How the U.S. Government is controlled by its armaments firms

By Eric Zuesse

Unlike corporations that sell to consumers, Lockheed Martin and the other top contractors to the U.S. Government are highly if not totally dependent upon sales to governments, for their profits, especially sales to their own government, which they control — they control their home market, which is the U.S. Government, and they use it  (their government) to sell to its allied governments (via the NATO and other U.S.-run weapons-marketing operations), all of which foreign governments constitute the export markets for their products and services. These corporations effectively control the U.S. Government, and they control its weapons-marketers, such as NATO (in addition to, of course, the U.S. Government itself, which has the world’s largest sales-force peddling specifically U.S.-made weapons to foreign countries).

And, here will be described how they do it, which is essential to understand, in order to be able to make reliable sense of America’s foreign policies, such as determining which nations are ‘allies’ of the U.S. Government (such as Saudi Arabia and Israel), and which nations are instead its ‘enemies’ (such as Libya was and Syria still is) — and are thus presumably suitable for America to invade, or else to overthrow by means of a coup installing a U.S.-stooge regime. First, the given target-nation’s head-of-state becomes demonized by the U.S.-and-allied ‘news’-media; and, then, the invasion or coup happens. And, that’s it. And here is how it’s done:

America (unlike Russia, China, and a few other countries) privatized the weapons-industry, which causes there to be, in America, profits for investors to make in invasions, and in military occupations, of foreign countries; and the billionaires who control these corporations can and do — and, for their financial purposes, they must — buy Congress and the President (billionaires can easily afford to do this), so as to keep those profits flowing to themselves. That’s the nature of the war-business in a strictly capitalist country, since the markets for war-weapons are governments (not consumers). But these markets do not include governments that the aristocracy want to overthrow and replace. The foreign governments that are to be overthrown are not markets, but instead are targets; and target-nations are as necessary for the “Military-Industrial Complex,” or “M.I.C.,” as ally-nations are (because there are two sides to every weapon — its users, and its victims — and its victims are to be targets instead of markets). The bloodshed and misery go to those unfortunate lands, the target-lands. If you control these corporations, then you need these invasions and military occupations, and you certainly aren’t concerned about any of the victim-nations, who (unlike those profits) are irrelevant to your business (except as being targets). In fact, to the exact contrary: killing people and destroying buildings etcetera (in the targeted countries), are what you sell — that’s what you (as a billionaire with a controlling interest in one of the 100 top contractors to the U.S. Government) are selling to your own government, and to all of the other governments that your country’s cooperative propaganda (in your ‘news’-media) will characterize as being ‘enemies’ — Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, etc. — and definitely not as being ‘allies’, such as are being characterized these corporations’ foreign markets: Saudi Arabia, EU-NATO, Israel, etcetera. In fact, as regards your biggest foreign markets, they will be those ‘allies’; and so, you (that is, the nation’s aristocracy, the people who own also the news-media etc.) defend them (fund propaganda for them), and you want the U.S. military (the taxpayers and the troops) to support and defend them (using the weapons that you sell, of course, so as to deplete those weapons-stockpiles and thereby create the ‘need’ to buy more of those weapons). It’s defending your market, even though you, as a controlling owner of such a corporation, aren’t paying the tab for it: the taxpayers in your country are. The rest of the country is actually paying for all of this ‘defense’, so you’re “free-riding” the public, in this business. It’s the unique nature of the war-business, and a unique boon to its investors.

