“..some things aren’t fair”

Mark Steel wrote the following piece on the Raytheon 9 last week for the British Independent newspaper but their lawyers wouldn’t let it be printed.

The evidence mounts that some things aren’t fair

There’s a trial currently taking place in Belfast, that seems to explain plainly how nothing makes any sense. It revolves around a factory owned by the arms company Raytheon, which was set up in Derry soon after the IRA ceasefire. John Hume, who’d just won the Nobel Peace Prize was among those who announced the opening of the plant, welcoming it as a result of the ‘peace dividend’

And while I wouldn’t use a few of the terms Mark uses it is a very interesting piece.

So at last, now the men of violence had agreed to give up their weapons, the area could attract a peaceful company with a turnover of seventeen billion dollars from making weapons. Clearly, all the while the IRA were decommissioning their arms, most of us misunderstood this process. Because the government reports must have gone “They possess 100 rifles, 10 RPG 7 rockets and a shed full of semtex. If they want to be taken seriously this isn’t NEARLY enough; they need Tornado bombers and a car park full of tanks – we can’t deal with these amateurs.”

For example, when Raytheon won a contract to develop a new missile system for the Israelis in 2006, a spokesman boasted they would “Provide all-weather hit-to-kill performance at a tactical missile price.” Next they might have adverts, that go “Hurry hurry hurry to the Raytheon springtime sale for lasers, tasers and civilian-erasers that will make flesh sizzle through snow, sleet or drizzle WITHOUT making a casualty of your wallet.”

Despite this, the government in Northern Ireland welcomed the new plant, claiming they’d been assured it wouldn’t be making weapons. To which a reasonable response would be ‘Right – they’re a weapons manufacturer – they supplied weapons to, amongst others, the Indonesian military junta – this might, if you were cynical, suggest they make weapons. Or what do you THINK they’re going to be making – FAIRTRADE FUCKING CUSTARD!’

Eventually it was admitted they were making guidance systems for missiles, and so for a while there was a pretence these were being employed for peaceful reasons. Perhaps the systems were being attached to wasps so that a central controlling network could guide them away from picnics.

But then it became clear they were being used by the Israelis in Lebanon, and there was outrage in Derry when in 2006 one such system guided a missile into a block of flats in Qana, killing 28 people, mostly children. A few days later the local anti-war group, including the journalist and civil rights activist Eamonn McCann, decided to occupy the Raytheon building as a protest. A group of nine got into the plant, and as a gesture they threw a computer or two out of the window. Eventually around 40 police arrived and, as Eamonn describes “They smashed through the doors wearing riot gear, many holding perspex shields, some pointing plastic-bullet guns. They inched forward while the officer in command shouted ‘surrender’. We continued playing cards.”

And as I know Eamonn I can imagine him later that night in the police cell muttering “Tonight did not go as planned at all – I was SURE no one would beat my pair of queens.”

Then came the official outrage – they’d wilfully broken the law, destroyed property etc. etc. So maybe whether an act of destruction is considered illegal or not comes down to the value of the objects destroyed. And computers are worth a fair packet, whereas a house in Qana can probably be picked up for next to nothing, especially with the current housing slump!

Perhaps the activists went about their protest in the wrong way. The more official approach might have been to leave Raytheon alone, but announce the local Co-op was making weapons. Then they could have produced a dossier to prove it, containing snippets from the internet about how the manager had been buying uranium from North Korea and smuggling it into the fridges in packets of fish fingers. Then they could have flattened the place, and when it turned out there never were any weapons they could have said it doesn’t really make any difference.

Last year the group travelled to Qana to meet the families of the victims of that missile, and they described the trip, not surprisingly, as the most moving experience of their lives. But while it’s all very well feeling compassion for dead civilians, someone has to consider the feelings of that poor computer, so this week their trial began. Because opposing the bombing of civilians with missiles made as a result of a peace process can land you in jail, whereas organising international support for bombing those civilians gets you a job as peace envoy to the place that was bombed. It’s obvious when you think about it.

I only hope that as the computer hit the ground, in its last moment it flickered ‘You have performed an illegal operation’.

  • Mark: many of your fellows enjoy the smell of napalm early in the morning (and late at night too). They get a hard on when Muslims die. Another thread disccuses lording it over the lickspittles of Iraq after they were subjected to Raytheon’s best. They are like Nazis discussing the size of the victims’ heads or other oddities.

