On 13 September, one of the world's biggest arms fairs opens in London, backed by the British government. On 8 September, the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry held a preview entitled "Middle East: a Vast Market for UK Defence and Security Companies". The host was the Royal Bank of Scotland, a major investor in cluster bombs. According to Amnesty International, 98 per cent of the victims of cluster bombs are civilians and 30 per cent children. RBS has received £20bn in public money. The blurb for the bank's arms party read: "The Middle East is one of the regions with the greatest number of opportunities for UK defence and security companies. Saudi Arabia . . . is the world's top defence importer, having spent $56bn in 2009 . . . a very worthwhile region to target."
Such are the Cameron government's priorities following the great "humanitarian" victory in Libya. As Margaret Thatcher once declared: "Rejoice!" And as the bankers and arms merchants raise their glasses, let us not forget the heroic RAF pilots who made Libya ours again by incinerating countless "pro-Gaddafi elements" in their homes and cots and clinics, and the unsung stalwarts of the British drone industry at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire who, before and after lunch, provide the information for targets so that Hellfire missiles can flatten homes and suck the air out of lungs. And cheers to QinetiQ's drone testing site at Aberporth and at UAV Engines Limited in Lichfield.
Heist of little interest
The west's humanitarian mission is not quite finished. Six months after securing a UN resolution authorising "the [protection] of civilians and civilian-populated areas under the threat of attack", Nato is raining fragmentation bombs on civilian-populated Sirte and other "Gaddafi strongholds" where, says a Channel 4 News reporter, "until they cut off the head of the snake, Libyans will not feel safe". I quote that not so much for its Orwellian quality, but as a model of journalism's role in justifying "our" bloodbaths in advance.
This is Rupert's Revolution, after all. Gone from the Murdoch press are pejorative "insurgents". The action in Libya, says the Times, is "a revolution . . . as revolutions used to be". That it is a coup by a gang of Muammar al-Gaddafi's ex-cronies and spooks in collusion with Nato is hardly news. Their self-appointed leader, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, was Gaddafi's feared justice minister. The CIA runs or bankrolls most of the rest, including America's old friends - the mujahedin Islamists who spawned al-Qaeda. They told journalists what they needed to know: that Gaddafi was about to commit "genocide", of which there was no evidence, unlike the abundant evidence of "rebel" massacres of black African workers falsely accused of being mercenaries. European bankers' secret transfer of the Central Bank of Libya from Tripoli to Benghazi in order to control the country's oil billions was an epic heist of little interest.