In fact: all of this U.S. imperialism has been enormously profitable for America’s billionaires, and especially for the ones who have been investing the most heavily in ‘defense’ industries. This has been most clearly and most blatantly so after the ‘ideological’ ‘justification’ for the Truman-and-Eisenhower start, in 1945, of the Cold War, finally ended in 1991. Beginning at around 1990 — the very same period when G.H.W. Bush started secretly instructing America’s ‘allies’ that the Cold War would continue on the U.S. side even after the Soviet Union would break up and end its communism, and end its side of the Cold War — the “Cumulative Returns, Indexed to 1951,” for the total stock “Market” vs. for “Industrials” vs. for “Defense,” which three segments had previously moved in tandem with each other, sharply diverged after 1990, so that “Defense” has since been soaring, it’s rising much faster than the other two sectors, both of which other two sectors (“Market and “Industrials”) continued after 1990 rising in tandem with each other, and rising far less fast than the ‘defense’ industry has. That year — 1990 — was the time when market valuations on America’s armaments producers suddenly took off and left the rest of the economy ever-increasingly behind. It’s all shown right there in that chart. It is shocking.

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Thus, for example, on 21 May 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump sold to the Saud family, who own Saudi Arabia, an all-time-record $350 billion of U.S. arms-makers’ products, which they obligated themselves to buy during the following ten years, with an up-front commitment of $100 billion during just the first year, so as to make even just that one-year commitment an all-time record. This deal was by far the biggest part of Trump’s boost to American manufacturers — but it’s only to military manufacturers, the people who depend virtually 100% on sales to governments, specifically (in addition to one’s own government), to ‘friendly’ governments: to ‘allies’, such as, in that case, to the Saud family.

In fact, the Sauds’ war against their neighbor Yemen is a good example of just how this sort of operation (profit to the billionaires, and bloodshed and destruction to — in this case — the Yemenites) works:

Yemen’s war goes back to the “Arab Spring” revolution in Yemen, which overthrew the U.S.-and-Saud-backed President, former Colonel and then General, Saleh. Wikipedia says of him: “According to the UN Sanctions Panel, by 2012 Saleh has amassed fortune worth $32-60 billion hidden in at least twenty countries making him one of the richest people in the world. Saleh was gaining $2 billion a year from 1978 to 2012 mainly through illegal methods, such as embezzlement, extortion and theft of funds from Yemen’s fuel subsidy program.[75][76][77]” And, furthermore: “New York Times Middle Eastern correspondent Robert F. Worth described Saleh as reaching an understanding with powerful feudal ‘big sheikhs’ to become ‘part of a Mafia-style spoils system that substituted for governance’.[18] Worth accused Saleh of exceeding the aggrandizement of other Middle Eastern strongmen by managing to ‘rake off tens of billions of dollars in public funds for himself and his family’ despite the extreme poverty of his country.[19]” Saleh fled to Saudi Arabia. Yemen’s Army installed the Vice President, and former General, Hadi to succeed him. Then, there was a second revolution, and, on 21 January 2015, the Shia Houthi tribe took over, and the rabidly anti-Shia Saud family promptly started their bombing of Yemen, using American training, weaponry and tactical and refueling support. The U.S. Government — like its ally the Saud family — is rabidly anti-Shia. That’s to say: The U.S. aristocracy, like Saudi Arabia’s aristocracy (the royal family), is rabidly anti-Shia. But, whereas for the Sauds, this is motivated more by hate than by greed, it’s more greed than hate on the U.S. side, because at least ever since the U.S. coup in the leading Shia country, Iran, in 1953, it’s been purely about greed, specifically that of the oil (and other) companies who also (in addition to the armaments-firms) control U.S. foreign policies. (For example, international oil companies need to extract and sell oil from many countries. They’re highly dependent upon the military, though not nearly to the extent that the weapons-firms are.)

A poll happened to be taken of American public opinion regarding America’s arming and training Saudi forces to fly over and bomb Yemen — taken during November 2017, while U.S. President Trump’s Administration was doing that. This poll was tabulated on 28 January 2018, and finally published a month later, on 28 February 2018. It headlined “Nationwide Voter Survey – Report on Results – January 28, 2018” and reported that it had asked 1,000 scientifically sampled American voters, a “Question: Congress is considering a bi-partisan bill to withdraw U.S. forces from the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Would you say that you support or oppose this bill?” It reported that, “Support” was 51.9%, “Oppose” was 21.5%, no opinion was 26.6%; and, so, 71% of the opinions were “Support”; only 29% were “Oppose.” That’s more than two-thirds supporting this bill to consider withdrawing U.S. forces from that U.S.-Saudi war against Yemen.

