America may lag behind the developed world in many categories, but it is No. 1 in the “merchant of death” business, experiencing a boom in the commerce of boom, especially in areas destabilized by U.S. invasions, notes JP Sottile.
By JP Sottile
Who says nothing is made in the USA anymore? Certainly not the well-heeled denizens of the State Department’s diplomatic corps. And they should know. That’s because they’re stationed on the frontlines of the ongoing battle to preserve Uncle Sam’s dominant market share of the global weapons trade.
Luckily for the Military-Industrial Complex, it turns out that “Made in the USA” inspires a lot of brand loyalty, even if actual loyalty is often a harder sell (paging Saudi Arabia). To wit, not only was America the world’s leading arms dealer in 2014 with $36.2 billion in sales, but it topped that 35 percent surge in sales over 2013 with yet another profitable spike to $46.6 billion in 2015.
As Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) determined in its recent report on the global arms trade, the United States maintains a commanding “33% share of total arms exports” and is the world’s top seller for five years running. And its customer base includes “at least” 96 countries, which is nearly half of the world’s nations.
A robust 40 percent of those exports end up in the Middle East. Perhaps that’s why the State Department is so darn bullish on the prospects of Uncle Sam’s booming business of selling things that go “boom!”
That’s the takeaway from a recent report in Defense News highlighting the marketing push by “Commercial Officers” stationed at the U.S. embassy in Jordan. They worked the crowd at the kingdom’s eleventh bi-annual Special Operations Forces Exhibition and Conference (SOFEX). Like many of the nearly 100 military-themed “trade shows” held around the world this year alone, SOFEX offered the profiteers of doom an opportunity to display their merchandise and to cut deals with bellicose browsers ready to pull the trigger on a deadly impulse buy.
Some of the bigger, “glitzy” trade shows — like the International Defence Exposition and Conference (IDEX) held yearly in Abu Dhabi — are full-on one-stop-shopping destinations for the up-and-coming military power on the move, the newly-minted pro-Western junta eager to armor-up, and the forward-thinking “Coalition Partner” looking for the latest in “kinetic warfare.”
If nothing else, trade shows offer defense contractors a chance to give out “promotional tchotchkes” to potential future customers who might be swayed to double-back by a branded camouflage carryall or a Digi Camo Military Bert Stress Reliever. No doubt it’s a tedious affair, but the presenters toiling behind the displays are not alone on the battlefield of commerce.
That certainly was the case at SOFEX, where the U.S. Embassy deployed Senior Commercial Officer Geoffrey Bogart and Regional Safety and Security chief Cherine Maher to act as sale-force multipliers for America’s military moneymakers.
The Mideast Arms Bazaar
As Jen Judson detailed, Bogart and Maher tracked down sales leads throughout a region gripped by chaos since America wantonly destroyed a bystander nation under false pretenses (a.k.a. Iraq). Here are Judson’s highlights from Bogart and Maher’s magical misery tour of the profitable market forces currently shaping America’s recently reshaped Middle East:
JORDAN: “We are very high on the safety and security market in Jordan,” Geoffrey Bogart, a commercial officer at the U.S. Embassy said. Bogart said there is an abundance of market prospects for U.S. companies to do business in Jordan, including in border security, cyber security, command and control centers, telecommunications equipment, military vehicles, artillery, tactical equipment, bomb and metal detectors, and closed circuit television (CCTV) and access control.
EGYPT: “Egypt is facing a lot of challenges especially in terms of border control and whether it’s from the West or the East or the North or the South, so the main project that is going on is border and perimeter control,” Maher said, which means the country really wants bomb detection, jammers and improvised explosive device diffusers.
LIBYA: The current instability in Libya has led to challenges for U.S. firms, according to Maher; however, U.S. companies’ products are in high demand there. “The trick is how to enter the market, who to sell to, and making sure of export license,” she said, adding some products that had been permitted to be sold to Libya now have restrictions.
TUNISIA: There is continuous growth in Tunisia’s defense market, Maher said. Tunisia plussed up its security forces budget in 2016 due to growing terrorist threats in the region. The country wants to build up its force capacity to deter regional threats, strengthen defensive capabilities and support counterterrorism operations.
