Profiteering at Taxpayer Expense
to stoke any of the inane conspiracy theories running wild on the Internet, but if Osama bin Laden weren't on the payroll of Lockheed-Martin or some other large defense contractor, then he deserves to have been. What a boondoggle 9/11 has been for the merchants of war, who this week announced yet another quarter of whopping profits made possible by George W. Bush's pretending to fight terrorism by throwing money at outdated Cold War-style weapons systems.
Lockheed-Martin, the nation's top weapons manufacturer, reaped a 22 percent increase in profits, while rivals for the defense buck, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics, increased profits by 62 percent and 24.7 percent, respectively. Boeing's profits jumped 61 percent, spiked this quarter by its commercial division. But Boeing's military division, like the others, has been doing very well indeed since the terrorist attacks.
As Newsweek International put it in August: "Since 9/11 and the U.S.-led wars that followed, shares in American defense companies have outperformed both the Nasdaq and Standard & Poor's stock indices by some 40 percent. Prior to the recent cascade of stock prices worldwide, Boeing's share prices had tripled over the past five years, while Raytheon's had doubled."
Not bad for an industry in serious difficulty with the sudden collapse of the Cold War at the beginning of the 1990s, when the first President Bush and his Defense Secretary Dick Cheney were severely cutting the military budget for high-ticket planes and ships designed to fight the no-longer-existent Soviet military. Sure, they had Iraq to kick around, but the elder Bush never thought to turn the then very real aggression of Saddam Hussein into an enormously expensive quagmire. He both defeated Hussein and cut the military budget.
Not so Bush the younger, who exploited the trauma of 9/11 as an occasion to depose the defanged dictator of Iraq and thus provide a "shock and awe" showcase for the arms industry, which continues to benefit obscenely from the failed occupation. The second Iraq war, irrationally conflated with the 9/11 attack that had nothing to do with Hussein, provided the perfect threat package to justify the most outrageous military boondoggle in the nation's history.
The bin Laden boys only had an arsenal of $3 box knives, but Bush claimed Hussein had WMD.
Sadly for the military-industrial complex, Hussein's army collapsed all too suddenly. But the insurgency, much of it fueled by the Shiites, who were ostensibly on our side, provided the occasion for pretending that we are in a war against a conventionally armed and imposing military enemy.