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When War Business Rules The World

When War Business Rules The World

by 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 Eisenhower - From a speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953

It's been over thirty-three years since Eisenhower's powerful message and yet the obscenity of the war business continues stronger than ever. Take a recent decision by the Bush Administration to sell F-16 Fighter Jets to Pakistan while at the same time offering to sell the same jet fighters to India, always a potential adversary. Moreover, selling weapons to both sides of a conflict has become standard policy. Data compiled by the Federation of American Scientists shows that since1992, the U.S. exported well over $150 billion worth of weapons to states around the world.

The data also reveals the macabre world arms market is dominated by the U.S., followed by Russia, China, United Kingdom, and scores of other nations wanting their share of this death for profit business.

The truly astronomical money comes from the annual military budgets with the U.S. far in the lead, actually spending nearly as much as all other countries combined. For 2006 the U.S. military (defense) budget came to $426 billion, including $17.5 billion for nuclear weapons, and this does not count the cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The cost of modern weapons is staggering and immensely profitable. The largest weapons company, Lockheed-Martin, had sales in 2005 amounting to $37.2 billion (this 50 percent higher than the annual United Nations budget for all of its programs). And 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. This conflict is longer than U.S. involvement in World War II, and has transformed Iraq into a nightmare of violence.

There's no business like war business!

The Department of Defense announced plans to spend $1.4 trillion, yes trillion, on 70 new weapon systems over the coming years. Moreover, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that between 2012 and 2014 the Pentagon budget will have to grow between 18 and 34 percent over the 2006 budget.

No Business Like War Business - A few examples:

Cruise missiles cost over $500,000 each. The 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. The new F-22 jet fighter,
manufactured by Lockheed-Martin, will cost $335 million each, and the Pentagon plan is to purchase 183 F-22s. The FIM-92A Stinger, which is an individual shoulder fired lightweight guided missile, costs $6 million each. The U.S. armament industry is the second most subsidized industry after agriculture.

Profits are up; ethics are down as war business goes into orbit

The next frontier for the war business is space with the Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Space Command, General Joseph Ashy, concisely stating 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 from 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, and land targets from space." (From Aviation Week and Space Technology).

Today, scientists and engineers in the weapons industry are working with Pentagon contracts to develop space-based weapons scheduled for deployment10 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.

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, and at the same time, see orbiting lights that are platforms loaded with weapons?

If civilization is to survive and progress, the militarization of space must be stopped, the nuclear weapons industry abolished in every country, and world's largest criminal activity, the war business with its economic, political, and cultural manifestations put permanently out of business.
There is no alternative to stop our planet from becoming a final arsenal of mass destruction.

With apologies to Irving Berlin's Broadway hit, 'There's No Business Like Show Business," we should collectively sing this grim refrain--without restrain--in Ethel
Merman style--but without the smile:

There's no business like war business-- like no business so low

Everything about it is appalling-- everything that greed will allow

Nowhere do you get that sickening feeling-- as when their selling arms like now

There's no people like war people-- they smile as they make dough

Whether selling guns or tanks-- its adds money in their banks

That pays politicians in their ranks--so they can go on with the show

To the worldwide audience: We must pull down the curtain on the war usiness show. It has lasted far too long and we can no longer tolerate, nor can civilization long endure, the show's merchants of death and architects of destruction. Together we must be the bright light of hope and resolve that obliterates the black business of war by creating conditions where future disputes between peoples and nations (and dealing with terrorists) are settled through the framework of world law.

There is no alternative if we are to survive and move forward to create a better and just world, and a new civilization based on respect for life, respect for each other, and respect for the environment.


Douglas Mattern is president of the Assocation of World Citizens and author of Looking for Square Two - Moving from War & Violence to Global Community.


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