We all know that Halliburton is raking in billions from the Bush Administration’s occupation and rebuilding of Iraq. But in the long run, the biggest beneficiaries of the Administration’s “war on terror” may be the “destroyers,” not the rebuilders. The nation’s “Big Three” weapons makers–Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman–are cashing in on the Bush policies of regime change abroad and surveillance at home. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman was on target when he suggested that rather than “leave no child behind,” the slogan Bush stole from the Children’s Defense Fund, his Administration’s true motto appears to be “leave no defense contractor behind.”
In fiscal year 2002, the Big Three received a total of more than $42 billion in Pentagon contracts, of which Lockheed Martin got $17 billion, Boeing $16.6 billion and Northrop Grumman $8.7 billion. This is an increase of nearly one-third from 2000, Clinton’s final year. These firms get one out of every four dollars the Pentagon doles out for everything from rifles to rockets. In contrast, Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act is underfunded by $8 billion a year, with the additional assistance promised to school districts swallowed up by war costs and tax cuts.
The bread and butter for the Big Three are weapons systems like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (Lockheed Martin), the F/A-18 E/F combat aircraft (Boeing/Northrop Grumman), the F-22 Raptor (Lockheed Martin/Boeing) and the C-17 transport aircraft (Boeing). Northrop Grumman is also a major player in the area of combat ships, through its ownership of the Newport News, Virginia and Pascagoula, Mississippi, shipyards. All three firms are also well placed in the design and production of target-ing devices, electronic warfare equipment, long-range strike systems and precision munitions. For example, Boeing makes the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), a kit that can be used to make “dumb” bombs “smart.” The JDAM was used in such large quantities in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that the company has had to run double shifts to keep up with Air Force demand.
The Bush nuclear buildup–large parts of which are funded out of the Energy Department budget, not the Pentagon–is particularly good news for Lockheed Martin. The company has a $2 billion-a-year contract to run Sandia National Laboratories, a nuclear weapons design and engineering facility based in Albuquerque. Lockheed Martin also works in partnership with Bechtel to run the Nevada Test Site, where new nuclear weapons are tested either via underground explosions–currently on hold due to US adherence to a moratorium on nuclear testing–or computer simulations. Late last year, Congress lifted a longstanding ban on research into so-called “mini-nukes”–nuclear weapons of less than five kilotons, about one-third the size of the Hiroshima bomb. It also authorized funds for studies on a nuclear “bunker buster” and seed money for a multibillion-dollar factory to build plutonium triggers for a new generation of nuclear weapons. These new investments will be presided over by Everet Beckner, a former Lockheed Martin executive who now heads the National Nuclear Security Administration’s nuclear weapons complex.