Thursday, 25 August 2011

Capitalism - Making A Killing

Years ago, American President Dwight Eisenhower made a speech that would simply be unheard of from any US President's lips in recent years - he warned of the growth of a dominant military-industrial complex that would view war as big business and forever drive forward opportunities for conflict in order to maximise their profits. War would be their gain. His words were prescient and remarkable as both a former army general and as a Republican.

There are examples aplenty of how his fears came true in subsequent decades, though given the essential amorality of the economics system of the free market which Eisenhower himself espoused, it really is the logical outcome of the processes inherent in its workings. And yet, the hypocrisy and brazen arrogance of many of those involved remain capable of taking any sane person's breath away.

Former US Republican Presidential candidate, Senator John McCain, has in recent weeks been highly critical of President Obama's apparent reluctance to get involved in the NATO attacks on Libya. Yet a leading regional newspaper in the USA, the Tucson Sentinel, has just carried this story from Wikileaks, showing how just two years ago Senator McCain and the rightwing ex-Democrat, Joe Lieberman, visited Gadaffi in Tripoli and promised to hurry up an arms deal that the Libyan Leader was keen to get approved by the US Congress.

Indeed, the Senator even tweeted about his "interesting meeting with an interesting man". 

And so, as has happened before with both the USA and other western powers, we sell weapons to people we subsequently declare to be pariahs and we then have a war pitching our weapons against the (usually slightly inferior) ones we have sold them. Back in the first Gulf War in 1991, British subsidies to the arms industry had helped flog weapons to Saddam's Iraq, with British arms companies and Government officials rushing out to Bagdhad to represent the UK at its first legitimate arms fare for a decade. Then, as we went to war with him, he obviously stopped paying the installments agreed for his purchases and so the British taxpayer met the bill for nearly one thousand million pounds worth of Iraqi military effort in the fighting against British and other troops.

But arms merchants, as ever, went laughing all the way to the bank. In the arms trade, it seems you really can make a killing.

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