just be great for the arms industry.

    An M16 bloke said to me – ” Well the Americans, Russians and Chinese sell arms – so – why shouldn’t we?”.

    The point is that the arms trade stands on sacred ground. Try to attack its roots, and see what happens to you. Craig, you are a diplomat and a great guy too. Myself a lawyer, I have been in some pretty frightening situations, and I am aware that there are powers out there that can and will kill. Not being paranoid, but realistically – where is CND today? Did it just dissipate or disintegrate, or was it given more than a little push for its demise? The powers that be may not always kill the activist individual, but, it may find very effective ways of dismembering the movement that would otherwise dismantle the arms trade, if a critical mass of people were made fully aware of what the arms trade really is. Every thought seriously about the diamond wars in West Africa?

    From post World War 11 and before, to South East Asian drugs trade, to Iran- Contra, to the booming heroin business from Afghanistan, to the multi-million arms trade that saw the BAE corruption trial collapse, unless there is a spontaneous mass movement – it will be business as usual.

    What say you – Murray?

    Kind regards,


  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    Funding for the arms trade is one ugly thing and I confess to have been behind the design of certain weapons; funding the hardware for a premise for war (such as Iraq or Iran) is deviously evil.

    The ‘behind closed doors’ stuff I tell you here is or was in the public domain, is accurate and formed part of so called ‘conspiracy theories’ until of course the theory was proven.

    In the case of Iraq and in every case where a country has not attacked you or attacked allies you have pledged (and signed) to protect then a nation (America, Britain) needs to be mislead into war. This is usually, but not always, done by creating fear of attack, thus Colin Powell on Feb. 2001 held up a vial of anthrax and threatened Americans with Winnebagos of death and we could be attacked in 45 minutes. It was well understood by British intelligence that Iraq had no wmd, no links to al-Qaeda or 9/11 and Saddam obviously would not commit suicide and attack us or our allies. The intelligence community kept this information classified at the time as revealed by Vincent Bugliosi in his book , ‘The Prosecution of George W Bush for Murder’.

    At the end of January 2001 Blair met Bush and claimed these false links including UN authorisation. In reality we know from David Manning the real purpose of the meeting was to discuss ways to create an excuse to attack Iraq.

    Falsely painting US planes in UN colours so that Saddam fired at them was one such plan. Blair said ‘no’ although admitted he[Saddam] would have been in breach; Blair thought he could ‘twist arms and even threaten’ if he had ‘the inside track’ to get a new UN Resolution – thus the very same day Bush ordered NSA to bug phones and e-mails of UN Security council members [].

    Blair decided that covert operations must also be used. Thus Bush signed elements of Anabasis and a group of Iraqi exiles and SAS were flown in by helicopter to seize an isolated military base near the Saudi border. The plan was to use the transmitters on the base to announce a coup was under way over the air-waves. It was hoped Saddam would fly his troops South which would then be shot down by patrolling fighter planes establishing full scale war. [Michael Isikoff]

    Similarly Cheney had his eyes on Iran in 2008, proposing America build Iranian PT boats that would attack a ship of the US fleet present then [and still is] in the Straits of Hormuz [Think Progress July 31st 2008].

    Conspiracies? Bah humbug?

  • Clark

    From the article:

    “…arms sales comprise only 1.5 % of total exports and sustain just 0.2% of the national labour force”, whereas “The renewable energy sector … has similar skill sets to arms production and enormous market potential”.

    I’m quite surprised by the first bit. The UK is the shown on Wikipedia as the world’s 5th largest exporter of arms.

  • glenn

    Hi Clark: I find that statistic extremely hard to believe. 0.2% of the workforce possibly, but 1.5% of exports? Hmm. Doubtful, despite what “DASA, UK Defence Statistics, 2008” claims.

    If you ever get the chance, watch John Pilger’s documentary “Flying the flag – arming the world / An investigation of the international arms trade”.

    A fascinating hour well spent, it details the massive growth in arms trading under Thatcher, which coincided precisely with the destruction of our traditional manufacturing base. No dictator was too filthy to sell weapons to. No people was so repressed by their own government, or so impoverished, that the best of British military hardware could not be sold to that government.

    It makes a kind of sense, through the Thatcherite/ Reaganite perspective. Get rid of these old, dirty industries like steel, coal and manufacturing generally, which employ far too many people and have those dreadful unions having a say in how they are run. The profit margins are too small for investors in any case, and the workers be damned – it’s the investor class that is the only concern.

