A recent report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Military Expenditure Database showed that American spending on defense tops all other militarized countries. In 2012, the United States spent around $682 billion on defense, towering China over three-fold who spent a mere, by comparison, $166 billion.
Of the world’s top 10 ordnance companies, the United States nearly monopolized the group by having seven of the 10 highest producing ordnance companies. The U.S. accumulated sales of ordnance nearly doubled those of the other countries in 2012; $237 billion compared to $120 billion.
The United States accounted for 44 percent of all world arms sales and from 2004 – 2011, U.S. arms sales to developing countries weren’t even grazed by other countries’ sales. The U.S. sold $151 billion to developing countries, and the very distant second? Russia selling only $79 billion.
The American arms industry also carries a significantly large amount of political influence on Capitol Hill. Just last year, defense companies spent over $130 million on lobbyists. William Hartung, a contributor to the World Policy Journal noted of the few years after Bush’s election in 2000 that “these have been boom years for the arms industry, with contracts for the top ten weapons contractors up 75 percent in the first three years of the Bush administration alone.”
The headlines are peppered with stories about the cash harbored and influence held by Big Pharma and Wall Street. The arms industry is America’s silent cash cow, looked over, silently contributing massive donations to campaigns, spending millions on lobbyists, and funding violence and war. As the saying goes, “war is business and business is good.”
Joshua de Leon is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.