Beast of Ukraine war thrives on corporate greed

Now that the Taliban is back with guns and dogma, the War on Terror, fought with weapons bought in the black market, seems to have hit the pause button.

Published: 20th February 2022 07:14 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th February 2022 07:56 AM   |  A+A-

Members of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, train in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Jan. 22, 2022. (Photo | AP)

Members of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, train in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, Jan. 22, 2022. (Photo | AP)

Express News Service

If diplomacy is war by other means, war is minting billions by underhand means. When diplomacy fails and nations wage war, arms dealers, weapons manufacturers and third-party government lobbyists come out of the tenebrous underworld, don the war paint and sell death machines to enrich coffers. Their price is billions and the cost is misery and death.

Now that the Taliban is back with guns and dogma, the War on Terror, fought with weapons bought in the black market, seems to have hit the pause button. The world’s great Hydra with the most number of tentacles that reach governments, terror cells, guerilla groups, breakaway factions and mercenary gangs is the Arms Lobby. And its promoters are the same states which vow on a daily basis that to be in the business is not their business. The Russia-Ukraine standoff, with Europe once again on the brink of war after 1939, is a most insidious exercise to manipulate arms trade. Supply was enhanced to create demand for weapons and lethal technologies. The players involved are Russia and the US-led NATO, which was formed as protection against the USSR. The NATO comprises former European foes and ex-Soviet satellite states. Most NATO nations have big 

corporations that manufacture and export material to countries that never fought a war or are unlikely to in the future. Conflict alters geographical boundaries and multiplies the worth of the War Empire. 

Though China discovered gunpowder, it was taken outside by Westerners like Marco Polo. The earliest recorded arms trade involved European colonial empires with indigenous nations. The war economy is booming mostly thanks to a whopping rise in worldwide defence expenditure, spurred by private mercenary corps like Blackwater and the machinations of the CIA and Western businesses hungry for natural resources in Africa and Latin America. Almost every three dollars out of $100 of the global income are spent on military expenses.

Despite the global GDP shrinking by 4.4 per cent during the first year the pandemic, nations spent a total of $2,000 billion and change on the military — an increase of 2.6 per over the previous year. It was the highest ever budget rise since 2009. India was the third-largest military spender in the world in 2020, behind only the US and China. According to the Stockholm-based International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), it was the third-largest spender followed by the US and China.

India has always been in an undeclared Cold War with China and Pakistan, but has not gotten into conflict since Kargil. Yet its defence expenditure has skyrocketed from $56 billion in 2016 to around $75 billion. While the US contributed 39 per cent of the money spent on military globally, China spent 13 per cent and India 3.7 per cent of the global share. However, SIPRI reports had other interesting revelations. The Asian nations alone saw a massive spurt in arms purchases of around 50 per cent during the past decade. Both India and China together contributed over 62 per cent while the American military spending declined by 10 per cent in the same period. Neither of the Asian giants was involved in a direct war.

The Gulf nations have spent over a $100 billion on military hardware. Saudi Arabia stuck in a war with well-armed Houthi rebels — no prizes for guessing where their weapons came from — with 11 per cent share was the largest arms importer. Riyadh got around 70 per cent of its weaponry from the US, which also meets 92 per cent of Israel’s and 95 per cent of Japan’s needs.

More than actual wars between ideological or economic rivals, the unnatural rise in defence expenditure is owed to the merchants of death like Viktor Bout, considered the world’s single biggest private arms trader. In 2012, the US sent him to 25 years in prison. Bout sold old Soviet military aircraft and weapons to African outfits. UN documents revealed that he gave weapons to the murderous Liberian dictator Charles Taylor in exchange for diamonds. He armed both factions in the Angolan civil war and to Central and North African warlords who engineered genocides. All conflicts in the past two decades bore Bout’s fingerprint. His life was so tumultuous that the 2005 film ‘Lord of War’ was made on him.

Bout is a classic case study of war entrepreneurship whose global annual turnover is massive; the world’s top 100 arms contractors make $400 billion annually, a sum that went up by 25 per cent in less than a decade. Five of them are US-based and account for over 60 per cent of the total global arms sales. For example, more than 50 per cent of the business of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics and CACI International is generated through the sale of arms and defence-related equipment. Similarly, Dassault, Naval Group and Safran (France), MBDA and Airbus (EU), Leonardo (Italy), Rolls Royce and BAE Systems (Britain), SAAB (Sweden) and United Shipbuilding Corporation (Russia) thrive on arms deals with various government agencies across the world.  

The influx of arms into Africa and Asia since the 19th century became a political and business weapon to control the balance of power in countries where developed nations had corporate interests. The Third World weaponry explosion happened from 1978 to 1985 when governments ordered $258 billion worth of arms and ammunition, including 13,960 tanks and self-propelled artillery, 27,605 armoured personnel carriers, 4,005 supersonic aircraft, and 34,948 surface-to-air missiles, according to an Ohio State University input.

It is obvious that long-lasting peace for the long run is unhealthy for arms dealers and their government lobbyists. If American and European leaders are competing with Russia in a war of words than guns, the logical question would be, “Are such noises meant for facilitating both immediate and future orders for countries likely to fight a war or is it a coincidence that top Western leaders really believe that a Ukraine invasion is imminent?’ US President Joe Biden even declared the date and time of the attack; both were wrong.

The 30-member EU amplifies the US concern with all the resources at their command. For both Russia and the West, the military confrontation is an exercise in market expansion by the acquisition of arms and their massive use. No major international war has broken out since World War II. But more time and money has been spent on predicting wars or manufacturing war hysteria than on making life better for people. The US has splurged trillions of dollars on wars it fought supposedly to protect democracy in Afghanistan and West Asia. In Afghanistan, it retreated shamefully, abandoning sophisticated arms and fighter jets in the hands of those it wanted to eliminate.

War and upgrading mass murder is a highly profitable business. Private security companies hire war veterans to fight terrorists and small governments. Sometimes terrorists themselves hire mercenaries as seen in Syria. Researchers name invisible armies created by Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs). Though the numbers and revenue are shrouded in mystery, private armies are a $200 billion enterprise comprising over 500 small and big entities. For example, over 100,000 private soldiers were drafted by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US spent over $120 billion on hiring PMSCs for operations outside the country in 2011. It seems that expensive arms are delivered to terrorists all over the world when border forces are perhaps drunk, sleeping, or bribed, or all three, at border check posts. War is a business that never sleeps.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp