Arms Industry

US corporations lead the world in the production, sale, and distribution of weapons. In 2007 the military budget, at least five times larger than that of any other nation, will be about $550B, not including appropriations for Iraq and Afghanistan. Under-reported is how much of this public money gets “awarded” to private corporations and individuals. Every year the budget includes programs soon to be canceled or obsolete, black projects that are not subject to direct congressional oversight, and the legendary overcharging by defense contractors.


While federal military spending is generally promoted as providing for our domestic security, a majority is spent on international operations that benefit industry far more directly than the public. For example, Foreign Military Financing involves awarding $5B of public money to nearly 100 “developing” nations every year, that can only be spent on weapons sold by US weapons contractors. The weapons are provided to factions we support in these countries based on present national security strategy.

That’s public money being spent to enrich a very few corporate executives, in a manner that will not likely improve our domestic security, and serves to benefit interests many of us would not likely support. This cooperation of the military, arms industry, and our government in managing the use our tax dollars behind a veil of secrecy and media silence is a clear example of taxation without representation, and evokes many disturbing historical parallels.

Eisenhower knew there was trouble. In his farewell address to the nation he warned this country in the strongest possible terms not to allow the “military industrial complex” to exercise “unwarranted influence.” Having been the Supreme Commander of the Allied forces during WWII and then President, he was in a unique position to recognize the potential for abuse of power by members of our government having industrial and military priorities that exceeded their Constitutional oath. It was not intended by the framers of the Constitution that private industry should determine our domestic or international policy. Yet now, by any measure, Eisenhower’s worst fears have been realized.

Corporations operate solely for profit, and peace is less profitable than war. This is one of the primary reasons why our Constitution establishes a system of checks and balances that are meant to prevent misrepresentation by distributing authority and providing oversight. Conflicts of interest are poisonous to democracy, yet they can be found at every level of our government. Ask yourself who has benefited most from the War in Iraq or the War on Terror. Our government cuts funding for public programs, like veteran’s benefits, while defense contractors and oil companies post all time record profits. Where are your tax dollars really going? It can be very challenging to answer that question, but remember that we fought our first war over this issue. And taxation without representation is still tyranny. How many more bombs do you want to pay for?

  • “In the counsels of Government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the Military Industrial [Congressional] complex (first draft). The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.” 1

  • “Halliburton announced on Friday that its KBR division, responsible for carrying out Pentagon contracts, experienced a 284 percent increase in operating profits during the second quarter of this year. The increase in profits was primarily due to the Pentagon’s payment of “award fees” for what military officials call “good” or “very good” work done by KBR in the Middle East for America’s taxpayers and the troops…Audits conducted by the Pentagon’s Defense Contract Audit Agency determined that KBR had $1 billion in “questioned” expenses (i.e. expenses which military auditors consider “unreasonable”) and $442 million in “unsupported” expenses (i.e. expenses which military auditors have determined contain no receipt or any explanation on how the expenses were disbursed).” 2