Skip to main content

No to guns? War is profitable business; no one would like to take on military-industrial complex

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
On 14 February, seventeen students and teachers were gunned down in their school in Parkland, Florida; however according to the non-profit organization, Everytown for Gun Safety, as of 2 March almost two dozen school shootings have already occurred on school campuses across the United States. This does not take into account the scores of others that are gunned down regularly in a country regarded as the worlds oldest democracy.
The Florida school shooting was certainly the trigger; because on 14 March, exactly a month after that terrible tragedy, hundreds of thousands of students across America walked out of more than three thousand schools, to protest gun violence. In memory of the seventeen killed in Florida they stayed out for seventeen minutes with a strong message to all to say NO to guns. A week from now, on 24 March a massive rally March For Our Lives (#MarchForOurLives) is being organized to Washington DC, in other major cities of the US and in several countries across the world. This March is intended to tell decision and policy makers to not only curb the use of guns but to ensure a total halt to their production. America and the world perhaps needs the school students to show the way!
Whether the decision/policy makers will actually pay attention to and act on this universal outrage is a matter of conjecture. Guns today is in fact a euphemism for the deadly military-industrial complex (MIC), which has a stranglehold not only on the US but on several countries of the world. The term military-industrial complex was first coined by President Dwight Eisenhower (a five star General during World War II) in his farewell address to the nation on 17 January 1961. That powerful speech apparently still reverberates among those who are concerned about what is happening in the world today. Eisenhower has also famously said, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
In the US, pro-gun groups like the National Rifle Association (NRA) however, are not taking matters lightly. They have gone on a propaganda blitz justifying the keeping and use of guns and consistently referring to the ‘Second Amendment’ to the US Constitution, which protects the right of people to keep and bear arms. With a claimed membership of over five million, the NRA is a powerful lobbying organization with influential politicians in their pockets. It is no secret about the money they pump into political campaigns. They have been flaunting slogans like Guns dont kill, but people do! and the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun!” The response to the NRA sloganeering from the students was an emphatic we call B.S.
Besides the US gun violence, the first three months of the year 2018 have been bad on several fronts. Violence seemed to be in charge across the globe. As the war in Syria entered its eight year on 15 March, the people there, particularly those in and around Damascus, were subject to the worst phase of violence since 2011, with several fatalities and many more causalities. Violence continued in several other trouble spots including, Yemen and Afghanistan, Sudan and DR of Congo, Myanmar and Israel, Venezuela and El Salvador, the Philippines and India. At the core of the escalation of this violence is the negative and insidious role, which guns and militarization play in the lives of nations and people today.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (www.sipri.org), established in 1966, is a global and highly respected independent think tank dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament. SIPRIs annual Yearbook and the slew of well-researched documents produced by it, provide one with the naked truth of the why of todays wars and how certain nations and companies profit immensely from war. The lead country in this profiteering is obviously the United States (strangely enough, all the five permanent members of the UN Security Council profit immensely from the manufacture and sale of arms). One of SIPRIs latest fact-sheets entitled How US arms manufacturers reap the profit of war highlights how the earnings of the worlds top arms sellers are higher than the GDP of 140 countries! Lockheed Martin (USA) tops the list; in 2016, its arms sales amounted to US$ 40.8 billion, which is higher than the total defense budget of all, but nine countries of the world.
On 12 March, SIPRI released its latest report, The SIPRI Arms Transfers Database. The Report highlights that India continued to be the largest weapons importer in the world over the last five years and arms exports from the United States to the country jumped 557% in 2013-17, as compared to 2008-12.Indias overall imports climbed 24% in the five-year period, accounting for nearly 12% of all global imports making the country the largest weapons importer for over a decade despite the thrust since 2014 under the fictitious Make in India mission to build indigenously. India spent more than $100 billion on buying new weapons and systems during 2008-17, with imports accounting for around 60-65% of the countrys military requirements. India has inked a raft of contracts during the last decade for fighter jets, special operations aircraft, submarine hunter planes, lightweight howitzers, artillery guns and other weapons and systems. Significantly during this period the arms imports by Pakistan dropped by a phenomenal 36%. (India could certainly learn from this)When French President Emmanuel Macron of France visited India a few days ago, he signed defense and nuclear deals with India. Meanwhile the corrupt Indian Government has maintained total silence on the earlier sale of the controversial Rafale jets.
That India is spending so much of money on defense is disgraceful and a scandal of the highest proportion for a country, where millions go to bed without a square meal, have no access to primary health care or elementary education. Today billions are allocated in the production of weapons particularly weapons of mass destruction and their application. Spending patterns in India and in most countries need to change in order to eradicate poverty and address other pressing issues, which are major threats to world peace and human life!
The fact is when war is a highly profitable business; no one would like to take on leave alone close down the military-industrial complex. It is common knowledge that those in power look forward to the kickbacks from the arms deals. Corruption is mainstreamed in this industry. It is not a state secret that the arms trade has been bank- rolling powerful politicians, businesspersons and other vested interests everywhere.
Mercenaries play an important role in the trade. These men who are anointed and protected by their Governments, have no qualms in selling the most sophisticated weaponry to the devil. No one raises the sensitive issue that the deadly weapons used by the ISIS and other terrorists have actually been manufactured by western nations. Saudi Arabia is on a massive spending spree buying the most sophisticated weapons from the US, UK, Canada, France and elsewhere- does anyone care to ask who are the ones who would finally use these weapons and against whom? It is common knowledge that the military- industrial complex wants wars to continue and it is they who are largely responsible for the refugee crisis which exists in several parts of the world today.
The lucrative global toy industry also reaps a windfall in the production of guns, violent video games and other imitations of war weaponry. Parents and elders do not bat an eyelid and happily gift such toys to their child for an occasion be it birthday, First Communion or Christmas. The long-term impact that such toys can have on a child is never considered. So naturally, everybody is shocked when a teenager takes a real gun and mows down his fellow-students and teachers.
On 19 March, Pope Francis completes five years of his Pontificate. He has been the one world leader who has courageously and consistently taken on the arms trade (and challenged the others to do so) referring to it as the industry of death. In June 2017 his intention, for Churchs worldwide prayer was the elimination of the arms trade’. Earlier on 23 September 2015, addressing the US Congress, he spoke plainly saying, Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.”
It is highly unlikely that there will be any dramatic change, especially after the March for our Lives on 24 March. Several so-called ‘world leaders are peddlers of arms or are just warmongers spoiling to find an enemy elsewhere because of their own incompetency. Even their close friends do not trust some who are itching to press the nuclear button. However, the plain truth is that children are showing the way, demanding that we all say no to guns. In this one prophetic act, lies a hope for the future of humankind.
---
*Indian human rights activist based in Beirut, Lebanon, works with the Jesuit Refugee Service on Advocacy and Communications, in the Middle East

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.

Narmada Valley's fossil evidence: Ground for 'nationalists' to argue primates' India roots?

By Saurav Sarkar*  In December 1982, a geologist digging in India’s Central Narmada Valley found something he did not expect. Arun Sonakia, who at the time worked for the Geological Survey of India, unearthed a hominid fossil skullcap from the Pleistocene era. The discovery sent shockwaves through the field of paleoanthropology and put South Asia on the map of human prehistory. Some experts concluded that the skull likely belonged to a member of a predecessor species of ours, Homo heidelbergensis , or perhaps was a hybrid of homo species, while Sonakia himself suggested “ an affinity… to Homo erectus .”