On 4 December 2017, just weeks after that poll of Americans was taken, RT News headlined “Saleh’s death means a fresh hell beckons for Yemen”, and the U.S. Government’s participation in the bombing of Yemen then did increase. This event — the murder of Saleh — raised the Yemen war to broader public attention in the country that was supplying the bombs and the weapons and training to the Sauds.

On 28 February 2018, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders was the lone sponsor of “S.J.Res.54 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)”: “This joint resolution directs the President to remove U.S. Armed Forces from hostilities in or affecting Yemen, except those engaged in operations directed at Al Qaeda, within 30 days unless: (1) the President requests and Congress authorizes a later date, or (2) a declaration of war or specific authorization for the use of the Armed Forces has been enacted.”

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On 19 March 2018, NBC bannered “Senators to force vote to redefine U.S. role in Yemen” — that was merely to force a vote in the Senate, not actually to vote on the issue itself. However, given how overwhelmingly America’s voters opposed America’s arming the Sauds to slaughter the Yemenese, this vote in the Senate to consider the measure was the gateway to each Senator’s being forced to go public about supporting this highly unpopular armament of the Saudis; and, so, if it had gotten that far (to a final vote on the issue itself), the arms-makers might lose the vote, because Senators would then be voting not ‘merely’ on a procedural matter, but on the actual issue itself. So, this vote was about the gateway, not about the destination.

The next day, Breitbart News headlined “Administration, Bipartisan Interventionist Establishment Kill Aisle-Crossing Effort to Rein In U.S. Military Involvement in Yemen” and presented a full and documented account, which opened: “The Senate resolution invoking the War Powers Act to demand the administration seek congressional authorization or withdraw American support from Saudi Arabia’s military operations in Yemen was defeated Tuesday by a vote of 55-44.” The peace-activist, David Swanson, headlined at Washingtonsblog, “Why 55 U.S. Senators Voted for Genocide in Yemen”, and he alleged that the vote would have been even more lopsided than 55% for the weapons-industry, if some of the Senators who voted among the 44 non-bloodthirsty ones hadn’t been in such close political races. The weapons-industry won’t hold against a Senator his/her voting against them if their vote won’t even be needed in order to win. Token-votes against such bills are acceptable. All that’s necessary is winning the minimum number of votes. Anything more than that is just icing on the cake.

On 19 December 2018, what survived from the Sanders bill was “Received in the House”, and less than three hours later was simply “Held at the desk.” And that was the end of it. This was a perfect example of the findings by political scientists that the U.S. Government is no democracy but instead a dictatorship by the very richest Americans.

So, this explains how the U.S. Government really ignores public opinion and only pretends to be a democracy. It’s done by constantly fooling the public. On the issue of which countries are ‘allies’ and which are ‘enemies’, and other issues regarding national ‘defense’, all necessary means are applied, in order to achieve, as Walter Lippmann in 1921 called it, “the manufacture of consent.” He wrote:

That the manufacture of consent is capable of great refinements no one, I think, denies. The process by which public opinions arise is certainly no less intricate than it has appeared in these pages, and the opportunities for manipulation open to anyone who understands the process are plain enough. The creation of consent is not a new art. It is a very old one which was supposed to have died out with the appearance of democracy. But it has not died out. It has, in fact, improved enormously in technic, because it is now based on analysis rather than on rule of thumb. And so, as a result of psychological research, coupled with the modern means of communication, the practice of democracy has turned a corner. A revolution is taking place, infinitely more significant than any shifting of economic power.

The CIA virtually controls the ‘news’ media.

Furthermore, even corporations that aren’t on that list of top 100 U.S. Government contractors can be crucially dependent upon their income from the U.S. Government. For example, since 2014, Amazon Web Services has supplied to the U.S. Government (CIA, Pentagon, NSA, and the entire U.S. intelligence community’s) cloud-computing services, which has since produced virtually all of Amazon’s profits (also see “Cloud Business Drives Amazon’s Profits”), though Amazon doesn’t even so much as show up on that list of 100 top contractors to the U.S. Government; so, this extremely profitable business is more important to Jeff Bezos (the owner also of the Washington Post) than all the rest of his investments put together are.

During June 6-9 of 2013, Jeff Bezos and Donald Graham had met at the Bilderberg conference, and, two months later, Bezos agreed to buy the Washington Post from Graham. Might Bezos have done this because Bezos knew that Amazon Web Services would be getting the giant Pentagon & CIA contract, which would soon start, and he wanted to make sure that Amazon’s profits would now, at last, start as a result; and that he would be the person who would be controlling what the readers of that newspaper — including almost every influential person in and around Washington D.C. — would be reading in their morning ‘news’paper? This would be at least as effective for boosting his net worth as hiring a few more lobbying firms would be.

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Another of Donald Graham’s properties is the online magazine, Slate. On 5 August 2013, that ‘news’-site headlined “Jeff Bezos Buys Washington Post” and reported

Now based on what we can tell from Bezos’ stewardship of Amazon, he’s possibly a dream owner from a journalism viewpoint. It’s of course possible that his intention is to run the company with a mindset of cutbacks on the expenses side to try to milk as much profit as possible out of a business in terminal decline. But he’s famously run Amazon as a deliberately low-margin, growth-oriented firm. If he runs the newspaper in anything like that same spirit, it’ll be an excellent thing for the world, whether or not it works out as a business.

No mention was made there that Graham owned Slate, or that the owner of Slate would be financially benefitting from Bezos’s purchase of that newspaper. Instead, the myth was (as always) being fed, that billionaires buy newsmedia because they want to benefit the public (support ‘our free press’) — the ‘philanthropic’ myth about super-wealthy individuals, that they are ‘public-spirited’.

The most corrupt part of the U.S. Government is the ‘Defense’ part. That also happens to be — and by far — the most popular part, the most respected (by the American public) part.

That’s a toxic combination (the ugly reality, plus the widely-believed lie to the contrary of it): toxic not only for a government’s domestic policies, but especially for a government’s foreign policies — such as for identifying which nations are ‘allies’, and which nations are ‘enemies’ (the issue of war and peace). This type of mega-toxic combination can’t exist in a nation whose press isn’t being effectively controlled by members of the same group that effectively controls the Government (in America, that’s the richest few, by means of these individuals’ many paid agents), including all of the Deep State, which America’s super-rich own. In America, one key to the rot is that the ‘Defense’ firms (and not merely most of the press) are privately owned. They are not actually for defense, at all; they endanger the country; they are for aggression — profitable aggression — from which everyone except the country’s super-rich suffer.

Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower started this, and it’s only getting worse.

Like former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said:

It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or being elected president. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. Senators and congress members. So, now we’ve just seen a subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect, and sometimes get, favors for themselves after the election is over. … At the present time the incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody that is already in Congress has a great deal more to sell.

And this is how it’s done. It is done by constantly deceiving the public. It’s done by lies. Lies rule over guns. And guns rule over butter. Lies are the ultimate weapon. And every empire is ruled by lies. That’s the way the world works.

* Investigative historian Eric Zuesse’s next book (soon to be published) will be AMERICA’S EMPIRE OF EVIL: Hitler’s Posthumous Victory, and Why the Social Sciences Need to Change. It’s about how America took over the world after World War II in order to enslave it to U.S.-and-allied billionaires. Their cartels extract the world’s wealth by control of not only their ‘news’ media but the social ‘sciences’ — duping the public.

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