Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: War profiteers and the government ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: War profiteers and the government
Category: Relationships and Society > Politics
Asked by: leeeeenz-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 20 May 2006 16:18 PDT
Expires: 19 Jun 2006 16:18 PDT
Question ID: 730809
I am looking for worthy websites that will explain to me the generally
left-wing wing argument that the United States profits when
corporations like Halliburton and Lockheed Martin profit from the war.
I want to know why the government profits, and what economic interests
there would be in giving such "war profiteers" lucrative contracts in
Iraq and elsewhere.

I also resources on the ties between these war profiteers and the government.

I also want information on the idea some say that war is an economic
necessity, or that there is a large economic benefit in war.

I want resources on the idea that there are alternative reasons for
war, like economic reasons. I'd like the resources so I can do my own
research and look into these topics.
Subject: Re: War profiteers and the government
Answered By: adiloren-ga on 20 May 2006 19:14 PDT

The main benefits to politicians of allowing corporations to profit
from war are campaign contributions, pork spending for constituencies 
with  defense industry employees, and holdings in defense contracts
that some politicians may have (eg. Cheney's link to Haliburton and
H.W. Bush's link to the Carlyle group).

The Military Industrial Complex:

The concept that you have expressed interest in is best represented in
the phrase "military industrial complex". You claim that the collusion
between the military, politicians, and industry is generally a
"left-wing" concern. However, the term "military industrial complex"
itself was conined by not only a Republican but also a military
general, namely Dwight D. Eisenhower. In his "Farewell Address" in
1961 he said:
"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition
of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the
militaryindustrial complex. 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."

In this trailer for a film that deals with your question exactly - you
can see some of this speech:

Why We Fight : A Film by Eugene Jarecki exploring the effects of the
Military Industrial Complex

"The term military-industrial complex usually refers to the
combination of the U.S. armed forces, arms industry and associated
political and commercial interests, which grew rapidly in scale and
influence in the wake of World War II, although it can also be used to
describe any such relationship of industry and military. It is
sometimes used to refer to the iron triangle that is argued to exist
among weapons makers/military contractors (industry), The Pentagon
(military), and the United States Congress (government)."

Building the military through taxes can make war more likely.

"The government, it is said, in wishing to maintain said level of
power, builds up its military using the wealth it has acquired through
taxing its citizens. With the created increase in military power,
politicians are then more inclined to use the military to achieve
political goals than they might otherwise be."

Politicians get campaign contributions from the military industry.

"Since government obtains as much wealth as it does, and since it is
well known to appropriate so much of it, businesses are attracted to
the government. Members of Congress, in turn, who can gain campaign
donations or salaries from these businesses, are more likely to choose
to work with these businesses to militarize the nation, especially
since it's not their money they're spending, but rather that of the

This creates a "war economy" which sustains the complex. 

"War economy is the term used to describe the contingencies undertaken
by the modern state to mobilize its economy for war production.
Philippe Le Billon describes a war economy as a "system of producing,
mobilising and allocating resources to sustain the violence". The war
economy can form an economic system termed the "military-industrial

The state of perpetual war, or threats of war, can create a permenant
war economy and corporate reliance on war-fighting for profit.

"War Corporatism is the belief that a country engaged in warfare for a
considerable period creates a corporate reliance upon war. (Also
referred to as the Military-industrial complex.) The arms and related
industries therefore end up attempting to control the outbreak of war
in order to increase profits for their shareholders, large investors,
and top corporate executives. War corporatism implies that companies
who reap the benefits of war will constantly fight to keep the economy
on a war footing in order to continue to profit and balance the
economics of society as a whole. People critical of the US arms
industry claim that the United States has become a prime example of
war corporatism as it has been involved in near-constant warfare in
some part of the globe since 1950, and point to the close ties of the
political and industrial elites in the US. The links between
Vice-President Dick Cheney and Halliburton are often used as an

Here is a short film illustrating some of the corporate motivations for war.

