Monday, February 01, 2016

The War Profiteers

War is hell but heaven for others. Many go to war and die, but a few don’t go yet thrive on the profits of war. War always benefits the armaments industry.

Major defense contractors Raytheon, Oshkosh, and Lockheed Martin assured investors at a Credit Suisse conference in West Palm Beach that they stand to gain from the escalating conflicts in the Middle East.

Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President Bruce Tanner told the conference his company will see “indirect benefits” from the war in Syria, citing the Turkish military’s recent decision to shoot down a Russian warplane. The incident, Tanner said, heightens the risk for U.S. military operations in the region, providing “an intangible lift because of the dynamics of that environment and our products in theater.” He also stressed that the Russian intervention would highlight the need for Lockheed Martin-made F-22s and the new F-35 jets. And for “expendable” products, such as a rockets, Tanner added that there is increased demand, including from the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia because of the war in Yemen.

Wilson Jones, the president of the defense manufacturer Oshkosh, told the conference that “with the ISIS threat growing,” there are more countries interested in buying Oshkosh-made M-ATV armored vehicles. Speaking about a recent business trip to the Middle East, Jones said countries there “want to mechanize their infantry corps.”

Raytheon Chief Executive Tom Kennedy made similar remarks, telling the conference that he is seeing “a significant uptick” for “defense solutions across the board in multiple countries in the Middle East.” Noting that he had met with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Kennedy said, “It’s all the turmoil they have going on, whether the turmoil’s occurring in Yemen, whether it’s with the Houthis, whether it’s occurring in Syria or Iraq, with ISIS.”

Another piece of good news for the contractors is the latest budget deal in Congress. After years of cuts following the budget sequester, the deal authorizes $607 billion in defense spending, just $5 billion down from the Pentagon’s request, which DefenseNews called a “treat” for the industry. “Our programs are well supported [in the budget],” said Lockheed’s Tanner at the conference. “We think we did fare very well.”

We really shouldn’t term these firms “defense contractors,” and the money they get “defense spending.” They are all about offense–they are not defending the US from anything. To pretend otherwise is to engage in the same sort of PR that led to the US Department of War being rebranded the DoD in 1949–just as the US “went on offense” around the world. These firms are *military* contractors who receive *military* spending, and who *do not* deserve the positive connotations of the word “defense.”

“Don’t forget what I discovered—that over ninety percent of all national deficits from 1921 to 1939 were caused by payments for past, present, and future wars.” Franklin D. Roosevelt


“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”Dwight D. Eisenhower

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