Friday, 12 November 2010

Military Industrial Complex

Maybe there is such a thing as a just war and maybe some of the war aims of conflicts in recent years were valid. The fact that just war might be possible should not cloud our views of the military industrial complex. This posting was provoked by the film "Why we fight" one of 57 videos recommended by v-radio, an internet radio station dedicated to spreading the word about TVP/TZM. The film is a bit plodding (IMHO) at the start, but persevere, because the intensity builds towards the end.

It features the nauseating collaboration between arms manufacturers and government, but in a profit driven world people must have jobs, making weapons is a job and weapons must be sold to get money to pay the workers. The  companies must make a profit and war - frankly - brings profit as it consumes weapons.

Another pericope in the film was about an articulate, intelligent 23 year old man who was joining the army as he couldn't get a job elsewhere. He also admired the tech. Middle aged women arms factory workers were also featured, torn between their need to have a job and their distaste at making weapons to kill people.

Part of the lie we are told is that the technology is super accurate and gets its targets without killing innocents nearby. The tech plainly is technically impressive and we should lament that the skill and resources that go into building this stuff is not be diverted to constructive end. It isn't surprising that manufacturers over egg the capability of what they are selling, and this is no different. The fact that we see the exaggerated claims as news is a feature of how the military-industrial complex pervades. But these weapons aren't as accurate as is made out, as we know from the pain wracked faces or corpses of "non combatants" on our screens.

As public sector cuts bite deep, many people look to military spending and argue that resources should be diverted. The arguments against are either along the "protecting freedom" lines - no-one can disagree with protecting freedom, or along the lines of just war, and removing nasty rulers from power. So we might feel a bit guilty as if we didn't really want freedom or a world free of nasty dictators. I'm also a bit conflicted around poppy day. Were those who fought / died freedom fighters fending off fascism, or were they suckers in the military industrial complex, or both. I'm moved by the ceremonies at the Menin Gate and by the last post and reveille on Remembrance Sunday, but I wonder if this is all part of the enormous commercial (advert) for the military industrial complex. Death or injury working for a company should merit compensation from that company, rather than a few quid in a poppy sellers tin. I accept that people think they are fighting for their country or a just cause, and (perhaps) that to some extent they actually are, but the profit motive is what has turned the whole thing into an industry. If the industry can get the country on board, why wouldn't it?

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