Monday, September 1, 2008

The world according to Northrop Grumman

I came across this statement on the website of defense contractor Northrop Grumman:*
In the post-Cold War era, strategic nuclear weapons may no longer occupy center stage – however, they are still vitally important. The international environment remains a dangerous place. Twelve nations now have nuclear weapons, and 28 nations have ballistic missiles that can be used as delivery systems for these armaments. Consequently, America must continue to rely on its land-based ICBMs, and therefore must keep upgrading them to maintain the advantage as technology of adversaries improves and poses increasing threats to the nation’s security.
Why do I think this quote is significant?

Because a US company -- one that profits from building weapons of mass destruction -- takes upon itself the task of outlining the defense needs of the United States. I would have assumed that defining the defense needs of the United States would be the role of elected officials and public servants. Certainly not an arms manufacturer! Northrop Grumman does not even have the humility to quote this or that defense expert or a Pentagon report. It presumes to know best.

The international environment remains a dangerous place. But is the world dangerous enough for a company like Northrop Grumman? That is the question.

What was the true meaning of the Russia-Georgia conflict? It concerned the fate of multi-billion dollar US Cold-War era defense procurements: cargo planes, fighter jets, ICBMs, warships, tanks, etc. Such defense contracts will be up for grabs soon after the new US administration takes office. For example, the question as to whether the US should undertake massive upgrades to the nuclear forces will top the defense policy planning. As the Northrop Grumman website explains, "the Air Force is already looking ahead to consider future enhancements to ensure that Minuteman is viable to 2030 and beyond. "

The fact is, it is far from certain that an Obama Administration would authorize massive and lucrative upgrades to US nuclear arsenal. Just read the Obama policy platform. The candidate claims that he would like to eliminate nuclear weapons (sorry Northrop Grumman, that could mean no upgrades for your products).

The Iraq war commitments of the United States military are likely to taper off eventually. When this happens, US politicians cannot indefinitely justify a defense budget of half-a-trillion dollars to fight to fight a handful of Arabs hiding out in Northwest Pakistan and an insurgency in Afghanistan. China, by all accounts, has so far declined to become a global military power. Northrop Grumman and other defense contractors understand this. In a few short years, the world simply will not be dangerous enough.

Therefore, the policy to expand NATO and the belligerence of US leaders towards Russia can easily be viewed as part and parcel of an overall defense industry marketing strategy. These initiatives will help to create the impression that the US will have continued need for Cold War era defense industry products and services. The US military-industrial complex had been at a loss for a genuine a long-term raison d'être.

But it may have found one in Russia. Even supposing McCain loses the election, the fact is that McCain successfully marketed "fear of Russia" to the American public in August, forcing deterrence of "Russian agression" onto the foreign policy and campaign agenda. McCain -- win or lose -- scored an enduring victory for the US defense establishment. The Republicans have made it that much harder for a President Obama to say "no" to the Pentagon. They have largely succeeded in forcing Obama to concede that the world is a "dangerous place."

And that -- in two words -- is the world according to Northrop Grumman.
* Northrop Grumman is the world's third largest arms manufacturer. The company spent almost $17 million on lobbying politicians in 2006, and in the first six months of 2007 spent more on lobbying the US government than any other IT firm. In recent years, nearly two-thirds of the company's campaign contributions have gone to the Republican party. (Source Watch, Washington Technology)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Because all comments on this blog are moderated, there will be some delay before your comment is approved.