When weapons are to be tested, the Gazas become the casualty!

Since time immemorial, the entire global media fraternity has been divided between Israel and Palestine. While on one hand, a set of media has been strongly supporting Israel, on the other, there has been as staunch a support for Palestine. Amidst all this, the debate still lingers – which one of the two, Israel or Palestine, is wrong? But then, how can one be right and how can the other be wrong? In other words, how can any one of them be right! Supporting any of these nations would essentially and fundamentally mean supporting the very doctrine of war. In no given circumstance has a war been the appropriate route to a solution! Thus, the very discussion of which country is wrong or right gets futile, if one were to view the entirety of the situation through the lens of humanity.

War, has always – especially in recent history – been a tool to display a nation’s military might. It is a way of flaunting newly developed state-of-the-art weaponries and defence technologies. War today provides a platform for selling arms in the open market. It is very easy to deceive the world during any war and to shift global focus from the actual objectives. When United States invades a minnow like Afghanistan or Iraq, the spotlight is shrewdly thrown on perspectives like the clash of civilizations, terrorism, imposing democracy, or removing a tyrant. The majority never notice the underlying and the real reason behind the invasion – to spur the global weapons trade market! Wars give opportunities to developed countries to test and showcase newly developed weapons.

Arms trade is a huge business and it is (and has perhaps always been) expanding globally at a breakneck speed – with the leading player in this space being United States, with its massive infrastructure of research and development of weapons, that invariably warrants rabid marketing and promotion for economic viability. Yes, that’s the word – there are no better promotional strategies for weapons than live demonstrations; and for implementation of the same, the US has been in the want of some scapegoat investees. What can be a better opportunity to display the might of weapons to potential buyers than during a war? Capitulating to that, almost all media channels across the world, 24x7, in their local languages, describe the destructive capacity of these weapons in their breaking news ‘war’ coverage. The result? Free global promotion, which otherwise would have cost millions and would have also come under huge global criticism!

The desperation of American arms manufacturers to test new weapons is evident from the fact that US alone has more than 44 arms manufacturing companies with a combined sales amounting to more than $200 billion (as of 2007, per the SIPRI 2012 report) – more than the GDP of around 150 different nations! Lockheed Martin, one of the largest manufacturers of missiles and space artillery, alone sold arms worth $35,000 million in 2007, which, is seven times the GDP of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

The same kind of weapon propaganda goes on unabated in the Gaza Strip, where Israel acts as a testing agent for US arms companies. And all these are not phenomena of the last two decades. Even during the 1960s, the experiments of the US war laboratory in Vietnam were compared to the belligerent and ghastly war crimes committed by the Nazis!

Israel’s bid to engineer the usage of experimental weapons in Gaza is gaining momentum. A weapon in vogue now is a shell containing white phosphorous, which causes terrible burn injuries when in contact with the skin. Under international law, phosphorous is considered as a chemical weapon when used against civilians – yet, Israel is using it, despite having come under an extensive barrage of criticism from international human rights groups. Israel maintains that its arsenal stocks are in compliance with international standards; but the phosphorous shells that it fires, is an anomaly to these claims. It must be mentioned here that the arms that Israel uses are either imported directly from the United States or are developed by independent American arms manufacturers or are built within Israel by a company, which invariably has stakes in/from a parent US weapon maker. For instance, the often used DIME (Dense Inert Metal Explosive) by Israeli forces is one that was developed by the United States. The weapon is in its developmental stage and is being used in Gaza as a testing ground.

In the same light, Uncle Sam’s adventure in Iraq was a foreign mission deliberately designed to set up a living laboratory inside the country to test America’s weaponry improvement. For example, the marines deployed during the second Gulf War were endowed with a specific Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) that was tested against the feeble resistance of Iraq. Apart from LRAD, also in the queue was the Active Denial System that was tested during the Iraq war. Some of the other lethal weapons tested on Baghdad civilians and those in other parts of Iraq were e-bombs, sensor fused weapons, agent defeat bombs and laser weapons. All these weapons were lethal and sometimes were even banned by international human rights groups (one example is the laser weapon, which was banned in 1995). Similarly, built by the General Atomic Aeronautical Systems in January 1994, the much-touted drones, which are being sold across the world now, were first tested in the Balkans. And by 1995, these intelligence gathering unmanned vehicles (UAV) were doing surveillance work over the skies of Bosnia. They were also tested later in the skies of Kosovo; and by 2001, the Predator drones were equipped with Hellfire missiles and got deployed even in places like Yemen as assassination weapons. However, these unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs for short, became famous in the weapons market only after they displayed their destructive might in Afghanistan and later in Iraq.

Whenever the US and other developed nations are ready with a fleet of weapons that needs to be tested, they create an Iraq, Afghanistan, or even a Gaza. War today has morphed into a testing ground for weapons, from where the great arms trade begins! It all started decades ago… and continues as Gaza burns!

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