by Scott Parkin
This past Monday, five courageous people occupied the roof of a Raytheon facility in Cambridge, MA in protest of the company’s war profiteering in Ukraine, the Middle East and other parts of the world.
The group, Resist and Abolish the Military Industrial Complex, set off smoke devices and locked to each other to prolong their occupation. All five were arrested and released.
The group said, “Raytheon’s CEO Greg Hayes was recently bragging to investors about the profit opportunity of the Ukraine invasion. So we’re here to call that out, we’re here to also set an example for people. Again there is kind of a reigniting in anti-war movements and people are so concerned about what’s happening globally and we want to show people that these war-profiteers are here locally and the first thing you can do to start resisting all wars and all empires is taking action locally,”
Last August, a similar action took place at another Raytheon facility in Providence, RI over profiteering of conflict in Palestine, Yemen and elsewhere.
Likewise in the UK earlier this month, peace activists blockaded a Lockheed Martin facility in Ampthill.
During the 1990s, in the wake of the end of the Cold War and a very brief period of smaller military budgets in the U.S., arms manufacturers like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon advocated for expansion of the military alliance to former Warsaw Pact countries. They funded NATO expansion lobbying efforts in the U.S. and Europe. NATO expansion has continued into the present and been an important factor in agitating the Russians into aggressive postures towards the rest of Europe.
While these corporations aren’t necessarily the instigators of wars, they are masters of profiting from it. Along with forever wars in the Middle East and growing tensions in the South China Sea, the Russian invasion has been a boon for the U.S. arms manufacturing sector.
In December, Congress approved a $768 billion military budget. The largest since the end of World War Two. $24 billion more than the Biden Administration had requested.
In the first week of the invasion, the stock of the big five arms manufacturers (Lockheed, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Boeing, Northrup Grumman), the makers of guns, fighter jets and tanks, saw their stock values significantly increase in value.
There is no Deep State conspiracy around it either. Arms manufacturers openly talk about business as usual on CNBC and in the pages of the Wall Street Journal. The U.S. military industrial complex has a long history and the corporate elite over it have no qualms about openly flaunting it.
In January, Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes reported to CNBC, “[W]e are seeing, I would say, opportunities for international sales. We just have to look to last week where we saw the drone attack in the UAE, which have attacked some of their other facilities. And of course, the tensions in Eastern Europe, the tensions in the South China Sea, all of those things are putting pressure on some of the defense spending over there. So I fully expect we’re going to see some benefit from it.”
Lockheed CEO James Taiclet has also stated: “But if you look at [defense budget growth] — and it’s evident each day that goes by. If you look at the evolving threat level and the approach that some countries are taking, including North Korea, Iran and through some of its proxies in Yemen and elsewhere, and especially Russia today, these days, and China, there’s renewed great power competition that does include national defense and threats to it. And the history of [the] United States is when those environments evolve, that we do not sit by and just watch it happen. So I can’t talk to a number, but I do think and I’m concerned personally that the threat is advancing, and we need to be able to meet it.”
On the “kinder, gentler” cruise missile front, Northrop Grumman CEO Kathy Warden, in response to the negative press that the other arms manufacturing CEOs were getting, laughingly described Northrop as a “global human rights promoter”: “I do want to be clear. We are a defense contractor. And so we are supporting global security missions, largely in areas of deterrents, but also inclusive of weapon systems. And we expect to continue in those businesses because we believe they actually promote global human rights proliferation, not the contrary. But with that said, we have evaluated some portions of our portfolio that I’ve talked about in the past like cluster munitions. And today, making the confirmation that we plan to exit depleted uranium ammo as parts of the portfolio that we no longer wanted to support directly.”
Presently, Lockheed Martin’s contracts with the Pentagon are 1.5 times the size of the U.S. State Dept’s budget. The climate provisions in Build Back Better were about 25% of what the Pentagons budget. Sen. Joe Manchin killed Build Back Better at the behest of the fossil fuel lobby saying we’d be wasting money spending it on preventing the climate crisis.
While much of the media attention and popular attention has been focused on Russia’s invasion and war crimes against Ukrainian civilians, there is a new energy growing around anti-war profiteering in the U.S. and Europe. We’re in the midst of overlapping radical movements taking action on racial justice, the climate crisis, the pandemic and labor struggles, with conflicts in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and potentially, East Asia, it only makes sense for these movements to start resisting war and empire.