Archive for category Bloodwash
Peace activists in Hastings satirised the ‘blood washing’ activities of a local arms company with some street theatre. Hastings is on England’s south coast.
The arms company they mocked was General Dynamics UK, a branch of the giant General Dynamics arms company, which has a three facilities in Hastings. General Dynamics is one of the largest arms companies in the world. (See overview here). General Dynamics UK was recently embarassed in the public sphere by its sales of military communications equipment to the Qaddafi regime immediately prior to the UK intervention in Libya. (The UK intervened to protect Libyan civilians from being slaughtered by the military of that very regime). The Independent newspaper documented the involvement of General Dynamics, and its government enablers, with the Libyan regime in this article.
The activists held a mock ‘triathalon’ complete with costumes and athletic contests and moved between the three Hastings facilities occupied by General Dynamics. The protest drew attention to General Dynamic’s community involvement programme, which includes sponsoring the Hastings Half Marathon. General Dynamics has a variety of community involvements in Hastings also including supporting the Half Marathon and the local bonfire society. (Editor-this is really a ‘bloodwashing’ activity. See earlier discussions of this practise elsewhere in the blog).
General Dynamics community programmes serve to divert attention away from the real nature of General Dynamics products, which is to conduct warfare. And warfare on a grand scale, since one of General Dynamic’s products is the Trident submarine, each one capable of razing many cities.
In a demonstration earlier in the month, Hastings activists picketed the Castleham Road facility of General Dynamics as part of the national protests against the arms trade. The Hastings Observer quoted a company official as claiming ‘we are not in the arms trade’ (although it is hard to imagine that military communications equipment can not be described as ‘arms’).
(photos to follow)
University of Bristol engineering students have toured facilities of Thales, the coventurer of the Watchkeeper programme.
As well as promoting their company to prospective young engineers, the tours have a ‘bloodwash’ component, allowing Thales to promote its arms manufacturing venture as a normal manufacturing enterprise.
Thales, which is partnered with Elbit Systems of Israel in the Watchkeeper Programme, is a major French based arms manufacturer.
Elbit Systems is Israel’s largest arms company and provides drones, and security systems, which are used by the Israeli armed forces, including those involved in the occupation of Palestine and the maintenance of the separation wall that imposes a de facto apartheid on the people of Palestine.
Barclays Global is listed as the second largest shareholder in Elbit Systems Ltd of Israel, with 91,588,921 shares out of 1,298, 178,734 total shares. Barclays holds about 6 and a half percent of all Elbit shares.
Elbit Systems is Israel’s largest arms manufacturer, exporting drones and other arms items to countries around the world. It is also a supplier to the Israeli military, including the occupation forces that control the West Bank.
Barclays Bank has more than £7 billion invested in the global arms industry, more than any other UK bank. This is despite having a corporate social responsibility policy that prohibits exports that are used by foreign authorities either to oppress their own populations or to support unjustified external aggression. Barclays’ involvement in Israeli companies dealing with the Israeli military would be enough to delegitimise their claim to follow their own corporate responsibility policy.
For a scathing account of the involvement of British bank in the arms industry, download ‘Banking on Bloodshed’, a report produced in 2008 by the British charity War on Want.
General Dynamics maintains a ‘community investment’ program, a series of charitable activities in the cities it operates in: Calgary, Ottawa and Halifax. GD supports the United Way, Calgary Interfaith Food Bank, and in an ultimate irony, Canadian Blood Services.
Their website talks about the 50 community services they support, the participation of their employees in charitable work. But of course there is no mention of the death and destruction caused by the use of their products. No doubt it helps their employees to avoid the reality of their actions by focussing on ‘good deeds’. That’s bloodwash.
Can charitable works in Canada balance the destruction caused by the F-16 fighter jet designed by GD, the 50 calibre machine guns that obliterate people wherever the US fights, the potential devastation caused by nuclear armed submarines built by General Dynamics?
Guilt is what someone feels when they believe, whether justified or not, that they have violated a moral standard.
I think it is also a judgment that is externally applied to someone who has violated a moral standard, even if they are unaware that they have, or deny that they have, based on their possibly erroneous beliefs.
In either case, there will normally be the requirement either for the immoral action to stop, or for there to be redress, some balancing of the immorality with a good action of sufficient size.
That’s where bloodwashing comes in. Bloodwashing is the process by which parties who are guilty of an immoral act involving harm to other people try to do something to either minimise their actions, or to balance them with acts of good.
Bloodwash is what governments, arms companies, and the people who own and work for them, do to cover over their guilt.
Bloodwash takes a number of forms. For example, it’s as basic as calling the Department of War the Department of ‘Defence’. It’s the practise of reframing aggression with terms like ‘Peace through strength’. ‘Newspeak’, whereby violent and destructive practises are renamed with benign terms and phrases to disguise or obliterate the true nature of the practise.
It’s the practise of arms companies of making themselves look like normal and positive members of the community through community involvement, sponsorships, and similar practises.
Hopefully subsequent posts will identify and dissect some of these practises. I encourage anyone who is following this blog to contribute examples of ‘bloodwash’ that they find.
Let’s be blunt.
The purpose of military arms is to control, wound, maim or kill people, and/or to destroy property. The purpose for this killing and destruction is to impose the will of one group on another, and/or to hold or take territory. This occurs as an alternative to discussion and negotiation, either as a first or last recourse.
Arms companies produce the tools by which warfare is accomplished and in the modern context they are indispensible to it. Arms companies share the guilt for most modern conflict. As I will attempt to show in later posts, arms companies are, in fact, the direct and indirect instigators of much conflict.
The burden of guilt that arms companies bear is tremendous. In order to maintain themselves as members of society, they have to take certain actions. The same applies to individuals who work in arms companies. This lead to the phenomenon that I’m going to describe as ‘bloodwashing’.