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A shot in the arms
Why Derry’s often warring politicians are happy to link arms; why John Hogan is bigger than Bono (in St. Lucia); and the lie of the decade award
Eamonn McCann, 05 Mar 2003
The DUP, Sinn Fein, the UUP and the SDLP will be relieved that Raytheon, the third biggest arms manufacturer in the world, has won contracts which should keep profits flowing for another few years.
The Unionist and Nationalist parties, so sadly divided on other matters, have shown heart-warming unanimity on Raytheon. The company plant in the Springtown industrial estate in Derry produces software for guidance systems used in air-traffic control and missile delivery.
Some local parties take refuge in the “dual-use” nature of Raytheon’s output. Others say that jobs are jobs and ethics are irrelevant. The company itself makes no bones about the nature of its business.
On January 25, Raytheon announced that the Ministry of Defence had selected its Javelin joint venture as supplier of an anti-tank guided weapon system. The £300 million programme “will supply the British Army with the latest man-portable, anti-tank weapon capability that can be used day or night,” explained a spokeswoman.
The Javelin “is a single, man-portable, ‘fire and forget’ anti- armour weapon that is already in service with the US Army and Marine Corps in operations around the world, as well as in Afghanistan with the Special Operations Forces of an undisclosed nation… (“Undisclosed nation...?”)
“The Javelin ensures a single British soldier or marine can defeat all known armoured vehicles as well as conduct precision engagements of alternate targets such as bunkers, buildings, low flying helicopters and watercraft.” (“Buildings...”?)
On January 28th came news that Raytheon had been awarded a $38.9 million contract to supply Maverick missiles to Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Bahrain.
“The IR (infra-red) seeker presents a TV-like image on the cockpit display as it senses small differences in heat energy between that radiated by target objects and the surrounding background... (It) carries a 300-pound blast fragmentation warhead with selected fuse delays... The Maverick has launch-and-leave capability to enable the pilot to lock onto the target, launch the missile and then take evasive action.” (“Small differences in heat energy” refers to the detection of humans.)
On January 29, Raytheon was awarded a $12.5 million contract for repair and maintenance of NATO missile and electronic warfare systems.
On January 30 the New Zealand Army announced that Raytheon had won a bidding war to supply medium range anti-armour weaponry – the Javelin again. The Javelin’s “unmatched lethality and operator survivability” was the clinching factor. “Javelin is the world’s most lethal medium range anti-armour system. It is ideally suited for engaging bunkers, buildings and field fortifications,” said Mike Crisp, president of the joint venture. (“Buildings”, again.)
At As Sayliyah, Qatar, on February 3rd Raytheon announced the delivery of “a deployable command and control headquarters” for CENTCOM (US central command in the Gulf). “The system allows CENTCOM’s field commanders to maintain seamless connectivity with theatre component command staff and command staff at their main headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.”
CENTCOM commander General Tommy Franks said, “This is exactly what we needed. I like the reaction of our people to the technology, and I like the performance of the technology”. Added US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: “I must say it is impressive.”
Derry is doing its bit, then, for the international arms trade and the lethal capacity of US and allied forces. And there isn’t one elected representative in the area to take a public stand against the company’s presence.
Odd that rank-and-file members of the parties in question havn’t kicked up a hullabaloo.
Wandering the web on a wet afternoon, as you do, I happened upon John Hogan of Offaly, whom I hadn’t seen since a wing-ding in a GAA club in Tyrone a year back.
That’s the sort of place you’d find John, a “country” singer who, unusually in this genre, writes all his own material, and has no bother pulling a few hundred punters in Cookstown or Magherafelt. Or a few thousand in St. Lucia.
The article I chanced on, in the St. Lucia Mirror, pondered the popularity of “country and western” on the Carribean island, where it has “captured the hearts of the old and young, the rural as well as urban and the intellectuals as well as the simple folks.” This, it turns out, is largely due to the popularity of Hogan.
Delving further into the music of paradisal St. Lucia, I unearthed a review by Jason Sifflet of a Hogan gig last summer.
“Last Saturday night at Gaiety, you couldn’t tell who was more impressed, the artist or the audience. By the time, ‘Stepping Stone’, the song St. Lucians made a country classic, was played as the finale, the audience was so hyped that they sang it to John Hogan. Twice. All he could do was weep. And clasp his hands together as if thanking God for these St. Lucian people who love his music like no one else does.”
That was just the intro. “‘I think I’ve died and gone to heaven,” he repeated twice or three times during the concert. ‘It’s good to be back home.’ According to venue managers, it was their biggest crowd yet. ‘This is the best behaved audience I’ve ever seen,’ said Gillan Adjodha of Gaiety Productions. ‘The bar is doing four times as well as at the Junior Reid/Everton Blender show...’
“Hogan started off with a bang, rousing his audience with ‘Down To The River.’ He launched into several of the other instant classics off his last album... Then he played one written for Dr. Beat and another new song about the people of St. Lucia called ‘Love, Love, Love’.
“He might have been disturbed when the audience went quiet during these numbers, but they were just absorbing the song. The next time, and there will be a next time, he’ll find that everyone knows these songs as well as any of his others.”
Hogan packed the 4,000-seater Gaiety on successive nights.
I contacted the only St. Lucian I know, the unfeasibly gorgeous Helen William, ace Press Association correspondent.
“How big is John Hogan in St. Lucia, really?”
“The biggest Irish singer on the island.”
“Oh, John Hogan is bigger than Bono. Far bigger.”
Restores one’s faith in humanity, does it not?
Lie of the decade
If there is a prize for the most successful propaganda lie of the last 10 years, it should go to the originator of the line that “Saddam Hussein threw the weapons inspectors out.”.
This reversal of the truth has become so pervasive that it falls trippingly from the tongues of opponents as well as supporters of the planned US war on Iraq.
The UNSCOM team was withdrawn in December 1998 at the insistence of the Clinton administration, supported by Blair. In his book, Saddam Defiant, the then head of UNSCOM, Richard Butler, describes receiving a ‘phone call from US ambassador to the UN, Peter Burleigh, inviting him to a “private meeting” at which he was told that in the interests of their “safety and security” it would be “prudent” to get the inspectors out of Iraq. Butler ordered them out next day. The bombing assault began the day after. There was no UN sanction for any of this.
Just as there is no UN sanction for the so-called “no-fly zones.” Which should be the subject of second prize in the lie-of-the-decade competition.