Who profits from war? The truth behind The Jerusalem Puzzle
“WAR is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.” Smedley Butler the most decorated US Marine at the time of his death wrote that in an essay entitled, “War is a Racket,” back in 1935.
Smedley served all his life in the military, won two medals of honor during combat and saw first hand the horrors of war.
Currently, there are a lot of people profiting from war. Three of the largest arms manufacturers in the world are:
No 3. Beoing – 49% of their 2010 sales worldwide of $64.3 billion were arms related. They have about 160,000 employees and their main military products include the F-15 fighter jet.
No 2. BAE – achieved €32.9 billion of arms sales in 2010. They employ about 98,000 and their products include the Bradley fighting vehicle and the F-35 fighter jet.
No 1. Lockheed Martin – achieved $45 billion of arms sales in 2010. They employ 132,000 and their products include the F-16 and Trident nuclear missiles.
But maybe all this war machinery is a necessary evil.
But why then did US arms sales total $66.3 billion in 2011, more than three-quarters of global arms sales? Russia was a distant second, with $4.8 billion in deals. We don’t need this level of arms sales.
To illustrate the growth and market for arms sales consider this, US arms sales to Saudi Arabia totaled $33.4 billion in 2011. That amount surpassed the entire total of US arms sales to all countries in the world in 2009, $31 billion.
Keep this in mind when you contemplate our future. The number one killer in history is governments. In the 21st century they killed 292 million people.
Smedley had this to say about how profitable war is, “In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. . . . new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the war.”
The trillion dollars a year that emerges from the US Defense Department doesn’t all end up in the pay of ordinary soldiers. Here’s who Smedley thought paid for all this.
“The general public shoulders the bill. And what is this bill? This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.”
So have things changed since then?
Yes they have. These days our great arms companies sell their wares to debt ridden African countries, fearful Sheikhs and brow beaten allies to ensure their trough is filled higher and higher each year.
I don’t expect any of this to change soon, but I am fearful that new wars will be sought out by a military industrial machine which needs to keep production lines rolling, faster and faster.
The end of the Iraq war and the pullout from Afghanistan will lead to reduced demand for their goods, if they are not careful. The surge in spending by countries fearful of Iran must be maintained.
In my novel, The Jerusalem Puzzle, a plot to profit from war is described. My fear is that the people on both sides of this conflict will be the losers, sacrificial victims in the search for profits from the greatest racketeers the world has ever known.