“Come, masters of war; You who build the big guns; You who build the planes of death; You who build all the bombs; You who hide behind walls; You who hide behind desks; I just want you to know; I can see through your masks. From Bob Dylan’s iconic song, ‘Masters of War’, released in 1963. It’s all the more relevant today.
That the war started by the United States and NATO in Ukraine could lead to a third world war is a major concern for all humanity, especially the workers and oppressed people who, in the end, bear the brunt of any war. Yet for some global billionaires – today’s “masters of war” – this conflict is seen as an opportunity to further increase profits.
Among those already reaping profits are companies involved in the production and sale of weapons, aircraft and other military equipment. This includes 14 of the world’s 20 largest ‘defences’ vsUS-headquartered companies top the list Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon Technologies, which had combined arms sales in 2019 approaching $100 billion.
On February 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine, the value of the shares of these arms manufacturers skyrocketed. Raytheon and Lockheed officials have openly told investors that the Ukraine dispute is “good for business.” In a company “earnings appeal” released Jan. 25, Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes outlined how they could benefit from the dispute. Similarly, Lockheed CEO James Taiclet told investors that “great power competition [between the U.S. and Russia] on Ukraine bodes more business for the company. (The Wire (India), February 28)
Two lobbyists for every member of Congress
These windfall gains for arms manufacturers are no accident. Their preparation for this NATO/Russia conflict has been going on for decades. The industry currently employs two lobbyists for every member of Congress.
Since the end of the Cold War, arms manufacturers have been the most aggressive lobbyists for NATO enlargement. Their potentially lucrative market included countries in Eastern Europe and former republics of the Soviet Union, dissolved in 1991. This, despite a promise made in 1990 by then-Secretary of State James Baker , to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev if he allowed a reunited Germany to join NATO. , the organization would not move east.
In 1997, Lockheed Martin Vice President Bruce L. Jackson led the defense organization US Committee to Expand NATO. Bell Helicopter, Lockheed Martin and other arms manufacturers funded Romania’s lobbying for NATO membership.
The New York Times covered Jackson’s lobbying of the Clinton administration to encourage NATO leaders to vote on expanding the alliance to Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic in July 1997. Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright attended one of Jackson’s lavish dinners to promote NATO. expansion to senators being tasted and dined. (tinyurl.com/ycy6tby9)
Lockheed Martin gave $2.3 million to congressional and presidential candidates in the 1996 election. Always on the lookout for new opportunities to advance arms sales, Jackson later became chairman of the Committee for liberation of Iraq, which promoted the 2003 US invasion under the George W. Bush administration.
In 1999, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic were admitted to NATO, despite promises from the United States and the European Union to Russia that this expansion would never happen. Over the next two decades, 14 Central and Eastern European countries joined NATO. In 2021, NATO has extended its membership offers to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Ukraine, all located on Russia’s eastern border.
More NATO members = more industry profits
According to a Center for Responsive Politics report released in early 2021, five of America’s largest defense contractors — Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon Technologies and General Dynamics — spent $60 million lobbying to influence policy. in 2020. The sum is in addition to the $2.5 billion that corporations have spent on lobbying since 2000. (Military.com, March 7, 2021)
The Center’s website, OpenSecrets.org, notes that in addition to the hefty share of the Pentagon’s $740 billion for arms purchases, U.S. arms manufacturers have made $175 billion in sales. weapons to other countries in 2020.
Upon joining NATO, new member countries were strongly encouraged to buy weapons from American manufacturers. Unbeknownst to American taxpayers, their money indirectly subsidized the arms industry through a series of Pentagon grants, discount loans, and free leases.
As the arms industry had predicted, the incorporation of the former Soviet republics and former socialist countries of Eastern Europe into NATO greatly increased the potential for armed conflict between the NATO-led the United States and Russia.
The revolving door of the arms industry
Perhaps reluctant to rely solely on lobbying to influence government officials, the arms industry has encouraged former government officials youo Become industry representatives. Over the past 30 years, nearly 530 members of the armed forces and the The foreign relations and defense appropriations subcommittees of both houses of Congress left their posts for lobbying jobs at defense companies. In 2005, 80% top army generals have retired to work for arms manufacturers.
The revolving door worked both ways. Biden’s Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin served on Raytheon’s board before joining the administration. In 2020, a third of Biden’s Pentagon transition team came from agencies tied to the defense industry. Biden simply followed the practices of his predecessors.
Never mind Biden’s statement in a foreign policythere speech during the campaign in July 2019 that “IIt is high time to put an end to the “eternal wars”, which have cost us blood and untold treasures.
David Vine documents the history of endless American conflict in ‘The United States of War’, published in 2021. He cites General Mike Holmes’ assertion that the goal is “not to lose. It’s about to stay in the game, to have a new plan and to keep his goals Biden is now talking about prospects for World War III!
The number of victims of wars launched by the United States in recent decades is staggering. Millions of people have been displaced as a result of conflicts driven by the profit motive of war, including 1.5 million Ukrainians forced to flee between 2014 and the start of the current conflict.
The pro-war propaganda is deafening, but it is imperative that a unified global movement against war takes up this challenge and strongly advocates for humanity. Workers have nothing to lose but our chains.