The Arms Trade Treaty Conceit

New Zealand will lead the way as one of the first countries to sign the landmark Arms Trade Treaty, adopted by the United Nations, which opens for signature in New York today.

Source: NZ Herald

The news that New Zealand will sign a piece of paper that will apparently make it harder for people who want to kill other people to obtain a means of killing other people efficiently isn’t going to change a thing.

Cognitive dissonance theory explains human behavior by positing that people have a bias to seek consonance between their expectations and reality.

When you know that arms sales is big business for the US, Germany, France, Russia, China and even Sweden the reality about arms sales is quite clear. When you realise that countries have interests that they seek to protect as opposed to some sort of objective guidelines for their strategic behaviour, you’ll realise that silly pieces of paper like this are stupid.

But let’s think about what the participants in the process got out of it.

  1. A lot of first class flights, hotel rooms and dinners were expensed in pursuit of this piece of paper.
  2. An enormous number of officials will feel good about themselves because they are engaged in self-actualising work that could change the world.
  3. Small countries who are irrelevant (like New Zealand) get to claim credit for being responsible global citizens while simultaneously not doing anything about their own contribution to questionable practices in global trade.

The hypocrisy of voting for a piece of paper that seeks to restrict the arms trade, while not commenting on US support for rebels in Libya (they supported Al-Queda) and Syria (they’re supporting Al-Queda inadvertently) is mind boggling.

In New York, at the United Nations, where our former Prime Minister Helen Clark earns enormous amounts of tax free dollars making herself feel like she is bringing about change, a lot of champagne will be drunk over this treaty.

I don’t understand what motivates crusaders at Amnesty International and Oxfam. They have accomplished nothing, in some cases made things worse by convincing people that the screwed up global arms trade is getting solved.

Think about what is happening in Turkey right now: do you really think that countries who have strategic interests in Turkey (Russia, United States, European Union, Great Britain and Iran) would not get involved if there was a civil war there?

The civil war in Syria is already spilling into Lebanon and all that will come of it is a sectarian bloodbath following any collapse of Assad’s regime. Do you think that fun would be allowed under an Islamist government? Maybe we have our fetishisation of democracy completely wrong. Maybe the dictator we know is better than the mob we do not.

Actions have consequences. Diplomatic interference has consequences. The arms trade treaty is not going to change anything and in fact is likely to lead to a proliferation of arms trafficking as now arms trafficking monitors have less reason to be able to argue for funding increases because they got their Treaty Of A Lifetime passed.