The manufacture of and trade in weapons is a business that counts its profits in billions of dollars and its costs in human lives.
The arms trade drives the gargantuan amount spent on defense every year – $1.6 trillion in 2010 alone: $235 for every person on the planet.
It accounts for almost 40 per cent of corruption in world trade. The very small number of people who decide on multibillion dollar contracts, the huge sums of money at stake and the veil of secrecy behind which transactions take place (in the interests of ‘national security’) ensure that the industry is hard-wired for corruption.
The US, which spends almost as much as the rest of the world combined on defence, is pressing ahead with the production the F-35, a jet fighter which will cost its taxpayers at least $380 billion and which, in the words of a former Pentagon aerospace designer, is ‘a total piece of crap’.
But it is needed to ensure the continued prosperity of the domestic US weapons buying system in which Pentagon leaders approve these absurd projects because the vast majority of them want high-paying jobs with the weapons manufacturers when they leave government service. Politicians vote slavishly for them because they receive massive political campaign contributions from the companies and fear being labelled anti-jobs. Meanwhile, the companies themselves laugh all the way to the bank, often producing irrelevant or inadequate weapons years too late and for more than double the originally agreed cost.
The arms business, which fuels and perpetuates conflicts around the world, is less regulated and scrutinized than other ‘harmful’ industries such as tobacco and alcohol. In order to continue to operate, those who manufacture and trade in weapons must accept a far greater degree of regulation, transparency and accountability.
The time has come to lift the veil on this shadow world, to demand that our taxes are not used to develop another deadly weapon for the material benefit of a tiny self-serving élite, but are rather employed to enhance the lives of those who go hungry, who are without work or who suffer the deadly consequences of the trade in arms.
Title: The Shadow World: Corruption in the Arms Trade
Author: Andrew Feinstein
Source: Toward Freedom, 12/19/11
Student Researcher: Louie Pomerantz, Sonoma State University
Faculty Evaluator: Suzel Bozada-Deas, Sonoma State University