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Who likes war?

The Federation of American Scientists has compiled some interesting facts (some reproduced below) about the role of the US in the global weapons industry available at: http://www.fas.org/asmp/fast_facts.htm

In Fiscal Year 1999, the United States delivered roughly $6.8 billion in armaments to nations which violate the basic standards of human rights (figure is conservative and based only on countries with major human rights problems).

Of the active conflicts in 1999, the United States supplied arms or military technology to parties in more than 92% of them - 39 out of 42. In over one-third of these conflicts - 18 out of 42 - the United States provided from 10% to 90% of the arms imported by one side of the dispute.

The United States of America controlled 40-50% of the total global weapons market in the 1990s.

Top defense contractors (including sales to both U.S. government and foreign buyers):
1. Lockheed Martin Corp.: $14.7 billion
2. Boeing Co.: $13.3 billion
3. Newport News Co.: $5.9 billion
4. Raytheon: $5.6 billion
5. Northrup Grumman: $5.2 billion
6. General Dynamics: $4.9 billion
7. United Technologies: $3.8 billion
8. TRW Inc.: $1.9 billion
9. Science Applications Corp.: $1.7 billion
10. General Electric: $1.7 billion

One reason the defense industry has such influence on the US government is because of federal campaign contributions.

Past industry contributions as reported by the Federal Election Commission and presented by the Center for Responsive Politics:
2002 Election Cycle (to date): $7.2 million
2000 Election Cycle: $13.6 million
1998 Election Cycle: $10.6 million

Top Lobbyists for 2000 Election Cycle:
Lockheed Martin ($2.38 million)
General Dynamics ($1.2 million)

It is not surprising, therefore, that many Americans and their elected representatives support continued Pentagon spending. The military industry has become a huge and untouchable jobs program employing directly and indirectly a large number of blue-collar workers and a rising number of technical professionals. Defense workers are kept in line by the fear of job loss and ensuing economic crisis. This threat is also used to frustrate efforts to scale back military production or to convert it to socially useful purposes.

In December 2001, the US Congress debated a Bush defense budget of $343.2 billion, an increase of $32.6 billion over the previous year. The increase would bring military spending to more than half of all discretionary spending. This is good news to the weapons industry. While many sectors in the US are suffering from the economic crunch, top weapons manufacturers are awaiting new orders, hiring new people, looking for new investments and gaining attention on the stock market.

While Congress worked out the versions of the military budgets, weapons manufacturers and their supporters are confident that it will be big. "With the [Bush] administration, we'll see a rebuilding of the military to bring it back to where it was eight years ago," says defense analyst Paul Nisbet. "We'll see a considerable appreciation in defense stocks, as we saw in the Reagan years." Check out more of Mr Nisbet's scintillating, insightful tips on how to make money by investing in machines that help kill people here.

Further reading:
On the topic of money this may be interesting.