There’s No Business Like the Arms Business
July 26, 2016
Tomgram: William Hartung, How to Arm a “Volatile” Planet
Editorial by WN
It is a very strange world: Michelle Obama makes a highly impassioned, brilliant speech at the Democratic National Convention – one nearly universally praised, establishing again her extremely high approval ratings in America. She affirms contrary to Trump (who alone can “make America great again”), that “America is the greatest country on earth”. One wonders: what does her husband not tell her about what “the greatest country on earth” has been/is doing to the rest of the earth, above all in the Greater Middle East right now? And what news does she (choose?) not to know? Does she not know about the estimated death toll of up to four million persons in the Greater Middle East in the past fifteen years, directly attributable to US military action there? (And, incidentally, does she not know that Hilary Clinton is a total war hawk, who has supported all that ongoing American barbarity in the Greater Middle East?) Does she not know about the fact that her husband is widely known as “Assassin-in-Chief” in much of the rest of the world, due to his use of ubiquitous reach killer drones that rain down terror and death on multiplied hundreds or thousands of innocents each year, people terrorized or dead, just because they live in the wrong place at the wrong time? Does she not know, as the link to the article below spells out in detail, that her husband’s presidency has directly facilitated more arms sales throughout the world than all other countries’ arms sales combined (in 2011) – all to make billions in profit for the voraciously greedy arms dealers in America? Does she not know that weapons are designed to do one thing only: kill – regardless of a person’s “innocence” or not? Does she not know that America’s foreign policy for decades has been dominated by one overweening goal, and it is not to spread democracy and promote human rights around the globe: rather, to keep America overwhelmingly the richest nation on earth?
Andrew J. Bacevich writes:
In 1948, George Keennan, State Department Director of policy planning, noted that the United States then possessed “about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population.” The challenge facing U.S. policy makers, he believed, was “to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security.” [1. PPS 23, “Review of Current Trends, U.S. Foreign Policy” (February 24, 1948).] The overarching aim of American statecraft in other words, was to sustain the uniquely favorable situation to which the United States had ascended by the end of World War II. It’s hard to imagine a statement of purpose more succinct, cogent, and to the point.
Judged by this standard, the stewards of U.S. foreign policy down to the present day have done more than passably well… (America’s War For the Greater Middle East: A Military History, New York, Random House, 2016, p. 358)
One year before his assassination to the day, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. claimed in a speech at Riverside Church, New York, that his country was “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”. Does Michelle Obama not know that by every measurement, that has overwhelmingly remained the case to this day? And that her husband for eight years has significantly increased the “purveying of violence” around the world, he, irony of ironies, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize?
Is Michelle Obama totally blinded to her “greatest nation on earth” being in fact the greatest bully nation on earth? Sociologists Charles Derber and Yale R. Magrass write:
Every society has a particular economic order, political structure, and culture that become part of what we mean by a “system.” In America, the system is militarized capitalism, and it extends its dominion throughout the United States, across the globe, and into the planetary environment. It is a system primed to create pervasive bullying that affects adults, children, and all species [35. Andrew Bacevich, The New American Militarism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), and Noam Chomsky, Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance (New York: Holt, 2004).]. Militarized capitalism is most fully developed in the United States, which is one of the reasons why we focus on our own society. By looking both at America’s history and its current function, we see how a bully nation can flourish, gaining enormous power and wealth as well as moral legitimacy.
Militarized capitalism is just one system of unequal power that can create a bully nation, but since America is the most powerful country in the world and promotes its system as a model for the world, it deserves our attention. Yet as we see when we discuss the military and militarism, we cannot think of bullying at a purely national level, for bullying operates as a foundation of the American global order [36. See Noam Chomsky and Robert McChesney, Profit over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order, (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2011). See also Charles Derber, People before Profit (New York: Picador, 2003), and Derber and Magrass, Morality Wars [: How Empires, the Born Again, and the Politically Correct Do Evil in the Name of Good] (New York: Routledge, 2010), esp. chap. 3 on the US exercise of global imperial power.] (Bully Nation: How the American Establishment Creates a Bullying Society, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 2016, pp. 24 & 25.)
Does Michelle Obama not know that when her husband passionately speaks out for gun control in America, he is abjectly two-faced and hypocritical in his authorization of massive worldwide sales of some of the most lethal weapons on the planet, weapons that can make the recent mass killings in the US, France and Germany (for instance) look like innocent child’s play in comparison to the massive slaughter of countless people around the globe by America, and by American weapons? But, do you not know, Michelle Obama, that according to your husband and his administration, and many past administrations, what is good for business is good for America, the rest of the world be damned (if need be)?! (Or tell me, please, it is not so!)
There is an American exceptionalism for sure on display to the world: one of spewing out death and destruction around the globe at will, and against any people, nation, group, entity unwilling to bow the knee to America’s full spectrum dominance.
Such, Ms Obama, is your husband’s continuation of the American legacy on the world stage. Why can/will you not see?
When American firms dominate a global market worth more than $70 billion a year, you’d expect to hear about it. Not so with the global arms trade. It’s good for one or two stories a year in the mainstream media, usually when the annual statistics on the state of the business come out.
It’s not that no one writes about aspects of the arms trade. There are occasional pieces that, for example, take note of the impact of U.S. weapons transfers, including cluster bombs, to Saudi Arabia, or of the disastrous dispensation of weaponry to U.S. allies in Syria, or of foreign sales of the costly, controversial F-35 combat aircraft. And once in a while, if a foreign leader meets with the president, U.S. arms sales to his or her country might generate an article or two. But the sheer size of the American arms trade, the politics that drive it, the companies that profit from it, and its devastating global impacts are rarely discussed, much less analyzed in any depth.
So here’s a question that’s puzzled me for years (and I’m something of an arms wonk): Why do other major U.S. exports — from Hollywood movies to Midwestern grain shipments to Boeing airliners — garner regular coverage while trends in weapons exports remain in relative obscurity? Are we ashamed of standing essentially alone as the world’s number one arms dealer, or is our Weapons “R” Us role such a commonplace that we take it for granted, like death or taxes?
The numbers should stagger anyone. According to the latest figures available from the Congressional Research Service, the United States was credited with more than half the value of all global arms transfer agreements in 2014, the most recent year for which full statistics are available. At 14%, the world’s second largest supplier, Russia, lagged far behind. Washington’s “leadership” in this field has never truly been challenged. The U.S. share has fluctuated between one-third and one-half of the global market for the past two decades, peaking at an almost monopolistic 70% of all weapons sold in 2011. And the gold rush continues. Vice Admiral Joe Rixey, who heads the Pentagon’s arms sales agency, euphemistically known as the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, estimates that arms deals facilitated by the Pentagon topped $46 billion in 2015, and are on track to hit $40 billion in 2016.
Please click on: The Ultimate Bully Nation
See also: New Cold War
Please also see: US Wars for Wealth
And also see: American Genocide
Please again see: US and “Normalized Deviance”
There is another: Open Letter to Michelle Obama