14 November 2011

The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade

On 11 November, my friend Andrew Feinstein authored an op-ed in the New York Times entitled Arms and the Corrupt Man.  Andrew gave the reader a tantalizing glimpse of the dynamite packed into his important new book, The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade.  His is a sordid story of corruption, money, and the impulse toward perpetual war that is engendered by the global arms trade across the global spectrum from the white through the grey and into the black markets.  
By way of introduction, Andrew was a member of the African National Congress when, under the leadership of  Nelson Mandella, the South African government made one of most profound transformations in human history.  But after becoming a member of the new South African parliament, Andrew discovered that some things never really change. Although he rose swiftly in influence, his disillusionment grew as he sought unsuccessfully to investigate the corruption surrounding a huge arms deal. Isolated from his former comrades, Feinstein was forced to choose between the party he had so admired and his principles.  He had come to the fork in the road made famous by the American strategist Colonel John Boyd, where the choice became “To Be” or “To Do.”  
To Andrew's credit, he chose the latter and wrote After the Party: A Personal and Political Journey Inside the ANC, a best-selling memoir of his time as an African National Congress Member of Parliament in South Africa. A brief introduction to that important book can be found in a TV interview he did for BBC Hard Talk.  Andrew has recently been an Open Society Institute International Fellow and is the founding co-director of Corruption Watch, an anti-corruption NGO, and chairperson of the Aids charity FOTAC. Andrew's latest book, The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade, expands his earlier work on corruption in the South African arms trade to a truly global scale. A video  summary by Andrew can be seen here.
[Truth in advertising: I was a minor source for Andrew in his research for “The Shadow World.]
Chuck Spinney
The Blaster