First, let me be clear, war is terrible. It should not be a settlement option in any dispute because the poor, the vulnerable and children suffer in any war, not least the devastation to the country's infrastructure. But, whilst the human and economic losses are unquantifiable, some benefit enormously from wars. And to understand who is likely to benefit from war, you have to look at the weapons used to fight battles and connect the dots with those weapons' production and distribution lines. To put it bluntly, who manufactures these weapons and what is their role in the conflict? There must be a need for patronage for any business to strive, and the weapons trade is no exception. There must be conflicts for weapons traders to remain in business. Therefore, it becomes imperative to understand the role of weapons manufacturers in global disputes, if any at all.According to the Campaign Against Arms Trade, a UK-based advocacy group: "Large-scale military procurement and arms exports only reinforce a militaristic approach to international problems."
The list below includes some of the world's major weapon manufacturers, as compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and released in 2016.
- Lockheed Martin (US)
- Boeing (US)
- BAE Systems (UK)
- Raytheon (US)
- Northrop Grumman (US)
- General Dynamics (US)
- Airbus Group (EU-wide)
- United Technologies (US)
- Leonardo/Finmeccanica (Italy)
- L-3 Technologies (US)
Lockheed Martin sold $36 billion in weaponry in 2015, making a $3.6 billion profit, and had a total market value of $91 billion on the New York Stock Exchange as of October 2017.
In 2015, the UK's largest weapons maker sold $26 billion worth of weaponry, accounting for 93 percent of its entire sales.BAE employs about 82,000 individuals who assist in the production of military equipment for the British army and other countries, such as the Tornado warplane, Challenger tank, and drones.
Airbus, like Boeing, is well-known for its passenger aircraft, which are used by airlines all over the world.Arms sales account for 18% of the company's revenue, or $12.9 billion.
Since weapons sales, war and military expenditures generate tens of billions of dollars to governments and foreign states, and arms manufacturers employ hundreds of thousands of people worldwide and form an essential part of local economies, it is thus reasonable to argue that war is a striving business where profits are in dollars and the losses in human lives.Major General Smedley Darlington Butler, nicknamed "Maverick Marine", a senior United States Marine Corps officer who fought in the Philippine–American War, the Boxer Rebellion, the Mexican Revolution, put it out clearly in his book "War is a racket". He states that WAR is a racket, and it has always been and that it is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are in dollars and the losses in lives.
Russel Brand explains how war is big business
From the list above, it is easy to see that the US is the major exporter of weapons worldwide, accounting for around 80% of arms export companies. The same US is also involved in many conflicts around the globe. Therefore, it can be tempting to suggest that the US may have a questionable interest in initiating disputes worldwide.
It is now evident that as long as these companies continue to manufacture weapons and seek the patronage of their products, the use of militaristic approaches to global problems will continue to strive.