FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

War Profiteers, Slavery and the Hypocrisy of Imperialism

by NATHAN GOODMAN

Across the world, people are protesting against US intervention in Syria. Polls show widespread skepticism of the impending war. Rather than making Americans safer, intervention is likely to support forces connected to al Qaeda. Yet it still seems inevitable that the US government will launch cruise missiles at Syria, escalating the country’s bloody civil war. Why?

Because politicians don’t work for the people. As Thomas Knapp of the Center for a Stateless Society puts it, “politicians and soldiers work for (and constitute part of) the political class. Their job is to transfer as much wealth as possible from your pockets to that class’s bank accounts.”

In that case, they’re doing their job quite well. The war profiteers at Raytheon have seen their stock prices soar in anticipation of the Syrian war. As the Boston Herald reported on August 31st, “The Waltham-based manufacturer of the Tomahawk cruise missiles, expected to be used in any strike on Syria, saw its stock hit a 52-week high last week at $77.93 per share, and has stayed near that high, closing yesterday at $75.41.”

Officials like John Kerry argue that this war is somehow a humanitarian response to atrocities by the Assad regime. But the corporations that stand to profit are no humanitarians. To the contrary, they have been involved in some of the most grotesque human rights violations of our time.

For example, war profiteers profit off slave labor. Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Boeing, and BAE Systems all use prison labor to manufacture military equipment. Prisoners are often forced to labor under sweatshop style conditions, and when they are paid they often receive meager wages like 23 cents an hour. As William Hartung puts it, “There’s no greater restriction on a worker’s rights than being stuck in prison.” Profiting off prison labor creates an incentive to keep prisons full, which may be part of why America has the largest prison population on Earth. Most of America’s prisoners are non-violent offenders, and the majority are people of color. The racism and injustice of slavery remains, and war profiteers benefit from it.

War profiteers also benefit from human rights violations at America’s borders. Their products are used to violate privacy through pervasive surveillance at the border. They are wielded by Border Patrol agents who murder migrant workers and break indigenous communities like the  Tohono O’oodham Nation apart. This aggressive border security helps bosses exploit and abuse undocumented workers. With the threat of deportation and a militarized border hanging over their head, they are deterred from reporting wage theft, sexual violence, and other abuses by their employers. So once again war profiteers enable exploitation, violence and abuse.

Then there’s the warfare they profit from worldwide. General Atomics profits by making Predator drones that kill innocents in Pakistan and Yemen. A litany of corporations profited from the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Like the impending war in Syria, this invasion was justified largely under humanitarian pretenses. Yet rather than “liberate” Iraqis, this invasion brutalized them. The US government murdered innocents, tortured prisoners, and illegally used white phosphorus, a chemical weapon, to kill Iraqis. American war profiteers made a killing from a war in which the US government crossed the very same “red line” they accuse Assad of crossing.

As Emma Goldman wrote decades ago, “no one, be it individual or government, engaged in enslaving and exploiting at home, could have the integrity or the desire to free people in other lands.”  By this standard, we must not trust the US government or the war profiteers to “free” anyone in Syria.

Nathan Goodman is a Senior Fellow and Lysander Spooner Research Scholar in Abolitionist Studies at the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org).

Nathan Goodman is the Lysander Spooner Research Scholar in Abolitionist Studies at the Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS.org). He blogs at Dissenting Leftist.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

May 23, 2017
John Wight
Manchester Attacks: What Price Hypocrisy?
Patrick Cockburn
A Gathering of Autocrats: Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias
Shamus Cooke
Can Trump Salvage His Presidency in Syria’s War?
Thomas S. Harrington
“Risk”: a Sad Comedown for Laura Poitras
Josh White
Towards the Corbyn Doctrine
Mike Whitney
Rosenstein and Mueller: the Regime Change Tag-Team
Jan Oberg
Trump in Riyadh: an Arab NATO Against Syria and Iran
Susan Babbitt
The Most Dangerous Spy You’ve Never Heard Of: Ana Belén Montes
Rannie Amiri
Al-Awamiya: City of Resistance
Dimitris Konstantakopoulos
The European Left and the Greek Tragedy
Laura Leigh
This Land is Your Land, Except If You’re a Wild Horse Advocate
Hervé Kempf
Macron, Old World President
Michael J. Sainato
Devos Takes Out Her Hatchet
L. Ali Khan
I’m a Human and I’m a Cartoon
May 22, 2017
Diana Johnstone
All Power to the Banks! The Winners-Take-All Regime of Emmanuel Macron
Robert Fisk
Hypocrisy and Condescension: Trump’s Speech to the Middle East
John Grant
Jeff Sessions, Jesus Christ and the Return of Reefer Madness
Nozomi Hayase
Trump and the Resurgence of Colonial Racism
Rev. William Alberts
The Normalizing of Authoritarianism in America
Frank Stricker
Getting Full Employment: the Fake Way and the Right Way 
Jamie Davidson
Red Terror: Anti-Corbynism and Double Standards
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, Sweden, and Continuing Battles
Robert Jensen
Beyond Liberal Pieties: the Radical Challenge for Journalism
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Extravagant Saudi Trip Distracts from His Crisis at Home
Angie Beeman
Gig Economy or Odd Jobs: What May Seem Trendy to Privileged City Dwellers and Suburbanites is as Old as Poverty
Colin Todhunter
The Public Or The Agrochemical Industry: Who Does The European Chemicals Agency Serve?
Jerrod A. Laber
Somalia’s Worsening Drought: Blowback From US Policy
Michael J. Sainato
Police Claimed Black Man Who Died in Custody Was Faking It
Clancy Sigal
I’m a Trump Guy, So What?
Gerry Condon
In Defense of Tulsi Gabbard
Weekend Edition
May 19, 2017
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Getting Assange: the Untold Story
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Secret Sharer
Charles Pierson
Trump’s First Hundred Days of War Crimes
Paul Street
How Russia Became “Our Adversary” Again
Andrew Levine
Legitimation Crises
Mike Whitney
Seth Rich, Craig Murray and the Sinister Stewards of the National Security State 
Robert Hunziker
Early-Stage Antarctica Death Rattle Sparks NY Times Journalists Trip
Ken Levy
Why – How – Do They Still Love Trump?
Bruce E. Levine
“Hegemony How-To”: Rethinking Activism and Embracing Power
Robert Fisk
The Real Aim of Trump’s Trip to Saudi Arabia
Christiane Saliba
Slavery Now: Migrant Labor in the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia
Chris Gilbert
The Chávez Hypothesis: Vicissitudes of a Strategic Project
Howard Lisnoff
Pay No Attention to That Man Behind the Curtain
Brian Cloughley
Propaganda Feeds Fear and Loathing
Stephen Cooper
Is Alabama Hiding Evidence It Tortured Two of Its Citizens?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail