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
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 Radio.org, April 20-23, 2004
Evelyn Pringle, Mom & Pop War Profiteering Team: The Woolseys
Yubanet.com, 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"
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."
War Profiteers/ Corp Watch
Schema-root.org: 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"