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Arms Manufacturers Influence GCC and US Foreign Policy

Arms Manufacturers Influence GCC and US Foreign Policy


PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network.
I’m Paul Jay in Baltimore. And welcome to this week’s edition of The Wilkerson Report
with Larry Wilkerson. Larry was the former chief of staff for U.S.
Secretary of State Colin Powell. He’s currently adjunct professor of government at the College
of William & Mary. Thanks for joining us, Larry. LAWRENCE WILKERSON: Thanks for having me,
Paul. JAY: So let me just tell you a little story
to start off, and then I want to ask you about it. I was at a dinner the other night. I was
invited with some other journalists. It was a new sort of think tank or strategic consulting
firm of some kind based in the Gulf Cooperation Council. They’re based in Dubai. They were
opening their Washington, D.C., office. And I was talking to some people at this dinner,
about 100 people, including the ambassador from Qatar. And there were various officials
from different GCC countries. And the person I was chatting with and a couple of other
people at the table were talking about how the GCC countries, particularly Saudi Arabia
and Bahrain, want the United States to attack Iran. And I said, you mean the same as Israel
wants. And they nodded, yes. And the argument given was because of the Shia populations
in Bahrain and in Saudi Arabia. They think the Iranians are pushing their influence in
the region through these Shia populations. And, of course, in Saudi Arabia, the Shia
area is where most of the oil is. And generally speaking, there’s this long-term rivalry anyway
between these Sunni countries and the Iranians. And they said this Shia-Sunni thing does matter
to these people. At any rate, the dinner was paid for by Lockheed
Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, and some of the other largest American arms manufacturers,
and that’s who seems to be major funders for this outfit. And this is to a large extent
about helping guide foreign policy in the GCC countries–and, obviously, sell them weapons.
So my question, Larry, is: to what extent do these big arms manufacturers and their,
you could say, narrow commercial interest influence, push, guide the foreign policy
of countries like the GCC, but even more, foreign policy of the United States? WILKERSON: Paul, I think they do quite a bit.
It’s not as if the president of Lockheed Martin or Boeing or Raytheon is out looking for war.
What it is is that they’re out looking for profits, and the more profits, the better.
And so if you find a line of conversation–for example, Iran presents a decided threat to
the Gulf Cooperation Council–then you can push that line and you can sell more armaments.
I think we’re up in the $50 billion or $60 billion right now contemplated in just missile
defense alone to the GCC countries. So this is an enormous influence on U.S. foreign and
security policy, because ultimately what it does is it sets the conditions, intended or
not, wittingly or unwittingly, for a more contentious, more tension-filled standoff
between, in this case, Iran and the United States. JAY: And I think back to Eisenhower’s speech
about beware of the growing power of the military-industrial complex. And I went back and reread his speech.
It wasn’t that Eisenhower said we shouldn’t have a massive military-industrial complex.
He says the country needs that, given the current world situation and all that. But
he says that they have inordinate power and people have to find a way to balance their
power. And I’m wondering: are we seeing some of that
in today’s debate about Iran, where you see the Obama administration–and I think the
Hagel appointment is further indication of this–does not want to go to war with Iran,
sees the war of Iran as kind of a distraction from the big geopolitical picture facing the
United States, the same way President Obama said he was against the Iraq War? Not because
he’s against war. He made it very clear he’s no pacifist. He’s not against the United States
as being the dominant military power in the world. He’s not against projecting U.S. power.
But he sees, as he said when he went to Australia [incompr.] this Asian pivot strategically
the United States has to maintain its military dominance in Asia, its Eurasia oil and gas.
I mean, Obama seems far more Brzezinskian in his view of the world, that it’s about
Eurasia, not about Iran. But that may be at odds with the shorter-term commercial interests
of this sector. WILKERSON: Well, you’ve just fallen into one
of the traps that a lot of my esteemed colleagues fall into. Iran is in Asia, and Western Asia,
but it’s in Asia. I think one of the problems we have today
that has magnified Eisenhower’s warning is not just the passage of time, in which we
have become more of a national security state and thus more subject to the influence of
the military-industrial-congressional complex, but also the fact that in ’92 or so, at the
end of the Cold War, we went from having quite a few military contractors who battled each
other in the typical American competitive spirit for contracts with the Pentagon down
to about six really big ones. And today what those six do is create monopolies.
They collude. Lockheed Martin’ll be the prime, and Boeing and Raytheon and General Dynamics
will be the subs, and so forth. And this influence has become more like a laser, and it has become
more motivated by profits, because the profits are enormous–Lockheed Martin’s shares, for
example, went from something like $25 a piece to about $125 a piece with the Iraq War–that
they exercise an inordinate amount of influence over U.S. decision making. And your point
that they might be something the president needs to counter is exactly what Dwight Eisenhower
suggested. But I will caution too that I think if you
reread that speech, you’ll see the main point Eisenhower brings out is about, as he says,
an alert citizenry. And that’s a direct phrase from the speech. And we simply don’t have
an alert citizenry in this country today. He said that was absolutely essential to balancing
the power of this complex. And we simply don’t have that today. And I think that’s a huge
problem. JAY: Now, if you–by the way, I know Iran
is in Asia. My point was that in the view of the Obama administration, it seems the
thesis is it’s all about China, which is more or less what Brzezinski talks about, and of
course the oil and gas of the whole region. But what I’m asking you, I guess, from when
you were inside: how much pressure comes from those forces? I mean, we had the Iraq War.
I mean, how much–to what extent was that a war that was the product of this kind of
pressure from this complex? To what extent is Cheney, who we knew was–who was at Halliburton,
how much does that represent a kind of a more banal commercial motive? WILKERSON: We elected a defense contractor
