War: Killing People for Profit is Just a Game
With President Barack Obama’s election in 2008, the international community had high hopes for an end to unilateral US military misadventures. In an early speech, Obama declared that nuclear disarmament was a foreign and defence priority of his administration. Instead, as American commentator Robert Scheer notes:
Not only has Obama been a saviour of the banking conglomerates that so generously financed his campaign, but he also has proved to be equally as solicitous of the needs of the military-industrial complex. He entered his re-election year by signing a US$662 billion defence authorization bill that strips away some of our most fundamental liberties and keeps military spending at Cold War levels, and by approving a US$60 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia.
Those two actions represent an obvious contradiction, since the attack on American soil that kept defence spending so high in the post-9/11 decade was carried out by fifteen Saudis and four other men directed by Osama bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi primarily using funding from his native land. Now Saudi Arabia is to be protected as a holdout against the democratic impulse of the Arab Spring because it is our ally against Iran, a nation that had nothing to do with 9/11.
The rationale for the big arms deal with the tyrannical Saudi monarchy is that a better-armed Sunni theocracy is needed to counter the threat from the Shiite theocracy in Iran. Once again the U.S. is stoking religious-based fratricide, just as we did in Iraq. Only this time, we are on the side of Saudi Sunnis oppressing Shiites both at home and in neighbouring Bahrain. That oppression—along with a U.S. invasion that replaced Tehran’s sworn enemy in Sunni-led Baghdad with a Shiite leadership that had long been nurtured by Iran’s ayatollahs—is what enhances the regional influence of Iran.
If Iran ever does pose a regional military threat because of its nuclear program or any other reason, real or concocted, it will be NATO forces that will take out the threat, not the Saudis, who will still be polishing their latest-model F-15s as icons of a weird conception of modernism.
World military spending now annually exceeds US$1.6 trillion. The Millennium Development project agreement of 2000 made by government leaders of 189 countries anticipated drastic reduction of poverty in countries around the world by the year 2015. Reallocation of only ten percent of military expenditures would have been required. Concerns were already being expressed by 2005 at the United Nations that these goals would not be reached.
It is now conceded that there is no hope of meeting the Millennium Development goals. US military spending has rocketed during both the Bush and Obama administrations. The world is currently being held to ransom over Israeli and US hysteria about Iran. It is all yet another excuse to spend still more public money on weapons. New generation drones are reportedly being developed by Israel and the US to deliver nuclear bombs.
Patriotism is manipulated by a cabal of army generals, politicians, armaments companies and bankers. The opportunities for war profiteering are immense despite the reality that nothing is more economically devastating than war.
Obsessed with security, the US spends trillions of dollars waging wars that it cannot win but, in the process, makes the world a lot more dangerous. Bloated on public taxes, Lockheed Martin, Carlyle Industries and Raytheon are the beneficiaries. Their counterparts in Israel are Elbit, Raphael, Israel Aerospace and other armaments industry companies and the banks.
Elbit boasts that it leads the world in battle command technology to provide comprehensive C4ISR solutions – meaning Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance — for space, air, sea and ground warfare.
The US uses drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan to attack the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Israel uses them in Gaza and the West Bank to “eliminate” Hamas and other so-called terrorists. The use of pilotless drones and remote-controlled weaponry is even more grotesque than traditional warfare. As if acting out a Hollywood movie, the “enemy” is eliminated by a young computer technician sitting thousands of kilometres away in air-conditioned comfort.
It is a perverted mentality even more diabolical than the hatred spawned in Sierra Leonean child soldiers or Palestinian suicide bombers or, indeed, the operators of the gas chambers and ovens at Auschwitz. Killing people for profit has become just a game that is rightly described as a “PlayStation mentality.” Even fighter aircraft flown by highly skilled and expensively trained pilots have become redundant. (The BAE warplanes of the arms deal are already obsolete!)
Leaked US intelligence reports reveal that Iran abandoned its intentions to build nuclear weapons as long ago as 2003. By contrast, Israel has an estimated 300 nuclear warheads, yet refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or to submit to international inspection of its facilities.
Historically, 90 percent of the casualties of war were soldiers. Now, 90 percent of the casualties are civilians. Accordingly, international civil society has an obligation to put the war business out-of-business. An Israeli attack against Iran could lead to a conflagration from China across Asia and Africa to Nigeria, and the deaths of tens of millions of civilians.
Having abandoned its nuclear weapons, South Africa should take the lead to promote a nuclear weapons-free Middle East, including both Iran and Israel. We did not cover ourselves with much glory the last time South Africa was a member of the UN Security Council. It is time to remedy that lapse, and to make human rights the premise of South African foreign policy.
A resolution before the UN Security Council would almost certainly be vetoed by the US, which would again be placed in the extraordinary situation of vetoing its own foreign policy. In so doing, the US and Israel would open up other possibilities by civil society, including swift sanctions against Israeli banks.
Banking is the lifeblood of any economy, and banking sanctions were the tipping point in the international sanctions campaign against apartheid South Africa. Banking technology has advanced dramatically since then.
Swift sanctions, I believe, would impact very rapidly upon Israeli banks. They can also be reversed as soon as they have achieved their objectives without causing structural economic damage. If used with circumspection and judiciously managed, they could become the instrument to resolve international conflicts without recourse to war. In so doing, Swift sanctions could put the war business out-of-business.
Let us not forgot that it was civil society not governments that brought the apartheid dictatorship to its knees.
Excerpt from “The War Business is Out of Control” April 2012 by Terry Crawford-Browne, an Arms deal activist.