LEBANON: Lebanon is interested in border security; however, it’s particularly interested in securing public buildings and providing for civilian protection due to ongoing insecurity in some towns and cities near Beirut, Maher said.
IRAQ: Maher said Iraq has a particularly “dynamic” market valued in 2014 at about $7.6 billion, which is about 3.44 percent of its GDP. With the ongoing war against the Islamic State group, it is anticipated that Iraq will soon spend around $19 billion, which would make up about 18 to 20 percent of its GDP. Like all the other countries in the region, Iraq is investing heavily in safety and security equipment, and also wants personal protective gear and security systems for residential and commercial buildings, according to Maher.
Kicking Back a Share
A “dynamic” market is right … that is, if you’re General Dynamics. Or Lockheed Martin. Or Boeing. Or any of the big six defense contractors who together took home $90.29 billion of the over $175 billion worth of taxpayer dollars doled out last year to the top 100 military contractors. Not coincidentally, seven of the top eight U.S. Government contractors are defense companies, with only health care services provider McKesson making it past a phalanx of defense wheelers and dealers.
It’s a rarified world greased last year by $127.39 million of lobbying largesse and another $32.66 million spent so far this year, according to OpenSecrets.org. Of course, lobbying offers a great bang for the buck when it comes to stoking sales. A MapLight analysis earlier this year found that “major U.S. government contractors have received $1,171 in taxpayer money for every $1 invested in lobbying and political action committee contributions during the last decade.”
Now that’s some serious ROI! Still, nothing quite compares to the breeder reactor effect that comes from using expensive military hardware to destroy regimes in a never-ending global war against a tactic. Regime change touched off civil war in Iraq. That spread to Syria which, in turn, sent over 660,000 refugees into Jordan and over one million refugees into Lebanon … all of which explains why Bogart and Maher are so bullish on the sale of security-related products to those two nations and why the entire region is in the midst of a military buying spree.
Then there is the chaotic aftermath of regime change in Libya, which threatens to spill over to two more booming markets — Tunisia and Egypt. Of course, Egypt had its own U.S.-endorsed internal regime change at the hands of a loyal customer and longtime recipient of American “aid” — the Egyptian military. It was really a “coup,” but U.S. law would’ve prevented selling Egypt’s military junta tear gas canisters marked “Made in USA” (among other things) if it was officially a coup d’etat, so the Obama Administration simply didn’t call it a coup.
Now, according to Ms. Maher, Egypt’s military is in the market for yet more military hardware that, according to a new GAO report detailed by The Intercept, is not being properly or legally vetted by the State Department. Those purchases are easily funded by the $6.4 billion in U.S. aid since the coup in 2011. And (go figure) Egypt’s wish list is justified, in part, by the sudden need to ward off interlopers from regime-changed Libya, which, according to the aforementioned Ms. Maher, is still a red-hot market for U.S. arms dealers … if they can get the export licenses.
A Circular Business Model
And so the dynamic market churns onward — with tax dollars paying the salaries of State Department “Commercial Officers” who work for the heavily-subsidized U.S. defense industry as salespeople in overseas markets destabilized by taxpayer-funded wars fought by taxpayer-supported American soldiers armed with weaponry purchased from that self-same defense industry with — you guessed it — more tax dollars.
The “diplomats” in the State Department act as important go-betweens in the process, helping “customers” navigate the military-industrial complexities of end-user certificates, export licenses, and human rights restrictions so they can spend taxpayer-funded U.S. “aid” that invariably ends up back in the coffers of Lockheed, Boeing, Raytheon, and so on.
Once the money makes it back home to the defense industry, those companies invest some of their windfalls into lobbying, into SuperPACS, into both political parties, and directly into campaigns of the Congressional cronies who dutifully rubber-stamp the defense budget that enriches the defense industry. So far this year, they’ve poured over $17 million into those efforts and, in turn, they’ve provided the fuel to run the “dynamic” perpetual machine in which the State Department is a vital cog.
And this is why the folks at the State Department know full-well that, in fact, America still actually makes something — it is the world’s leading manufacturer of war.
