Bob Dylan’s classic Masters of War is playing in my head as I write this.
(If it’s not playing in yours, go to http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/b/bob_dylan/masters_of_war.html then read on....)
For plans are well underway for the Asia Pacific Defence and Security Exhibition (APDSE) to be held in Adelaide from 11 – 13 November 2008.
The exhibition has been promoted by the SA government which shamelessly touts South Australia as the “defence state”.
Government literature boasts that SA “is the high-tech centre of Australia’s defence industry and the Asia-Pacific headquarters of some of the world’s leading defence companies” (South Australia: The DEFENCE industry choice).
Plans are also well underway for opposition to the exhibition.
Already some displeasure has been expressed - and from a most unlikely source.
The Returned Service League (RSL), Australia’s war veterans’ organisation is not opposed to the exhibition as such; indeed, it has booked a display stand.
However, State President Jock Statton was understandably outraged to discover that the masters of war were planning to open at 11.30 on November 11.
This was uncomfortably close to the time, the 11th hour on the 11th day of November, at which a minute’s silence is observed to honour the dead from the First World War and subsequent conflicts. Remembrance Day is a sacred event for the RSL.
“We couldn’t believe it,” Statton told the media, referring to the insensitivity of the organisers who include British-based BAE Systems and the Adelaide office of Britain’s Cranfield University. Statton described their involvement as “ironic because the UK lost almost one million lives during World War 1.” He said the RSL had called on the organisers to change the date of the exhibition, but they had refused to do so.
At least 40 exhibitors are believed to have booked space, including 17 from Australia, 7 from the UK, 5 from the US, 2 each from Germany, India and Malaysia, and 1 each from Canada, eastern Europe, France, Israel and Spain.
However, the APDSE website now states that “Due to hightened security restrictions, the exhibitor list will not be available on this site”.
On the Cranfield Univesrity website, two short courses are listed. Intriguingly, one is for the 3 days of the exhibition, presumably to enable “students” to claim back the costs of attendance as “fees for educational purposes”. The details of both courses are:
Resilience in Australia
Date: 11-13 November 2008; Duration: 3 days; Location: Adelaide; Price: AUD$2000
For further information please contact: email@example.com
For details regarding the Asia Pacific Defence and Security Exhibition, please visit http://www.apds2008.com/
Modelling and Simulation in Defence Communication Networks
Date: 25 - 27 November 2008; Duration: 3 days; Location: Adelaide; Price: TBC
Whatever else may happen in Adelaide between Nov 11 and November 13, the masters of war and profiteers from imperialist aggression won’t be in for much of an easy time!