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Letter: Arms programme merely for profit.

Byline: MADELINE HAIGH

Sir, - It was highly appropriate that President Bush announced his intention to push ahead with America's controversial plans for a new 'Star Wars' programme on the day that worldwide protests were led against the power of huge multi-national corporations.

The missile defence programme has been greeted with dismay even by the United States' closest allies within Nato and the House of Commons' Foreign Affairs Select Committee last year produced a highly critical report.

China regards the US plan as hostile and Russia has warned of its potential to destabilise international arms control and spark a new arms race as it will destroy the Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty and breach the Outer Space Treaty.

The official United States justification for all this - that it needs protection from 'rogue states' - is clearly nonsensical. So what is all this about?

The answer becomes clear when we look at the huge contracts the programme will involve: plans for just one aspect, the development of a space-based laser, a joint project of TRW, Boeing and Lockheed Martin carry a budget of $20-$30 million.

A key player in formulating Republican foreign policy is Bruce Jackson, vice president of corporate strategy and development of Lockheed Martin. Another advocate of full development of 'Star Wars' is Stephen J Hadley, a partner in the law firm which represents Lockheed Martin. Lynn Cheney, wife of the vice president is a member of the board of Lockheed Martin and Cheney himself has been a member of the board of TRW.

Estimates for the entire project run into tens of billions of dollars, and it is clear that key figures at the heart of American government stand to profit directly from military budgets.

Meanwhile back in Britain, if Tony Blair wishes to look like a strong world leader in the run-up to the General Election, he could refuse permission for Yorkshire bases at Fylingdales and Menwith Hill to be used for 'Star Wars,' and thus restore some measure of sanity into international affairs.

MADELINE HAIGH

West Midlands Campaign For Nuclear Disarmament
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 14, 2001
Words:343
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