Whatever The Problems Of The UK, At Least We Know What A Profitable War Looks Like!

Suppose you are an arms manufacturer (you may actually be an arms manufacturer as this is a public post!). There are three ways of making money from your products: planned or unplanned obsolescence; high maintenance costs; get your clients to buy more product, perhaps by actually using them.

Although wars have traditionally been the quickest driver of new weapons (think tank, radar, jet engine and atomic bomb as twentieth century examples) the current pace of technology makes obsolesence a realistic short-term possibility. Suppose, however, you are Lockheed Martin who make the Trident system.  It is clear that a ballistic missile maker won’t get a great many sales! Its like buying a car which is too reliable and lasts too long. So, as with the car, tying the customer to a  maintenance schedule is important.  Along with the Royal Navy submarine upkeep, the annual maintenance cost of Trident is estimated to be about £2.3bn.

What about the most destructive way of making money, getting your customers to use their weapons?  Considering the wars that have taken place over the past twenty five years it is possible to work out the desirable parameters. The war must be large enough to necessitate the use of expensive, probably missile, technology (and the occasional destruction of an asset such as a fighter plane)  Trump firing 59 Cruise missiles at Syria at around $1mil per shot is perfect! And that was just a simple retaliatory action. Small ‘boots on the ground’/police actions with mostly rifles and bullets aren’t going t make that much prfit (as in, for example, saving innocents from a central African genocide). Besides, open spaces like deserts really allow you to use the expensive stuff!

But the war must not be too big that it destabilises the world.  Fellow large multi-national Corporations like stability, so the war should not really disrupt world trade to any extent;.profit forecasts must be met. Besides ending the world is very bad for repeat sales (even for Lockheed Martin!). So the West is very cautious in North Korea!

Next the war must not be seen to have too many civilian casualties or the casualties must be easily presented as evil and thus disposable.  Ideally there should be few or none of your own casualties.  This means, either way,  the public will not get on the politicians backs to stop the conflict.

Finally the war, either during its execution but most certainly afterwards must present your investors with opportunities for profits from reconstruction.  A few months ago I wrote a post about the situation in Syria and included a report grom the Washington Post about major Gulf States (including Saudi Arabia) financial backing for Assad. If we had really wanted to sort out Syria then this is where we should have started, with the Middle East banks.  But there is no profit in this, unlike arms to be used in Yemen!

So to sum up,  Small proxy wars are best just as long as the controlling powers undeerstand the situation and it does not get out of control.

Maybe this post is simply cynical. But allowing for the fact that oil is an important driving factor in when and where we decide to go to war we are always ready to defend liberty where this a private profit to be made for organisations such as BAE systems. Otherwise, you are on your own. However cynical this post, it is nowhere near the level shown by arms manufacturers!

The Establishment Self-Serving Glorification of War Must End

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George III

I have never held a gun, let alone fired one.  I share this with the vast majority of British people, lucky to be born in the second half of the 20th Century when being sent to war in a mass army was a thing of the past.  At the same time I am no idealistic dreamer and am fully aware that we live in a world full of dangers (albeit some of which we create!), appreciating that there are men and women who make sacrifices for our country.  Because I have never been in the forces I cannot fully understand the life of a serviceman/woman, but I  am quite capable of questioning the motives of a British establishment which commits them to action. In particular there is a serious issue with a royal family which treats the armed forces both as a mean of personal glorification and a job creation scheme.

One of the inspirational aspects of the past few months for me has been meeting members of the Veterans for Peace movement (I particularly valued their presence at Levellers Day and Gus Hales has written a personal account). A number of my recent blogs (here for example) have involved the way contemporary monarchy encourages many people in Britain to uncritically accept it as part of their identity.  For servicemen and women the pressure must be overwhelming with the taking of the oath of loyalty and the justification of fighting for King/Queen and Country. To mentally reject that identity and question whether military power is in the interests of the British people themselves takes real will power.

While limiting the problem of the glorification of war to the monarchy risks missing a large part of the story, it is still a good place to start.  The fact that for three or four hundred years following the Norman Conquest English monarchs were in reality successful warlords means that monarchy and militarism were interlinked from the start.  Although by the eighteenth century the time was long past when a king personally led an army, monarchs lost none of their zeal for sending troops into battle for power and glory.  For example in 1781 when it was patently clear to politicians that the war in North America was lost and British troops should be withdrawn, George III (pictured above) insisted on continuing with hostilities,  With an increasingly rebellious House of Commons, Prime Minister Lord North was left with no option but to tell the King where to go!  Today, George III’s ancestors show similar disdain for servicemen.  At any state occasion members of the Royal family can be seen ridiculously strutting around in uniforms of high military rank bedecked with ribbons and medals.

Royaluniforms

As this Telegraph article makes clear, many of these are invented or handed out by the queen presumably with the intention of making an impression on us. There can be no other reason why you would give Prince Philip the Order of Merit when it is limited to 24 individuals and otherwise has been held by such luminaries as Bertrand Russell (himself a pacifist!). Look more closely and you will see almost all of these preening people displaying medals such as the Queens Silver Jubilee medal and Golden Jubilee medal given ‘for service’.  Interestingly these very medals have frequently been denied or withheld from actual servicemen/women of long standing as this blog illustrates.

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