Focus, No. 56
Organisation: Comhlámh
Publication: Focus [Comhlámh]
Issue:Number 56
Summer '97
Type:Publication Issue
View: View Document
Discuss:Comments on this document

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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

22nd March 2024

Many thanks to Michael Carley who forwarded this to the Archive.

This magazine, as noted on the Editorial page, was established in 1978 and published three times a year. It states that it ‘is Ireland’s leading magazine on global development issues’. Published by Comhlámh, the Irish Association of Returned Development Workers, this is a comprehensive publication running to 32 pages. In some respects this is not a left publication as such, yet the overall thrust of the contents and the issues it addresses are very much part of a broader left worldview.

This edition focuses on the Arms Trade, and there are numerous articles on that topic. The first piece ‘The Irish Connection’ examines Ireland’s links with he international arms trade. There are pieces on Israeli whistleblower Moderchai Vanunu and the Military, Industrial, Bureaucratic and Technological complex.

The magazine also examines other areas, for example there is a piece on Latin America, Bosnia and Kosovo.

There’s also a piece entitled ‘When It’s Immoral Not to Trade Guns’.

The editorial is worth reprinting in full because it essentially outlines the approach of this edition.

Is there such a thing as a ‘just’ war? How you answer this question ‘will determine your attitude towards the arms trade. Pacifists, one would have thought, will simply denounce the trade in toto. If you oppose war on principle – no matter what its objectives may be – thenof course you’ll want nothing less than the complete abolition of the weapons industry.

What about Bosnia? Or Cuba? Nicaragua during its Sandanista period? The East Timorese Liberation Front? The IRA? If you believe that those involved in these situation had/have the right to struggle – to wage war – then it follows that you’ll support their efforts to acquire arms.

In which case you’ll surely have no principled objection to the manufacturing of weapons – someone has to make these things if your favoured liberation movement is to equip itself with riifles, rocket launchers, tanks. And landrnines? Napalm?

Now that we’ve established that you have no principled objection to the arms trade, we’ll hazard a guess that you nevertheless want to specify who should and who shouldn’t be allowed to purchase weapons. No doubt you’ll not want Saddam to get his hands on any more, or the Indonesian government. But what about Clinton? Or Blair? Or Bruton/Ahem?

Or perhaps you think that’s being unrealistic – it’s these mad ‘Third World’ outfits we need to control, not civilised Western states So it surely follows that you’ll have no principled objection to the paraphernalia of war – the means to kill, maim, and destroy – being manufactured here. In Ireland.

Or does all this make you queasy? Do photographs of war victims – dead people, people with ghastly wounds – make you feel that you have no stomach for any of it?

Maybe this one has to be categorised as a ‘not a black and white’ issue.

This edition of Focus includes several articles which consider the arms trade – we’ll leave it to you to decide where our contributors stand on the subject.

There’s also a tribute to Vincent Tucker and a piece by him.

Overall a very broad ranging publication.


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