JP Sottile is a freelance journalist, radio co-host, documentary filmmaker and former broadcast news producer in Washington, D.C. He blogs at Newsvandal.com or you can follow him on Twitter, http://twitter/newsvandal. [This article was originally published by
theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11 pm Eastern/8 pm Pacific.]
Our world is over-populated–over 7.4 billion, at present. Why, then, complain about our rather feeble efforts to address this problem in the only way that we KNOW how to do so?!
It is what it is and cannot, and will not, not be changed.
The net of Fascism is already closed and the fate of we the fish is already sealed.
The Judge is the son of the one committing financial murder – he will not put his father on trial, or allow even an indictment. “Move along, nothing to see here.”
For us, why scream and fight against a hurricane? Can we defeat a hurricane?
The outcome of even starting to fight a losing battle is predictable – we will lose, no question. Instead, pick the winnable battles, follow the sharks as they kill and consume, and then profit from the leftovers. I cannot, we cannot, us little sardines, win against the shark/s.
Heroism and martyrdom does not pay very well, and often leads to a shortening of one’s journey on the planet. JFK had the gall to question orders and Gary Webb pestered too well the herdmasters and their lions regarding their secrets. Webb’s two shots to the face ruled “suicide” is a message to us all. We cannot change the path of America’s Fascism, and if we could, we would be introduced to the opportunity to enjoy not paying taxes anymore.
For those in the majority of the populace who are lost in the drug induced state of happy ignorance from the “blue pill” (The Matrix), they are unwakeable from their programmed slumber. Let them sleep in their blissful peace.
Mass media programmed death comes earlier and earlier for those afflicted by the diseases of inactivity and the “benefits” of affluence. Their trajectory in life is predictable: Go to work. Go home to turn on the programming machine while eating and sitting. Go to sleep. Wake. Go back to work. Their “blue pill” programmed psyche is a parasite to their host, and will soon contribute to those that profit from healthcare – “till death do us part”.
So, light up another one, drink another one, eat some more, sit on the couch some more, enjoy your drugs, and above all else pay the cable bill in order to receive more “enrichment of understanding”.
I will be waiting for you.
Let them enjoy the fruits of their programming, and let those that work in the healthcare industry earn profits and enjoy jobs for themselves and their families. I am a medical mercenary; as I look around I see that the victims typically shot themselves with the guns of their own behaviors. I observe few are the victims of unfortunate chance, rather most are by natural selection. As the herd is led by the herd-masters of mass media to the slaughterhouse I must realize I cannot save the ones that walk directly into the pathway of the bullets anyway. I duck, survive, and am paid to provide medic services. As a result of their programming, they will, and do, go on their own, and eagerly, to their own demise. All is well. But, I digress.
Back to the article’s topic. Let us perhaps pause to view it in a different way since, “… a republic, if you can keep it.” has been lost to the main American religion of materialism, as is preached to us continually by mass media, and is owned by those who are our herd masters. For the populace, the careful programming drug of mass media causes the populace to feel that the latest antics of a celebrity is much more important what what is going on in our nation. So be it.
Since we cannot change these things, should we waste efforts on such, or, just look for ways to “surf the wave” of those that commit the financial murder. It is only a waste of time to complain regarding what I cannot change.
So, I sit on the hill in camouflage, quietly and carefully observe, and from my vantage point think, “I cannot change the parasitical destructive choices of the mass of the populace, nor the financial slaughter before me, so, realistically, how do I profit from it?”. So, to seek to understand the strategic itinerary and roadmap of the herd-masters’s plan is the wise plan, and allows this little sardine to feast well on the leftovers.
Call me a bottom-feeder if you will. The cockroaches will survive.
No one wants to hear us: the prophets, except us.. we are the consumers of the commentary of our own observations.
Occasionally, one wanders into the churches like this one and hears a message from our religion – and is awakened to learn and understand more. Then they too, have taken the “red pill”. Sober people look at things differently.
Thank you for reading,
La cucaracha aka “the hungry survivor sardine”.
