From Death Machine to Productive Powerhouse: How to Retool the Military-Financial Complex

The Dec. 8 online meeting of the International Peace Coalition, co-founded by the Schiller Institute, featured an exciting discussion of the defense industry based in the United States , otherwise known as the military-industrial complex. Just six major defense contractors dominate the market, and share a good chunk of a military budget, which is expected to reach close to $1 trillion in 2024.

That money could be used for a very different purpose, namely to launch an in-depth economic recovery program. And paradoxically, much of the skilled labor force and the capital goods sectors required to do so can be found in such military procurement companies, be it in the U.S. or in Europe.

At the IPC meeting, EIR editor Dennis Small outlined a project undertaken by a task force of the Schiller Institute related to the ways in which such firms could be converted from military equipment and re-tooled, with relatively little effort, so as to produce the goods needed for the civilian economy, under the motto “beat the swords into plowshares”.

Small first described what he prefers to call the “military financial complex”, since in the final analysis, the nexus of defense procurement companies is owned and run by Wall Street and the City of London. There are six main defense contractors in order of importance: Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, General Dynamics and L3Harris Technology.

If you look at the number one and number two shareholders of all six giants, only five names come up – and they are all among the largest asset management companies in the world: BlackRock, Vanguard Group (by far the two biggest firms in the U.S.), Capital Group, State Street Corp. and Longview Asset. They are the ones ultimately profiting from all that defense spending.

As the re-tooling project was still being worked on, Small gave an idea of what to expect by citing two examples:

  • The General Electric company now produces engines for fighter planes and bombers. But it is also able to produce small modular nuclear reactors, which can be built in a period of 24-36 months. This is exactly the type of technology that is urgently needed in many countries around the world, including in Israel and Palestine as part of Lyndon LaRouche’s Oasis Plan.
  • Northrop Grumman Aerospace is developing the B-21 strategic bomber (at an estimated cost of about $800 million per plane). But it also produces the HALO module for the Lunar Gateway project for space exploration, which costs about the same order of magnitude. The benefits for humanity of the latter are, of course, incomparably greater.

We don’t want to throw out the baby with the bath water, Small quipped, the baby being the skilled labor and equipment, but we do need to get rid of the dirty water. So, he said, “we are at the point where we have to beat swords into high-tech plowshares. We have to re-purpose the entire military-financial complex budget into productive activities. This will serve the purpose of ending wars in two ways: cutting off the money, and spurring development, which is the only lasting way to ensure peace.”

The project will soon be posted here.

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