    The West glorifies war and destruction and attacks on those like the WBC who don’t speak with forked tongue. When has it ever been any different.

  • Little Eva

    Not think it maybe had something to do with the laws around sub judice, which incidentally this site is subject to as well?
    Or were you just looking an excuse to publish this?

    BTW, it is a terrible bit of writing.

  • Raytheon technical support

    Eamonn McCann….I’d like to fight Eamonn McCann.

  • gerry

    “And as I know Eamonn I can imagine him later that night in the police cell muttering “Tonight did not go as planned at all – I was SURE no one would beat my pair of queens.”

    I know Eamon very, very well – and I’d bet my life that was the last thing he was thinking in his police cell.
    “Thank Christ I put on my brown trousers”, would be more like it.

  • Leo

    Hmmm, strange that there’s no mention of the anti-war crowd protesting Hezbollah’s use of Qana as a base for launching rocket attacks against Israel.

  • Shore Road Resident

    The Raytheon Raiders would have a lot more anti-war credibility if several of them weren’t associated so closely with (violent) dissident republicanism. What Eamonn McCann was doing in with such a crowd is a genuine mystery, he normally has more sense.
    Apparently one of these noble protestors took a dump on a desk in the building. That just about sums up their politics in general.

  • dub exile

    As long as you are opposed to violence in the Middle East or the Balkans or Iraq you’re alright with the far left, sure who cares if you support shooting policemen up on Bishop Street????

  • Dread Cthulhu

    First and foremost, life isn’t fair, never was fair and is never going to be fair. Anyone who told you otherwise was either asking for money or trying to sell you something.

    Second of all, those praising . defending this act of vandalism the loudest would be the first to howl were the same sort of tactics turn on themselves. One wonders how philosophical Steel would be were he on the receiving end of this sort of behavior?

  • Mick Fealty

    Can we try to deal with the story in an adult fashion, please!

    LE,

    That’s a moot point. I’ve taken the view that the story relates to the activity of the company, and does not relate to the charges. In short, it looks to me that he’s talking about matters ancillary to the case not the case itself.

  • cynic

    There are many different views on the arms industry. If the protestors dont want to work there fine…dont. By all means porotest legally and pecefully and try to npersuade peopel on your views …but let others get on with their lives and dont try to dicate to them or trash property.

    Interesting that the article emphasises the Israeli use of the weapons / technologies as opposed to anyone else’s. But of course that is Anti-Zionism as opposed to just Anti-Semetism, so that’s OK then

  • good read, thx for sharing your thoughts.

  • Harry Flashman

    Just to clarify things are these protesters pacifists? Do they completely reject violence in any shape or form? Given the admittedly small amount of violence used during the sit-in and the connections that several of the protesters have to an armed and violent organisation that cannot be the case.

    So what are they protesting about? Oh I see they have a problem with arms manufacturers who supply governments they don’t like, is that it?

    Fine, but they should at least be honest about their position and stop pretending they’re anti-war, they’re not, they support war but they’re angry that Raytheon supplies weaponry to the enemies of the armed groups that they support.

    They have no moral superiority over Raytheon merely a tactical disadvantage.

  • Dublin voter

    Have to agree with Shore Road Resident and Dub Exile on this one. Raytheon is a disgusting outfit which I oppose but some of the Raytheon 9 are disgusting dissident “republicans” who would love to drag us back to the dark days of the Troubles.
    McCann should cop himself on and stay away from them.

  • Liam

    ‘Mark: many of your fellows enjoy the smell of napalm early in the morning (and late at night too). They get a hard on when Muslims die.’

    Sounds more like the residents of that other notorious unionist far-right blogsite to me.

  • Slartibuckfast

    Seems to me there are quite a few wankers on this thread who think throwing a computer out a window is worse than sending a missile into an apartment block killing 28 people, mostly children.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Slartibuckfast: “Seems to me there are quite a few wankers on this thread who think throwing a computer out a window is worse than sending a missile into an apartment block killing 28 people, mostly children.”

    Matched nearly equally by those who seem to think that destruction of property and terrorizing a couple of secretaries and programmers is “civil discourse.”

    Likewise, were the tangos not seeking refuge amongst the children, with tactics like using schools as a place to launch their own rockets from, the children wouldn’t get killed.

