Friday, June 13, 2008

Ideas are wonderful things

'Ideas are wonderful things'. So says Clarion Events on their 'launching a new idea' web page. On that page, Kent R Allen, the managing director of Clarion Events encourages people to get in touch with their ideas.

Here's my idea: don't host arms fairs.

Clarion Events have bought DSEi (Defence Systems and Equipment International), an arms fair, that Reed Elsevier sold after coming under moral pressure to disassociate themselves from the bloodthirsty event.

The next DSEi event is on 8-11 September 2009. It is one of the world's biggest arms fairs and is a "tri-service defence exhibition", which means that it is an opportunity for companies to sell land, sea and air military equipment.

Clarion Events have also bought ITEC and LAAD (Latin America Aero and Defence, next taking place on 14-17 April 2009 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) from Reed Elsevier, two other arms fairs that are at the forefront of the marketing of weapons and other products that exacerbate poverty and destruction around the world.

Commenting on the purchases by Clarion Events, Simon Kimble, the chief executive of Clarion Events, said: 'The events we have acquired in the defence and security sector are a valuable and profitable addition to our portfolio and fit perfectly with our strategy for international expansion'.

Among the reasons given for the purchase on the Clarion Events website are that defence and security is one of the largest industry sectors in the world and that 'the sector is also diversifying and adapting to meet the changing needs of the world. Security can be threatened by humanitarian disasters resulting in mass displacement of people or food and water shortages, terrorism or pandemic which can cause devastation in a similar manner to military engagement.'

In a nutshell then, we need to organise fairs to sell weapons because people have already bought and sold weapons and we need some more. Because of the risk of humanitarian disasters, we need to buy and sell more weapons.

That's alright then.

Except that it isn't. We're not going to move towards a more peaceful world if we continue to encourage other states to buy lots of weapons and we continue to encourage companies in our countries to make them. Sure, there is a market and a need for the infrastructure and logistics to deal with humanitarian disasters, but using that as a secondary argument for weaponry is not the way forward.

Clarion Events have an environment policy, which states: ' Clarion is committed to integrating environmental best practice into all its business activities. We accept our environmental responsibilities and recognise our obligation to reduce the impact of business activities on the environment. We will achieve this through a policy of continual improvement in environmental performance.'

The link between war and the devestation of the environment has long been recognised. Take this 1918 description from a German military officer, quoted on the Peace Pledge Union web page, 'War and the Environment':

‘dumb, black stumps of shattered trees which still stick up where there used to be villages. Flayed by splinters of bursting shells, they stand like corpses upright. Not a blade of grass anywhere. Just miles of flat, empty, broken and tumbled stone.’

If Clarion Events really believed in its environment policy, it would not have bought the arms fairs.

Campaign Against Arms Trade
are encouraging people to contact Simon Kimble, the chief executive of Clarion Events, to express their displeasure with the company's new purchase.

If you want Clarion Events' help to launch your idea, you can contact Kent R Allen, the managing director. On the launch page, they say: 'We like new ideas!' It may be about time that they take on board a new idea about how disgusting their new arms fairs are.

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