In my experience, perusing the Internet instead of being a useful human being is something young people do best.
Forgive me, perhaps that’s unfair.
Perhaps I’m too quick to judge the teenagers reblogging countless images on Tumblr or “YouTube hopping” ‘til kingdom come. Every now and then, however, something groundbreaking will surface and spread like wildfire. Remember Kony 2012?
Every now and then, I will find something in the wilderness of the Internet that speaks to me.
Not too long ago, I stumbled across a documentary entitled “SOFEX: The Business of War,” put up by the rather hip media conglomerate Vice.
This 20-minute long Internet video follows the most recent exhibition of one of the most important trade shows in the world: The weapons industry. And it’s hear where I learned that war has a focused business side.
According to the SOFEX website, once every two years for the last 14 years, tent after tent is set up at the King Abdullah I Airbase in Amman in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
For four days, exhibitors and national pavilions essentially sell “war.” As Jordan’s King Abdullah II is one of America’s only allies in the middle east, the United States takes part in this “trade show” each edition.
According to the SOFEX website, “The Special Operations Forces Exhibition and Conference (SOFEX) continues to grow with each edition and is acquiring paramount ranking amongst the specialized global defence exhibitions […]”
According to the website, “SOFEX provides an ideal platform to present new and innovative equipment in order to deliver swift, decisive and effective solutions, that will help decision makers maintain the security and safety in their countries, regions and around the world.”
In fact, from watching the documentary, it was emphasized that Jordan puts on this exhibition to help combat global terrorism.
This is all well and good, but upon watching the short film, I couldn’t help but be thoroughly disturbed. According to the presenter of the documentary, the first thing one sees when strolling on through the airbase is advertising — advertising of lethal weapons such as “The Hellfire Missile,” and “F16 with Sniper Targeting System.” Yes, there’s advertisements showcasing — with snappy attention-grabbing names — weapons that will inevitably ends someone’s life. Does anyone else not see something wrong with that?
These advertisements are, of course, aimed at over 300 delegates from 85 countries who conglomerate at SOFEX to buy.
The notion of hundreds of generals lining up like, “kids at a candy store,” as the documentary so eloquently put it, to purchase new and “innovative” weapons simply boggled my mind. Often times, I think of war in very abstract terms.
It’s more of a concept to me — something that happens so very far away — as opposed to a logistical thing that impacts each and every one of us.
There is a business behind war. Politics and economics are so intertwined. And sometimes, moral compasses go askew. I understand the world is a hard place and that I myself comprehend so very little of it, but I cannot imagine in my wildest dreams vending weapons to various countries that would be responsible for the robbery of human life.
I’m not claiming to be a pacifist, but when my eyes are open to a whole different level of the concept that is “war,” it’s difficult for me to stomach it. The fact that arms sales are doubling rapidly, again, according to Vice, means that armies are using these arms. This really means one thing: people are dying. And I don’t know how to feel about that.
Caroline Fenlin is a freshman majoring in graphic design and is a Daily Collegian columnist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.