  • Slartibuckfast

    Yes, the Zionazi targets in that war had absolutely nothing at all to do with terrorising the people of Lebanon and had all to do with targeted strikes on rocket launching pads. That’s why Beirut, which is way too far from Israel for rockets to be launched at it from and therefore seen absolutely no rockets fired from it at all, seen all those apartment buildings blown up by Israeli missiles with hundreds dead in them. Idiot.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Slartibuckfast: “Yes, the Zionazi targets in that war had absolutely nothing at all to do with terrorising the people of Lebanon and had all to do with targeted strikes on rocket launching pads.”

    Where Hezbollah, among other things, built launchers into local houses, fortified houses as bunkers and used tunnel networks to connect said houses.

    If one side chooses to fortify and militarize a civilian area, they choose the consequences of fortifying and militarizing that area. Likewise, when a government permits a political part to maintain an armed wing and free-lance that government’s foreign policy, then said government has little room to whinge when chickens come home to roost.

    Hezbollah and Hamas have never been shy about targeting civilians — why should the Israelis grant their enemies a courtesy Hezbollah is unwilling to grant? As Hezbollah are part of the gov’t of Lebanon, why *shouldn’t* Lebanon be considered a party to the war?

    Sounds to me like you’d like a double standard.

  • Slartibuckfast

    Tell me then, did they build launch pads in Beirut which is too far from Israel for their rockets to fried from if they are to hit said country (as I’ve already pointed out). Tell us also about these tunnels and bunkers in the apartment blocks of Beirut, which is something like 100 miles away from the fighting.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Slartibuckfast: “Tell me then, did they build launch pads in Beirut which is too far from Israel for their rockets to fried from if they are to hit said country (as I’ve already pointed out). Tell us also about these tunnels and bunkers in the apartment blocks of Beirut, which is something like 100 miles away from the fighting.”

    Ah, yes — ignore the other points made whilst clinging to a single response.

    Lebanon permit Hezbollah to maintain an armed wing. Hezbollah targets Israeli civilians, with Lebanon’s tacit approval. Hezbollah also maintains offices and enclaves in Beirut. When Hezbollah makes itself a target, it makes *all* of Hezbollah a target — the political wing, the military wing — it is all one entity.

    As such, Hezbollah’s offices are a legitimate target, be they on the border or in Beirut. Likewise, by permitting Hezbollah the freedom to freelance Lebenese foreign policy, they make the whole of Lebanon a legitimate target.

    Like I said, life isn’t fair, Slarti… and your desperate effort to apply a double standard only serves to make is differently unfair.

  • Slartibuckfast

    “Ah, yes—ignore the other points made whilst clinging to a single response.”

    What other point? That you support targeting civilians or that it’s all right to target civilians if you pretend that you’re not targeting them? What do you want me to say to it? That you’re a dickhead? What is it about that you want me to address.

    As for the rest of your shite about how Lebanon ‘lets’ Hezbollah be a force in it and ‘lets’ it target civilians it just shows your knowledge and thought on the matter goes no deeper than Fox News bulletins and is as worth commenting on as your assertion that it’s alright to murder children if somebody else murders children too.

    Hezbollah offices in housing blocks is another stunning contribution from you. The CIA seemingly had offices in the Twin Towers. Does that make 9/11 all right by you too?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Slartibuckfast: “That you support targeting civilians or that it’s all right to target civilians if you pretend that you’re not targeting them? What do you want me to say to it? That you’re a dickhead? What is it about that you want me to address.”

    Insults and ad hominem attacks are a sign of a weak argument and a lazy mind, Slarti… or was it a weak mind and a lazy argument — you’ve already grazed Godwin’s law with your “Zionazi” comment… No matter — it works, either way.

    Hezbollah are a part of the Lebenese government. Hezbollah targets civilians without objection of the rest of the government, which, for practical purposes, amounts to tacit approval.

    On the other hand, the Israelis target Hezbollah, an organization that shelters amongst civilians. Were Hezbollah to live up to their rhetoric — they do claim they are not afraid to die in the pursuit of their cause — they would not hide behind women and children.

    Slartibuckfast: “Hezbollah offices in housing blocks is another stunning contribution from you. The CIA seemingly had offices in the Twin Towers. Does that make 9/11 all right by you too?”

    Given that Hezbollah’s prsence as a part of the Lebenese gov’t given the Israeli / Hezbollah conflict the color of a state vs. state conflict, I’d say you’re making a false analogy.