    Weapons, on the other hand, require a much smaller employee pool for manufacture, and they are not of the heavy industry variety that are likely to seek union membership. Returns on investment can be extraordinary, so many aims are achieved at once.

    We make the investor class happy, we destroy unions and undermine Labour’s potential, we create a very large pool of unemployed (as Alan Greenspan infamously noted, “My job is to create the necessary level of worker insecurity” [paraphrased somewhat]) to drive down wages and weaken worker’s demands. And perhaps most important of all, we stifle any uprising of progressive leadership around the world, keeping the resources of countries firmly in the hands of ruthless US/UK stooges.

  • writerman

    The prospect of the UK, radically altering its position in relation to the production and export of weapons, any time soon, is, unfortunately, a utopia.

    The highly subsidized arms sector, is, arguably the core of what’s left of british industry. Whilst the production of arms is incredibly wasteful, diverting resouces in another direction entirely, is full of problems.

    Leaving aside the economic arguments, the bloated UK military sector is a potent national symbol, that allows the UK to ‘punch above its weight’ and appear to be a far more important and powerful nation than it in fact is. After all the UK isn’t Austria, is it?

    Then there’s the relationship to the US. The UK is a military deputy to the US global sherif. This role, whilst totally subservient to US interests, does provide a career-route for ambitions members of the UK elite, which shouldn’t be underestimated. A well-paid whore, is still, despite it all, well-paid.

  • ingo

    The arms industry by its inception is a ‘boom and bust’ business, if there is no war, they lay people off.

    Some arms companies try and change this by making it more sustainable, sic,i.e. facillitating siutations were a likely business could result from.

    I know that many of you could give far better arguments to what I’m saying here than I do.

    Now, how about starting with those weapons that do not belong to us and are lumbering around in arsenals on British/European soils? Mildenhall Frankfurt AFB are forward bases which hold nuclear weapons, especialy Mildenhall, it is a transit depot fro all nukes that get flown around for major maintenance and there are always some in storage.

    I know they do not cost anything and make for a positive balance sheet, but, theyt are resembling high priority targets.

    So even if one would get rid of our own capacities, the impetus for others to strike at those weapons is of some concern.

    As much as I value such talk, its cheap. Action is what we need and stopping Tridents update is far more important to me than to stop some poor sould from getting incapacity benefit.

    Its all about priorities.

    The Lib Dems have failed to negotiate enough of their policies. The pressure put on them by the City, which did its best to heat up coalition talks with their one sided fears, should have not registered with them.

    Another thre weeks of horsetrading would have been far more appropriate and sucessfull, imho., now we are watching the slow deise of a once promising party.

    Someone said to me yesterday that many Lib Dems he knows will never vote for them again, that is serious.

  • somebody

    What’s with this rehash of ‘Ruskies under the bed’ stuff? Something to divert attention away from Amerika’s dirty deeds. What is being covered up?

    I thought Obomber and Medvedev were best buddies especially at the $1 billion party in Toronto* at the weekend.

    *Did anyone read about the agents provocateurs and their ctiminal acts (Global Research). The giveaways are the photos of the soles of their boots! Also the brutal assault on a Guardian journalist by the armed police in their horrifying riot gear (Steve Daikin on Real News gives an excellent eye witness account). The Toronto Star also carried some good articles and photo coverage.

  • Anonymous

    Quoth Writerman-

    “The UK is a military deputy to the US global sherif. This role, whilst totally subservient to US interests, does provide a career-route for ambitions members of the UK elite, which shouldn’t be underestimated.”

    Wow, I’d never thought of it that way before. Explains a lot.

  • Abe Rene

    Courtenay Barnett: the situation may not be so hopeless in view of the fact that the Americans are now keen on mutual disarmament with the Russians. But there is a big and necessary challenge that could generate plenty of work in the future: the hunt for alternative and cleaner sources of energy.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Courtenay, yep, that says it all. Well said. Look what happened to CAAT (The Campaign Against the Arms Trade) – they got infiltrated, spied-on and an attempt made to destablise them by outsourced spies; the operation was exposed and has been written-about.

    Mark, so, you designed weapons, thanks for being honest about that. I knew there was more to you than meets the eye. I’m glad that from a position of knowledge you’ve decided to work for peace. Good on you. It is interesting that you seem to attract some of the especially vicious commentary from some of the possible spook(s) herein.

  • somebody

    Well well well. Another inquiry. More covering over the dirty marks and the blood stains with the distemper brush or not? Will there be an inquest for Dr Kelly next?

