This morning, in response to the attacks that took place in London last night, leaders of countries and political parties across the world came out to share their contempt for the attacker and to share messages of solidarity for the victims, survivors and those affected. Theresa May’s comments have been particularly contentious, as she said “enough is enough”. May says, “there’s far too much tolerance of extremism” in the U.K., and she set out plans to crack down on extremism after chairing a committee following the attacks. This has been divisive in itself, as it, according to members of other political parties, breaches a cross-party agreement to cease political campaigning whilst the wounds caused by the attacks are still very much open. May said, “As terrorism breeds terrorism and perpetrators are inspired to attack, not only on the basis of carefully constructed plots after years of planning and training, and not even as lone attackers radicalized online, but by copying one another and often using the crudest of means of attack.”
The response to May’s speech has been interesting, as, in an almost state of confusion, people across social media have been attempting to remind May that she was home secretary for six years prior to becoming PM and that Britain is the second biggest arms dealer in the world, making the British government a blood-stained sum of $97bn. The British government, despite it’s alleged contempt for terrorism, supplies weapons of mass destruction to Saudi Arabia, Norway, North Korea, Oman, India, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. In 2015, the Middle East bought 63% of the weapons the U.K. put up for sale. Problematically, Saudi Arabia is on the list of areas that the British government has listed as a human rights concern. Yet we keep selling them weapons.
Can the U.K. really point the finger at “Islamic” terrorism when we’re the ones validating such a violent ideology with weapons trade? May seems to think so, despite the hypocrisy being so apparent. Earlier in the week, Amber Rudd tried to defend the U.K.’s booming weapons trade by saying it’s a “strong industry,” while Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party, without skipping a beat retaliated with “selling weapons to Saudi Arabia cannot be justified with it being good for industry.”
There’s a common theme with global politics, where in some bizarre spell of weapon related amnesia, we forget that these are human lives we’re dealing with. Not numbers on a screen, but real people, who love, laugh and cry. How many more debates, terrorist attacks, BBC Question Times will it take before we realize our humanity? How many people will be spent in the pursuit of power before we realize we need a global shift in how we operate with other countries? How many men, women and children will have to sail across the Mediterranean on a deflated lilo before we accept them into our countries?