Weapons makers record super-profits

Issue 
US defence companies are trading at record prices because of military conflicts around the world.

It is a sadly familiar story: More death, pain and terror for the many translates into large profits for giant weapons making corporations.

“Led by Lockheed Martin, the biggest US defence companies are trading at record prices as shareholders reap rewards from escalating military conflicts around the world, reported Richard Clough from Bloomberg News on September 25.

“Investors see rising sales for makers of missiles, drones and other weapons as the US hits Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq, said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Chicago-based BMO Private Bank. President Barack Obama approved open-ended airstrikes this month while ruling out ground combat.”

BMO Private Bank boasts on its website that it has been “helping affluent individuals and families preserve and protect wealth” for 100 years. And BMO's investment officer was drooling over the profits his clients expect to make out of the latest US-led bombing spree in the Middle East.

Ablin told Bloomberg: “As we ramp up our military muscle in the Mideast, there’s a sense that demand for military equipment and weaponry will likely rise … To the extent we can shift away from relying on troops and rely more heavily on equipment — that could present an opportunity.”

More money for the war profiteers — never mind the terrible human toll.

Remote "precision" airstrikes — such as the US and its allies — including Australia, are carrying out in Iraq and Syria today, have a record of inflicting huge civilian casualties as so-called “collateral damage”.

Marc Herold, a professor of economic development at the University of New Hampshire, did a comparative study of civilian victims of the West's war on Afghanistan. He said: “From 2006 to mid-2008, US/NATO aerial attacks killed 1,488 Afghan civilians with 1,458 tonnes of bombs, whereas between October 7 and December 10, 2001 US war planes dropped 14,000 tonnes of bombs resulting in 2,569-2,949 dead Afghan civilians (or 18-21 civilians killed per 100 tonnes of US bombs),” the Guardian reported in 2008.

The relative lethality for Afghan civilians (measured by the ratio of civilians killed per 100 tonnes of bombs) of NATO's close air support strikes far exceeds the lethality of the US strategic bombing of Laos and Cambodia, Herold calculated. And the lethality of US airstrikes in Afghanistan between 2006-2008 exceeded by far that recorded in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Yugoslavia, Iraq in 2003 and Afghanistan in 2001.

For all its deathly toll, has US/NATO bombing in Afghanistan put an end to “terrorism” in that war-devastated country? No.

But that does not concern those who protect the wealth of the super-rich. War is good for profits. Israel's latest genocidal war on Gaza was a nice earner for the US war industry, as the US is Israel's main arms supplier.

The Bloomberg's share index for the four largest Pentagon contractors rose 19% this year, outstripping the 2.2% gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Industrials Index.

Clough reported that shares for Lockheed, the world’s biggest weapons maker, “reached an all-time high of $180.74 on September 19, when Northrop, Raytheon and General Dynamics also set records”.

Those four companies and the Chicago-based Boeing accounted for about US$105 billion in US military contract orders last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

War generates big corporate profits and 21st century capitalism now wages a permanent war in the Third World. There is no peace in sight while this toxic system remains in place.

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