Investors in US Weapon-Makers Only Clear Winners of Afghan War

Share prices of military manufacturers vastly outperformed the stock market overall during the Afghanistan War.

May 25, 2002: Two U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopters land at Bagram Airfield in Parwan, Afghanistan, after completing a mission. (U.S. National Archives)

By Jessica Corbett
Common Dreams

As the hawks who have been lying about the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan for two decades continue to peddle fantasies in the midst of a Taliban takeover and American evacuation of Kabul, progressive critics on Tuesday reminded the world who has benefited from the “endless war.”

“Entrenching U.S. forces in Afghanistan was the military-industrial complex’s business plan for 20+ years,” declared the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group Public Citizen.

[Related: A People’s Guide to the War Industry, Part 1 and  Part 2 and Part 3 and Part 4 and Part 5.]

“Hawks and defense contractors co-opted the needs of the Afghan people in order to line their own pockets,” the group added. “Never has it been more important to end war profiteering.”

In a Tuesday morning tweet, Public Citizen highlighted returns on defense stocks over the past 20 years — as calculated in a “jaw-dropping” analysis by The Intercept — and asserted that “the military-industrial complex got exactly what it wanted out of this war.”

The Intercept‘s Jon Schwarz examined returns on stocks of the five biggest defense contractors: Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics.

Schwarz found that a $10,000 investment in stock evenly split across those five companies on the day in 2001 that then-President Georg W. Bush signed the authorization preceding the U.S. invasion would be worth $97,295 this week, not adjusted for inflation, taxes, or fees.

According to The Intercept:

“This is a far greater return than was available in the overall stock market over the same period. $10,000 invested in an S&P 500 index fund on September 18, 2001, would now be worth $61,613.

That is, defense stocks outperformed the stock market overall by 58% during the Afghanistan War.”

“These numbers suggest that it is incorrect to conclude that the Taliban’s immediate takeover of Afghanistan upon the U.S.’s departure means that the Afghanistan War was a failure,” Schwarz added. “On the contrary, from the perspective of some of the most powerful people in the U.S., it may have been an extraordinary success. Notably, the boards of directors of all five defense contractors include retired top-level military officers.”

“War profiteering isn’t new,” journalist Dina Sayedahmed said in response to the reporting, “but seeing the numbers on it is staggering.”

Progressive political commentator and podcast host Krystal Ball used Schwarz’s findings to counter a key argument that’s been widely used to justify nearly 20 years of war.

“This is what it was really all about people,” she tweeted of the defense contractors’ returns. “Anyone who believes we were in Afghanistan to help women and girls is a liar or a fool.”

A UH-60L Blackhawk helicopter get loaded into a C-17 Globemaster III at Bagram Airfield in Parwan, Afghanistan, on June 16 as part of the U.S. military withdrawal. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Corey Vandiver)

Jack Mirkinson wrote Monday for Discourse Blog that “it is unquestionably heartbreaking to think about what the Taliban might inflict on women and girls, but let us dispense with this fantasy that the U.S. has been in Afghanistan to support women, or to build democracy, or to strengthen Afghan institutions, or any of the other lines that are deployed whenever someone has the temerity to suggest that endless war and occupation is a harmful thing.”

“We did not go into Afghanistan to support its people, and we did not stay in Afghanistan to support its people,” he added. “It is astonishing, given what we know about the monsters that the U.S. has propped up time and time againaround the world, that the myth persists that we do anything out of our love for human rights. We went in and we stayed in for the same reason: the American empire is a force that must remain in perpetual motion.”

As Common Dreams reported Monday, while the Taliban has retaken control, anti-war advocates have argued diplomacy is the only path to long-term peace, with Project South’s Azadeh Shahshahani emphasizing that “the only ones who benefited from the U.S. war on Afghanistan were war-profiteering politicians and corporations while countless lives were destroyed.”

Responding to Shahshahani’s tweet about who has benefited from two decades of bloodshed, Zack Kopplin of the Government Accountability Project wrote, “Adding war-profiteering generals to the mix too.”

This article is from  Common Dreams.

The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of Consortium News.


7 comments for “Investors in US Weapon-Makers Only Clear Winners of Afghan War

  1. Babyl-on
    August 19, 2021 at 23:03

    The “investors” are people like Prince ben Talal of Saudi Arabia one of the richest men with heavy holdings in the arms industry. The people who make the wars make the profits.

  2. Taras77
    August 18, 2021 at 14:14

    As an aside, here is a list of military hardware now owned by the Taliban. It is in Russian but the pics and quantity noted is self explanatory:


    August 18, 2021 at 12:09

    Entrenching US forces in Afghanistan was the military-industrial complex`s buisness plan for 20 years—what General Eisenhower warned against.

  4. Hide Behind
    August 18, 2021 at 12:08

    One second, when passing out info on who profited let us not forget the 300+ millions of those who cheeredits beginning and the millions of people in Armed Services during those years since.
    The wages and benefit packages have so increased that today an active member of military married with wife and child, lives off post now earns yearly earnsmore than 49%, of dual income n civilian workers.
    Their children and wives have free medical andchildren have education benefits not available to millions in US

    SMALLEST DISABILITY payments, and yearly more seperating military claim some form, and contrary to many biyching are far easier to be rated than to civilian workers is 20 %, $almost $300 a month but % average for 10’s of thousands is 50% and over,$1500 month and can be still replayed in any gov positio ns and flll time low physical labor . Also getany welfare program extant and more % reduction also vocation for rest of life.
    A military pension for life to retiring vets cost US taxpayers over$200billion a year.
    The civilian workers in military industrials average wage at entry is almost 3x what private sector is.
    Retirement pensions around 55 and younger is 30years employable SS
    Lots of money floatingaround.a d passing through a.ericans handshas its creation by the spilling of foreigners blood in wars we voluntarily declare on earths poorest peoples.


  5. Henry Smith
    August 18, 2021 at 08:35

    What a great country the USA could truly be if it wasn’t for the MIC, the 800+ overseas military bases, the $700+Bn annual defence budget. What if the military only concerned itself with USA defence and the government concerned itself with helping its peoples ?
    Something is truly wrong when the majority of the economy is built on manufacturing death and destruction and producing obscene profits for the few whilst the many suffer.

  6. James Simpson
    August 18, 2021 at 03:18

    Why are investors in weapons companies not generally regarded with the same opprobrium and contempt attached by the Left to utterly disgraced public figures such as, say, Gary Glitter or Harvey Weinstein? Given the number of victims of weapons companies, and that those victims certainly include many children, by any evidential perspective Mr Glitter, Mr Weinstein et al are comparatively innocent. Yet middle-class people enjoy the fruits of their money being used to produce an endless flow of bombs, missiles and other weapons to blow apart the bodies of small children and their families. Perhaps that’s okay, maybe I missed the memo.

  7. CNfan
    August 18, 2021 at 00:51

    War is a major profit center.

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