British Aerospace gets a conscience

A headline caught my eye today in the Sunday Times. Lead-free bullets for environment-friendly wars.

What the fuck?

Well, it seems that a company called BAE Systems, one of the biggest armaments manufacturers in the world, has developed a conscience. They’re going to reduce the lead in their bullets so that you cause less pollution when you riddle a crowd of villagers.

What a good idea. In my time, when we riddled a crowd of villagers, that was the end of it. We went home with a sackful of ears and had a good old chin-wag in the mess, with a brandy and a game of snooker. These days, the environmentally-conscious mass-murderer doesn’t even set fire to the village after riddling the villagers. Certainly not. Think of global warming, old bean. Got to do one’s bit, y’know?

Another spiffing idea they have is sustainable artillery. Apparently, the shells have a longer shelf life and don’t blow up unexpectedly. They don’t? Really? So you can buy these things, and they won’t blow your fucking head off while you’re looking at them? Isn’t that brilliant? I love the whole armaments thing. You buy, for instance, a hand-grenade. It costs as much as a BMW, but you have no guarantee AT ALL that it will work, and it might even kill you before you use it. Isn’t that great?

I bought a camera a while back and it was fucking expensive, let me tell you. Very fucking expensive. It gave me problems though, and didn’t take pictures the way a good camera should, so I brought it back to the shop and they changed it.

Excuse me? This camera doesn’t work.

Doesn’t it, sir? No problem – here’s a new one.

The end.

Imagine if I bought a camera from BAE systems, before they brought in their new ethical policy.

Hello. I want to bring this camera back. It exploded and killed my entire family.

Did it, sir? Well, you can fuck off.

They have a director of corporate responsibility. Isn’t that great? One of the biggest arms makers in the world has a department of ethical responsibility. They have, for instance, a policy that their tanks won’t emit harmful substances from their exhaust pipes. Good. That’s very good. Here I am in some rebel Tamil village in Sri Lanka, and here comes a government tank, and I’m thinking Thank God, at least it won’t produce harmful emissions. BAE systems saving lives.

So who exactly are BAE systems? Well, as far as I can see, they’re British Aerospace under a new name, merged with Marconi, but they’ve moved on a bit, and now they build lots of things. As well as planes, they build ships, submarines, tanks and artillery. You might remember the controversy over the Hawk trainer aircraft they sold to the Indonesian government some years back. Before they had an ethical policy, obviously. Here’s what their blurb says about the same plane today: Hawk can be configured to meet customers’ specific requirements. Of course it can, as they did for the Indonesian government when they fitted it with rockets to kill villagers in East Timor, for training purposes of course, as it is only a trainer after all.

But that couldn’t happen today, could it, now that they have an ethics department. What great news for all of us.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.