By Caitlin Johnstone
“A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.” ~ Major General Smedley Butler, War Is A Racket
Imagine if someone became immensely wealthy by slaughtering hundreds of thousands of human beings and selling their skins for money. Would they not be remembered for generations as one of the most evil monsters ever to walk the face of the earth?
Now imagine if someone became immensely wealthy by killing the exact same number of people, but instead of selling their hides, they simply sold the weapons which killed them after using legalized government bribery to ensure their use. Would you expect to see similar levels of revulsion? Or would you expect them to be treated as respectable members of society and elevated to a position of king-like power and influence?
Northrop Grumman, one of the largest weapons manufacturers on the planet, was trending on Twitter yesterday. People are furious at the war profiteering death merchants, and are demanding an immediate change in its behavior. Not because it is an immensely powerful corporation which uses its influence to promote the consumption of machinery that tears apart human bodies. Not because people were horrified by its reported $25.8 billion in revenue last year. Not because Northrop Grumman often spends more money lobbying Washington to advance its interests than any other publicly traded entity. Not because the corporation once gave one of its lobbyists a $500,000 bonus right before he left to become a congressional staffer responsible for shaping US military policy, a position to which he was appointed by a legislator who just so happened to be the recipient of large amounts of Northrop Grumman campaign cash.
No, the widespread outrage at Northrop Grumman was because the prolific lobbyists for an industry which facilitates the slaughter of innocent civilians every single day had hired a man who is a white supremacist.
It is not my intention here to be dismissive of America’s ongoing, centuries-spanning struggle with the racism upon which the nation was built. Northrop Grumman systems engineer Michael Miselis is reported by ProPublica and FRONTLINE to be affiliated with the violent white supremacist Rise Above Movement and was reportedly seen attacking counter-protesters at two RAM gatherings last year, including Charlottesville. This is no minor thing. Neo-Nazis are evil and their ideology should be forcefully rejected.
That said, it is also true that employing a violent bigot probably ranks among the least detestable things that Northrop Grumman has ever done.
A 2014 study by Princeton University found that due to legalized bribery in the form of campaign donations and corporate lobbying, the wealthiest Americans wield an immense amount of influence over US government policy and behavior, while ordinary voting Americans have effectively zero influence whatsoever. Northrop Grumman spends tremendous amounts of money on campaign donations, the recipients of which include virulent warmongers like John “Bomb Iran” McCain, Hillary “We came, we saw, he died” Clinton, Ted “carpet bomb” Cruz, and Donald “bomb the shit out of ’em” Trump, whose administration is currently averaging a bomb dropped every twelve minutes. The company also spends millions of dollars a year lobbying politicians, and with good reason: a 2009 study found that for every dollar spent on lobbying, a corporation can make a return in excess of $220. That’s 22,000%. And time after time we see those lobbying campaigns pay huge dividends for Northrop Grumman, like when it earned a $21 billion Pentagon nuclear bomber contract after spending five years courting 200 members of congress.
Lobbying in Washington typically means cultivating long-term positive relationships with legislators on Capitol Hill, often by arranging fundraisers and assembling PACs to ensure their re-election, so as to secure influence with them. This is bad enough when you’ve got a corporation spending big bucks to persuade a legislator to enact policy in the interests of the corporation instead of the legislator’s constituents, but it becomes infinitely worse when that corporation’s sole means of profit depends on the endless expansion of the tentacles of the US war machine around the world. Ultimately, what you have is an extremely influential force shoving the entire world away from peace by ensuring that the US government is full of people who are highly motivated to promote the continually increasing consumption of large amounts of expensive weaponry. By pushing continued military expansionism and escalation, they are acting as an effective barrier blocking humanity from moving into health and harmony.
And it just so happens that most of the nations into which Northrop Grumman is actively incentivizing the US government to extend its military tendrils are full of people whose skin is not white. When Northrop Grumman-sponsored politicians stand at podiums telling America about the need to spread “freedom and democracy” into regions of brown-skinned people, they are being exactly as honest as the colonialists and conquistadors who grabbed land, gold and slaves under the false pretense of spreading Christianity. This corporation which is currently being hounded by self-righteous liberals because it employs a white supremacist has, in fact, built its entire industry upon the foundation of white supremacy.
So forgive me if I am a bit dismissive of Northrop Grumman’s statement that it is “absolutely committed to the highest levels of ethics and integrity in all that we do,” and that the alleged actions of Michael Miselis are “counter to our values”. There are no ethics or integrity in anything Northrop Grumman does, and the actions of a violent white supremacist are the purest embodiment of its values.
I hope we soon see a day when the public turns on corporations like Northrop Grumman. Not for employing a racist individual who can be easily and conveniently sacrificed as the source and summit of all the world’s evils, but for what they are and what they do. May the enemies of humanity be defeated. May all obstacles to health be torn down.
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