by Agnes a Paris
Mon Apr 24th, 2006 at 04:34:20 PM EST
I have not been around for some time and guess that all political and economic matters of general interest have already been covered so I will go for slightly different kind.
This forum deals with the transmutations and changing destinies of money, where it stems from, how it impacts people's lives, shaping the future of the world. My distant holiday location did not shelter me from the fuss about the skyrocketing oil prices and, oh la la, the threat this poses to the world economy (courtesy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer). What's the big deal?
Between the two shades you cannot find on a bright rainbow, white and black, money's favorite color is not green, as one would have thought, but grey.
The assets underlying the world's two most significant (in value terms) trades belong to the grey zone. Drugs and arms prompt huge cash waterfalls, most of which lands in the vast ponds of legal trade, making the day of the laundering industry and manufacturers of 100, 000 USD worth watches.
Lord of War, starring Nicolas Cage, who is also Executive Producer of the movie, is not just another great film. Its illustration of "the deadly impact of the uncontrolled global arms trade" won the movie the support of Amnesty International.See link
It struck me as a masterpiece of what the French call "art engage" in other words, a production of art that is meant not only to be decorative but also to convey a political message.
I will not attempt to run a written trailer, just to share what in that movie is transcending the fiction. Yuri Orlov's story is moving inso far as he engineers the scheme he eventually finds himself trapped in. His story is fascinating as it is totally void of any moralistic rhetoric. The good the bad and the wealthy are the same men, actually the dreary dichotomy between good and evil is never called upon to make a point, let alone provide a happy conclusion.
Yuri Orlov dedicates his life to arm trafficking because, as he puts it, he's "good at it". Like us, he lives in a world where money seems to buy everything, including the love of the woman he's worshiped since he first saw her in his teenage years.
The clear-cut filming technique tracks Yuri's life path along the world's macabre route from one conflict to another, from Beirut to Liberia to Afghanistan. His voice comments the unfolding events, evidencing the distance between his acts and the conscience he has of their consequences. He denies any circumstances that would alleviate the gravity of his acts, after all, if he did not sell the guns, somebody else's would.
Guilt is absent, as well as repentance. Yuri is a modern character of the 21st century the same as Robert Musil's Man Without Qualities was the archetype of the dawning 20th.
The end of the film, which I will save for those of you who may have not seen the movie, is summarized in a couple of sentences that are just brilliant. Only facts can be that pristine. Quoting from memory: "the US, the UK, France, the Russian Federation and the poepl'es republic of China are the world's biggest arm dealers. They are also the five permanent members of the UN Security Council."
Fuel for thought, or despair... Cage delivers no message apart from the brutal necessity to be aware of the unaccounted for. The deadliest blow to humanity is one that cannot be caught in mortality statistics.
Extract from the European Network against arms trade
European weapons are not only used for national defence. European weapons are used by the Turkish army against the Kurdish population, by the Indonesian army against the population of East Timor, and in civil wars on the Balkans and in Africa. Although many European governments claim not to export arms to countries that are repressing their population or that are violating Human Rights, in practice there is very little restriction on arms exports.
Extract from the Guardian, April the 3rd, 2006
Since the start of 2005, the UK has licensed over £11m of arms exports to Indonesia, ranging from gun silencers to combat aircraft parts.
After UK-made Tactica armoured personnel carriers were deployed last November against protesters in West Papua, Foreign Office minister Ian Pearson admitted that the UK "no longer seek guarantees or assurances" that British weaponry will not be used to abuse human rights, since such assurances "are not enforceable" ie worthless.
Extract from the Independent, March the 16th, 2006
All United Nations arms embargoes have been breached with impunity, with only a handful of the weapons traffickers responsible for the trade in death ever facing prosecution, according to a report.
Despite the UN naming hundreds of companies - including those in Britain - for allegedly violating embargoes imposed on countries engaged in bloody conflicts and repression, the system for bringing them to book has abjectly failed.
The topic calls for more writing. Please do.