Arms trafficking

2005 09 21
A defence of Victor Bout

Via my site meter, I see that I have a critic, who claims that I have unfairly maligned the Russian arms trader, Victor Bout. I have never been called a “repulsive insect” before, though an ex-girlfriend’s mother did once comment that I reminded her of a cockroach.

The proprietor of the website linked above is right to say that I am not a Victor Bout expert, and that I haven’t personally investigated him. Nevertheless, I find the reporting that others have done on the subject credible, so I’m not quite ready yet to apologize to Mr. Bout. Readers are invited to click through the link to judge for themselves.

A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)

2005 05 14
Operation Mirrorball

Explanation here, piece below the fold.
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A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)

2004 10 31
Russia and Sudan

Passion of the Present calls “bullshit” on Putin:

“Vladmir Putin has signed a decree banning the sale of all weapons to non-government bodies in Sudan, including the Janjaweed armed groups that have been accused by the international community of genocide in the southern province of Darfur.”

Now again, let’s get real. The problem is not that Russia sells small arms to Janjaweed–the problem is that Russia sells MIG jets and heavy arms as well as light to the Sudanese government, who in turn loans and gives them to the Janjaweed–who are in fact “itself” and based on its regular popular militia.

By making this announcement Putin looks like he is helping the crisis–when in fact he is doing nothing to help, and is continuing to keep as a client the genocidal governmenrt of Sudan.

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2004 07 24
Victor Bout Bloggers

Obviously, blogging about Victor Bout is a niche thing. But if you’re a Bout enthusiast (in the sense that you’re enthusiastic about the idea of his facing justice some time soon), you’re going to want to keep tabs on the following blogs:

Douglas Farah (Alas, with no RSS feed. WTF?)

Laura Rozen

The Yorkshire Ranter

Bout, for those of you who aren’t enthusiasts, is an arms trader with a very, very sordid past. Alas, it seems that Bout is also an arms trader with very, very powerful friends.

Tune in next week to find out what happens when a shadowy underworld arms trader with very very powerful friends collides with the righteous fury of a small rag-tag band of Victor Bout niche bloggers! Bout has battled international law enforcement for years, but is he a match for the blogosophere? We shall see. We shall see.

I would be tempted to sacrifice yet another fatted calf to the internet gods, but I’ve been sacrificing so many fatted calves to the internet gods lately that my stock is dwindling faster than I can replenish it, prices for fatted calves being what they are these days. Let me simply say that if I have to live in a world with people like Victor Bout, I am very glad that it is also a world which contains the above mentioned bloggers, and an internet that helps them work together with the long term goal of royally fucking up Bout’s life and plans.

A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)

2003 03 29
[Iraq, the U.S. and the International Arms Trade]

The news is filled today with reports that Iraq has special fighting equipment which – the administration complains – it got from Syria and Russia. Putin has denied any Russian involvement, though Putin is hardly credible on this. Syria has also denied it, though credibility has never been a notable feature of Syrian foreign policy either.

The NYT weighs in on the matter today with a stern editorial rebuking Russia for any possible involvement. The editorial strives to be fairminded, distinguishing carefully between reasonable opposition to policy and serious violations of the sanctions regime. All of this is well taken. But if the NYT wants to be really fairminded, it might mention the broader context: that the U.S. has now spent several decades flooding the Middle East with arms (and it continues to do so). As usual, the Federation of American Scientists has some helpful resources on current arms transfers.

There is, to be sure, a very big difference between sanction-busting arms transfers and transfers consistent with international law. But a) surely decades of deeply unproductive arms sales are relevant background here; and b) anyone who think the US arms transfers are on the level needs a lesson in recent history. Remember the Iran-Contra affair, anyone?

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