The World is Better off With the Arms Trade

Is the Arms Trade really that much of an issue to protest about? Chris Royals thinks not…

The arms trade, which encompasses the sale of just about all aspects of military equipment, from guns to aircraft carriers to bullets, is worth a whopping $1.5 trillion worldwide, 2.7% of the world’s GDP.

It is argued by some that this trade is immoral, most obviously because it is responsible for providing nations and factions with the ability to wage wars and kill, but also for a variety of other reasons. However I, like many people and consecutive governments, can stand in support as there are a multitude of benefits which outweigh any negatives.

There is a massive economic argument in support of this belief. Britain exports $7.1 billion worth of arms a year, a number that is expected to grow in the future. BAE systems, Britain’s largest defence manufacturer, employs almost 35,000 people in the UK, and this is before you take into account the large number of people outside the company who have jobs which depend on the company’s continued business. BAE Systems and it’s counterparts are also well known for providing good jobs and training schemes for both graduates and apprentices, something that is increasingly rare.

A large proportion of engineers produced by this University end up working in the defence industry, providing them with degree relevant jobs and many also have long standing positive relationships with the university including a multi-million pound deal between BAE and SES. Do we really want to put in danger a strong relationship with major employers? It is very rare that you see a credible plan produced by detractors of the arms trade as to how to replace the jobs that would be lost if it were to be abolished, probably because there is no plan. At a time when to compete globally Britain requires skilled workers and high quality exports, the arms trade is one of the few sectors carrying the banner and actively recruiting high end graduates, particularly since the financial crash.

While the economic argument is the most regularly expounded there are other factors to consider that are perhaps even more important. Like it or not, the arms trade is at the forefront of technological improvement and always has been. War brings with it the necessity for technological advances, as it greatly increases the chances of beating the enemy. Microwaves, radar, walkie talkies, satellites, the jet engine, digital cameras, GPS and the internet are among the vast array of technological advances made possible by defence projects. Many of these projects were hugely expensive to research and create and the funding wouldn’t have come from any source except the defence departments of major military powers.

Finally, the arms trade gives Britain and our allies the ability to defend ourselves against threats to national security. Britain cooperates heavily in this department with other NATO countries which is part of the reason why the British armed forces are among the best equipped in the world, capable of defending the country against external threats so we can live in a peaceful democracy. So put down the placards all you protesters, the world is ultimately a better  place with the arms trade than without it.

Disagree and think that the world is better off without the arms trade? Check out the counter argument here.