    However, to humor you, I’ll point out the other weakness in your argument — your question suggests that you approve of Hezbollah’s targeting of civilians. Me, I neither approve or disapprove — as a student of military history, I simply acknowledge that where one party is unwilling or unable to do what their opposition does, a weakness exists. So long as Israel’s enemies target civilians, to not target their enemies for fear of civilian collateral damage is a double weakness. It is unreasonable to expect that level of restraint when Hezbollah freely shells civilian areas — something you seemingly are unwilling or unable to acknowledge, let alone condemn.

  • Slartibuckfast

    “Insults and ad hominem attacks are a sign of a weak argument and a lazy mind, Slarti… or was it a weak mind and a lazy argument—you’ve already grazed Godwin’s law with your “Zionazi” comment… No matter—it works, either way.”

    I know it can sometimes be seen as going too far to compare the Zionists with the Nazis but I don’t care. The Nazis were scum too and deserve the comparison and I’ll make no apology to any Nazi for saying so.

    “Hezbollah are a part of the Lebenese government. Hezbollah targets civilians without objection of the rest of the government, which, for practical purposes, amounts to tacit approval.”

    They do it without objection from the government? Have you any way of proving that? And how does this translate into justification for targeting civilians? Are they the government too?

    “On the other hand, the Israelis target Hezbollah, an organization that shelters amongst civilians. Were Hezbollah to live up to their rhetoric—they do claim they are not afraid to die in the pursuit of their cause—they would not hide behind women and children.”

    They do indeed target Hezbollah. As indeed they also target civilians in order to put pressure on Hezbollah from ordinary Lebanese. As can be seen with their bombing of civilian tower blocks in Beirut, which weren’t Hezbollah rocket launching pads or Hezbollah offices, except on Fox News.

    Now first of all you were saying Israel do target civilians because their enemies do also and you said this was all right by you. Now you’re claiming it was targeting Hezbollah by blowing up civilian tower blocks. You really are a fucking waste of time aren’t you?

    “Given that Hezbollah’s prsence as a part of the Lebenese gov’t given the Israeli / Hezbollah conflict the color of a state vs. state conflict, I’d say you’re making a false analogy.”

    Try and not wriggle out this time. Go on, it’s just the internet, it doesn’t really count. Would the presence of CIA offices in the Twin Towers have made them legitimate targets of destruction or not?

    (By the way, weren’t Al-Qaeda connected with the then Afghan government?)

    “However, to humor you, I’ll point out the other weakness in your argument—your question suggests that you approve of Hezbollah’s targeting of civilians. ”

    Nope, again you’ve lost me. I approve of no targeting of civilians. That would be you. I don’t support Hezbollah either. There’s one of us who supports a civilian targeting terrorist organisation which draws its inspiration from a book of desert myths, and it isn’t me.

    “So long as Israel’s enemies target civilians, to not target their enemies for fear of civilian collateral damage is a double weakness. ”

    Again I must point out to you that Israel was not targeting Hezbollah when it fired missiles into those apartment blocks. I don’t know why you’re trying to justify it by saying that as you’ve already said you support their targeted murder of civilians.

    “Me, I neither approve or disapprove”

    Na, you approve.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Slartibuckfast: “Now first of all you were saying Israel do target civilians because their enemies do also and you said this was all right by you. Now you’re claiming it was targeting Hezbollah by blowing up civilian tower blocks. You really are a fucking waste of time aren’t you?”

    No, I asked a question, one you seem to be assiduously ignoring / avoiding. If I was too opaque, allow me to simplify — as Hezbollah targets Israeli civilians, if there any logical reason that Israel should not respond in kind?

    Slartibuckfast: “(By the way, weren’t Al-Qaeda connected with the then Afghan government?)”

    In any official sense? No. To use the Taliban’s own definition, Al Qaeda were their “guests” and were entitled to the Taliban’s protections under the guest traditions of the Islamic faith, despite the (arguable) abuse of that guest-right. The U.S. informed the Taliban of their choices with regard to harboring terrorists, the Taliban chose and the US through in with the anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan.

    Slartibuckfast: “Na, you approve.”

    Let me see if I have this straight — I judge the behavior of the Lebenese government based on their action / inaction regarding Hezbollah and you question my logic. However, when you pull answers out of your lower colon as to what I think and believe, that’s rational…

    Well, now that it is apparent I’m trying to teach the proverbial pig to whistle.

  • Slartibuckfast

    Oh logic it is? I thought whether they do so or not was the question(not so according to you, also so according to you again). I’ll leave you to your logic, which I’m sure you’ll apply equally as much next time Al-Qaeda target America civilians.