War Crimes Committed by US Arms: How Do Weapons Manufacturers Sleep at Night?
November 7, 2018
David Swanson / Let's Try Democracy & Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies / Foreign Policy in Focus
The five largest US arms manufacturers -- Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics -- owe much of their profits to the sale of weapons to three repressive nations -- Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt -- that have a long history of repressing their own citizens and killing civilians in neighboring countries. But nobody in the Big War lobby is losing any sleep over this relationship.
How Do Weapons Makers Sleep at Night?
David Swanson / Let's Try Democracy
Our leading weapons dealers have developed a business model that feeds on war, terrorism, chaos, political instability, and human rights violations.
-- Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies
(September 11, 2018) -- A new report by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas Davies "focuses on the five largest US arms manufacturers -- Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics -- and their dealings with three repressive nations: Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt." [See report below – EAW]
This may prove to be a very valuable approach. The three nations reported on use US-made weapons from the companies listed above to kill, injure, and traumatize huge numbers of innocent people both in other countries and in their own countries.
The US government works to make sure the weapons sales and deliveries happen, knowing full well what the weapons will be used for, often training the militaries involved, and often actively participating in the killing as partners in a war.
Benjamin and Davies could, of course, have focused on what the US government itself does on its own with weapons from these companies. But then, who would have been able to lift the full report without assistance from heavy machinery? And how many people would have thrown up barriers to understanding it, in the form of flag-waving patriotic horseshit?
When the United States does something, it's by definition acceptable, even admirable. But when the United States does it, it's often justified by the excuse that some other country committed some outrage -- usually against its "own people," which is apparently far more terrible than against some other people.
So, the US public is used to hearing accounts of just the sort of things that the Egyptian, Saudi, and Israeli governments do as justifications for bombing poor distant lands.
There is no danger of the United States bombing its top customers and proxies, but there is the potential for millions of US supporters of militarism, including millions of employees of weapons dealers, to lose the association of militarism with patriotism, and therefore the justification of mass murder as somehow good or noble. Foreign mass murder tends to look more like what it is.
Perhaps some weapons workers will find other employment. Or perhaps, as the authors intend, some funds will be divested from those profiting from death.
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson's books include War Is A Lie and When the World Outlawed War. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.
In Yemen and Beyond, US Arms Manufacturers
Are Abetting Crimes against Humanity
Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies / Foreign Policy in Focus
(September 26, 2018) -- The Saudi bombing of a school bus in Yemen on August 9, 2018 killed 44 children and wounded many more. The attack struck a nerve in the US, confronting the American public with the wanton brutality of the Saudi-led war on Yemen.
When CNN revealed that the bomb used in the airstrike was made by US weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin, the horror of the atrocity hit even closer to home for many Americans.
But the killing and maiming of civilians with US-made weapons in war zones around the world is an all too regular occurrence. US forces are directly responsible for largely uncounted civilian casualties in all America's wars, and the United States is also the world's leading arms exporter.
Pope Francis has publicly blamed the "industry of death" for fueling a "piecemeal World War III." The US military-industrial complex wields precisely the "unwarranted influence" over US foreign policy that President Eisenhower warned Americans against in his farewell address in 1961.
The US wars on Afghanistan and Iraq and the "global war on terror" served as cover for a huge increase in US military spending. Between 1998 and 2010, the US spent $1.3 trillion on its wars, but even more, $1.8 trillion, to buy new warplanes, warships, and weapons, most of which were unrelated to the wars it was fighting.
Five US companies -- Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and General Dynamics -- dominate the global arms business, raking in $140 billion in weapons sales in 2017, and export sales make up a growing share of their business, about $35 billion in 2017.
In a new report for Code Pink and the Divest from the War Machine campaign, we have documented how Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Egypt have systematically used weapons produced by these five US companies to massacre civilians, destroy civilian infrastructure, and commit other war crimes.
The bombing of the school bus was only the latest in a consistent pattern of Saudi massacres and air strikes on civilian targets, from hospitals to marketplaces, and US arms sales to Israel and Egypt follow a similar pattern.
US laws require the suspension of arms sales to countries that use them in such illegal ways, but the US State Department has an appalling record on enforcing these laws.
Under the influence of Acting Assistant Secretary of State Charles Faulkner, a former lobbyist for Raytheon, Secretary Pompeo falsely certified to Congress that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are complying with US law in their use of American weapons.
The US sells weapons to Saudi Arabia and other allies to project US military power by proxy without the US military casualties, domestic political backlash, and international resistance that result from direct uses of US military force, while US military-industrial interests are well-served by ever-growing arms sales to allied governments.
These policies are driven by the very combination of military-industrial interests that Eisenhower warned Americans against, now represented by Secretary Pompeo, Acting Assistant Secretary Faulkner, and a cabal of hawkish Democrats who consistently vote with Republicans on war and peace issues. They ensure that the "war party" always wins its battles in Congress no matter how catastrophically its policies fail in the real world.
Republicans derided President Obama's doctrine of covert and proxy war as "leading from behind." But the Trump administration has doubled down on Obama's failed strategy, surrendering even more power over US policy to foreign clients like Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Egypt, and to the "unwarranted influence" of the US military-industrial complex.
Lockheed Martin is earning $29.1 billion in sales from the $110 billion Saudi arms package announced in May 2017, a deal struck as the war on Yemen was already killing thousands of civilians.
Yet no conflict of interest is too glaring for Lockheed executives like Ronald Perrilloux Jr., who has taken part in public events to promote the war and defend Saudi Arabia and its allies, arguing that the US should "help them finish the job" in Yemen.
Not to be outdone, Boeing, the second largest arms producer in the US and the world after Lockheed Martin, has also been linked to the deaths of hundreds of civilians in Yemen. Fragments of Boeing JDAM bombs were found in the debris of a 2016 attack on a marketplace near the Yemeni capital of Sana'a that killed 107 civilians, including 25 children.
Human Rights Watch found that the airstrike caused predictably indiscriminate and disproportionate civilian deaths, in violation of the laws of war, and called for a suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
To profit from wars on some of the poorest, most vulnerable people in the world, from Yemen to Gaza to Afghanistan, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and General Dynamics have developed a business model that feeds on war, terrorism, chaos, political instability, human rights violations, disregard for international law, and the triumph of militarism over diplomacy.
Real diplomacy to bring peace and disarmament to our war-torn world poses the most serious "threat" to their profits.
But the American people have never voted to funnel the largest share of our taxes into endless war and ever-growing profits for the "industry of death." It is time for the sleeping giant, what President Eisenhower called "an alert and knowledgeable citizenry," to wake from its slumber, take responsibility for our country's foreign policies and act decisively for peace.
Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK: Women for Peace, is the author of the new book, Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Her previous books include: Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the US-Saudi Connection and Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control. Follow her on Twitter: @medeabenjamin
Nicolas J. S. Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq. He also wrote the chapters on "Obama at War" in Grading the 44th President: a Report Card on Barack Obama's First Term as a Progressive Leader.
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