Friday, January 30, 2009
January 29, 2009 "The Nation"
I've decided to start manufacturing weapons. Nothing too ambitious, just some small arms, a few automatic weapons, and maybe a couple of bombs. You know the sort of thing.
It's not that I'm keen on killing people. I haven't actually killed anyone myself yet. It's all to do with economics.
You see, I can't help but notice that the arms industry is doing extremely well. In fact in these times of economic disaster, it's the one industry that seems to be expanding.
According to the Government's Defence and Security Organization, the UK has become the top global defense exporter, notching up a golden £10 billion of new business and snagging a walloping 33 percent of the market.
In fact the UK is now the second-biggest player in the global arms market, with a whizzo $53 billion of sales over the past five years, compared with America's $63 billion and Russia's measly $33 billion, France's pathetic $17 billion, and Germany and Israel trailing at $9 billion each.
And even in these difficult economic times, things look good for the future too. In 2007, global arms buying rose by 6 percent to £1. 3 trillion. And according to the Center For Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, the US spent $696 billion last year and is set to increase that to $706 billion this year.
US operations in Iraq are currently costing $14 million per hour. That's $343 million per day, or $3, 973 per second. By the time you finish reading this, the United States will have spent another $1 million in Iraq and Afghanistan combined!
That's an awful lot of gravy to share around, and I wouldn't mind putting my knees under the arms industry's table.
What I admire about the arms industry is that it's willing to put its money where its mouth is, when it comes to promoting its members' interests. And it has a lot of money.
Last summer, for example, the National Rifle Association of America announced that it intended to spend $40 million during the 2008 elections. That's quite a lot, isn't it? And $15 million was earmarked merely to persuade the Americans that Barack Obama would be a threat to gun ownership in the US.
They wouldn't throw that sort of money around if they didn't think it was going to do some good. And of course it does.
In the 2000 presidential race, the arms industry gave Bush five times the donations it gave to Al Gore. And Bush duly showed his thanks by doubling the expenditure on defense from just over $333 billion in 2001 to $696 billion in 2008.
And since November, the outgoing president has rushed through a whole slew of arms export deals, just to make sure his friends in the arms industry survive any economic downturn.
With friends like that, I know I'm going to feel right at home as an arms manufacturer.
Another thing that persuades me that the arms industry is the industry for me is its professionalism when it comes to creating markets.
One of the main responsibilities of any industry, of course, is to make sure it creates its own markets. You can't just rely on the demand being there, you have to go out and actually stimulate the demand.
And this is where, for me, the arms industry proves itself to be one of the most responsible in the world--on a par with the heroin and crack cocaine industry.
Take what happened after the collapse of Communism, which had provided the arms industry's bread and butter since the Second World War.
The arms industry was faced with empty order books. As the then-chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell put it, they were "running out of enemies"! But it only lasted for about six months.
At the time, I remember reading an editorial in a magazine called Weapons Today that described how the industry had fallen on lean times. But "Cheer up!" the editor wrote, because now that Saddam Hussein has invaded Kuwait, things will start looking up, and in the future we in the arms industry can look forward to Islam replacing Communism to keep our order books full.
To be quite honest, when I read that in 1990 I thought they were off their heads, but now I realize that one should never underestimate the professionalism and skill of the weapons industry in creating markets for their product.
I don't know how they've done it, but I am certain my future colleagues have had a big hand in making their own dreams come true.
And now, as the DSO notes with satisfaction in a recent Market Review, there has been a "return to higher spending in the Middle East." And as long as America keeps encouraging Israel to bomb the hell out of Gaza, thereby fueling the Islamic backlash that we are all praying for, we in the arms industry can look forward to a secure future, safe in the knowledge that the "Middle East regional market" will continue to expand well into the foreseeable golden future.
I can't wait to get manufacturing those shells and landmines.Terry Jones is a film director and actor and member of the Monty Python comedy group. - Terry Jones's War on the War on Terror: Observations and Denunciations by a Founding Member of Monty Python (Nation Books)
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