by Bill Quigley
Since 1980 the US has engaged in aggressive military action in 14 countries in the Islamic world alone, according to research published in the Washington Post: Iran (1980, 1987-1988), Libya (1981, 1986, 1989, 2011), Lebanon (1983), Kuwait (1991), Iraq (1991-2011, 2014-), Somalia (1992-1993, 2007-), Bosnia (1995), Saudi Arabia (1991, 1996), Afghanistan (1998, 2001-), Sudan (1998), Kosovo (1999), Yemen (2000, 2002-), Pakistan (2004-) and now Syria. In this hemisphere, US military forces invaded Grenada (1983) and Panama (1989), and landed 20,000 military forces in Haiti (1994).
US Global War Machine
The US has 1.3 million people in the military and another million serve in the military reserves. The US has over 700 military bases in 63 countries across the world deploying over 255,000 US military personnel there. The Department of Defense officially manages over 555,000 buildings on 4400 properties inside the US and in over 700 properties across the globe. The US has over 1500 strategic nuclear warheads, over 13,000 military aircraft, dozens of submarines, many of which carry nuclear weapons, and 88 huge destroyer warships.
Nearly 7000 US military people died as a result of the wars waged by the US since 9/11. Just as important, in Iraq over 216,000 combatants, most of them civilians, have died since the 2003 invasion. No one even counted civilian deaths in Afghanistan for the first five years of our war there. Our drone attacks have murdered hundreds of children and hundreds of civilian adults in Pakistan and dozens more in Yemen.
World Leader in War Spending
US military spending is about the same as the total of military spending by the next eight largest countries combined, that is more than China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, UK, India and Germany combined.
Since 9/11 US spending on our military cost well over $3 trillion. Direct combat and reconstruction costs for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11 have officially cost US taxpayers $1.6 trillion dollars according to the Congressional Research Service. Additional trillions have been spent on growing the Pentagon budget and for present and future increased health and disability benefits for veterans.
The US military captures 55 percent of our national discretionary spending and spending on veterans benefits is another 6 percent. Since 9/11 military spending has increased by 50 percent while spending on other discretionary domestic spending increased by 13 percent according to the National Priorities Project.
Corporate War Profiteers
With these trillions being spent on war, there are legions of corporations profiting.
The number one war profiteer is Lockheed Martin, according to USA Today, with annual arms sales of $36 billion. Not surprisingly Lockheed Martin spends over $14 million a year lobbying the people who make the decisions about how much money is spent on weapons and which weapons will be purchased. Their CEO is paid over $15 million, according to their 2015 shareholder report, and on their board is James Ellis, a former Admiral and Commander in Chief of US Strategic Air Command, who gets paid over $277,000 for the part time work and James Loy, former Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, who gets over $260,000 for his part time work. Lockheed receives substantial government contracts amounting, by one calculation, to over $260 from each taxpaying household in the US. They are so entitled that a 2014 special investigation by the US Department of Energy found Lockheed used taxpayer funds to lobby for more taxpayer funds.
Number two war profiteer is Boeing with annual arms sales of $31 billion. Boeings spends over $16 million a year lobbying. The rest of the top ten corporations profiting from war include BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Raytheon, EADS, Finmeccanica, L-3 Communications, and United Technologies. You can track their corporate contributions to members of Congress, especially the politicians on the Appropriations Committees of the House and Senate on Open Secrets.
While most of the lobbying money has gone to Republicans, all the arms merchants hire lobbyists who can influence Democrats and Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
And these war profiteers do not just sell to the US government. The US sold more than $26 billion in weapons to foreign nations and has been number one for a long time though recently that title has been going back and forth with Russia as to which is the world biggest international arms merchant.