    Page last updated at 14:34 GMT, Tuesday, 29 June 2010 15:34 UK

    A judge-led inquiry is to be held into claims British security services were complicit in the torture of terror suspects, the BBC understands.

    Prime Minister David Cameron is to announce the inquiry is being set up, possibly as early as Wednesday, BBC political editor Nick Robinson said.

    The inquiry will offer compensation to those people who are found to have been the victims of torture carried out by foreign security services but with the knowledge of intelligence officials.

  • mike cobley

    We really have to get serious about killing the combustion engine stone dead. At this stage, we (uk) should be part of a global Manhattan project dedicated to finding a new power source for the new century. Solar power is the most obvious one (excluding some kind of fusion power) – but it would require global cooperation, and probably involve massive solar collectors in orbit. We just cannot go on burning hydrocarbons.

  • Ingo

    Hang on, somebody, this is pre- news, Cameron -about- to announce an inquiery into torture, a possibility at most.

    Lord Carlyle on Radio 4 tonight assumes that it will have the widest reference, assumption being the mother of all cock ups.

    well, Craig get your evidence together and prepare to assist whichever judge is going to get the nod, at least they should call you to give evidence on the facts that got you dismissed by Jack Straw, or would that be teling too much?

    Appropo spies, apparently watched by the FBI/CIA for TEN long years and out to recruit new spies.

    Hmmm, why should they wait 10 years for these sleepers to get on with their persuading, when they could have nipped them in the butt years back?

    Has tyhe FBI by their bungling, inadvertandly given them time and scope to recruit by not intervening earlier?

    Are we seeing an increasingly hostile/ desperate agenda replacing the apparent warming of relationships with Russia?

    and who wants this to happen?

    I think this news stinks to high heaven, either of a useless FBI, or of a kaniving secret service who is pulling this out of the drawer, what’s it to be folks, any ideas?

  • r4ds

    It’s 100% true that the problem is that the economic system is dependent on the sale of arms. Both US and Britian are some of the biggest “arms dealers” around. And that’s just a fact. And it’s good revenue to boot… Sell em the guns to take over, then sell the enemy the guns to fight the original buyers… and then eventually get in there and calm everyone down with your own army – who also need to carry arms!

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Ingo, one imagines that there will be some kind of bargaining going on b/w the USA and Russia. These spies may have been watched for years and have been outed right now for a reason (which, since we do not habitually wear raincoats, we do not know). Perhaps it’s to do with Central Asia, perhaps some other dynamic. Was there some suggestion of nuclear spying? Interesting. Who’s that man upstairs, btw. He looks a little too… ordinary for my liking.

  • Clark

    Mike Cobley,

    Yes to solar, but I would oppose any orbital collectors. It’s super science fiction, but the orbit to Earth transmission beam would too easily adapt into a weapon. Or failure of directional control could create a disaster.

    It doesn’t need to be in orbit anyway. Just look at the figures for incident solar energy; fossil fuels pale into insignificance. A one hour thunderstorm releases as much energy as the nuke that obliterated Nagasaki.

  • sandcrab

    I was surprised by this -i roughly calculated that One medium sized commercial windmill makes an equivalent of about 400 gallons of oil a day, perpetually. – Thats more than many oil Wells remove from ground with the spills and fumes, briefly and irrevocably.

    The bottleneck is you cant put windmills too close together and some people cant stand the sight of them.

    Sometimes the energy output of wind turbines drops and sometimes it requires storage, this is also rather true of oil wells.

    1 megawatt windmill produces approx 300kw average in uk.

    300kW * 24h = 8 Megawatt-hours (per day)

    8MWh could be generated from 4.7 barrels of oil if 100% efficiency.

    8MWh from 9.4 barrels at 50% generation efficiency. (BP’s Statistical review of world energy 2007, estimates 39% generation efficiency from oil so even that is flattering to oil)

    Crude Oil Well productivity, approx 10 barrels (420 gallons) a day average.

  • Clark


    energy is just a development problem. Mike Cobley drew attention to internal combustion engines, and he’s right. The oil problem is not so much about energy as liquid fuel. Small vehicles and mobile machinery, tractors, combine harvesters, aircraft – what is the alternative? Electric batteries just don’t have the energy density. Miniature nuclear? Crashes could be fun! If we didn’t have fossil liquid fuel, we’d have to manufacture it.

    Notice also how critical liquid fuel is to a military. I believe that the US armed forces is the worlds largest user of liquid fuels. It really is no surprise that they fight over this stuff.

