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From Earth To Space, There’s No Biz Like War Biz

From Earth To Space, There’s No Biz Like War Biz


Douglas Mattern

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children... This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. President Dwight Eisenhower in a speech delivered before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16,1953

The latest obscenity in the war business is the decision by the Bush Administration to sell F-16 Fighter Jets to Pakistan. The administration has offered to sell the same jet fighters to India, always a potential adversary. But selling weapons to both sides of a conflict is standard policy. In 1999, the U.S. supplied weapons or military training to parties in 39 of 42 active conflicts.

Data compiled by the Federation of American Scientists shows that since 1992, the U.S. exported over $142 billion dollars worth of weapons to states around the world. The data also reveals this macabre world market is dominated by the U.S., which accounted for nearly half of all weapon sales in 2001, more than $12 billion dollars for U.S. manufacturers. The Center for International Policy estimates that about 80 percent of U.S. arms exports to the developing world go to non-democratic regimes.

For 2006, the administration is requesting $419 billion for the military, with the real total actually $440 billion when adding funds for nuclear weapons that are contained in the Department of Energy budget. The U.S. military budget is nearly equal to the military budgets of all other countries combined.

There’s no business like war business!

It’s no surprise that the sale of F-16s is another financial bonanza for Lockheed-Martin, the world’s largest military contractor and perhaps the world’s most powerful corporation. In 2001, Lockheed-Martin had $14 billion in sales of weapons to the U.S. and foreign buyers. Moreover, Lockheed-Martin received a $3.5 billion contract to sell F-16 jet fighters to Poland. As a new member of NATO, Poland, along with Hungary and the Czech Republic, agreed to modernize their military and purchase new weapons. The U.S. Government loaned Poland $3.8 billion, obviously to purchase the Lockheed planes. The expansion of NATO is a vehicle to sell U.S. weapons, and not surprising, Lockheed-Martin leads the weapons industry lobbying for NATO expansion.

In 2004, Lockheed-Martin led all rivals with $20 billion in Pentagon contracts. A New York Times article reports that in the future Lockheed-Martin hopes to build and sell hundreds of billions of dollars (yes billions) worth of the next generation of warplanes, the F-35. Lockheed got the contract valued at $200 billion, the largest ever Pentagon project. No surprise that the top lobbyist for the 2000 election was Lockheed-Martin.

There’s no business like war business!

Lockheed has a criminal record, as if making weapons for profit was not enough criminal activity. The company has been convicted for numerous crimes. In the 1970s the company admitted to paying $22 million in bribes to win overseas contracts. Some 10 years ago Lockheed admitted paying $1.2 million in bribes to an Egyptian official to seal the sales of Lockheed cargo planes.

More Sales:

Just think of all the missiles, bombs, etc., that will be replaced for profit by the armament industry after the U.S. military assault on Iraq, now entering its third year. In the first 14 days of the invasion the U.S. dropped over 8,700 bombs, including more than 3,000 cruise missiles. Cruise missiles cost over $500,000 each.

Tim Weiner reports on the front page of the August 19 edition of the New York Times that the new CVN-21 aircraft carrier will cost an estimated $13.7 billion. A smaller George H.W. Bush Nimitz-class aircraft carrier will cost $6.1 billion. The new Virginia-class submarine is estimated to cost $2.5 billion each, and a new guided missile destroyer, Arleigh Burke class will cost over $1 billion each.

Profits are up, morality is down; there’s no business like war business!

The U.S. armament industry is the second most subsidized industry after agriculture.

The five exporters of major conventional weapons from 1999 to 2003 were, in order: U.S., Russia, France, Germany, and UK, and there was no shortage of clients. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reports there were 19 major conflicts in 18 locations in 2003. In the 14-year post-cold war period, there were 59 different armed conflicts in 48 different locations. We can be sure the arms merchants were involved in selling weapons to every conflict.

THE WAR BUSINESS IN ORBIT

The next frontier for the war business is space with the U.S. Space Command declaring: “Tomorrow’s air force will likely dominate the air and space around the world.” and from General Ronald Fogleman, USAF Ret.: “I think that space in and of itself is going to be very quickly recognized as a 4th dimension of warfare.”

The Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Space Command, General Joseph Ashy, concisely stated its overall purpose:

“It’s politically sensitive, but it’s going to happen. Some people don’t want to hear this and it sure isn’t in vogue, but—absolutely—we’re going to fight in space. We’re going to fight form space and we’re going to fight into space. That’s why the U.S. has development programs in directed energy and hit-to-kill mechanisms. We will engage terrestrial targets someday—ships, airplanes, land targets – from space.’ (From Aviation Week and Space technology, August 9, 1996).

Today, scientists and engineers in the weapons industry are working with Pentagon contracts to develop space-based weapons scheduled for deployment 10 and more years from now. The Rand think tank reports weapons under development include space-based lasers, microwave guns, particle beam weapons, and kinetic-energy weapons.

Another weapon is space rods, sometimes called “Rods of God” that would be delivered to targets on the earth from orbiting space platforms. Jack Kelly, Post-Gazette National Security Writer, reports the rods would be made of tungsten around 20 feet in length and a foot in diameter. The rods could be guided by satellite to targets on Earth, striking at speeds of around 12,000 feet per second that would destroy hardened bunkers several stories beneath the surface. No explosives would be needed. The speed and weight of the rods would lend them all the force they need

Just imagine our world with weapons orbiting the planet 24-hours every day blocking our last frontier. Is this the end of freedom and human dignity as we gaze to the stars and mystery of the universe only to see orbiting platforms loaded with weapons?

Soviet Cosmonaut Aleksandr Aleksandrov wrote the following while in orbit:

One morning I woke up and decided to look out the window to see where we were. We were flying over America and suddenly I saw snow, the first snow we ever saw from orbit. Light and powdery, it blended with the contours of the land with the veins of the rivers. I thought autumn, snow-people are busy getting ready for winter. A few minutes later we were flying over the Atlantic, then Europe, and then Russia. I have never visited America, but I imagined that the arrival of autumn and winter is the same there as in other places, and the process of getting ready for them is the same. And then it struck me that we are all children of our Earth. It does not matter what country you look at. We are all Earth’s children, and we should treat her as our mother.

We cannot allow a chain of weapons to circle our mother Earth; thus the militarization of space must be stopped and world’s largest criminal activity, the war business, put out-of-business before it is forever too late.

*************

Douglas Mattern is president of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with Non-Government Organization (NGO) status with the United Nations.

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