It’s a deeply perturbing thought. 617 British lives may have been lost to serve the interests of US Defence industry.
The evidence is persuasive and increasing. Today the Guardian reports that the US Envoy to Nato is demanding that money saved on an Afghan peace dividend should be spent on new armaments. The UK military bill alone for that war was £17 billion.
A doctrine of perpetual warfare is precisely what the fat, influential arms industry want. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have racked up massive cost in blood and treasure. In both cases new rotten governments replace old rotten governments.
Staggering evidence has emerged of the reach of the tentacles of the US Defence contractors. The disgraced General Petraeus, when he was the top US commander in Afghanistan, allowed lobbyists Frederick and Kimberly Kagan unique access to secret information and private meetings. The married couple used these privileges to advocate substantive changes in the US war plan, including a harder-edged approach that intensified war activity. The Kagans repeatedly campaigned against peace initiatives to serve the commercial interests of their defence contractors' paymasters. Although they always at the elbow of Petraeus, they were not paid by the Government or the Military. They income came from the US Defence contractors. This is lobbying at its most pernicious. Petraeus allowed the Kagans to help draft his reports to the US government. The resultant decisions lengthened the conflict and increased the total of NATO and Afghan casualties killed.
Another sensation story surfaced last month. A taped conversation reveals that in early 2011, Rupert Murdoch sent the boss of his most important US media outlet, Fox News, to Afghanistan to persuade Gen Petraeus to run against Barack Obama as the Republican candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Murdoch promised to bankroll Petraeus’ campaign and commit Fox News to provide the general with wall-to-wall support.
Murdoch’s efforts to put his own man in the White House failed because Petraeus decided he did not want to run for office. “Tell them if I ever ran,” he says in the recording, “but I won’t … but if I ever ran, I’d take him up on his offer.”
In Britain we have news of the revovling door from the Ministery of Defence to the Arms industries. 3,500 civil servants have found lucrative retirement jobs in the industries that were their previous customers. The traffic is two-way. Employees of defence companies are transferred to work temporally in the Ministry of Defence. A monstrous Siamese twin of Government and the Arms Trade is fomenting the doctrine of perpetual war.
This is potentially even worse than commercial lobbying. Thirty years ago, top public sector jobs were seen as the pinnacle of someone’s career. You were never going to do anything more important. Now, the danger is that they are seen as merely a stepping-stone to private sector riches – and that, rather than serving the taxpayer, becomes the prime objective of civil service life.
Having been dragged by compliant Government into two recent avoidable wars, the present Government is softening public opinion for participation in conflicts in Iran and Syria. Canada and the Netherlands have independent foreign policies. They have withdrawn their combat troops from the futility of Afghanistan. We must wait for permission from America before we withdraw all our combat troops. We have no independent foreign policy. History will rightly condemn British donkey leaders who led our brave soldiers lions in conflicts that served the US Arms Industries.