  • sandcrab

    Hi Clark 🙂

    There is technology to make liquid hydrocarbon fuel from raw materials like seawater (and electricity / heat), at practical efficiencies (ive read 85%, but over 50% would be good given clean energy sources)

    see wikipedia:Fischer Tropsch_process

    And I read the most practical battery technology for vehicles, is a low self discharge NiMH type that is almost as capacious as Lithium but a tenth of the price. However it has been patent ‘squelshed’ for the past 15 odd years by GM and Texaco and Chevron who bought the patents and wouldnt use or license them:



    The patent passed back to the origonal developers ‘Ovonics’ last year who seem to be putting them to work now:


    Ive been interested in batteries for a few years now, and there seems to be plenty of progress to come. The cant yet provide sustained power levels which combustion engines are capable of (after their 100 years of fanatical developement) But Low self discharge NiMH’s (now available in shops for consumers) are pretty great, they should be in cars and boats soon. In the future there is the physical goal of packing electrons into a carbon nanochannel matrix, then we could see electric planes which can recover energy through their props as they descend.

    The elegorilla problem is most of our time and technology and is somehow directed into fighting and repressing things. There needs to be some huge breakthrough in politics and commerce rather than science for things to get better.

  • Clark


    I’d seen an article about carbon nanotubes packed with fuel. That looked promising (high energy density), and there was a suggestion that it could be adapted into an electrical technology, possibly rechargeable.

    The military-industrial complex won’t stop fighting over oil reserves until they have a high-density energy source that is actually available, and is replaceable as fast or faster than oil is now. They have to keep fighting so that they retain the ability to fight.

    Yes, there are solutions for cars that are not far off, just held back by commercial inertia. But these solutions are not good enough for military aircraft etc. If the packed carbon technology or something passes that threshold, watch things change fast.

  • sandcrab

    We have had these things called ‘super’ or ‘double layer’ capacitors for decades, they pack electrons into carbon powder sandwiched between conductive plates. Recently you can buy them for hifi enhancement (provides current spikes to woofers) and other uses. They have great longevity, quite explosive power output and the efficiency of conventional capacitors with many thousands of times the energy density, approaching a car batteries joules per kilo. With future nanotech refinements these things could store hundreds of times as much, with significant uses and dangers resulting!

    Prof. David McKay makes a very rough estimate of UK military energy use here:


    He guesses of the £36 billion per year spent on UK defense 6% goes on fuel, which works out at (only) 4 kWh per day per person in UK. That is about 1/30th of the total UK energy consumption. I would not be surprised if it is a terrible estimate, and really 1/15th total energy goes on military performance fuel alone, another 2 times that on military nonperformance fuel -heating, peaceful transport & construction etc. Thats not my estimate, just a show of cynicism at how far out Prof. McKay’s estimate could be, but it would still be a long way from fitting your idea that military really needs petros supplied in greater quantities than other industries. Quantities too great to synthesize from renewables if it wanted to. Industry already uses big batteries for cranes and trains. Boats and trucks are ready, planes someday.

    It would be one less thing to fight and profit over though- hence the appearance of necessity.

  • Clark


    I wasn’t really thinking of the average fuel usage of the military, more the high demand during actual fighting, particularly the early stages of a war, at a guess.

    There may be ‘industrial inertia’ involved. If new fuels need new vehicles that can’t use current fuels, that could discourage militaries from conversion, as seizing your enemy’s fuel would be less advantageous, and there would be less sources for fuel.

  • sandcrab


    “If new fuels need new vehicles that can’t use current fuels..”

    This is just where i differ –

    Synthetic fuels can be produced at reasonable efficiency using plain water, carbon, heat|electricity and catalysts, to directly replace the current fossil fuel derivatives -including aircraft fuel.

    The carbon required can even come from the air or the sea, just the energy is required and the processing plants.

    Loads of info and links to non fossil and food’ fuel, history and production here:


  • sandcrab

    Actualy, that wiki link mostly covers coal/biomass to fuel production, which is where the money and industry seems to be targeting. But the chemistry reduces the coal/biomass to syngas (just hydrogen and carbon monoxide) – giving off heat (from the embodied chemical energy in the fossil/biomass) and then uses that heat energy to recombine the syngas into more complex hydrocarbon compounds desired for the fuel.

    It takes more energy input to make syngas and fuel from water and carbon, than coal or biomass, but when that energy is available in the wind and the sun it makes sense to save plant and fossil resources.

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