FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

War Profiteers, Slavery and the Hypocrisy of Imperialism

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).

More articles by:

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.

April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail