No End in Sight:
By BILL QUIGLEY
Corporations are profiting from wars and lobbying politicians for
personal and financial costs of permanent war.
No doubt, the
spend 708 billion dollars on war and another $125 billion for Veterans
Affairs – over $830 billion. In a distant second place is
spent about $84 billion on its military in 2008.
selling about one of every three weapons worldwide. The
Our country has 5 percent of the world’s population but accounts for
more than 40% of the military spending for the whole world.
Our nation does not respect our soldiers by engaging in permanent war.
War is grinding up our children. The wars in
cost over 5000 US lives and tens of thousands more lives of people in
those countries. Over 20% of those in our military who served in these
two wars, 320,000 people, have war-related traumatic brain injuries.
Suicide rates are up by 26 percent among 18 to 29 year old male
veterans in the latest Veterans Administration study. Mental health
hospitalizations are now the leading cause of hospital admissions for
the military, higher than injuries. On any given night, over 100,000
veterans are homeless and living on our nation’s streets.
Rising Costs of War
Since 2001, the
millions) on war and preparations for war. That is about $20,000 for
every woman, man and child in the
No End in Sight
Earlier this month, Marine General James Cartwright, the Vice-Chair of
the military Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Army Times that the
can expect continuing war "for as far as the eye can see."
In the name of this perpetual war against terrorism the
hundreds without trial in
on bases and in secret detention world-wide, tries to avoid
constitutional trials for anyone accused of terrorism, admits it is
trying to assassinate an American citizen Muslim cleric in
launches deadly drone strikes in
Who benefits from permanent war?
One support for permanent war is that there are corporations in the
which openly lobby for more and more money to be invested in war. Why?
Because they profit enormously from government contracts.
President Dwight Eisenhower, who believed in a strong military, warned
"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition
of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the
military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of
misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight
of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes."
War is Big Business
War is very big business. People know that private companies are doing
much more in war. In January 2010, the Congressional Research Service
reported that there are at least 55,000 private armed security
But much bigger money is available to defense contractors. In 2008
alone, the top ten defense contractors received nearly $150 billion in
federal contracts. These corporations spent millions to lobby for
billions more in federal funds and hired ex-military leaders and
ex-officials to help them profit off war.
For example, look at the top three defense contractors, Lockheed
Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman. They demonstrate why perpetual
war is profitable and part of the reason it continues.
Lockheed Martin is the largest military contractor in the world with
140,000 employees, taking in over $40 billion annually, over $35
billion of which comes from the
that they have increased their dividend payments by more than 10
percent for the seventh consecutive year – perfectly in line with the
increase in war spending by the
received over $72 million in compensation over the past three years.
Lockheed’s board of directors includes a former Under Secretary of
Defense, a former
Command, a former Deputy Director of Homeland Security, and a former
Supreme Allied Commander of
$200,000 a year in compensation. Its political action committee gave
over a million dollars a year to federal candidates in 2009, and is
consistently one of the top spending PACs in the
all members of Congress because they strategically have operations in
all fifty states. And, since 1998, Lockheed has spent over $125
million to lobby Congress.
Northrop Grumman is a $33 billion company with 120,000 employees. In
2008, it received nearly $25 billion in federal contracts. Its
chairman, Ronald Sugar, received over $54 million in compensation over
the past three years.
Northrop’s Board includes a former Admiral of the Navy, a former 20
year member of Congress, a former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
a former commissioner of the Security and Exchange Commission and a
received over $200,000 each in 2009. Its Pac is listed as making over
$700,000 in federal campaign donations in 2009. Since 1998, it has
spent over $147 million lobbying Congress.
Boeing has 150,000 employees and took in over $23 billion in federal
contracts in 2008. With revenues of $68 billion in 2009, its chair,
James McNerney, was paid over $51 million over the past three years.
Its board members are paid well over $200,000 a year. Boeing’s
directors include a former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, a former White
House chief of staff, a former vice chair of the
Staff, and a former U.S. Ambassador and U.S. Trade Representative. It
hosts the 10th largest political action committee, giving away more
than one million dollars to federal candidates in 2009. Since 1998, it
has spent $125 million lobbying Congress.
Time to Terminate the Permanent War
These corporations take billions from the government and profit from
our perpetual state of war. They recycle some of that money back into
lobbying the same people who gave it to them, and hire ex-military and
government officials to help smooth the process. Their leaders make
tens of millions off this work.
The trillions of dollars that it costs to wage permanent war are
or Republican, that talk seriously of dramatically reducing our
military spending? President Obama and the Democrats are effectively
continuing the permanent war policies of the Bush years. It is past
time for change.
Remember this Memorial Day that, while thousands have been laid in
their graves and hundreds of thousands wounded, private military
contractors are prospering and profiting as the business of war booms.
profitable permanent war that promises to add more names to the dead
and disabled in this country and around the world.
Bill Quigley is legal director of the Center for Constitutional
Rights http://ccrjustice.org/about-us/staff-board/quigley%2C-bill and
a law professor at
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