2010 is coming to and end, with a very uncertain economic picture reminding us that capitalism is a system that perpetuates and intensifies inequality and injustices. The capitalist system has a long symbiosis with war, most clearly illustrated in war profiteering. This year there has been a lot of discussions about the impact of the economic crisis on the war industry. Clearly the crisis affects all industries, but governments have been determined to protect military manufacturing - even some "crisis rescue packages" have been determined by arms trades deals.
It was between 9/11 and the ensuing war against international terrorism (in Afghanistan and Iraq) initiated by the USA, with the help of the majority of European countries, that the already sizeable military spending of the USA’s allied countries began to increase significantly. In this regard, the USA has spent $1100 billion. In Europe spending has not gone so far. However, these defence budgets have increased above their national GDPs, with an annual average 5% increase.
Of the global top 20 arms producers, 4 European companies are ranked in high positions. Leading is British BAE Systems (former British Aerospace). The Swedish peace research institute SIPRI even ranked BAE Systems as the biggest global arms producer in 2008, but US weekly Defence News, using another ranking system, is listing BAE Systems third after the American companies Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Besides BAE the three other European giants are Italy’s Finmeccanica and formally Dutch-based EADS, both mainly aeronautical companies, and French electronics company Thales. The output of these giants is bigger than the output of many a developing nation. They arose from the mid-1990’s in a process of mergers and acquisitions, when international (notably American) competition forced European defence companies to overcome national limits in order to survive. At that time a lot of state-owned defence companies were privatised, facilitating the accumulation process. Still national governments often kept a say in their defence industries: Finmeccanica is 30% state-owned, Thales is 27% French state-owned and EADS is partly French state and a Spanish state holding company-owned. Note that, in contrast, BAE Systems is private, although the company can count on strong government support, including export promotion, sales financing and even covering up of high-level corruption.
Despite an effort to appear otherwise, the countries of South America do not represent an exception to the military - industrial complex (the relationship between governments and the arms industry that favours the latter and underlies an endless arms race). Although the military – industrial complex does not manifest as brutally in South America as in the United States, the pressure of the war industry on politics is unquestionable.
The American Arab Chamber of Commerce (AACC) recently hosted an event to discuss “investment opportunities” with the Iraqi government. That is, the sectarian, illegitimate, puppet Iraqi government that was installed in the wake of the illegal US invasion of Iraq.
ACT Coordinator, Medical Association for Prevention of War
Things have been a bit dodgy in my neighbourhood lately. Some strange characters are hanging around, and more than the usual smattering of domestic arguments are disturbing the peace. Were it not for our gun ownership laws, it would be a golden opportunity. Set up a local arms and graft fair, similar to those wonderful weekend art and craft fairs, make a neat profit and help the nation’s economy, all at once.
The striking double disarmament action in Sweden on Oct 16, 2008, when 12 grenade launchers and parts to 9 howitzers at two different facilities were damaged beyond repair, on the 4th of November (2010) got what will probably be its final sentence from the courts.
A local judge in Eskilstuna town, where the € 2 645 bln arms and aerospace corporation Saab AB is headquartered, ordered peaceniks Anna Andersson, 28, and Martin Smedjeback, 37, to return the arms giant expenses equivalent to € 50 586 in costs interred in one of the nightly civil disobedience acts two years ago.
A network of NGOs has published a list of questionable arms export practices by EU states, including corruption, arms sales to human rights abusers and exports that fuel conflict in the developing world.
L-3 has grown from a motley collection of businesses spun off from Lockheed Martin in 1997 to a $14 billion company that is one of the largest military contractors. It provides a wide range of high-tech electronics and communications services not only to the Pentagon but also to U.S. intelligence agencies. Not all its services are high-tech: the company’s MPRI subsidiary, acquired in 2000, is among the providers of controversial private security services in places such as Iraq.
In 2009, global military spending surged to an all-time high of US $1.53 trillion. Given the numerous crises facing the planet -- economic, environmental, health, diplomatic – it is vital to create a global movement to shift this money to human needs. Thousands of organizations, and millions of individuals, support this point of view. Moreover, because of the global economic crisis, some governments are even beginning to cut military spending.