Column, 315 words

Manna from Hell

While soldiers who go to war risk death, the big corporations that go to war reap perpetual profits.

Jim Hightower

War is hell.

Unless, of course, you happen to be a global corporate peddler of rockets, drones, bombs, and all the other hellish weaponry of military conflict. In that case, war is manna from hell. So bring it on.

Indeed, it seems as if Beelzebub himself is in charge these days, with U.S. military forces enmeshed in at least 135 countries in 2015 alone. Plus, such chicken hawks as Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are maniacally beating their flabby chests and screeching for even more military adventurism.


Program Executive Office Soldier / Flickr

This perpetual warmongering is music to the ears of the people who serve as the CEOs and biggest investors in the war machine. It means a windfall of perpetual profits for them.

In a rare admission of their war-profiteering ethic, a group of major military contractors spoke late last year about how splendid war is. In leaked tapes from a wealthy investor conference reported by The Intercept, top weapon makers exulted about the spreading horror of the Islamic State and escalating wars across the Middle East and Africa.

Hailing the rising conflict in Syria, for example, Lockheed Martin honcho Bruce Tanner enchanted the potential investors with the happy news that Lockheed’s profits would enjoy “an intangible lift because of the dynamics of that [war’s] environment and [sales] of our products.”

Raytheon CEO Tom Kennedy chimed in that his corporation was upbeat because of “a significant uptick for defense solutions across the board in multiple countries in the Middle East.”

And all of these masters of war celebrated the joyous news that Congress had just delivered a $607 billion budget to the Pentagon — meaning more sales and more profit for war investors. “We think we did very well,” exclaimed one.

Many go to war and die, but a few go to war and thrive. So, see, it balances out.

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also the editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown, and a member of the Public Citizen board.

  • tammuz

    This reminded me of the Vietnam era protest slogan: “War is good for business. Invest your son.” Another thought: if Bernie Saunders is really serious about reorganizing the economy for the public benefit, he’s going to have to take on the Pentagon & all that that institution of State Capitalism entails. So far I don’t see any sign of him doing so. The only way the programs Bernie advocates can be financed without raising taxes is to reallocate the billions that are poured into the Pentagon trough. Yes, it would be a steep uphill battle, but it is one that could attract far more popular support than he or his campaign staff realize.

  • robertbeal

    “No money for social programs, cash to burn for the military”

    At the time of his death, Martin Luther King was focused on redirecting federal expenditures. He had transcended the campaign for racial equality. He was preaching a message that melded anti-war activism with the demand for economic justice. Only seven years earlier, the Republican President of the United States and former Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in World War II had warned against allowing the military-industrial complex to acquire “unwarranted influence” and thus endanger “democratic processes.”

    Yet now, in this new Gilded Age,the grandchildren of MLK’s peers likely have never heard of what used to be known as the debate over guns or butter.