War as a Business Opportunity

A good friend passed along an article at Forbes from a month ago with the pregnant title, “U.S. Army Fears Major War Likely Within Five Years — But Lacks The Money To Prepare.” Basically, the article argues that war is possible — even likely — within five years with Russia or North Korea or Iran, or maybe all three, but that America’s army is short of money to prepare for these wars. This despite the fact that America spends roughly $700 billion each and every year on defense and overseas wars.

Now, the author’s agenda is quite clear, as he states at the end of his article: “Several of the Army’s equipment suppliers are contributors to my think tank and/or consulting clients.” He’s writing an alarmist article about the probability of future wars at the same time as he’s profiting from the sales of weaponry to the army.

As General Smedley Butler, twice awarded the Medal of Honor, said: War is a racket. Wars will persist as long as people see them as a “core product,” as a business opportunity. In capitalism, the profit motive is often amoral; greed is good, even when it feeds war. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is willing to play along. It always sees “vulnerabilities” and always wants more money.

But back to the Forbes article with its concerns about war(s) in five years with Russia or North Korea or Iran (or all three). For what vital national interest should America fight against Russia? North Korea? Iran? A few quick reminders:

#1: Don’t get involved in a land war in Asia or with Russia (Charles XII, Napoleon, and Hitler all learned that lesson the hard way).

#2: North Korea? It’s a puppet regime that can’t feed its own people. It might prefer war to distract the people from their parlous existence.

#3: Iran? A regional power, already contained, with a young population that’s sympathetic to America, at least to our culture of relative openness and tolerance. If the US Army thinks tackling Iran would be relatively easy, just consider all those recent “easy” wars and military interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria …

Of course, the business aspect of this is selling the idea the US Army isn’t prepared and therefore needs yet another new generation of expensive high-tech weaponry. It’s like convincing high-end consumers their three-year-old Audi or Lexus is obsolete so they must buy the latest model else lose face.

We see this all the time in the US military. It’s a version of planned or artificial obsolescence. Consider the Air Force. It could easily defeat its enemies with updated versions of A-10s, F-15s, and F-16s, but instead the Pentagon plans to spend as much as $1.4 trillion on the shiny new and under-performing F-35. The Army has an enormous surplus of tanks and other armored fighting vehicles, but the call goes forth for a “new generation.” No other navy comes close to the US Navy, yet the call goes out for a new generation of ships.

The Pentagon mantra is always for more and better, which often turns out to be for less and much more expensive, e.g. the F-35 fighter.

Wars are always profitable for a few, but they are ruining democracy in America. Sure, it’s a business opportunity: one that ends in national (and moral) bankruptcy.

William J. Astore is a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF). He taught history for fifteen years at military and civilian schools and blogs at Bracing Views. He can be reached at wastore@pct.edu. Reprinted from Bracing Views with the author’s permission.

26 thoughts on “War as a Business Opportunity”

  1. why don’t you tell everbody you are a socialist shill operation funded by george soros….? you don’t even have to use the word shil. Just tell the truth. But, you won’t. THE BIG lie is what works best, right?

        1. O. I C. Because it’s somehow more macho to kneel down to uber-capitalists.

          I just wondered where all that money went, the minions of Wall Street and K Street keep whining about Soros and Buffett giving out lots of bread to anybody who opposes the Rulers.

          My condolences though, about your pet snark dying like that.

          1. i did not read your comment. i scolled past is….now i shall psssss on your socialist face. I own you…..and if you reply i will copy and paste the response, but you too fking fumb to be bothered with. And, I am not your brother……promise.

      1. scroll past your comments you fking bore…psssss on your socialist face. I own you….this message willhereinafter be copied and pasted by eorann . what a fkn moron you must be even off line….

        1. All that and a sense of humor too. So, who actually works for Soros? I get conflicting and conflicted reports.

          Makes me feel like folks are lyin’ to me. Hurts my feelings, that does.

  2. Russia couldn’t stand up to the US in a conventional war. If the US pushes Russia into a war then it will go nuclear. Fortunately the US doesn’t have the balls to do that. MAD will continue to save the world from the US war machine.

    Putin is not going to sell his country out to the US and that’s the only reason why Putin is demonized. The US war machine is on permanent hold until Putin passes his position on to a sellout. It’s not likely to ever happen.

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