War Profiteers

WRI activists disrupting the welcome dinner at the ADEX arms fair
WRI activists disrupting the welcome dinner at the ADEX arms fair

Economics is one of the key causes of war - wherever there is a military conflict, someone is profiting from it. We call this "war profiteering".

WRI looks at war profiteering in a broad sense - we consider all companies and initiatives that benefit financially from military conflict as war profiteers, in some sense. This includes the arms trade and companies profiteering for the privatisation and outsourcing of the military, but also those extracting natural resources in conflict zones, financial institutions investing in arms companies, and many others.

WRI publishes a quarterly magazine called War Profiteers' News (in English and Spanish), and organises events to bring campaigners and researchers together to share strategies against war profiteering. In 2017 we will gather members and friends of the WRI network in London, for a seminar called “Stopping the War Business”. Campaigners will share experiences and strategies of countering the arms trade and other war profiteers. The seminar will take place at the same time  as the DSEI arms fair, where we will also take nonviolent direct action together. In 2015, we organised a similar event in Seoul, South Korea, which took place at the same time as the ADEX arms fair.

Return to Conscientious Objection: A Practical Companion for Movements

Hannah Brock gives us an historical example of objection to war profiteering which conscientious objection movements today could emulate.1

The introduction to this book puts the following question: 'and what of the future?  Conscientious objection movements have often been inspired by the old expression 'imagine if there was a war and no one showed up?'.  Well, soon perhaps hardly anyone will need to show up for there to be a war, as technology 'advances' and can do the killing of 1,000 armed people at the touch of a button.  Increasingly, professional armies using remote control weapons, private security firms and robots have taken over from the mass armies of the mid 21st century.  Yet even with these 'advances', you still need people to wage war. Those people are increasingly not members of the armed forces however, but instead the 'civilian' branches of the supply chains for weapons and the militarism that make war inevitable.  This opens up whole new vistas of people who might resist war and their part in it.

Amnesty International press release, sourced from here.

Decades of poorly regulated arms flows into Iraq as well lax controls on the ground have provided the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS) with a large and lethal arsenal that is being used to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity on a massive scale in Iraq and Syria, Amnesty International has said in a new report.  

A PhD student studying applied matematics at a university in Britain reflects on the links between academia and the arms trade.

When I started my PhD in applied mathematics around one third of my proposed funding plan was to come from BAE systems. Knowing very little about BAE and the arms trade in general I did some research, and was horrified at what I found. It soon became clear that there was no way I wanted their money or any involvement with them, which fortunately did not involve me dropping out of my PhD, just taking a funding cut. This move was a knee-jerk reaction; one which I have been trying to justify ever since. I do not struggle to justify standing against weapons research, but mathematical research by nature can have many unpredictable outcomes; a new technology that might seem like a genuine asset to humankind is only a couple of modifications from the latest killing machine, so even non-military research cannot be truly considered safe.

Tear gas by remote controlA new report exploring the development of the use of remote control technology to deliver tear gas and other 'riot control agents' (RCAs) has been released by the Remote Control Project, the Omega Foundation and the Bradford Non-Lethal Weapons Research Project.

As long as Switzerland is tolerating the arms trade, financial investments into arms manufacturers and military research at universities, it will continue to bear some of the responsibility for the wars and conflicts of the world. 

Arms companies thrive on global instability and worldwide fearmongering since this enables them to sell more weapons and military goods and to make a profit. However, this logic can be reversed: it is the very existence and distribution of weapons and military goods that actually causes global insecurity. 

#RiotID

Placheolder image

The RiotID Team

What is Riot ID?

RiotID (http://riotid.com) is a civic media project helping people identify, monitor and record the use of riot control agents against civilians. The project is collaboration between researchers from Bournemouth University, Birmingham University and Omega Research Foundation, with Minute Works graphic design.

New Zealand is a place often associated with its nuclear-free position, and it rates highly on the global peace index. In spite of a relatively bucolic lifestyle downunder, New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, plays host to an annual weapons conference in November where about 550 delegates representing 165 companies converge for an annual weapons conference.Activists blockade the entrance to the weapons conference

Jordi Calvo Rufanges

War profiteering is explained with the military economy cycle which is based - as is most sectors of the economy - on neoliberal logic, the free market, privatization and reduction of regulations. It causes attitudes strictly related to personal enrichment and maximizing the economic benefit in the defense industry, forming the so-called neoliberal militarism. Moreover war profiteering goes beyond arms and defense sector. War needs lots of resources, not only weapons and armies, also logistics, transport, food, cleaning, translation services and private security. There are also wars for greed, which is not only power but also resources: oil, coltan, diamonds and whatever can be bought and sold in a market. Economic profits are part of war and wars are also made for profit.

Lexys Rendón

Between 2003 and 2013 - while the rest of the world experienced a wave of economic crises - Latin America showed good economic indicators. The continent benefited from the “boom of price in raw materials”; historically, the region's main export products are energy resources like oil, gas, coal and other minerals, and this continues today. In 2011, for example, 13 of the 20 biggest companies in Latin America belonged to the oil, gas, mining and iron and steel sectors. The money that entered the region managed to reduce poverty; in 2012, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) affirmed that the continent showed the lowest percentage of poverty (28.8% of total population) in the last 30 years.

However, the high economic incomes were not only destined to reduce levels of extreme poverty, they were also intended to modernise the armed forces of Latin American countries by a significant increase in arms purchases. In a study carried out by Peace Laboratory, based on figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) it was revealed that Latin America had increased it's weapons purchases by 150%, spending $13.624 million between 2000 to 2010. Military spending worldwide in 2012 reached $1.7 billion, or 2.5% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In Latin America, defence spending was about 4% of its total GDP, above the world average.

Wook-sik Cheong

How can North East Asia best be defined geopolitically? Geographically one can say North East Asia includes North Korea, South Korea, Japan, all of territorial China and a part of the Russian territory. The de facto state of Taiwan occupies a very strategic and important place geopolitically. Although geographically not located in the region one cannot exclude the United States, a country that exercises the greatest influence and the most powerful state actor geopolitically in the region.

The Korean peninsula occupies a particularly important place geopolitically in North East Asia. Over the past centuries there has been a series of wars including the Imjin War (the Japanese Invasion of Korea in 1592) and the Manchu War of 1636, the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 towards the latter period of the Choson Dynasty, the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-1905, and the colonization of the Korean peninsula by Japan followed by the division of the peninsula, the Korean War and subsequent armistice. Geopolitically, the Korean peninsula has increasingly become a highly sensitive region. If maritime powers such as Japan and the United States continue to expand, territorial powers such as China and Russia will seek to use the Korean peninsula as a buffer zone to check this expansion. On the other hand if territorial powers continue their expansion then Japan and the United States would be very wary of the threat of territorial powers using the peninsula to exert force against Japan.

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