Defense contractors clearly cashed in after September 11, 2001:

<<The overarching concern of the ideologues and the arms industry is
to increase military spending. On this score, they have been
tremendously successful. In its two years in office, the Bush
administration has sought more than $150 billion in new military
spending, the vast majority of which has been approved by Congress
with few questions asked. Spending on national defense is nearing $400
billion for fiscal year (FY) 2003, up from $329 billion when Bush took

Top Ten Companies 2002

*	1 - Lockheed Martin Corporation $17 billion 
*	2 - Boeing Company $16.6 billion 
*	3 - Northrop Grumman Corporation $8.7 billion 
*	4 - Raytheon Company $7 billion 
*	5 - General Dynamics Corporation $7 billion 
*	6 - United Technologies Corporation $3.6 billion 
*	7 - Science Applications International Corporation $2.1 billion 
*	8 - TRW Incorporated $2 billion 
*	9 - Health Net, Inc. $1.7 billion 
*	10 - L-3 Communications Holdings, Inc. $1.7 billion>>

The role of think tanks in driving foreign policy is also important,
as many think tanks are staffed with defense contract shareholders who
have a motivation to craft foreign policy that results in war.

"Each major element of the George Walker Bush administration's
national security strategy -- from the doctrines of preemptive strikes
and "regime change" in Iraq, to its aggressive nuclear posture and
commitment to deploying a Star Wars-style missile defense system --
was developed and refined before the Bush administration took office,
at corporate-backed conservative think tanks like the Center for
Security Policy, the National Institute for Public Policy and the
Project for a New American Century.

Unilateralist ideologues formerly affiliated with these think tanks,
along with the 32 major administration appointees who are former
executives with, consultants for, or significant shareholders of top
Defense contractors, are driving U.S. foreign and military policy"

Articles and Books:

Hartung, William D. "Eisenhower's Warning: The Military-Industrial
Complex Forty Years Later." World Policy Journal 18, no. 1 (Spring

William D. Hartung, Making Money on Terrorism
The Nation, February 23, 2004 (Issue): 

"We all know that Halliburton Company is raking in billions from the
Bush Administration's occupation and rebuilding of Iraq. But in the
long run, the biggest beneficiaries of the Administration's 'war on
terror' may be the 'destroyers,' not the rebuilders. The nation's 'Big
Three' weapons makers--Lockheed Martin, Boeing Company and Northrop
Grumman--are cashing in on the Bush policies of regime change abroad
and surveillance at home."

Richard Muhammad, For-Profit Patriotism
AlterNet, March 4, 2004 

Karen Lowe, "Spoils of War" 4-Part Series
Marketplace/Public, April 20-23, 2004

Evelyn Pringle, Mom & Pop War Profiteering Team: The Woolseys, January 21, 2005

Iraq's Disappearing Billions,",
September 12, 2005

Tom Turnipseed, "Dick Cheney: War Profiteer,"
Common Dreams, November 17, 2005

David Sirota, " The Growing Problem of Defense Industry Profiteering"
November 2005 

Dave Whyte, "The corporate plunder of Iraq
Socialist Worker, February 11, 2006

Herbert Docena, Iraq reconstruction's bottom-line
Asia Times, December 25, 2003

Chris Kromm, Making a Killing: The New War Profiteers
Southern Exposure, Winter 2003/2004

Pratap Chatterjee and Herbert Docena, Occupation, Inc.
Southern Exposure, Winter 2003/2004

War is a Racket (online book)

"War is a Racket (1935) is a short work by former U.S. Marine Major
General Smedley Darlington Butler, where Butler discusses how business
interests have commercially benefited from warfare. Butler points to a
variety of examples, mostly from World War I, where industrialists
whose operations were subsidised by public funding were able to
generate substantial profits essentially from mass human suffering."

Web Sites:

War Profiteers/ Corp Watch military industry 38 military industry topics, each
with a current news feed

Open Secrets: Top Defense Contributors to Federal Candidates and Parties database

War Resisters: Piechart and info on defense spending

Google Search Strategy:

"military industrial complex"
"war profiteering"

Clarification of Answer by adiloren-ga on 20 May 2006 22:05 PDT
Here is some more information on the economic "benefits" of war:

Using Markets to Inform Policy: The Case of the Iraq War

War and Economic History 
Prof. Joshua S. Goldstein

Arms Exports
Subject: Re: War profiteers and the government
From: probonopublico-ga on 20 May 2006 21:07 PDT
WWI transformed the fortunes of the US when it became the 'arsenal of
democracy' for the Allies, but it left them all seriously in debt.

Later, most of them defaulted.

WWII was more of the same. This was funded by American finance, known
euphemistically as 'Lease-Lend'.

War has certainly paid healthy dividends for the US during the 20th Century.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy