There’s No Business Like War Business: US Controls 78% Of Global Weapons Market_Featured_, Military Friday, September 14th, 2012
There’s No Business Like War Business
By Keith Binkly
At risk of sounding melodramatic, the simple statistics should be enough to snap anyone out of their Democrat vs Republican election season stupor: the United States’ global weapons sales amounts to $66.3 billion, in an $85.3 billion market.
That’s 78% of the market.
I’ll put that into perspective. The infamous monopoly US Steel Corp reached its market-dominating height in 1901 when masters of the universe JP Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, and Charles Schwab consolidated ten different steel companies. US Steel market share at its zenith: 66% of all steel production in the US.
The most wildly soul-destroying monopolies of all time is, of course, Standard Oil, the institution which immortalized the Rockefeller name as one of the greatest financial and political puppeteers in modern mythology. When Standard Oil had its boot pressed hardest to the market’s throat, it controlled 88% of all refined oil in the US.
There you have it. In terms of market domination, the US military industry is right smack dab in between JP Morgan’s Steel and John D. Rockefeller’s Oil monopolies. But, as you may have noticed, a smidge closer to Standard Oil, that most storied industrial monster of our nation’s history.
One of the fundamental activities of a national government, a purpose which in large part politically and existentially validates a national government, is war-making. That business, on the part of the US government and its defense contractors, is gigantic and growing, with no international anti-trust laws to check it before it wrecks all of us. The entire world has become our chessboard of death and destruction. From Salon:
…from Washington’s perspective, the world is primarily a landscape for arming for, garrisoning for, training for, planning for, and making war. War is what we invest our time, energy, and treasure in on a scale that is, in its own way, remarkable, even if it seldom registers in this country.
Naturally, neither major-party candidate scratches the surfaces of this grave problem. Some debate happens on fiscal, budgetary terms, as though the fact that we are a physical threat to the survival of humanity plays no part whatsoever. The Salon piece closes:
…200 Marines in Guatemala, almost 78% of global weapons sales, drones flying surveillance from Australia — no one here notices; no one here cares.
War: It’s what we do the most and attend to the least. It’s a nasty combination.”
Keep in mind that the $66 billion sold around the world is a measly one-tenth what we spend on ourselves.
Three-fourths of a global market is a position worth defending–worth ensuring–through any number of channels. It’s not hard to see why we are generally numb to reality in popular culture. Mass diversions and distractions in the media is one very effective way in which this is accomplished, and makes perfect sense given the fact that many media conglomerates and defense contractors are ultimately owned by one and the same parent company.
Further, as any economic textbook will tell you (nerd alert, but not too wonky and not too long!): defending a monopoly position is worth spending the difference between the domination profits, and the minimal profits the company would reap in a highly competitive industry. Lobbyists swoop in, scoop up that huge chunk of cash and bribe elected officials to keep things running smoothly for the industry. (This applies to all big money industries and their legions of lobbyists.)
Presidents of previous administrations have both manufactured false events, falsified information, as well as ignored intelligence agency warnings in order to allow events to occur, which in turn justify entering war. The patriotism that follows the inciting event appears always as a massive dollar sign to the eyes of weapons manufacturers and other defense contractors.
One key to escaping the cycle of endless military operations may lie in surmounting a relatively simple intellectual threshold: we can separate respecting a person, and respecting (or not respecting) the institution of which they are a part. The prime example is that one can respect US troops while not supporting the wars. Similarly, one can question the events of 9/11 without desecrating the memories of the victims. In light of America’s unique and unprecedented level of investment in armed conflict, international beefs with us may–gasp–not be due to envy of freedom of speech or religion.
Being crazed, un-self-conscious bullies, arming ourselves and portions of the world to the teeth may have something to do with it. So might the permanent tentacles of empire we leave behind (also known as embassies). It’s not a stretch to say that our violent interface with the world is akin to a rapist tattooing his name onto his victim’s bodies, after a thorough and uninvited ravaging.
As this characterizes the military exercise of power by the Commander-in-Chief, it just may also be possible to respect the president without respecting the office of the president.
Because this shit has to stop, and there may not be another way.
Rereading through my piece, I heard the wise voice of a particular secular prophet when my eyes passed over words written by the Salon writer: no one here notices; no one here cares. It can only be a subtle ode to the inimitable George Carlin and his popular, incisive bit, The American Dream. Carlin closes the piece:
And nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care . That’s what the owners count on, the fact that Americans will probably remain willfully ignorant of the big red, white, and blue dick that’s being jammed up their assholes every day. Because the owners of this country know the truth: it’s called the American Dream ’cause you have to be asleep to believe it.
Is it time to wake up yet?