as vice president of the United States. That’s the bald-faced fact of the matter. We could
be a Third World country in that regard. That defense contractor came from one of the most
influential entities in the military-industrial complex. And to say that it didn’t have any
influence on his decision making would be naivete in the highest degree, in my view. Now, Dick Cheney didn’t say, go out and get
me a war so Halliburton can make money. But if one thinks that does not have influence
on the decision-making associated with the Bush administration, I think, as I said, one
is just being totally naive. JAY: And so when you look at the potential
for some conflict with Iran, and in if in fact this is true that especially Saudi Arabia
and Bahrain are pushing this alongside Netanyahu in Israel–and I guess it wouldn’t hurt the
Saudis if the price of oil were to skyrocket, although it’d certainly hurt the American
economy, and I think the Saudis don’t want to torpedo the American economy. They’ve tried
to mitigate–. WILKERSON: Yeah, and the Saudis have–essentially
their oil ministry people have told me this. My figure’s a little old, but I doubt they’re
too much out of date. About $88 a barrel for West Texas Intermediate or Brent crude, the
benchmarks, is good for Saudi Revenues and not good for incentivizing alternative energy
research. So they like that. But they need about $115 to $120 a barrel to continue and
even increase their patronage levels so that they don’t get a lot of uproar in their own
country, to buy people off, to buy the opposition off, if you will. So they’re sort of caught.
They’re hoisted on their own petard, if you will. They’re caught between those two figures.
At the same time, I think the Saudis are very, very concerned with not letting oil get too
expensive, because then you do exactly what I just said, you incentivize other ways of
creating energy. JAY: And you could help trigger an even deeper
recession globally and the United States, which is going to dry up a lot of demand.
So it’s–. But I said this to the people I’m sitting around this table with. I say, I mean,
how do they want to open this Pandora’s box, you know, the chaos that could emerge economically
through the oil prices? Who knows what Iran does in terms of counterattack and such. I
mean, do they really want to go down this road? And at least the people at the table
are saying, yeah, that’s how much they want this. And three tables over are the representatives
of Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and so on and so on. So I guess what I’m asking you is, you know,
during pre-First World War, there was this guy, [‘zArIkOf], I think his name was, and
he was called the merchant of death. And he was taking ads out in the German papers, telling
the Germans how the French had this new weapon that he–and doing the same thing on the French
side, and he was selling machine guns to both sides and all that. I mean, how much of this
stuff still goes on like this? WILKERSON: I think a lot of it goes on. I
think the question is: how much influence does it have on presidential decision making,
and ultimately on the decision of a country like the United States to go to war? I think
that influence has grown markedly since Dwight Eisenhower rendered his warning. And as I
said, I think we’d all be naive if we didn’t realize that. And I think the American people
are naive. They’re not that alert citizenry that Eisenhower called for to check and balance
this kind of force. And the second part of it, Paul, is: do we
continue to have a threat in the world, an existential threat like the U.S.S.R. certainly
was, that warranted, as Eisenhower said–very balanced speech, if you reread it–warranted
the continuation of this establishment so necessary to fighting an enemy like the Soviet
Union, whether you’re cold or hot? I say we don’t have that kind of threat today,
so why the devil are we still maintaining this huge military-industrial complex, which
is so counter to all of our founding principles, when we don’t have that kind of an existential
threat? We’ve created this military-terrorist-industrial complex, as Colin Powell has said, in order
to sustain what we had vis-a-vis the Soviet Union. That’s wrong. We shouldn’t be doing
it. We’re going to bankrupt ourselves [crosstalk] JAY: And we are because of the political power
of this sector? WILKERSON: I think that’s part of the reason.
They want to sustain themselves. We want, the president wants to maintain the jobs they
create. And you go about doing this in various ways, one of which is making sure that you
exploit the politics of fear sufficiently so you can continue to make all those high-dollar
items–the F-35s, the F-22s, the LCSs, and other things that look to me like they might
not be applicable to the threat in the world today. The only thing they’re applicable to
are the profits of these essentially six giant defense contractors. JAY: But one of the arguments given is that
in order to be able to have such continued commercial dominance in the world, the United
States needs such military dominance. Is there truth to that? WILKERSON: Well, there’s truth to it if you
think like John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles, who, for example, plotted the overthrow of
Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, essentially for the company that Allen Dulles, as I recall,
was the director of, United Fruit Company, monopolizing bananas all throughout the region. But I think it’s more complicated than that
today, Paul. I think it’s hooked up in big oil. It’s hooked up in, as you said, the military-industrial
complex. It’s hooked up in a combination of strategic theories that are battling each
other right now, one being basically engagement and multilateralism, and the other being unilateralism
and U.S. dominance, even U.S. hegemony. And we still are suffering from the conflict that
that’s created. It is also hooked up in the fact that we don’t
seem to be able to get out of being what we have become, a national security state whose
raison d’etre, to a certain extent, is war and more war. That’s scares me more than Eisenhower’s
warning about the military-industrial complex. Though it’s a part of that problem, it is
not the only problem. There are far more complex and other incentives and other motivations
for maintaining this national security state. And the only way to disestablish this national
security state is for the American people to get extremely angry about it and demand
it. And I just don’t see that. Instead, I see their acquiescence in everything from
national security letters to maintaining Guantanamo to increased surveillance. They just don’t
seem to be alert to the threat that this presents to our democratic federal republic. JAY: Alright. Thanks for joining us, Larry. WILKERSON: Thanks for having me, Paul. JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real
News Network.

18 comments on “Arms Manufacturers Influence GCC and US Foreign Policy

  1. It is all about China. Iran is one of China's largest oil traders, if overthrow Iran, then you limit oil trade to Russia, Latin America and Africa and further contain China even more. Another point to make is India and the growing relation between Pakistan and China.

  2. Additionally Iran's military is one of the smallest in the region. Their military budget is less than Saudi Arabia and their military is smaller than Pakistan. Iran posses no threat either in the region or, to an American invasion.

  3. Well its only obvious that Saudi Arabia is their biggest supplier, as generally they happen to be the main supplier for the majority of industrial nations. However, I don't think the China have a close relationship, they did not even recognize the PRC until 1975, the amount of energy they currently need they have to side with Saudi Arabia. Plus I think they don't want to maintain so much reliability on a state, that has so much connectivity to the U.S. thats why they are turning more to Russia.

  4. It's also why China is investing very heavily in alternative sources of energy. China still having very intact communist control isn't as susceptible to corporate pressures that get in the way of developing alternative energies as in the case of the USA.

  5. Copied from the transcript:

    But I will caution too that I think if you reread that speech, you'll see the main point
    6:21 Eisenhower brings out is about, as he says, an alert citizenry. And that's a direct phrase
    6:28 from the speech. And we simply don't have an alert citizenry in this country today.

    6:33 He said that was absolutely essential to balancing the power of this complex. And we simply don't

    The transcript translation of this program is the most accurate I've seen yet, thank you

  6. Sorry Mr. Wilkerson "Dick Chaney did not say 'go out and get me a war'" is misleading. I think at best he did just that in getting CIA to cherry-pick intelligence in the build up to Iraq. At worse, not at all an unlikely scenario, he gave a stand-down order to NORAD so as not to intercept planes on 9/11. He is a war-criminal of the worst kind either way who should be tried in the Hague.

  7. The fact that Cheney still goes on Fox to spew his propaganda as a free man isn't as much an indication of our lack of alertness, but our lack of power. Dick isn't hoping that we don't notice, he knows that we won't do anything even if we do notice. We won't cause we can't. He just about admitted to torture on national TV. His case will go down in history as one of the greatest injustices of the 21st century

  8. The military industrial complex can't just keep on manufacturing arms.
    They have to make a hugh profit. The only way for this to happen is
    to keep the wars coming in on a regular basis so that their arms are
    being used up.
    This is exactly what is happening.

  9. They get 555 thousand barrels per day from Iran according to the EIA, about half what they get from Saudi Arabia which is 1005 thousand. Iran is currently the third largest supplier, with Angola coming second, yet with the new energy deals between China and Russia, I should think Russia imports may increase secreasing dependency on both Saudi Arabia and Iran.

  10. sigh…I don't know what the point of your reply was. If it was to somehow prove me wrong, then you might want to look at the TOTAL number of barrels China is importing per day.

    Around 5076…Hence, as I previously said, Iran contributes about 10% of China's oil consumption. Yes, Saudi Arabia produces about 20% of China's oil, but I don't see what the point of mentioning that is, when you were talking about Iran.

  11. I was not attempting to prove you wrong. I was simply highlighting the importance of Iranian trade. Knocking 10% of a countries oil trade would be crippling to a country, especially to a country as China with such a high demand for oil.

  12. from what point was our foreign policy ever not commercial? and yes i know there are a few exceptions examples like unionizing japan and rebuilding europe post ww2

  13. love larry wilkerson's reports. tells it how it is and puts what the media shoves out there in a little context with his personal experience.

    he should really write a book to get some of his experiences and reflections on things out on the public record in the mainstream. his voice is needed out there.

  14. I must point out the oxymoron of "six big arms monopolies" in the caption. If there are six of them, then by definition they aren't monopolies.

  15. They still are monopolies in that they collude in the allotment of the military contracts, as Mr. Wilkinson pointed out in the video.

  16. the sad thing is: when we let our guard down and start spending money on our communities instead of foreign wars, evil collaborators will enact an attack and have a department take credit for it- and we'll be both inspired to retaliate and remorseful of our apparently costly lack of earlier violent action.

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