'SOFEX was so-so'
July 7, 2012 2:55 PM   Subscribe

SOFEX: The Business of War (video, ad). VICE magazine reports on 'experiencing the military-industrial complex's trade show'

SOFEX 2012 attracts hundreds of leading exhibitors, reports the Jordan Times. VICE returns to SOFEX, post-Arab Spring.

SOFEX is held in Amman, Jordan, at the request of the King. A demonstration video that includes the King of Jordan's arrival.
posted by the man of twists and turns (17 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

There sure are a lot of freedom-haters out there that need killing
posted by crayz at 3:41 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

There sure are a lot of freedom- status-quo haters out there that need killing

A number that will just keep rising.

Totally related, from yesterday's Idea Bird
Twenty years ago they set out to stop the the terrorist menace. And wherever terrorists were supposed to be a particle beam stabbed out of the sky to erase a building. Or two, or three, or however many were nearby. But there always seemed to be another threat, and always another beam strike. Families would go to investigate their missing relatives and find an empty lot. The civilian deaths made more terrorists which made more beam strikes. Random. Deadly. Erasing.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:19 PM on July 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

There sure are a lot of freedom-haters out there that need killing

This piece was interesting because it turns out the big spending in military systems is heading towards domestic security - handling uprisings, essentially.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:35 PM on July 7, 2012

Yikes. Seriously surreal in a truly dark way and worth watching. Enjoyed 'going there' with a journalist who also experienced the nightmare weirdness and humor of the situation.

One of my godfathers was an arms salesman for the Pentagon. He joked in the 1990's that he sold arms one day to Israel and hahaha, the next day the same stuff to Syria. That was a nightmare for me to hear. I came to the same conclusion about arms dealers in the USA - or anywhere for that matter - as the marine who concluded, "It's like, they don't discriminate. They'll sell to anybody who has fucking money."

I couldn't help being mesmerized, watching the generals in their costumes in the wedding reception style generic chairs, the pompous speech ending in "victory will be ours", when there were probably enemies sitting cheek by jowl, the typical ambiance of the hotel lobby carpeting, the pastries, the hand holding, cheek kissing of guys whose profession it is to slaughter. I kept anxiously thinking Michael Moore would turn up somewhere and do something to trigger all out mayhem, pie flinging or something.

Was curious about SAAB, the car aspect and the military side of that biz.

Huh, the smell tech, eau de dead body, ewww.

Among the many moments of despair looking at this, there were rushes of deep ire. This point especially, "What's crazy about this is that America gives a lot of these countries foreign aid so that they can come here to buy weapons systems from their company. It's kind of like a parent giving their kids a credit card and saying go to the mall that I own and just buy whatever you want."

Am furious that it's the Pentagon scamming the American taxpayers into giving money they have been told is foreign aid, with the appearance of it being humanitarian, when it's really going for killing and destroying, into the corporate bank accounts of of Raytheon, Grumman, Lockheed Martin etc.

Was thankful for the WikiLeaks clip at the end. On some level it made me feel that the people who would be slaughtered by these bloodthirsty nihilists are not totally impotent in a global effort towards greater peace.
posted by nickyskye at 4:41 PM on July 7, 2012 [13 favorites]

So the guy raises the question but never answers it -- how do those weapons get into the hands of non-state actors? Do you get carded for a government ID when you actually try to place an order? How (in theory) do these companies restrict sales to governments and not just anyone with a bank account?
posted by Rhomboid at 5:01 PM on July 7, 2012

There are non-state like private security companies (Blackwater) they must sell to also.
posted by stbalbach at 6:01 PM on July 7, 2012

The Daily Mail reports: Gentleman, choose your weapons: Behind the scenes at the special forces arms fair loved by trigger happy generals (and no, the one with the beard isn't Sacha Baron Cohen)
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:01 PM on July 7, 2012

Do actual arms deals go down at these things, or is it more like your regime sends you there to browse a bit so you can make more informed decisions about which missiles to order when the annual missile order is due? It's surreal enough as it is, but if there's a "what will it take for me to get you walking away with this guidance system today" component then I don't even know.
posted by passerby at 6:29 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

passerby, the post-Arab Spring link talks about how not too many deals actually happen at the show, and makes example of a handshake deal from 2010 that still hasn't been consummated.
posted by thecjm at 7:17 PM on July 7, 2012

check, check....tap, tap....is this thing on?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:38 PM on July 7, 2012

Not sure if the link will hold, but here's Martin Parr's take from the Abu Dhabi International Defence Exhibition. Not my favorite of Parr's work, but it's a glimpse at the oddity of these international arms fairs.
posted by msbrauer at 8:39 PM on July 7, 2012

Here's the King of Jordan on Star Trek: Voyager.
posted by hal at 9:41 PM on July 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Do actual arms deals go down at these things, or is it more like your regime sends you there to browse a bit so you can make more informed decisions about which missiles to order when the annual missile order is due?

I assume it's like a lot of tech trade shows. The sales guys get cards and numbers to follow up on, the techies gossip on what company is showing off the coolest tech and hypothesize on how they're doing it, the CEOs setup 1-on-1 meetings in smoky back rooms to discuss deals.

But mostly everyone gets drunk and has a chance to use their business / governmental expense account.
posted by formless at 10:26 PM on July 7, 2012

UK activist/comic Mark Thomas also made an excellent investigation into the arms trade in the UK. The first part is on Youtube here, the rest are all easily found from there. The shamelessness of the fuckers is breathtaking, even in the context of the more recent and more public teflon-shouldering by the great and the good.
posted by Jakey at 1:57 PM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

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