Politicians and policy makers don’t want to think about what the US economy would look like if they couldn’t sell weapons. Just wait until Obama and Hillary are finished arming all the protectorates in the west Pacific; America’s One Percent will be even richer.
As the world’s leading manufacturer of war, America deploys numerous propaganda narratives.
Government propaganda and NGO misinformation have coloured the story of the war on Syria from its inception. Stepping in to set the record straight, Dr. Tim Anderson explores the real beginnings of the conflict, the players behind it, and their agenda in his new book, “The Dirty War on Syria: Washington, Regime Change and Resistance.”
Mr Sottile, thank you for a highly informative article.
But I only wish our “rush of sales” of assorted military hardware to war torn regions had a positive net effect on our nations bottom line.
That would produce at least one redeeming aspect, to the catastrophes we have created.
Unfortunately, these catastrophes abroad have translated into a catastrophe at home , at least in regards to our nations solvency.
Our country has overspent what it takes in by nearly 15 trillion dollars in 15 years….Most , if not all ,of this obscene overspending, is attributed to our belligerent and fraudulent wars abroad and the GWOT that engendered it.
Selling a few hundred billion in military hardware ,here and there, hardly makes a dent in recouping the treasure we have lost since 9-11.
Since most of the profits go into the pockets of our contractors…I should say it hardly makes a dent at all.
In my daily newspaper, the DOMINION POST, in Wellington, New Zealand today.
Two articles juxtaposed on the second page.
The First: Homeless rates in New Zealand exceed 1 in 100 for the first time ever.
The Second: New Zealand is sending (40) more Army troops to Iraq and Afghanistan.
At the request of US defense Chief Ash Carter who requested that the Kiwi’s “do more” by sending elite troops, do air strikes, and provide ammunition and training.
I didn’t even know that there is a factory producing ammunition in my home country.
I think we buy it from the yanks.
It’s enough to make you weep.
If the Kiwis are going to follow “Idiot America” then they should blame only themselves ………Please suggest to the Kiwis to read ” Idiot America – How Stupidity became a Virtue in the Land of the Free”…..excellent reading and factual….
The enshrinement of ignorance seems not succinct in Pierce’s The Case Against Intellect. It results from audience flattery by the commercial mass media, combined with their dumbing-down effort to permit marketing and political propaganda. This can be eliminated by amendments restricting mass media and election campaign funding to limited registered individual contributions. Violations of either amendment should be considered acts of war against the US and punished as treason.
Temporarily, mass media should be turned over to public universities by an activist president, while Congressional elections are invalidated for those who received large contributions, and the populists allowed to push through those two amendments. Any state that does not ratify loses all federal funding except that directed to individuals. Then regulated mass media corporations (and politicians) can be required to report all contributions, and maintain balance of representation and viewpoint in all their organizations and programs. Personally I would leave the mass media in the hands of public universities, except that this would politicize them, and then subject them to detailed federal regulation.
AND, 30,000 to 40,000 Americans are killed every year by guns alone.
Same number get killed in the US by car accidents.
Alcohol consumption and addiction is on the rise in the US.
Drug Addiction is on the rise in the US.
Homelessness is on the rise in the US.
Divorce is on the rise in the US.
Obesity is on the rise in the US.
Veterans are taking their on life at a rate of one per hour in the US.
!/2 on the gun deaths are suicide, many are justified deaths by the police and people protecting their homes, many are inner city crimes by gangs with illegal guns. The whole story is important to know.
A tumour or neoplasm is a localised swelling composed of newly formed tissue which fulfils no physiological function.
Obviously, President Eisenhower’s warning about the growth of the military-industrial complex was a waste of time.
I guess–because Eisenhower started the military-industrial complex!! It was to recover the economy from WWII. Remember the Gary Powers and U2 (special spying plane)–under Eisenhower’s administration
This excellent article uses just the right pretense of enthusiasm to pleasantly document how corrupt US politicians perpetuate “global war against a tactic” (terrorism) to hoodwink the people of the US and get the campaign bribes of military industry, the Hillarious game of “the world’s leading manufacturer of war.” Truly the politicians are bought, the US does not have democracy, and Washington has become the dirtiest game in history. But what a deal!