Must See Film: Why We Fight
"We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."
-Five-star Army General Dwight Eisenhower's last speech as president in 1961
I finally saw Why We Fight last night, a chilling film about the history and impact of the military-industrial complex. You'll see amazing footage from bomb making plants and weapon company expos and you'll hear from the men who dropped the first bombs on Baghdad. This film is not a liberal rant against war; it features people who both oppose and favor American domination through pre-emptive action.
Here are a few facts about the military-industrial complex:
*Forty-nine percent of your taxes go to the military industrial complex.
*The military's share of the income tax dollar has risen by 20 percent since 2000, while the share of spending has dropped for job training (-21 percent), environment (-19 percent), housing (-7 percent) and veterans' benefits (-2 percent), according to the National Priorities Project, a non-partisan, non-profit research group.
*Classified military spending has reached its highest level since 1988, near the end of the Cold War, a new independent analysis has found. Classified, or "black," programs now appear to account for about $30.1 billion, or 19 percent, of the acquisition money the Defense Department is requesting for fiscal year 2007, according to Steven M. Kosiak, a defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, an independent policy-research organization. The figure is more than double the amount the Pentagon requested in 1995, when classified military acquisition spending reached a post-Cold War low.
*The biggest windfall in the invasion of Iraq has most certainly gone to the oil services and logistics company Halliburton . The company, which was formerly run by Vice President Dick Cheney, had revenue of over $8 billion in contracts in Iraq in 2003 alone. And while Halliburton's dealings in Iraq have been dogged everywhere by scandal - including now a criminal investigation into overcharging by Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root for gas shipped into Iraq - Vice President Cheney manages to be doing quite well from the deal. He owns $433,000 unexercised Halliburton stock options worth more than $10 million dollars.
*Lockheed Martin is the world's #1 military contractor, responsible for the U-2 and SR-71 spy planes, F-16, F/A-22 fighter jet, and Javelin missiles. They've also made millions through insider trading, falsifying accounts, and bribing officials. According to the Arms Trade Resource Center, Lockheed Martin gets $105 from each U.S. taxpayer and $228 from each U.S. household. In 2002 the company was effectively taxed at 7.7% compared to an average tax rate for individuals of 21-33%.
In late 2001 the company was awarded the world's largest weapons contract ever, a $200 billion deal to build the Joint Strike Fighter, a "next-generation" combat jet that eventually will replace aircraft used by the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. In the last few years the SEC has investigated Lockheed for insider trading and falsifying their accounts.
Lockheed Martin did not win the contract on force of personality alone, or fighter plane design. During the calendar year 2000, Lockheed Martin spent more than $9.8 million lobbying members of Congress and the Clinton administration, more than double the $4.2 million the company spent during 1999. Among the company's newest lobbyists: Haley Barbour, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee. During the 1999-2000 election cycle, Lockheed Martin contributed just over $2.7 million in soft money, PAC and individual contributions to federal candidates and parties. More than two-thirds of that money went to Republicans. Lockheed Martin spends more on lobbying Congress than any of its competitors, spending a whopping $9.7 million in 2002. Only General Electric and Philip Morris reported more lobbying expenses. And in the 2004 election cycle, Lockheed contributed more than $1.9 million.
*Today the victors of modern wars no longer rape and pillage as their predecessors did, instead they make extraordinary profits by giving contracts to their favorite companies to rebuild what they have destroyed and then hand the bill to local taxpayers to pay. For example, within days of the American occupation of Iraq, Bechtel of San Francisco, California, was hired to repair the power system, telephone exchanges and hospitals, weeks after multi-billionaire Riley Bechtel, the principal shareholder, was sworn in as a member of President Bush's Export Council to advise the government on how to create markets for American companies overseas.