How US Weapons Makers Promote US Wars against Foreign Nations
December 18, 2015
Lee Fang / The Intercept
A group formed this year by executives and lobbyists for the defense contracting industry is taking credit for "driving the national debate on foreign policy during the 2016 presidential election," and in particular for getting Republican presidential candidates to call for escalating military action in Syria. Americans for Peace, Prosperity, and Security was formed by current and former officials from Raytheon, BAE Systems, SAIC, and other major defense contractors.
Defense Contractors Laud Themselves for
Steering Candidates Toward Militarism
Lee Fang / The Intercept
(December 11, 2015) -- A group formed this year by executives and lobbyists for the defense contracting industry is taking credit for "driving the national debate on foreign policy during the 2016 presidential election," and in particular for getting Republican presidential candidates to call for escalating military action in Syria.
In an email to supporters over the weekend, Mike Rogers, the founder of Americans for Peace, Prosperity, and Security, hailed the group for "pushing candidates on national security."
He illustrated the group's impact with "highlights from many of our Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire forums showcasing the candidates' views on defeating ISIS."
From Ben Carson at an APPS forum in Dubuque, Iowa: "We also need to decide, in terms of these radical jihadists, what do we want to do? Do we want to contain them or do we want to destroy them? I vote for the latter, because you know they want to destroy us and there is no such thing as containing people like that."
From Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at an APPS forum in Charleston: "I am sick and tired of hearing people on my side avoid the idea of an American ground component."
Mike Huckabee told an APPS forum in Greenville: "We should have been running hundreds, if not thousands, of A-10 Warthogs busting every time a truck with supplies was on its way to ISIS soldiers."
The email also highlighted a quote from Jeb Bush at an APPS forum calling for the US to be prepared for a "long haul" war on ISIS, and a similar comment from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who said the US should engage ISIS as it had against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
As we've previously reported, APPS was formed by current and former officials from Raytheon, BAE Systems, SAIC, and other major defense contractors. Lobbyists who represent the defense industry are also involved.
Rogers, the former House Intelligence Committee chairman who retired from Congress last year, also represents private clients, though he has refused to disclose them.
To "help elect a president who supports American engagement and a strong foreign policy," the group spends money on public events in primary states and encourages presidential candidates to take hawkish positions.
Lockheed Martin, Boeing Rally Around Saudi Arabia,
Wave Off Humanitarian Concerns
Lee Fang / The Intercept
(October 23 2015) -- Representatives from two major defense contractors whose advanced weaponry is being used in the Saudi Arabia-led bombing campaign that has killed scores of civilians in Yemen were quick to defend the human rights record of the Persian Gulf kingdom in a panel discussion held last week in Washington, D.C.
Ronald L. Perrilloux Jr., an executive with Lockheed Martin, complained of an atmosphere of "hostile media reports" shaping the views of Congress, most of which, he said, are "patently false."
"Another significant irritant," Perrilloux said, "is the application of human rights laws" toward US allies in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates.
Perrilloux argued that these countries, despite being "better partners to us than some of our NATO allies," were being unfairly judged compared to Chinese human rights abuses.
Democrats on Capitol Hill recently blocked arms transfers to Saudi Arabia over concerns regarding the rising civilian death toll caused by the campaign.
Jeffrey Kohler, a retired Air Force lieutenant general who left the military and now work as a vice president at Boeing, declared, "We ought be encouraging that type of cooperation and facilitating and helping them with the gaps instead of just throwing stones."
Perrilloux added that "the biggest thing we can do to help them finish the job is to provide them with the benefit of our experiences, with training of their forces, and probably replenishment of their forces."
The increased attention to the human rights record of Saudi Arabia is due to several factors. The absolute monarchy has dramatically ramped up executions as well as repressive police actions against minority groups, including Shiite Saudis. Many of the executions are in connection with trivial offenses, such as adultery and acts considered as "sorcery."
Newly installed U.K. Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn made headlines in recent weeks by demanding that Prime Minister David Cameron intervene to stop the planned execution and crucifixion of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, a Shiite who was arrested as a teenager for protesting the Saudi government.
Boeing and Lockheed Martin play a pivotal role in the war in Yemen and the Saudi-led air campaign, which has contributed significantly to the civilian death toll. Saudi Arabia's air force is using Boeing-made F-15 jets to bomb Yemen.
The United Arab Emirates' air force, a major partner in the Sunni Arab and Western coalition to restore Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power, uses Lockheed Martin-manufactured F-16 jets to strike Yemen.
Other aerial bombs have struck apartment buildings, markets, refugee camps, and at least two wedding parties. A single mission from Amnesty International documented Saudi-led coalition airstrikes that killed around 100 people, over half of them children.
Perrilloux is Lockheed Martin's director of international business for the Middle East and Africa region, and a former US air attaché and acting defense attaché to Saudi Arabia.
Kohler now serves as the vice president of international sales and marketing for defense, space and security at Boeing.
For both defense contracting giants, the Middle East is still a growing market. The Congressional Research Service notes that between October 2010 and October 2014, the US signed off on more than $90 billion in weapons deals to the Saudi government.
Weapons transfers are actually a foundation for stability, the executives argued. "More often than not, it is the military relationship that will keep the relations and the bonds between countries very strong," Kohler said. "When you sell somebody a big platform like an F-15, you build a 30-plus year relationship with that air force."
The conference, organized by the National Council on US-Arab Relations, was designed to promote the strength of the alliance between the US and Saudi Arabia.
The list of sponsors was dominated by powerful oil, gas, and defense contracting companies, including Aramco, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Marathon Oil, ConocoPhillips, Raytheon, United Technologies, SAIC, Leidos, Halliburton, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, GE, and Northrop Grumman.
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