Chris Hellman of the National Priorities Project, writing recently at TomDispatch.com, noted that since the 9/11 attacks, the United States has spent about $8 trillion on national security. Even accounting for all the funds paid out for troop salaries, overseas base construction and the training and equipping indigenous allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, among many other costs, it’s clear that vast sums of Pentagon money are flowing somewhere other than to the top weapons-makers. Unknown to most U.S. taxpayers and even many Pentagon-watchers, some of the largest and most recognizable corporations in the world have also been getting rich on America’s wars. Below are five examples of “civilian” companies that have reaped major rewards from the Pentagon during its last decade at war:
A decade of waging wars abroad, from Iraq and Afghanistan to Pakistan and Libya to Yemen and Somalia hasn’t been kind to average Americans. As the United States poured nearly $8 trillion into national security spending, and the national debt ballooned from $6 trillion to $14.3 trillion, the official unemployment rate has more than doubled -- from 4.5% to 9.1%. Meanwhile the number of children living in poverty in the U.S. has jumped nearly 20% since 2000, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty. And for older Americans, the risk of hunger has spiked almost 80% since 2001, according to a recent report by AARP. But from car companies to candy makers and even the biggest brands in organic food, so many of the world’s favorite companies have, over these years, cashed in on America’s wars.
In his famous 1961 farewell address, President Dwight Eisenhower warned of the "acquisition of unwarranted influence" by what he called the "military-industrial complex.” Today, however, the "large arms industry" that Eisenhower warned about is only part of the equation. Civilian firms such as FedEx and PepsiCo form the backbone of what more accurately can be described as a military-corporate complex of “civilian” businesses that enable the Pentagon to function, to make war and to carry out foreign occupations.